North Carolina’s redistricting plans have drawn major court involvement over the last few years, and it’s not looking promising that trend will change in 2018.
There are five pending redistricting cases, four of which have had some action in the past month and it’s not easy to keep them straight. They involve legislative and congressional maps, partisan and racial gerrymandering and state and federal courts.
The state is so deep in litigation over its maps that it’s not even clear what the elections later this year will look like for certain voting districts. Policy Watch has put together a helpful guide on where things currently stand and in which court. [Read more …]
*** Bonus reads:
- Gerrymandering plaintiffs: Supreme Court should not block special master’s plan 
- Filing: GOP secretaries of state support NC lawmakers’ request to block special master’s plans 
While its House counterpart was holding hearings and hammering out legislation, the Senate Select Committee on River Quality has met one time. It has proposed not a single bill. Since Oct. 3, the committee has essentially disappeared.
Senate River Quality members, along with the rest of their Senate colleagues, then bailed on a vote to study the problem of GenX and emerging contaminants and to fund DEQ to do the work.
Now, four of the Senate committee members — Trudy Wade, Andy Wells, Bill Rabon and Michael Lee — have sent a letter to the EPA Region 4 administrator asking that the federal government audit DEQ.
The senators requested that the EPA review environmental officials’ handling of the NPDES program — federal wastewater discharge permits whose authority are delegated to the states. Under the guise of “assistance to North Carolina” the subtext of the two-page letter is that DEQ has independently decided, through rules and procedures, not to protect human health and the environment. [Read more …]
*** Bonus read:
- Analysis of campaign finance reports: Ag, environmental interests spent generously in second half of 2017 
3. A rare chance to make trickledown economics work 
Why regulators should order utilities and insurance companies to pass along their federal tax windfalls
When Congress and the Trump administration enacted their massive tax cuts for profitable corporations and wealthy individuals at the end of 2017, they (and the corporate special interests behind the scheme) promised – as they always do – that benefits of the cuts would “trickle down” through the economy to average Americans.
You know how this conservative mantra goes:
We’re going to put more money in the pockets of entrepreneurs and innovators so they’ll have the freedom to create new growth and opportunities that will trickle down throughout the American economy!” [Read more …]
4. School administrators report: Benefits of school funding overhaul “ambiguous” 
The benefits of a comprehensive overhaul for North Carolina’s school funding system are “at best, ambiguous,” says a new report from the state’s top lobbying outfit for public school administrators.
Officials with the N.C. Association of School Administrators (NCASA) turned over their weighty report to state lawmakers Wednesday, with legislators on a joint task force still gathering feedback on a possible K-12 funding model facelift in the coming months.
NCASA leaders said they consulted superintendents, finance chiefs and experts from across North Carolina in developing their recommendations, which, above all, emphasized that legislators’ policy and overall funding decisions are of greater import than the type of funding model they ultimately choose.[Read more …]
*** Bonus read:
- Innovative School Superintendent needs more time to find turnaround operator for low-performing school 
5. Ideological battles at UNC continue as board considers equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion report 
Last week the UNC Board of Governors received a report summarizing Equal Opportunity and Diversity & Inclusion services at the system’s 17 schools and whether they could be consolidated and centralized for cost savings.
The short answer, according to the report: Consolidation is possible, but isn’t likely to save much money. Also, doing so could hurt the good work being done across the system to conform to federal equal opportunity rules and create more diverse and inclusive campus communities.
In a committee meeting ahead of last week’s full board meeting, some of the more conservative members of the almost entirely Republican board questioned the “return on investment” of the diversity programs and personnel and criticized how the work is done. [Read more …]
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