agriculture, Commentary, Courts & the Law, HB2, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. School officials preparing to fire thousands of specialty teachers in order to meet K-3 classroom mandate

Welborn, a Republican member of the Guilford County Board of Education, says her district—the third largest in the state—will need to find an additional $16.6 million and 242 new teaching positions to meet the state’s legislative mandate to cut class sizes for kindergarten through third grade beginning next school year.

“We would have to make such drastic cuts, we literally don’t know where we would come up with the money,” says Welborn. “You just don’t do that unless you have absolutely no choice but to do it.”

All across North Carolina, districts like Guilford County say a statutory loss of flexibility over class size may soon yield massive job losses statewide among arts, music and physical education teachers, as well as teacher assistants. [Read more…]

2. Republican lawmaker presents inaccurate numbers at committee meeting to favor shrinking Court of Appeals

Republican lawmakers want to reduce the Court of Appeals and nothing’s going to stand in their way — not even their own inaccuracies.

House Bill 239 was debated at a Senate judiciary committee meeting Wednesday. Rep. Sarah Stevens, one of the bill sponsors, told committee members that in addition to reducing the court from 15 to 12 judges, it would also decrease the workload and add to the state Supreme Court’s workload.

She said she did not ask Chief Justice Mark Martin for an official stance on the bill, but she said he told her the state’s highest court could take on the bigger workload — almost 1,000 cases per year, according to Stevens.

Democrats were skeptical of her numbers, and Court of Appeals Judge Donna Stroud presented an entirely different set of numbers to Senators at the meeting during the public comments.

An NC Policy Watch public records request also found that Stevens’ numbers were wrong. [Read more…]


3. After partial HB2 repeal NC remains woefully behind on anti-discrimination protections

Now that HB2 has been partially repealed, enough for the NCAA and ACC anyway, a lot of folks in Raleigh are hoping the issue of discrimination in North Carolina goes away for a while, at least for the four years that local governments must now wait before protecting LGBTQ people from being fired or denied services because of their sexual orientation.

Most legislative leaders don’t want to talk about it and when they do they continue to mislead the public about their justification for allowing discrimination to remain in place until at least 2020.

House Speaker Tim Moore this week repeated a talking point he has used often in the last few months, that North Carolina’s anti-discrimination standard that does not include protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity is the same as the law in 30 other states. [Read more…]

4. Trump hypocrisy threatens again with massive proposed cuts to legal aid
The most litigious president in U.S. history says “no” to lawyers for poor people

No one ever accused Donald Trump of being consistent. If ever there was a politician for whom a gravitation toward blatant self-contradiction and 180 degree flip flops was embedded in the very fiber of his being, it would have to be the 45th president. Name an important issue of public policy and it seems a virtual lock that Trump will have staked out a position on all sides of it (and then probably contradicted each of them at one time or another with his own personal behavior).

As a “Fact Checker” article in the Washington Post recently observed: [Read more…]

5. Vote on hog “nuisance” lawsuits happened so fast, some lawmakers’ heads were spinning

In his next career, House Speaker Tim Moore should become a magician. On Thursday afternoon, a procedural sleight of hand wound up fast-tracking a controversial — and possibly unconstitutional — agriculture bill through its second reading.

House Bill 467 would limit the amount of damages plaintiffs could receive in litigation against hog farms. Under the measure, citizens could not sue over “quality of life” issues, such as odor. Payouts would be limited to the decrease in a property’s fair market or fair rental value. The bill would not only clamp down on future lawsuits but also the 26 that are pending against Murphy-Brown, which owns Smithfield Foods. It is being supported by several industry groups, including the NC Pork Council and the NC Farm Bureau.

During the regular House session, the first five bills slated for their second or third reading were being voted on in order. Suddenly, Moore broke with protocol and skipped over the next 11 bills, quickly calling for a vote on HB 467. As a result, several lawmakers were confused about the bill they were voting on. [Read more…]

***Upcoming event: Tuesday morning, April 18: NC Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation breakfast ****

Immigration policy in the era of Trump: Where do things stand in North Carolina? What is the reality “on the ground”? How can caring and thinking people speak out and push back?

The presidency of Barack Obama was no picnic for American immigrants. Despite the incessant and inaccurate attacks of nativist voices (including the current inhabitant of the White House), the Obama administration actually brought about more deportations of unauthorized immigrants than occurred under any previous president – often with only the barest minimum of due process and devastating human carnage resulting.

Tragically, however, things have gone from badly flawed to dreadful under the administration of Donald Trump.

Register here

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