Commentary, News

1. So much for the charade of moderation in the General Assembly  

When the state House passed its budget last week, Rep. Chuck McGrady noted its bipartisan support in a tweet that captured what the House leadership wanted people to think was happening in the General Assembly.

“Sounds like the Speaker is leading from the middle,” McGrady wrote, extolling the allegedly moderate leadership of House Speaker Tim Moore. Folks can disagree about the virtues and flaws in the House budget—which falls well short of making the investments the state needs—but it is indeed less radical than budgets passed by either chamber of the legislature in recent years.

All signs of moderation vanished this week. [Continue reading…]

2. Mixed messages for whistleblowers?
“Ag Gag” proposal, “Burt’s Law” push in opposite directions

Editor’s note: Governor Pat McCrory issued a veto for HB 405 (the so-called Ag-Gag bill) on Friday urging lawmakers to add protections for employees who report illegal activities to authorities.

Governor McCrory signed a bill yesterday that is designed to spur action from would-be whistleblowers who work in the group home and nursing home industries. The new statute, which has been dubbed “Burt’s Law” in recognition of a developmentally disabled man who was sexually abused by a manager in a Catawba County group home, would make it a crime for employees or volunteers in such facilities not to report such information. [Continue Reading…]

3. Latest batch of prospective charter schools moves forward with concerns
State Board of Education meets next week to grant final approval

Back in 2013, when members of a state board tasked with reviewing charter school applications only greenlighted a handful of schools out of many hopefuls to open in the following year, they found themselves in the middle of a political firestorm.

“The plan was to have [charter] operators come into the state like they did in Louisiana and other states and quickly affect the public school choice landscape for the better and in quantity,” said Charter School Advisory Board member Alan Hawkes in an email to fellow CSAB board members in late 2013. [Continue Reading….]

4. Next up in the House: Another lawsuit waiting to happen
North Carolina poised to become the nation’s first state with a law allowing public officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples on religious objection grounds

Editor’s note: Governor Pat McCrory issued a veto for SB 2 on Thursday, May 28th. The Legislature may attempt to override his veto.

The bill allowing magistrates to refuse to perform otherwise lawful marriages based upon religious objections moves on in the House today after passing the Senate in February, set for a hearing in Judiciary Committee I just after noon.

Senate Bill 2 — a product of the dust-up over federal court rulings allowing same-sex marriages to proceed in North Carolina – would give refuge to magistrates who refuse to comply with those rulings under color of their professed faith.

Though lawmakers couched their text in broad and vague terms, their intent in pushing the bill was clear: Stop gay marriages. [Continue Reading….]

****Bonus video: Watch House members debate SB2:

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5. Head of North Carolina’s charter school office leaving, taking job with controversial virtual charter school

The head of North Carolina’s office overseeing charter schools is leaving for a job with a controversial virtual charter school opening up this year.

Joel Medley, who had headed the N.C. Department of Public Instruction since 2011, is leaving his state job to become the head of school for the N.C Virtual Academy. The school is a new online charter school opening this summer that will be run by the Wall Street-traded for-profit education company K12, Inc. (NYSE:LRN).

“I have accepted a position at the NC Virtual Academy in June and will serve as the head of school — returning back to my roots as a school administrator,” Medley wrote Thursday in an email to N.C Policy Watch. “It has been an honor to serve here in the Department and I look forward to this new opportunity.” [Continue Reading.…]


Out-of-state activist J. Scott Moody will be making the rounds on Monday in North Carolina to say that expanding Medicaid will hurt our economy.

Moody is from a South Carolina outfit called State Budget Solutions and he travels the country speaking out against policies disfavored by conservatives. His schtick is releasing cut-and-paste reports showing the economic harm done by the programs he opposes.

For example, in 2012 he lit off to New Hampshire to warn that allowing same sex marriage in that state would result in economic devastation and a “demographic winter.” You have to read the entire news article of his visit to capture his arguments in all of their glory, but this is one of my favorite parts:

Also, according to Moody, when same-sex couples adopt, they place the child in a situation where one or both of their parents isn’t their biological parent. However, according to Moody, statistics have shown that a relationship with a stepparent is not the same as a relationship with a biological parent and stepparents tend to not have the same bond or pay the same attention as the biological parent. Moody did not provide charts or actual sources for this claim.

These days Moody is taking a break from attacking adoptive parents and is focusing on Medicaid expansion. Moody has made presentations in several states and published opinion pieces arguing that an expansion of the public sector will crowd out private sector spending. This analysis is about as sophisticated as his arguments that gay marriage will destroy the economy and that stepparents don’t pay attention to their children.

Actual economists have responded to Moody everywhere he has spoken to point out that he is wrong. A good example is from Dr. Sven Wilson at BYU when Moody visited Utah to warn them of the dangers of federal funds flowing to the state. Again, you should read the entire piece but here’s a taste of Wilson’s response:

Many economists argue that spending on Healthy Utah will further expand the economy by generating new jobs and new private spending as the money works its way through the economy. Economists call this effect a multiplier. As a conservative, free-market economist, I think multipliers are generally small. But no serious economist of any political stripe thinks the multiplier is negative, which is what Moody is suggesting.

Imagine someone saying that when tourists spend their money in our state, their purchases end up costing us jobs and hurting our economy. Who would believe that? But that is exactly the argument Moody is making about Healthy Utah.

Luckily, we already have a study on the economic impacts of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina using respected REMI models. That study concludes that expansion will grow our economy, create 43,000 jobs, and provide much needed revenue to county and state budgets. It will also provide affordable coverage to 500,000 North Carolinians and bolster rural health care in the state. States that have already expanded coverage, like Kentucky, are seeing these positive economic predictions realized.

We aren’t seeing the winter Moody predicted in 2012. Instead the economy keeps heating up despite gay marriage sweeping the nation. I suspect we will see similar results as more states expand insurance coverage.



marriage amendmentYesterday afternoon, members of the public were given an opportunity to share their thoughts on Senate Bill 2 before the House Judiciary I Committee. The bill, which would permit magistrates and registers of deeds to recuse themselves from performing same-sex marriages due to their religious beliefs, has been hotly contested since it was first introduced in late January.

During the meeting, opponents of the bill stressed the difference between the civil duty of magistrates and the religious freedom of clergy. They also reminded the committee that government officials shouldn’t be allowed to refuse to perform a duty which is part of their job when it deprives the public of a right. However, disagreement between committee members on whether performing civil marriages is the duty of a magistrate or a power given to him provided evidence that many legislators are still missing the point.

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Senate Bill 2 – Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies – will be before the House Judiciary Committee later this afternoon. The legislation would allow North Carolina magistrates to opt out of gay marriages, if they hold a ‘sincere religious’ objection.

Editorial writers have called the legislation “a silly maneuver” that allows sworn public officials to sidestep their duty.

Rep. Susan Fisher, who appeared on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon last weekend, said lawmakers should legitimately be concerned about how this bill could be expanded:

“If you look at this in terms of discriminatory behavior, it opens the door wide for any kind of discrimination you’d want to throw in there,” explained the Buncombe County representative. “It’s wrong on many, many levels, but it does seem to be just another attempt at an end run around a Supreme Court decision that is so important to the lives of so many people in our state.”

Click below to hear Rep. Fisher in her own words. Senate Bill 2 will be considered by the House Judiciary I committee at 12:30pm in Room 415 of the Legislative Office Building.

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Same-sex adoptionSame-sex adoption2Don’t forget to register for next week’s Crucial Conversation luncheon presented by NC Policy Watch, the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina“Parents in life, strangers on paper: How North Carolina laws barring second-parent adoption and marriage for same-sex couples jeopardize families and their children.”

The event will feature Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation; Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina; and parents Marcie and Chantelle Fisher-Borne, Shawn Long and Craig Johnson, plaintiffs in Fisher-Borne v. Smith, a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s bans on second-parent adoption and marriage for same-sex couples on behalf of six North Carolina families.

When: Tuesday, December 3 at 12:00 p.m. – 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)

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Click here for parking info.

Click here to register