Six stories to have on your radar this week

1. Senate to OK SEPA Reform bill
The NC Senate is expected to give final approval today to the SEPA Reform bill. The Sierra Club notes that House Bill 795 would essentially repeal North Carolina’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) “by creating so many exceptions that there would likely be no projects that would be subject to the law.”

Environmental Defense Fund’s senior analyst David Kelly recently discussed with NC Policy Watch how HB 795 would significantly limit the number of projects that require environmental review under state law:

The Senate convenes at 2:00 p.m.

2. Public forums on the selection of the next UNC-system president
The University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors will be hosting four public forums around the state in connection with its ongoing search for a new system president. The 32-member board opted back in January to dismiss Tom Ross, the system leader since 2011.

This week’s regional input sessions will be held in:

  • Asheville: 7 p.m. on May 26, at the Sherrill Center (Room 417) at UNC-Asheville’s campus.
  • Greenville: 7 p.m. on May 27, East Carolina Heart Institute (Room 1415) in Greenville.
  • Durham: 7 p.m. on May 28, Mary Townes Science Complex (Room 1111) on N.C. Central University’s campus.

Want to attend? Find more information on the forums here.

3. Magistrates Recusal bill re-emerges
marriage amendmentWednesday at 12:30 p.m. the House Judiciary I committee takes up the controversial Magistrates Recusal bill. The legislation allows magistrates to opt out of performing same-sex marriage for six months if they have a “sincerely held religious objection.”

Supporters of Senate Bill 2 maintain the measure simply preserves First Amendment religious freedom. Opponents argue the legislation is discriminatory and sets a precedent allowing any county employee to decline to perform job duties he or she finds to be objectionable. The committee debates the bill at 12:30 p.m. in Room 415 of the Legislative Office Building.

4. State Unemployment Rate to be released – North Carolina’s unemployment rate for April will be released this Wednesday. In March the statewide rate stood at 5.4%.

5. The NC Teacher Pipeline Crisis – A Community Conversation
On Wednesday, MeckEd and the Public School Forum of North Carolina will host a thoughtful conversation in Charlotte about the teacher shortage facing our state and strategies to address it.

This event will feature a panel discussion followed by a town-hall style Q&A. Confirmed panelists include Ann Clark, Superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS); Dr. Chance Lewis, UNC-Charlotte School of Education; Bill Anderson, Executive Director, MeckEd; and Keith Poston, President & Executive Director, Public School Forum of North Carolina. The panel will also include a CMS classroom teacher. The public and media are invited to attend.

The event runs from 8:00am to 9:30am at Piedmont Natural Gas, Auditorium B, 4720 Piedmont Row Drive, Charlotte, NC.

6. Raleigh Moral Monday on Wednesday: Healthcare & Environmental JusticMoral Mondays 2e
The NC NAACP and the Forward Together movement hold the 3rd Moral Monday on Wednesday in Raleigh, uplifting the unjust refusal of Medicaid expansion, coal ash being dumped in our communities, unregulated pollution from industrial meat production in poor and minority communities, fracking, and the attacks on women’s health.

The event gets underway at 5:00 p.m. at Bicentennial Mall, across the street from the NC General Assembly. You can find more information here.

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