News

Five things to have on your radar this week

#1 – Constitutional amendment on the fast track – Despite concerns voiced in committee last week, the NC House is prepared to give final approval to House Bill 1092 this afternoon allowing voters to amend the constitution and require a photo voter ID to vote in North Carolina. Qualified voters of the State would decide the issue during the general election this November.

Last week NC NAACP President T. Anthony Spearman detailed the harms of passing such a vague and discriminatory measure:

The House is also expected to pass another constitutional amendment (Senate Bill 677) this afternoon – protecting the right to hunt and fish.

Before the Senate goes into session, members of the Senate Judiciary committee are expected to advance two proposed constitutional amendments:

  • Strengthening Victims’ Rights (aka Marsy’s Law) (H551)
  • Judicial Vacancy Sunshine Amendment. (S814)

Judiciary meets at 1:00pm, with the full Senate in session at 1:30pm.

#2 – Close the Gap Advocacy Day -This year’s legislative session is quickly drawing to a close but health care advocates and activists gather Tuesday to continue the drumbeat and speak out on the positive impact that Medicaid expansion would have for North Carolina. Read more

News

The week’s Top Stories on Policy Watch

1. DHHS investigating suspected cancer cluster near Lake Norman

Two areas near Lake Norman have reported statistically higher than expected incidences of thyroid cancer, according to a May 29 letter obtained Tuesday by Policy Watch from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Most of the cases occurred in two Zip Codes: 28115 and 28117. The state undertook the analysis because of community reports of thyroid cancer, including several cases involving teenage girls.

Thyroid cancer is unusual in young people. It more commonly affects women in their 40s and 50s.

In preparing the assessment, the state’s Central Cancer Registry and the Division of Public Health concluded that from 1995 to 2016 the observed number of thyroid cancer cases in the 28115 Zip Code was two times the expected number.

In the 28117 Zip Code, the observed number was more than double over the same time period, and three times higher from 2012 to 2016. [Read more…]

2. Susan Wind had a reason to press state officials about a possible cancer cluster near Lake Norman. Her daughter had the disease.

3. Round-up: NCGA discusses four constitutional amendments — hunting and fishing, voter ID, victims’ rights, legislative appointment of judges

4. Local election officials detail problems with controversial early voting bill

5. Late session chaos: Lawmakers send a flood of bad bills to Cooper (and it could get worse this week)

6. New voter suppression proposals echo North Carolina’s dark past

immigration, News

Tillis weighs in on Trump policy of separating immigrant children from parents at the border

North Carolina U.S. Senator Thom Tillis took to Twitter to state his disapproval of the controversial practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the border.

Under mounting pressure, Tillis urged Congress to adopt an immigration reform policy that would be compassionate to children, but also discourage illegal border crossings.

Tillis’ three tweets were met with numerous calls for him to go a step further and co-sign the Keep Families Together Act.

SB 3036 has been signed by every Senate Democrat, and (as of this writing) yet to attract any Republican Senators.

Here are just a few of the responses Sen. Tillis received from his constituents on social media:

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr has yet to issue a public statement on the ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

Learn more about the Keep Families Together Act.

Defending Democracy, News

Democracy NC: Why North Carolinians should be wary of the legislature’s vague new voter ID proposal

If you missed it over the weekend, be sure to listen to NC Policy Watch’s radio interview with Democracy NC Executive Director Tomas Lopez on the legislature’s plan to pass a voter ID constitutional amendment before adjourning. Lopez explains how this voter ID proposal is different and perhaps more worrisome than what lawmakers put forth in 2013. Click below to listen to the full interview with Lopez and Policy Watch’s Rob Schofield:


Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Stories on NC Policy Watch

1. Conservative leaders go with corporate power over human wellbeing (and even property rights)

It usually happens a few times every legislative session: at some point during their annual stay in the state capital, North Carolina lawmakers come to a bellwether moment or two at which they provide a full expression of who they are and what they stand for. Sometimes, these moments are about race; sometimes they are about human rights or civil liberties; sometimes they are about basic questions of environmental sustainability; and sometimes they are about the clash of human beings and corporations.

Recently, we arrived at one such moment that arguably relates to all four categories. It happened when lobbyists for one of the state’s most powerful and frequently destructive industries prevailed upon conservative leaders in the state Senate to insert some significant new law changes into a previously innocuous bill. The changes would alter the relationship between industrial hog factories (“farms” seems much too genteel of a term to describe these massive and grim operations) and the mostly powerless people of limited means (many of them people of color) who tend to live nearby.

As Policy Watch environmental reporter Lisa Sorg has reported here, here and here, legislators are seeking to make it much more difficult for individuals and families injured by the overpowering and life-degrading output of these massive, corporate-controlled operations – the stench, the airborne fecal matter, the insect swarms, the buzzards, the truckloads of hog carcasses – to bring common law nuisance suits against the multinational corporations that control them. The action is in direct response to a series of lawsuits brought against the pork giant, Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of the Chinese corporate behemoth known as the WH Group. [Read more…]

***Bonus:  WATCH: Republican legislator chide colleagues on rushed process, legislation to protect “one giant corporation” (video)

2. Early voting bill stirs controversy among watchdogs, Board of Elections

3. GOP leaders seek to poison school safety bill with partisan attack on the Affordable Care Act

4. Allegations of sexism, partisanship follow local election board’s disqualification of Berger challenger

5. Landowners along potential MVP Southgate path fighting unwanted land agents still waiting for attorney general to intervene

6. PW exclusive: Previously undisclosed fiscal note says victims’ rights constitutional amendment could cost state millions

7. N.C. State’s hyped voucher study tells us nothing about N.C.’s voucher program