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This morning’s editorial in the Charlotte Observer gets yesterday’s state Senate proposal on teacher pay and the “choice” it would offer teachers on the matter just about right:

“The plan, announced by Senate leader Phil Berger, would boost teacher pay by an average of 11 percent – the largest increase in N.C. history, Berger says. It’s significantly more than Gov. Pat McCrory proposed this month in his teacher pay plan, and it would lift North Carolina all the way from 46th to 27th in the nation in teacher pay.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?…

Then there’s the plan’s caveat: If teachers want to receive the substantial pay increase Republicans are offering, they must give up the ‘career status’ – or tenure – that N.C. law guarantees. Republicans already tried to eliminate tenure last year, but a Superior Court judge ruled this month that it is unconstitutional to take that career status away from teachers who already have earned it.

Now Republicans are trying to make teachers give tenure up “voluntarily” by dangling the pay increase in front of them. We’re not sure how the two – tenure and pay – are otherwise connected. Tenure offers teachers two primary protections – a hearing process when a teacher is being dismissed or demoted for any of 15 reasons that include poor performance and neglect of duty, plus a similar hearing process when a teacher is dismissed because of budget or staffing issues.

Both protections make it more time consuming and costly to fire teachers, but neither is costly enough to be paired with teacher pay, as Senate Republicans are doing. If they want to argue that teachers don’t deserve protection from layoffs that most of the rest of us don’t get, as Berger suggested Wednesday, that’s a legitimate and separate debate to have. But to finally give teachers the raise they’ve earned, only to make them give up the tenure they’ve also earned, is unfair.

Lawmakers should take up tenure later and concentrate on the intended task at hand – raising the pay of our public school teachers. As Senate Republicans and the governor are showing, it’s something that’s within reach, if they want it to be.”

You can read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/28/4938240/forward-back-on-teacher-pay.html#.U4cMTXZB_4t#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/28/4938240/forward-back-on-teacher-pay.html#.U4cMTXZB_4t#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/28/4938240/forward-back-on-teacher-pay.html#.U4cMTXZB_4t#storylink=cpy
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Puppy millsFew developments are surprising these days in the through-the-looking glass world of the North Carolina General Assembly, but the recent developments surrounding “puppy mills” legislation takes a very large cake.

As was reported last week in multiple places, one of the North Carolina Senate’s most powerful members, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, issued a statement in which he said that the Senate would not move legislation on this subject in 2014 because of its objection to the “tactics” of bill supporters — specifically the fact that a supporter meeting with Senator Bill Rabon openly recorded the Senator’s inflammatory comments on the subject and then made them public.

This was apparently not an idle threat by Apodaca. Yesterday, N.C. Policy Watch obtained an email sent by another lawmaker (Senator Bill Cook of Beaufort County) to a concerned constituent in which he recited Apodaca’s threat verbatim (see the bottom of this post for the full text). Read More

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Ellie KinnairdThe resignation of Senator Eleanor Kinnaird from the North Carolina Senate was totally understandable, but still quite a disappointment for all who care about truth and justice. Ellie’s list of accomplishments and principled stands in the Senate is a long one and she will be missed enormously in that already depleted institution.

This morning’s editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right when it says:

“Kinnaird was part of the Senate’s conscience. Losing her voice may make lawmaking easier, but it won’t make it better or the results more humane. The General Assembly should be a place of debate where both sides listen and learn. It has become a Republican rally that drowns the dissent within and ignores the protests without.

The good news is that Kinnaird is resigning but not quitting. She will take her voice to where she can be heard so all can be heard. Her first step is to join a grassroots effort to fight Republican efforts to suppress the vote.

We thank Sen. Kinnaird for her service. And wish her luck as she continues the good fight.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/20/3122573/a-loss-of-conscience.html#storylink=cpy
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Abortion protestIt’s hard to say what’s most outrageous and offensive in and around the North Carolina public policy world these days: the blatant special interest vote buying, the astonishing greed of giant corporations and their hired gun lobbyists, the not-so-thinly veiled racist pandering that oozes out of some of the far right advocacy groups, the raw political ambition that underlies the Phil Berger-Thom Tillis fight or Gov. McCrory’s ongoing impression of The Invisible Man.    

Here’s another leading candidate for today, however: the just plain meanness and nastiness of the folks running things on Jones Street. This has been evident on numerous occasions throughout the year — in the contempt for the democratic process and the right to be heard that’s constantly on display, in the way legislative leaders (particularly Senators like Tom Apodaca and Jerry Tillman) use rude, bullying language and tactics vis a vis their fellow lawmakers and members of the public, and in the dramatically ramped-up presence of law enforcement officers brandishing handcuffs, cameras and snarls on their faces.

This latter phenomenon was in full swing this morning as several hundred frustrated citizens — a large proportion of them moms toting their infant children — gathered in and around the Senate chamber to listen and watch as Senators finished off the dirty and disingenuous deed they commenced last night to make abortion a virtual impossibility in North Carolina.  Read More

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A statement from the ACLU-NC:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 2, 2013

ACLU-NC Denounces N.C. Senate’s Sneak Attack on Reproductive Rights
Senate Attempted to Pass Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill Tuesday Night Without Public Notice or Debate 

RALEIGH – This evening, without any public notice or debate, the North Carolina Senate voted to pass an omnibus anti-abortion bill that would severely restrict women’s access to abortion care by prohibiting health plans offered through federal health care exchanges from offering abortion coverage, requiring abortion clinics to go through a licensing process similar to outpatient surgical clinics, allowing all health care providers to opt out of providing abortion care, requiring doctors to stay in the room for an entire abortion procedure (regardless of whether it is surgical, medical, or chemical), and compel doctors to interrogate patients about the reason they are having an abortion by prohibiting doctors from knowingly performing a sex-selection abortion. Read More