Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. The disturbing “little-noticed provisions” snuck into the Senate budget

One of the most often used phrases these days by the media outlets that cover the General Assembly is “a little-noticed provision in the Senate 500-page budget bill…”

Tuesday the News & Observer reported that a little-noticed provision in the budget document threatens special downtown tax districts that fund development agencies.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that another little-noticed provision would repeal a law aimed at limiting the dominance of a local hospital in the regional health care market. [Continue Reading…]

2. A breathtaking (literally) attack on the environment

The astonishing scope of the Senate’s latest polluter protection bill Quick: What’s the most terrifying environmental threat that confronts long-term human wellbeing? Global warming? Loss of topsoil and desertification? Air, soil and water pollution? Overpopulation? Deforestation? Uncontrolled sprawl? The rapid growth in toxic and nuclear waste? The growing number of species extinctions and the loss of biodiversity? Sea-level rise?

These are obviously just a few of the myriad monumental problems that confront a fast-growing species of more than seven billion as it races into the 21st Century. It wouldn’t be hard to come up with a dozen more.[Continue Reading…]

3. Voting rights trial opens on Monday

Trial is set to get underway on Monday in the cases challenging North Carolina’s election laws, nearly two years since state legislators passed and the governor signed what many have called the most restrictive voting provisions in the nation.

It’s not going to be a quick one, with more than 100 possible witnesses lined up and hundreds more exhibits to review. Attorneys in the case expect the trial to last at least two weeks and predict an early August completion.

Here’s a quick look at what’s at stake and what to expect. [Continue Reading…]

4. Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque headed to prison

Stephen LaRoque will spend the next two years in a federal prison, punishment for stealing from the federally-funded non-profit he ran. LaRoque, 51, a former Republican state representative from Kinston was given the 24-month sentence Wednesday morning. He plead guilty earlier this year to a criminal charge related to the embezzlement of $300,000 from the East Carolina Development Company, an economic development non-profit he founded.

Federal prosecutors believe LaRoque, who founded the East Carolina Development Company in 1997, used the non-profit and a sister charity, the Piedmont Development Company, to draw down millions in U.S. Department of Agriculture rural lending money. He then used that money, in part, to pay himself large salaries and buy cars, jewelry, and property. [Continue Reading…]

5. In wake of Corinthian Colleges collapse, some NC vets burdened with debt and worthless training

Corey Davis, a veteran living in Greensboro back in 2013, wanted to open his own small company and figured a degree in business was the ticket to success. Davis searched on the Internet for flexible online education options so he could hold down a job while he studied. “I was looking up college [Continue Reading…]

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