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AARP President: Latest GOP effort to repeal Obamacare would cause ‘many, many millions’ to lose coverage (video)

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham are working overtime to shore up the votes needed to pass their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

But AARP’s national president Eric Schneidewind says the proposed legislation would increase health care costs for older Americans with an age tax, decrease coverage, and undermine pre-existing condition protections.

Schneidewind, who was in Raleigh this week, warns that the Graham-Cassidy plan would cut nursing home care and block grants to the states would not accurately reflect the cost of care for individuals.

Schneidewind joins us this weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon. Listen to a preview of that radio interview below.

New analysis by Avalere Health released Wednesday found that the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace the ACA would lead to a reduction in federal funding to states by $215 billion through 2026.

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Architectural Digest on Confederate monuments, history of toppled statues

Leave it to Architectural Digest to produce a really great piece about the Confederate monuments controversy.

The piece, published this week, looks at when and why we memorialize people and movements with statues — and what happens when the culture rethinks those people or movements and peacefully removes or forcefully topples those monuments.

From the story:

Statues tend to rise and fall in tandem with political sentiment. In the U.S., Confederate statues were erected in far greater numbers during two eras in our history: the Jim Crow era and the Civil Rights era, as the Southern Poverty Law Center points out. The removal of statues, meanwhile, accelerated after the Charlottesville mayhem last month and following Dylann Roof’s massacre of African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Eli Pousson, director of preservation at the non-profit Baltimore Heritage, says it took Heather Heyer’s tragic death to get monuments taken down in Baltimore. “In 2015, [we] sent a list of recommendations for what to do with the Confederate monuments to the prior mayor and she ignored it,” he says. “The current mayor held a review of the issue in March and April but did not act until after the Charlottesville violence.”

In post-war Germany, statues were taken down quickly, Slate noted, as Germany’s collective tail-between-its-legs attitude was pervasive. A 1946 federal law mandated the destruction of “any monument, memorial, poster, statue, edifice, street or highway name marker, emblem, tablet, or insignia,” that glorified the German military. While a federal law on the matter in the U.S. would eliminate the years of litigation that are sure to follow statue removals here, our states’ rights are far stronger here—and politically unassailable—and such a law could easily violate the first amendment.

“Since the end of the war, Germans have worked hard to reckon with the evils of Nazism and the Holocaust in a way that I don’t think the United States has ever truly done with the horrors of slavery or the systematic persecution of indigenous peoples,” says Sarah Beetham, a professor of Art History at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts who writes about sculpture and the Civil War. “But if we are going to move. . .away from our current polarization, we would do well to follow Germany’s lead and confront our entire past.”

 

The whole piece is worth your time as we head toward the Sept. 22 meeting of the North Carolina Historical Commission, at which North Carolina’s Confederate monument issue will be discussed.

 

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The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch:

School buses1. State releases list of 48 schools eligible for controversial charter takeover

Forty-eight schools spread across 21 districts make up those elementary schools eligible for inclusion in the first year of North Carolina’s controversial charter takeover model, according to a list released Thursday by state officials.

The program, dubbed the Innovative School District (formerly the Achievement School District), would launch with two schools in the 2018-2019 school year.

It would potentially allow for-profit, charter management organizations to assume control of low-performing schools, part of a series of controversial reforms backed by Republicans leadership in the N.C. General Assembly and school choice advocates.

The list released Thursday does not guarantee any school will be selected for the district, district Superintendent Eric Hall said, only that it may be considered further going forward. Districts were spread across the state, although districts such as Durham, Forsyth and Robeson included a number of eligible schools.[Read more…]

2. Giant pork producer asks federal court to reinterpret new and controversial NC law, nullify existing nuisance lawsuits

For Murphy-Brown, a major victory in House Bill 467 was not enough.

The world’s largest pork producer has petitioned a federal court to interpret a key part of the controversial law that could nullify 26 lawsuits brought by 541 plaintiffs against the company. While courts are often called upon to interpret laws, in this case, Murphy-Brown is asking a judge to essentially read lawmakers’ minds and divine their intent when they wrote and passed the law.

An amendment to the state’s Right to Farm Act, the controversial legislation capped the amount of money plaintiffs could recover when winning a nuisance lawsuit against industrialized hog farms. Plaintiffs could receive money equivalent to the decrease in the fair-market value of their property — already diminished because of its proximity to stench and flies — but not for odor, mental duress or the general decline in their quality of life.

Gov. Roy Cooper had vetoed the bill, but on May 11, state lawmakers overrode it. [Read more…]

3. Testing debate is front and center again as state officials wrestle with new federal education law

A draft plan for meeting the nation’s new federal education law has some on North Carolina’s top school board expressing frustration this week, particularly when it comes to measuring schools’ performance.

“To grow the elephant, you don’t weigh it, you feed it,” Lisa Godwin, teacher advisor to the State Board of Education, complained Wednesday. “I do feel like we’re weighing the elephant.”

Godwin was one of several who blasted the state’s continued emphasis on standardized testing Wednesday, one day before members of the State Board of Education were expected to take an up or down vote on a substantive plan for K-12 schooling required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the nation’s overarching public education law.

North Carolina leaders hope to turn over their ESSA proposal to federal education officials in the U.S. Department of Education by September 18, after which the administration will have up to 120 days to approve or deny. [Read more…]

4. The middle class is not an accident (or inevitable)
Labor Day report offers a powerful reminder for NC workers – especially Millenials

A few years back, there was a witty and briefly popular bumper sticker that conveyed several important and frequently neglected and forgotten truths about the lot of working Americans. It read: “The Labor Movement: The Folks Who Brought You the Weekend.”

Though it seems hard to imagine for many of us today, the pithy and plucky message on those stickers was, in a very literal sense, true. At the turn of the 20th Century, life in America – especially for working people – was wildly different than it is for most of us today. Millions of Americans worked six or seven days a week and 12 or 14 hours per day or more for what amounted to little better than starvation wages. Many of the workers were pre-adolescent children. Many – adults and children – worked in horrifically dangerous conditions and utterly without any kind of insurance or safety net. Meanwhile, a small but hugely powerful class of super rich robber barons enjoyed unprecedented wealth and comfort. [Read more…]

5. Groundwater contaminated near Chemours plant; DEQ issues Notice of Violation

Thirteen of 14 monitoring wells near Chemours’s Fayetteville plant exceeded state groundwater standards for GenX and other perfluorinated compounds, prompting state environmental officials to issue a Notice of Violation to the company.

The NC Department of Environmental Quality announced the results today. The groundwater monitoring wells are not a source of drinking water.

DEQ and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also alerted health officials in Bladen and Cumberland counties to the preliminary test results. The state said it will perform initial testing for people who live near Chemours while requiring the company to produce a comprehensive testing and compliance plan.

The immediate area around the plant, which lies south of Fayetteville, is woods and a solar farm, but there are homes within a mile and Camp Dixie, a summer retreat for kids is within two miles. [Read more…]

***Bonus reads from the week’s news:

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Board of Governors considers major changes following contentious meeting

Update to this post: The UNC Board of Governors voted Friday to ban legal work of the UNC Center for Civil Rights.  The Raleigh News & Observer reports the Center will shut down at UNC, but continue its work elsewhere.

As the UNC Board of Governors meets today to consider banning the UNC Center for Civil Rights from litigating future cases, a lot of people will be looking at how well the board members interact with one another after a heated session Thursday.

Reporter Jane Stancill with the News & Observer described the leadership team’s meeting this way:

In a stunning and contentious session, a faction of the UNC Board of Governors took steps Thursday for substantive changes in the university system, including lowering tuition and fees at the campuses, reorganizing the staff of UNC President Margaret Spellings and moving the UNC system headquarters out of Chapel Hill.

The proposals came rapid fire in a flurry of resolutions and caught some members off guard. Some said they hadn’t heard anything about the proposals before they walked in the room.

The meeting followed a scathing letter to Spellings and Board Chair Lou Bissette that was reported by The News & Observer on Thursday. The letter, signed by 15 members, took Spellings and Bissette to task for a lack of communication to the members before they sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper about security and future plans for Silent Sam, the Confederate statue on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill. Some members of the board didn’t sign the letter and said they had never seen it.

The two-hour discussion revealed a chasm among members on the overwhelmingly Republican board. Some said the proposals came out of left field and could undermine unity and Spellings’ authority as president.

Read the full article here.

You can follow Stancill’s continuing coverage of  the UNC BOG meeting at @janestancill.

 

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The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. UNC Board vote on Civil Rights Center the latest move in an ideological crusade

Two and half years ago, the UNC Board of Governors voted to fire widely respected UNC President Tom Ross.

The move by the handpicked board of the Republican legislative majorities came with no public notice and there was no reason given for forcing Ross to resign.

The board chair said after the meeting that Ross had been doing a wonderful job. But everybody in Raleigh knew the reason.

Ross’ firing was the beginning of the Republican assault on the university system with most of the focus on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, long derided by forces on the Right as a key center of progressive thought in the state. [Read more…]

2. Parent of special needs child battles troubled Charlotte charter school
Case raises questions of whether charters are complying with state and federal law

Skye, a 10-year-old from Charlotte, was vomiting stomach bile when her mother decided something must change.

LauraLee McIntosh saw the health of her daughter, diagnosed with a rare chromosome condition and mitochondrial disease, declining steadily along with her weight. McIntosh blames the Charlotte charter school that refused to loosen its strict lunch policies to allow a modified lunch for Skye, despite doctor’s orders.

Skye, whose symptoms include neurological problems, could not adapt to the school’s rigid healthy and organic lunch requirements. Skye’s response to various textures and tastes made meal time difficult, so she all but stopped eating at Veritas, while school leadership refused to make adjustments. [Read more…]

3. Even after revisions, Atlantic Coast Pipeline plan still threatens NC rivers, drinking water

The temperature in Rocky Mount was tipping 100 degrees and the hallway of Nash Community College was hot, as it held hundreds of people lined up to speak on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Nothing sounded better than a cold glass of water.

But these days, with contaminants known and unknown flowing from their taps, North Carolinians can no longer take clean water for granted.

Worries about their drinking water, as well as property values and environmental damage, compelled hundreds of people to attend the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s two recent public hearings on water quality and buffer requirements for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. [Read more…]


4. Republicans silent in wake of court order to draw new maps in one month

Republican legislative leaders are staying mum about a federal court ruling that requires them to submit new maps by September 1.

The date is almost three months in advance of the deadline they asked for, though the three-judge panel did deny a request for a special election – a win for GOP lawmakers who argued against such a request after delaying drawing new maps until the 11th hour.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and Redistricting Committee chairmen Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) have not responded to an email request seeking comment about the court’s timeline. They also have not released any public statements.

Democrats and advocates, on the other hand, have both commended and criticized the court’s ruling.[Read more…]

5. What the fight over fair elections is really all about
As NC looks at election rules and redistricting, a powerful new book reminds us why these issues are even on the table

This is an especially busy week in the fight for fair elections in North Carolina. Late yesterday, a panel of three federal judges issued an order in the case of North Carolina v. Covington – a challenge to North Carolina’s unconstitutionally gerrymandered legislative districts. The ruling came just hours after the North Carolina State Board of Elections conducted a hearing on a set of new proposed rules that could rein in some of the worst voter suppression tactics employed by conservatives during the 2016 election.

With any luck, we could be on the verge of some important breakthroughs in the effort to enfranchise voters and reclaim our democracy. [Read more…]