Commentary, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

voterhere41. The GOP effort to suppress the African-American vote continues

An extraordinary thing happened three weeks ago when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit threw out most of the massive voter suppression law passed by the General Assembly in 2013 and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

The court found that legislative leaders asked for data broken down by race about how people vote and then as the court put it, with “surgical precision” changed the voting methods used disproportionately by African-Americans.

The motives could not have been clearer.

The General Assembly leadership created a photo ID requirement, ended same day registration at early voting sites, ended pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds, and shortened early voting by a week—all to make it less likely that African-Americans would vote. [Continue reading...]

NagsHead_4002. Meet Jeffrey Warren: The mastermind behind the state’s bad environmental laws could get a plum job at UNC

In mid-August, the high season’s last hurrah, the packed beach at Nags Head is veiled with blue umbrellas that match the color of the ocean and the sky. Yet at just three feet above sea level, Nags Head is sinking, and portions of the beach are receding, both natural geologic occurrences that have shaped the coastline for thousands of years.

But what’s not natural is the sea level rise that will eventually engulf the area where beach-goers relax under their umbrellas. What’s also unnatural is the state legislation that jeopardizes the environmental and economic viability not only of the coast but the entire state, as well.

These laws were partially crafted by Jeffrey Warren, a geologist by trade and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s powerful science and energy advisor by anointment.

“I can’t think of an individual whose had more of an impact on the environment in a negative way than Jeffrey Warren,” said State Rep. Pricey Harrison, a six-term Democratic lawmaker from Guilford County. [Continue reading…]

Bonus read: Jeffrey Warren’s Greatest Hits

Hawkes23. Tempers flare among charter school supporters as state tightens vetting process

It was 13 days ago that the State Board of Education signed off on just eight of 28 aspiring new charter schools in North Carolina, a stunning flip for a board that’s approved dozens of new charters since state lawmakers lifted the 100-school cap on charters in 2011.

Today, Alan Hawkes, a Greensboro charter leader who sits on the state’s Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB), is still hot.

That’s because five schools tapped for opening by Hawkes’ board, which makes recommendations on charter applicants to the state board, were overwhelmingly voted down by the State Board of Education (SBE).

Board members cited typos, weak applications and publicly questioned whether some schools’ academic plans were ready for prime time despite the CSAB’s support. Typically, state board members heed the counsel of the CSAB, but not this month.

“Don’t get me started about public charter school no-nothings (sic) on the NC State Board of Education,” Hawkes wrote in an email to Policy Watch this week. [Continue reading…]

BB-HB2-6294. Uncertainty, anxiety overshadow new school year for transgender students
LGBT advocates, Republican leadership await court ruling on HB2 injunction

As North Carolina families load up at back-to-school sales this week, a looming question remains for North Carolina students:

Will they be returning to public schools and universities where House Bill 2 still dictates which restrooms they can use?

Two weeks ago U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder held a four-hour hearing to consider a preliminary injunction against the law. Keeping in mind the swiftly approaching school year, he said he would rule as soon as possible. His decision could still come any day.

The law, known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, requires people to use restrooms, showers, locker and changing rooms that correspond to their birth certificates in public buildings, schools and universities.

This leaves transgender people – of whom it is estimated there are about 40,000 in North Carolina – with a dilemma. [Continue reading…]

Learn more: A glossary of terms for Transgender discussions

McHenry-Forest-Locke-AdobeS5. The Olympics of right-wing whoppers
NC pols and advocates hit some medal-worthy new lows

With so much attention being paid to the presidential race and the reliably controversial comments of one of the major party candidates in recent weeks, it’s been tough for state-level politicians and advocates to break through and garner much attention for their own inane comments. Like the badminton and trampoline athletes at the Rio Olympics who find themselves constantly overshadowed by the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, these hard right North Carolina voices are no less serious about their work and over-the-top reactionary views; it’s just a matter of a crowded election year news environment in which there’s only so much mainstream media coverage to go around.

Here then, as a service to some local voices of reaction that might’ve otherwise gotten lost in the media shuffle, are some of their recent “medal worthy” takes that deserve to be recognized and held up to the light of day – even if it’s just to remind caring and thinking North Carolinians what it is that they’re up against.

The bronze medal: Congressman offers heartfelt defense of corporate loan sharking [Continue reading…]

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