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After hours of emotional debate, the Charlotte City Council voted Monday evening against an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.

Hundreds packed the council chamber and more than 120 people signing up to have their say.

The policy would have added marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics in the City’s non-discrimination ordinances.

Opponents quoted scripture, described the proposal as “wicked” and “evil”, and questioned the safety of their families if a transgender person were allowed access to the public bathroom of their choosing.

Supporters of the non-discrimination proposal argued that 17 states and more than 200 municipalities have passed similar policies.

Council members removed the bathroom provision before their final vote, but that measure failed 6-5.

Click below to watch a 3-minute clip of the heated debate, which lasted more than five hours in the standing-room only council chambers.

Read the original ordinance here.

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LW-Differentiated-Pay1cState lawmakers plan to run a pilot program this year that will take a gander at differentiated teacher pay plans. The pilot calls on local school districts to submit proposals that would pay teachers on the basis of their students’ performance on standardized tests, teaching in hard-to-staff areas and subjects or taking on leadership roles.

The Asheville Citizen-Times highlighted some of the concerns of local educators and leaders around the idea of paying some teachers more than their equally-qualified colleagues.

But some districts, in submitting their plans, raised concerns about the effectiveness of performance-based pay and avoided making specific recommendations using performance standards. Instead, they focused on extra pay for teachers in hard-to-staff areas or for teachers who take on leadership roles.

“We had a number of concerns, primarily we were concerned about the impact that a differentiated pay plan would have on teamwork within the school building,” said Macon County School Superintendent Chris Baldwin.

Teachers were concerned as well. Read More

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Gov. Pat McCrory was in Charlotte Monday and offered a preview of his education budget, the Charlotte Observer’s Andrew Dunn reports.

McCrory mentioned keeping his promise of boosting salaries for beginning teachers up to $35,000 — and if locals want to boost salaries of other teachers, they could use discretionary funds to make that happen.

(Click here for a rundown of other education budget items McCrory mentioned today)

In response to an outcry over North Carolina ranking 48th in the nation in teacher pay, last year lawmakers implemented a new teacher salary schedule that gave big raises to beginning teachers (an idea touted by McCrory) while offering very little to veteran teachers and making deep cuts to teacher assistants. The plan raised beginning teacher pay up to $33,000 last year and promised to raise it to $35,000 for 2015-16.

Read More

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Governor Pat McCrory has not announced when he will formally release his budget blueprint, but he did share a few highlights at an elementary school in Charlotte this morning.  And as you can imagine, teacher compensation is one of the top trending stories on Jones Street today.

Here are more of the tweets that have folks buzzing this afternoon – including a special birthday greeting for Dr. Seuss!:

 

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Supreme courtThe U.S. Supreme Court is hearing argument today in a redistricting dispute out of Arizona that could bear directly on North Carolina voters.

In the case, aptly captioned Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commissionthe state legislature sued an independent redistricting commission approved by voters in 2000 to draw state and congressional voting lines.

The lawmakers contend that the delegation of that responsibility from them to the commission violates the Election Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for . . . Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”

SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe has more on the legal arguments in the case here, but of more import to North Carolina voters is the impact the court’s decision may have on developing efforts to reform the redistricting process here.

Two bills are now pending in the General Assembly that would change the overtly partisan nature of drawing voting lines in North Carolina.

House Bill 92, sponsored by Rep. “Skip” Stam and others, calls for a more bipartisan approach to map-drawing but keeps ultimate approval authority with lawmakers.

House Bill 49 on the other hand — sponsored by Rep. Charles Jeter and others —  delegates the map-drawing to an independent commission, which then presents three plans from which lawmakers can choose. If they don’t agree on a plan within a set period of time, the commission itself picks the redistricting plan that becomes state law.

The latter bill, which would require a constitutional amendment, is more like the Arizona law before the nation’s highest court, except that it still rests ultimate approval with the lawmakers — absent their failure to act.

But even that degree of delegation may be at risk, depending on how the Supreme Court rules.

As the Brennan Center for Justice points out here:

If the Supreme Court were to conclude that the Elections Clause prohibits citizen efforts to take the power to redistrict away from elected politicians, the decision could have far-reaching ramifications. A growing number of states in recent years, including California, have given independent commissions the power to set the boundaries of their congressional districts. In fact, almost half of the states now use redistricting commissions in some form, including as a backup if the legislature is unable to pass a redistricting plan. Efforts to adopt similar sorts of reforms are currently underway in Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin – with Arizona and California frequently serving as models for proposed reforms.