In this issue:
1. General Assembly asking for info on DEI at UNC campuses as GOP targets diversity efforts
This week the N.C. General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations requested documents related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) training programs through the UNC System and all of its 17 campuses.
The request, according to a Tuesday letter from Derrick Welch, director of Senate Majority Staff Government Operations, is part of the commission’s “inquiry into university employee training programs administered through the UNC System or its member universities.” [Read more…]
2. State House committee advances latest version of anti-Critical Race Theory legislation
Republicans defend bill as promoting equality, while Democrats forecast chilling impact on honest classroom discussions
Rep. Ken Fontenot, a Wilson County Republican, vigorously defended House Bill 187 this week, contending that the bill restricting how educators teach about race, gender and sexuality, would prevent educators from teaching racially divisive doctrines.
Fontenot, who is Black, noted that HB 187, which is innocuously titled “Equality in Education” would prevent North Carolina educators from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT). [Read more…]
3. Déjà vu: NC Supreme Court rehears arguments in voter ID case
For the second time in two days, the Republican-majority high court rehears arguments in a case decided by a Democratic majority just months ago
The North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on whether a voter ID law passed in 2018 was intended to discriminate against prospective voters of color.
The high court issued a ruling in the case just three months ago, under a previous Democratic majority. That court ruled the voter ID bill was unconstitutional because lawmakers enacted the legislation “with an impermissible intent to discriminate against African American voters in violation of the North Carolina Constitution.” [Read more...]
4. State Supreme Court revisits redistricting rulings it issued in just months ago
A Democratic court majority struck down maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders, but a new GOP majority has been asked to do an about-face.
State Republican legislators Tuesday brought their argument that courts cannot bar partisan redistricting to a friendlier state Supreme Court than the one that ruled against them last year.
If Republican legislators secure all they want from the high court, they will be able to redraw state House and Senate districts, in addition to congressional voting districts, for the 2024 election without concern that state courts will find them unconstitutionally partisan.[Read more…]
5. North Carolina’s maternal mortality rate increased sharply during the pandemic, according to newly released data
The death rate in in North Carolina for women within 42 days of giving birth doubled from 2019 to 2021, according to CDC data released by the investigative news organization MuckRock.
The death rate in 2019 was 22 per 100,000 births. The next year, the rate per 100,000 births increased to 29 then spiked to 44 in 2021.
“It’s a huge jump, especially in such a short period of time,” said Keisha Bentley-Edwards, a Duke University researcher who studies health equity. Black women continued to be more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes.[Read more…]
Bonus read: NC maternal death rate exceeds national rate
6. House committee advances bill to erase language in law describing minor offenses that lead to school suspensions
A bill stripping language from current law that provides examples of student conduct that’s not serious enough for suspension or expulsion received a favorable hearing Tuesday before the House Standing Committee on Education – K-12.
House Bill 188 removes from state law the use of inappropriate or disrespectful language, noncompliance with a staff directive, dress code violations and minor physical altercations that do not involve weapons or injury as misconduct that is not serious enough to warrant lengthy suspensions or expulsions. [Read more…]
7. NC Gov. Cooper presents budget proposal with 18% average raises for teachers
Gov. Roy Cooper released his proposed $32.9 billion state budget that includes hefty raisesforteachers that he said would raise average teacher salaries to No.1 in the Southeast.
Teachers and principals would see average salary increases of 18% over two years under the plan Cooper presented Wednesday. His budget also restores master’s pay for teachers and includes retention bonuses.[Read more…]
8. Gov. Cooper asks for 23% increase in DEQ budget to help cash-strapped agency
The NC Department of Environmental Quality is the Oliver Twist of state government, approaching the legislature, its empty bowl extended, and pleading: “Please sir, I want some more.”
Over the past 10 years state lawmakers have been notoriously stingy in its appropriations to the department. They have flaunted their distaste of environmental regulation, not only by introducing bills to hamper such efforts, but also by starving the agency, which has subsisted on the financial version of gruel. [Read more…]
9. EPA proposes new rule to crack down on PFAS, forever chemicals in our water
The EPA today announced its proposed maximum contaminant levels — MCLs — for six types of toxic PFAS in drinking water and acknowledged that no amount of these compounds is safe.
“EPA anticipates if fully implemented the rule will prevent tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable illnesses or deaths,” the agency wrote in a slide presentation obtained by Policy Watch. [Read more…]
10. ‘Good, serious ideas’: Commission on university governance talks transparency, amplifying student voices
Should students and faculty have more prominent voices on boards of trustees at UNC System schools? Should the system’s board of governors elect members geographically, be more transparent and open to public input? And would any of these suggestions matter to a Republican dominated legislature resistant to such changes?
These were a few of the questions members of the Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina tackled in its third public listening session on Monday. The session, held at the Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce, drew a sparse but vocal crowd — typical of the listening sessions held so far.[Read more…]
11. A terrible bet: North Carolina should not cave in to the sports gambling onslaught
North Carolina elected leaders have enacted several ineffective and misleading laws over the years, but when it comes to undermining public confidence in government and taking advantage of vulnerable people, the badly misnamed “education lottery” has to be near the bottom of any “worst of” list.
The lottery – which became law in 2005 after surviving some close and sketchy votes in the General Assembly – was sold to lawmakers and the public as harmless entertainment that would provide a magical boon to the state’s public schools. Indeed, lottery ads still promote this fiction.
But it never was such a thing.[Read more…]
12. Weekly Radio Interviews and Daily Audio Commentaries: