News

Looking for a quick round-up of the day’s news on Jones Street?

Folks packed today’s first committee hearing on medical marijuana, there’s a major Supreme Court ruling on redistricting that could impact North Carolina, and the governor has a few choice words for the Senate’s tax plan.

Some of the most retweeted stories are listed below:

Commentary

Workers carrying banana peppers at Kenda Farms 2003 (PBP)Our friends at Student Action with Farmworkers are very busy this week, sponsoring and promoting events for Farmworker Awareness Week. The schedule of events, posted here, shows the range of issues important to the people who harvest our food. Films highlighting farmworkers’ stories and dreams for the future show the rich heritage and cultural contributions brought to North Carolina by farmworkers who have traveled from near and far. Through discussions of immigration policy we learn why broad and inclusive immigration reform is critical to providing farmworkers with a voice in the workplace and a path to permanency. The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs‘ long sleeve shirt drive is a stark reminder of the dangers of pesticide exposure in the fields. A presentation on current laws impacting farmworkers exposes the doctrine of agricultural exceptionalism, which affects farmworker eligibility for everything from worker’s compensation benefits to collective bargaining. Check out one of the great opportunities for a chance to learn more about the more than 130,000 farmworkers and their family members in North Carolina!

NC Budget and Tax Center

State lawmakers once again turned their back on hardworking North Carolinians who struggle to support themselves and their families with low wages.

Yesterday, just before the House Finance Committee was scheduled to debate an economic development bill, House Bill 89, the sponsor stripped out a provision that would have reinstated the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax break that helps thousands of North Carolinians who work at low-wage jobs. North Carolina’s EITC expired at the end of 2013 when state lawmakers failed to extend it, and this economic development bill would have been the perfect opportunity to bring it back.

The EITC is widely recognized as one of the most effective anti-poverty tools nationwide, especially for children. Nearly 907,000 North Carolinians claimed the state EITC for tax year 2012, benefiting nearly 1.2 million children and providing a $108 million economic boost to local communities across the state.

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The bill sponsor, Rep. Moore, informed House Finance Committee members that the state EITC provision was excluded from the revised bill in order to increase the chances of the bill gaining bipartisan support among state lawmakers. Read More

News

Over 30,000 people have now signed an online petition pressing Governor Pat McCrory to issue a pardon for two half-brothers who were exonerated last September after serving 30 years for a wrongful conviction.McCollum Brown

Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown were convicted for the 1983 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Three decades later new DNA evidence proved another man committed the crime.

The petition at change.org goes on to explain:

When they were finally released from prison 6 months ago, the state gave them $45 dollars each for their trouble and sent them on their way to survive in a world completely different from the one they left in 1983. Both Henry and Leon have limited education and due to their lack of ability to get jobs have relied on the kindness of strangers. This is not freedom or justice. They both lost 30 years of their lives, and even after being proven innocent, have been forced to live in limbo because the state won’t pardon them. These men deserve a real chance to live life and be a part of the American dream. Everyday Gov. McCrory delays, is one more day Henry and Leon spend in a virtual prison.

Governor McCrory’s office has reiterated that it is reviewing the case.

But those signing on to the petition, which has gained national attention,  believe the pardon should be expedited. Here are just a few comments from those who’ve signed on:

These men should be pardoned and compensated for 30 years of loss of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
– Raymond White PEMBROKE PINES, FL

Too many innocent people are being convicted, and we seem to find it far too acceptable. We need to examine the testimony & evidence and find if there was wrong doing and convict people for false testimony and fraudulent evidence in order to keep it from happening.
– Daniel Richards BEATRICE, NE

These men have suffered enough. Do the right thing.
– Robert Schenkelberg LAKE HAVASU CITY, AZ

Saturday, April 4th, will mark seven-months since  McCollum and Brown were freed from prison. Click here to view the petition.

Commentary

Offshore oil platformThe debate over fracking in North Carolina and the threat it poses to the long-term well-being of humans and the environment in certain parts of the state is obviously hugely important. But there’s a strong argument to be made that the threat from offshore oil and gas drilling is significantly larger and more worrisome.

Not only would offshore drilling and the potential for oil spills put thousands of miles of coastline, our wonderful beaches and estuaries and the fragile marine ecology of of our Outer Continental Shelf at perpetual risk, it would pose enormous threats to the overall way of life of the state’s coastal communities. Put simply: Do we really want to turn the North Carolina coast into Louisiana?

If you share some or all of these concerns, there are two things to do:

#1 – Consider submitting comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management by Next Monday March 30. The good folks at the N.C. Coastal Federation have an “how to” here and here.

#2 – Attend the upcoming Crucial Conversation luncheon with expert Sierra Weaver of the Southern Environmental Law Center. Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, April 7, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Click here for parking info.

Space is limited – preregistration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com