In this issue:
North Carolina’s legislative session opened Wednesday with a controversy in the state House over a proposed rule change that would allow Republicans to call snap votes to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes.
The House rules adopted as temporary on Wednesday no longer include the section requiring advanced notice of veto override votes.
The legislature has a full slate of important issues it’s going to consider this session, including more curbs on abortion rights. House Republicans are one vote shy of a veto-proof majority, meaning they can override vetoes if all 71 vote together and not all Democrats are in their seats. A three-fifths majority of 120 House members present and voting are needed to override vetoes. The 50-member Senate needs 30 votes to override if all senators are there. Republicans have a veto-proof Senate majority.[Read more…]
The North Carolina legislative session begins Wednesday with a more conservative House and Senate and an environment in which GOP leaders will have an easier time pushing state laws and policies further to the right.
Republicans gained seats in both the House and Senate in the November election. The GOP won a veto-proof majority in the Senate and is one vote shy of a veto-proof majority in the House, making it much more likely that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes can be overturned.
Cooper vetoed 47 bills in the last four years, and none were overridden. He begins the last two years of his second term with nearly no cushion of Democratic votes in the legislature to sustain vetoes if all Republicans vote together.
The session promises to be an active one, with longstanding Republican goals standing a good chance of becoming law. [Read more…]
State government has scores of vitally important roles to play in modern North Carolina. The list of agencies and missions is a long one.
At a basic level, however, government’s most important task is – or at least ought to be – protecting the lives and health of the state’s residents. And so, while state lawmakers obviously have numerous priorities to weigh and debates to have during the 2023 legislative session that convenes tomorrow, one extremely efficient path for prioritizing their work, fulfilling their most basic duty, and making the state a measurably better place would be this: ending easily preventable deaths.
Here are five simple and straightforward policy steps legislators can pursue to save the lives of North Carolinians in 2023:[Read more…]
Around 6 o’clock on the evening of Friday, Dec. 30, when anyone who could be was mentally checked out for the holidays, the North Carolina Utilities Commission dropped one of its most important rulings of the last decade: The 137-page Carbon Plan, the commission’s directive to Duke Energy to drastically reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and to do its part in thwarting a planetary crisis.
However, many clean energy and environmental advocates quickly decried the plan as deferential to the utility. “Tragically, the NC Utilities Commission went along with Duke Energy’s massive, climate-wrecking fracked gas expansion,” Jim Warren, executive director of NC WARN, Duke’s perennial nemesis, wrote. “The commission also seemed to go along with Duke’s request to greatly limit new solar projects indefinitely pending billions in new – and likely controversial – transmission projects.” [Read more…]
The proposals were included within the final report written by the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee.
A committee of juvenile justice experts has recommended legislators approve a step pay plan for employees who work at juvenile detention centers.
The proposal comes a month after Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Justice Billy Lassiter told committee members North Carolina’s juvenile detention centers were understaffed and over-capacity, a combination that made it so difficult to retain employees in the low-paid positions that officials were offering bonuses just for people showing up to work.
Those employees’ starting salary is $34,500, an amount they can be stuck near for their whole career. Step pay plans allow for pay raises based on tenure and job performance, giving employees an incentive to remain employed at the juvenile detention centers. [Read more…]
6. NC’s youth are struggling. State officials say it’s time to get serious about mental health services.
As the North Carolina General Assembly returns to Raleigh this week for the 2023 session, state educators and healthcare providers are issuing an urgent call for improved student access to mental health services.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) was recently awarded $17 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help student mental health needs in 15 school districts. But during last week’s State Board of Education meeting, board members discussed the need for more recurring state dollars to sharply increase the number of school psychologists and school social workers.
In areas where those professionals are scarce, the NC Department of Health and Human Services is advocating for a $4.2 million pilot telehealth program that would help connect students with child and adolescent psychiatrists.
“[In] over half of our counties we don’t have a child health psychiatrist or we don’t have enough behavioral health workforce to work with children,” explained Dr. Charlene Wong, NCDHHS Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. “So this type of telehealth arrangement and delivering that in schools where children are is really a great way to increase access to these clinical evidence-based supports for kids.”[Read more…]
The new year in K-12 education is likely to look a lot like the past year with the Leandro school funding lawsuit and a controversial teacher and licensure proposal likely among the key issues North Carolina lawmakers will debate when their 2023 “long session” begins later this month.
Both topics garnered lots of attention toward the end of 2022.
In November, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling and ordered the General Assembly to hand over millions of dollars to pay for a long overdue school improvement plan.
The court’s Democratic majority ruled that the legislature must fund Years Two and Three of an eight-year, $5.6 billion school improvement plan. The plan calls for high-quality teachers and principals, improvements to school finance and accountability systems, and early childhood education programs, among others. [Read more…]
North Carolina’s K-3 students are rebounding from a pandemic-fueled slide in literacy skills, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt told the State Board of Education last week.
The superintendent made her remarks during the state board’s recent monthly meeting. She cited data from an assessment administered at the beginning of the school year.
Of the 454,000 students assessed, nearly 28,000 more performed at or above the benchmark when compared to the previous school year, Truitt said. [Read more…]
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Wednesday approved its first abortion-related measures under a new Republican majority, eliciting strong support from GOP members and opposition from Democrats, who rejected the legislation as misleading and incomplete.
Republicans, who secured a four-seat majority during the November midterm elections, said the bill setting medical standards on a national level for a baby born after an attempted abortion and a resolution condemning violence against anti-abortion organizations are central to the party’s ideals.
Democrats contended the medical standards bill from GOP Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri would circumvent health care providers’ medical judgment. [Read more…]
10. UNC program to spotlight affirmative action in admissions, abortion in public discussion series
UNC Chapel Hill’s Program for Public Discourse will begin 2023 with public discussions of affirmative action in university admissions and abortion – two divisive social issues, one now before the Supreme Court and the other a renewed battleground in state legislatures, including North Carolina’s.
In late October the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases over affirmative action in admissions at UNC-Chapel Hill and Harvard University, the nation’s first publicly funded university and its oldest private university respectively. In arguments lasting nearly six hours the court’s new conservative majority gave the impression they are leaning toward plaintiffs fighting to end the practice, with potential broad consequences for university diversity programs of all kinds.
A ruling is expected this month or early next. The February 24 panel discussion on the topic, part of the Abbey Speaker Series on the topic, should be timely. [Read more…]