Author

Judge Ola Lewis; Source, Judgepedia.org

A campaign website for a judge running for the state’s highest judicial seat posted an N.C. Policy Watch reporter’s article without attribution, leaving the false impression the article had been written by the judge.

Judge Ola Lewis, a Brunswick County Superior Court judge running to be the next chief justice at the N.C. Supreme Court, said a member of her campaign staff made a mistake in posting the article without proper attribution.

The Sept. 25 article, “Discretion at the Supreme Court” was written by Sharon McCloskey, N.C. Policy Watch’s courts and law reporter.

The entire text of McCloskey’s article about how cases comes before the state Supreme Court appeared on Lewis’ campaign website under a June 18th entry that stated (falsely) it was written by Lewis.

A click on the link brought up the text of McCloskey’s article, but with no mention that McCloskey – and not Lewis – had authored the piece.

Screen grab of Lewis' campaign website

Screen grab of Lewis’ campaign website

A second article by McCloskey titled “Business as usual at the Supreme Court” also appeared on Lewis’ website without any attribution. That piece (click here) was originally published in June 2013 on N.C. Policy Watch.

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One of the top Democrats in the state House or Representatives owed more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes, according to court filings and tax records reviewed by the Carolina Journal for this report.

State Rep. Michael Wray

State Rep. Michael H. Wray, a Gaston Democrat serving as the deputy minority leader, owed more than $100,000 for federal, state and local taxes that went unpaid on businesses and properties he owned, according to the investigative report by the Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington. (The Carolina Journal is part of the John Locke Foundation, a conservative Raleigh-based thinktank.)

Wray, who describes himself as a small business owner on his legislative website, has been in the state House since 2005, and recently defeated a Democratic challenger in the Mary primary. He has no Republican opponent in the general election this November for his district in northeastern North Carolina that covers parts of Halifax and Northampton counties.

Federal IRS officials also filed two tax liens in February on Wray’s property in Northampton County, seeking $83,979 in unpaid taxes.

Wray did not respond to requests from the Carolina Journal for comment, though an attorney for Wray told Carrington the taxes had been paid off.

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The federal Department of Labor announced today that it will move to include same-sex marriages under the Federal Medical Leave Act, a decision that will mean more legal protections for families in states like North Carolina that don’t currently recognize gay marriages.

The rule change being sought by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez would bring same-sex marriages under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the law that allows U.S. workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their ill spouses and immediate family members, or care for an adopted child or newborn baby.marriage amendment

“The basic promise of the FMLA is that no one should have to choose between succeeding at work and being a loving family caregiver,” Perez said, according to a written statement. “Under the proposed revisions, the FMLA will be applied to all families equally, enabling individuals in same-sex marriages to fully exercise their rights and fulfill their responsibilities to their families.”

Same-sex couples that live in states that issue and recognize gay marriages already are covered by the law, and the rule change would extend those rights to the couples in the 31 states like North Carolina that don’t recognize gay marriages.

If adopted, the change would redefine “spouse” in regulations to include couples that get married in states with marriage equality, and not base that definition on the rules of the state where the couple is living.

The Family Medical Leave Act applies to all public employers, and to private employers that have more than 50 employees and aren’t seasonal businesses. Any employee that’s been on the job for more than a year and has worked at least 1,250 hours in the job is entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a number of specified reasons, including tending to ill family members or caring for a newly adopted or newborn child.

The rule change could mean a significant shift here in North Carolina, as litigation seeking to overturn North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriages continue to make its way through the courts.

Since Amendment One was passed in 2012 and further solidified the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, school districts and local and state governments did not extend FMLA coverage to same-sex couples married in other states.

The proposed rule change, if adopted, would change that and bring all public employees under the federal law and also make most large private employers do the same.

Labor officials are taking comments from the public about the proposed rule change for the next 45 days and then will issue a final decision, which will apply to employers in the entire nation, according to a DOL spokeswoman. Click here to review the rule change, and submit any comments to the labor department.

Defenders of the N.C. legislature’s conservative agenda have recently touted reports claiming that implementing the goals of the Moral Monday protest movement would cost anywhere from $7 to $10 billion, a sum of money that would mean a drastic rise in taxes.

Images from last year's Moral Monday protests.

Images from last year’s Moral Monday protests.

But that’s not the case, according to Alexandra Forter Sirota, the director of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center.

Sirota analyzed the requests made by the Moral Monday protestors (much of which was to restore cuts made in recent years)  and found that a more realistic price tag would be $1 billion, all of which would be covered if the tax cuts to large businesses and wealthy residents allowed last year were reversed. (Scroll down to see more about her analysis.)

“[I]t is clear that there is a fiscally responsible path forward for meeting the priorities of North Carolinians to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable citizens can access health insurance, our children can be ready and prepared to learn at school with quality childhood experiences, our workforce can be trained for the jobs of the future, working families can be supported as they struggle to get by on low wages and the human rights an ability to access a fair justice system for all North Carolinians can be protected,” Sirota wrote in a post last week.

(Note: The Budget and Tax Center and N.C. Policy Watch are both part of the N.C. Justice Center, a nonprofit group that advocates for low-income state residents.)

Earlier this week Senator Berger announced that he and his colleagues drafted an amendment that would meet the demands of Moral Monday protestors but couldn’t find any sponsors. That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf
Earlier this week Senator Berger announced that he and his colleagues drafted an amendment that would meet the demands of Moral Monday protestors but couldn’t find any sponsors. That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf
Earlier this week Senator Berger announced that he and his colleagues drafted an amendment that would meet the demands of Moral Monday protestors but couldn’t find any sponsors. That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf
Earlier this week Senator Berger announced that he and his colleagues drafted an amendment that would meet the demands of Moral Monday protestors but couldn’t find any sponsors. That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf

Earlier this week Senator Berger announced that he and his colleagues drafted an amendment that would meet the demands of Moral Monday protestors but couldn’t find any sponsors. That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf

Earlier this week Senator Berger announced that he and his colleagues drafted an amendment that would meet the demands of Moral Monday protestors but couldn’t find any sponsors. That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf
Earlier this week Senator Berger announced that he and his colleagues drafted an amendment that would meet the demands of Moral Monday protestors but couldn’t find any sponsors. That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf
Earlier this week Senator Berger announced that he and his colleagues drafted an amendment that would meet the demands of Moral Monday protestors but couldn’t find any sponsors. That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf
That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf
That seems curious given that, barring two sections which have no basis in the Moral Monday agenda, the proposal is not only revenue neutral but provides for additional revenue to meet the state’s pressing needs that have been unaddressed since the start of the Great Recession. – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/06/12/a-fiscally-responsible-way-to-address-moral-monday-priorities-exists/#sthash.dttOcdNk.dpuf

The Moral Monday protests over the Republican-led state legislature’s conservative agenda have attracted considerable attention from national media outlets over the last year. Led by  N.C.  NAACP state president Rev. William Barber, protesters have asked for changes to the state’s election laws, cuts to public education and health services and last year’s tax reform package that gave significant tax relief to large businesses and wealthy individuals. (Click here to read the 14-point agenda sent by Barber to legislative leaders)

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State lawmakers haven’t decided if the N.C. Education Lottery will be able to double the number of ads it runs and then use proceeds from increased sales to pay for teacher raises.

The House and Senate sides of the Republican-led legislature have stark differences in this year’s budget, and one of the biggest areas of difference is how to pay teachers and with what money.Lottery

House lawmakers want to double the advertising budget for the state-run lottery, in hopes it would turn out $106 million extra dollars to use for teacher raises. The budget proposal also includes several restrictions on advertising– including disclosing the odds of winning a top prize and a ban on advertising during collegiate athletic events.

(In case you missed, N.C. Policy Watch published an analysis of 2013 lottery data yesterday that found that all 10 of the counties with highest per capita sales all had high rates of poverty. Click here to read the article.)

The Senate proposed a much different teacher salary plan that required teachers to give up tenure in exchange for raises paid for with cuts to other education programs and the state Medicaid program.

Senate members heard from the N.C. Education Lottery director Alice Garland, who said the proposed restrictions put in place by state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, a longtime critic of the lottery, was an attempt to get rid of the lottery.

“The author of this language wants to see the lottery fail and wants to put the lottery out of business,” Garland said. “That is why those restrictions were put in the House budget.”

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