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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

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New from the numbers wonks at the Budget and Tax Center:

Allowing the state Earned Income Tax Credit to expire would harm veterans, active-duty military, a new analysis finds

RALEIGH (July 2, 2013) – About 64,000 veteran and active-duty military families in North Carolina would be impacted by current tax plans, all of which allow the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to expire. New analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and state-level analysis by the Budget & Tax Center found that tens of thousands of military families in North Carolina would be affected.

The Senate tax plan (HB 998, Fifth edition) being debated later today allows the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to expire, increasing the tax load on tens of thousands of low-income soldiers, veterans, and their families while the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations get a tax break. Read More

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The next time someone asks you how it is that North Carolina’s elected leaders are undermining the public education in our state (not to mention the basics of democratic governance), direct them to this morning’s lead story on the main NC Policy Watch site by Education Reporter, Lindsay Wagner. Here’s the lead:

For two years now, Arapahoe Charter School in Pamlico County has been fighting the State Board of Education for approval to expand from a K-8 school to a K-12 school. After the Board denied its request, Arapahoe appealed, and the case remains pending before the state Office of Administrative Hearings.

Rather than wait for that process to play out, however, Arapahoe’s director, Tom McCarthy, tried a different approach. Read More

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greenwayLast week I wrote about the large and immediate cut to pedestrian and bike greenway funding in the NC Senate’s version of the budget.  Well that budget cut is still in the final version.  It’s delayed for some current projects, but puts NC on the road (not bikeway) to funding elimination.  Some folks who have contacted their Senators are getting the usual attempt-to-confuse-the-issue answers from their representatives.  The particular line is the old unpopular budget cutter’s saw, “flexibility.”  As in:  “Oh, we are giving cities flexibility to fund greenways out of other pots of money, so this really isn’t a cut that hurts.”  Well, there is a cut, it is to greenways, and it will mean less money for building stuff other than roads.

Don’t believe me?  Look at NC Senator Apodaca’s quote in Bruce Siceloff’s N+O story yesterday.  I’d say it about sums it up:

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