Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. The Right wages class warfare in Washington
Will Burr and Tillis really vote for this?

For much of the 20th Century, one of the labels that American politicians of a progressive bent feared most was the accusation that they were engaging in “class warfare.” Even for many on the left, the concept of class warfare – that is, of attempting to motivate and mobilize people of low and/or modest income to rise up against the wealthy – was widely frowned upon as antithetical to the nation’s longstanding tradition as a broadly middle class (or even class free) society. Forty years ago, the iconic liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith dismissed the idea of waging class warfare against the rich in America as “uncouth.”

Today, sadly, this aversion to class warfare seems quaint – and not because the left got over its queasiness about the subject. In 21st century America (a nation in which three individuals own more than the bottom half of the country combined), class war has been declared and is being waged – often in blitzkrieg form – by the wealthy and the politicians they control in Washington and in dozens of state capitals. [Read more…]

2. Legislators consider abolishing teacher salary schedule as they study NC school funding labyrinth

A pivotal legislative task force may be just beginning its dive into North Carolina’s school funding maze, but lawmakers’ hints that they may abolish the state’s teacher salary schedule or other state-set funding allocations is already spurring criticism from local district advocates.

Talk of nixing a state-set pay scale emerged this year when lawmakers took on a revamp of school principal pay, and it’s resurfaced multiple times in the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform’s first meetings in November.

Yet local district leaders and their advocates in Raleigh say the proposal may only exacerbate the state’s looming pay disparities between wealthy and poor counties, spur employment lawsuits and complicate matters for local school boards. [Read more…]

3. Updated maps: Where judges land in judicial redistricting bill to be considered by Senate

Few issues in the North Carolina’s contentious policy wars have been more consistently front and center during the past year than the future of the state judiciary.

The battle was first joined during a series of special legislative sessions that were called  after the 2016 election and has continued to the present day.

In September, during yet another special session and in anticipation of its consideration by the House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting, NC Policy Watch prepared and analyzed the effects of a proposed judicial redistricting bill (House Bill 717) and the new maps it would have enacted.

Since that time, however, the House has passed a new version of HB 717 containing different maps that the Senate is expected to consider in January. Indeed, some Senators have already considered the maps in the latest version of HB 717 without access to full information about which judges and counties would be affected by the redrawing of judicial and prosecutorial districts. [Read more…]

4. UNC Board of Trustees face growing pressure to remove Silent Sam
The controversy over “Silent Sam,” the Confederate monument on UNC’s Chapel Hill campus, has been raging for decades. But it appears to be approaching a critical point this year as students, faculty, staff and community members push for removal of the statue in the wake of deadly white supremacist violence at the University of Virginia.

At a rally on campus Tuesday and a UNC Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, those who oppose the statue again called for its removal and decried the recently revealed UNC Police operation that infiltrated the protest movement using an undercover officer.

UNC History Professor William Sturkey spoke at a rally on campus Tuesday, saying the undercover operation undercut the central values of the university. [Read more…]

5. Opponents, supporters turn out in force over air permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The deadline for public comment on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s air permit is Monday, Nov. 20: publiccomments@ncdenr.gov

At Garysburg Town Hall, 60 or so people had arranged themselves as if at a wedding, where the families of the bride and groom sit on opposite sides of the aisle. Already, the marriage was doomed.

“Is this the reasonable side?” asked a man named Tom Betts, as he took his seat. The vice-chairman of the Nash County Development Commission and a regular at these meetings, had driven 45 miles to support the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s application for an air quality permit. The NC Department of Environmental Quality was holding a public hearing on the permit, which would regulate emissions from a compressor station in Pleasant Hill, in Northampton County near the Virginia border. [Read more…]

*** Bonus environmental read:Neutering nuisance laws in North Carolina ***

Upcoming event on Nov. 29: Individual tickets now available for Spotlight on Journalism – a benefit for NC Policy Watch

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