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Stories and voice that matter | A blog from NC Policy Watch
Updated: 2 hours 18 min ago

Attorney General expands opioid investigation, calls for more funding to battle crisis

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 16:43

Attorney General Josh Stein is joining 40 other state attorneys general in an expanded investigation of five opioid manufacturers and three opioid distributors, he announced in a Tuesday press conference. The investigation will look into how the companies may have contributed to the national opioid epidemic through their business, advertising and marketing practices. Approximately 1,600 ...

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State, not local government, to blame for poor school conditions, Appeals Court rules

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 14:44

The local government in one eastern North Carolina county can’t be held responsible for “serious problems” with chronically underachieving local schools, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday. Responsibility for Halifax County’s lagging district falls instead on North Carolina’s state legislature and its executive branch, judges argued. That ruling comes after five students in the county ...

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Illegal oil and gas commission postponed, one statement of economic interest still missing

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 14:10

The state oil and gas commission, which had planned to meet, albeit illegally, in Sanford tomorrow, has been postponed for at least a month. Jim Womack, whose chairmanship is in dispute, told Policy Watch that he decided to cancel the meeting because the state ethics commission didn’t have adequate time to review the members’ statement ...

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NC appeals court rules against NC WARN in Greensboro solar power case

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:48

The nonprofit environmental group NC WARN was acting as a public utility when it provided solar power to a Greensboro church, the NC Appellate Court ruled 2-1 today. The decision favored Duke Energy, Dominion Energy and the NC Public Utilities Commission public staff, which had argued that NC WARN’s financial arrangement was infringing on the ...

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Cooper blasts latest Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:04

Add Governor Roy Cooper to the list of lawmakers speaking out against the so-called Graham-Cassidy health care bill. In a statement released by his press office Tuesday, Gov. Cooper said the latest effort to repeal and replace the ACA would leave many North Carolinains worse off: “The latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act ...

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Mark Johnson’s hometown newspaper: State courts must reject his bid for unchecked power in education

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:39

This morning’s lead editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal is on the money with its assessment of a lawsuit challenging the efforts of state lawmakers to bestow essentially unfettered control of North Carolina schools on the state’s rookie superintendent of public instruction  (click here to read Policy Watch reporter Melissa Boughton’s summary of the case from ...

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Report: N.C. drops seven from list of schools eligible for charter takeover

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 15:00

Seven North Carolina schools are off North Carolina’s list of 48 eligible for the state’s controversial charter takeover model, WRAL reported Monday. According to the news station, state officials with the Innovative School District (ISD) removed those schools because they are receiving federal grants aimed at turning around academic performance. From WRAL: “Those (federal) funds ...

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After plaintiff objection, redrawn legislative maps now in hands of federal court

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:05

The plaintiffs in North Carolina’s recent racial gerrymandering case already made clear to lawmakers’ that their new legislative maps were flawed but filed an official objection Friday with the federal court. The filing states that while the court found 28 state House and Senate districts to be unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered, lawmakers altered 116 districts and ...

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Five things to have on your radar this week

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:16

#1 DACA in Crisis; Panel Discussion A panel of lawyers, activists, and students gather Monday evening at the FedEx Global Education Center in Chapel Hill to discuss the future for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. Panelists will discuss how to protect students and how to support the undocumented and ‘DACAmented’ community. Panelists include: ...

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Weekend editorials agree: NC must stop denying climate change and sea-level rise

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 07:27

Enough is enough: that’s the obvious conclusion of multiple weekend editorials from around North Carolina when it comes to conservative, head-in-the-sand denials of climate change and sea-level rise. With yet another major hurricane brewing in the Atlantic basin, the message delivered by the editorials is clear. It’s time to stop denying and staring doing something. ...

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Chemours’s lawyers fight back against DEQ; let’s parse the arguments

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 10:33

Chemours’s attorneys have accused the NC Department of Environmental Quality of disregarding “even the most basic rudiments of fair play and process,” when it required the company to stop discharging Nafion into the Cape Fear River. Travis Fain at WRAL reported Chemours’s response and posted the letter yesterday evening. In the letter dated Sept. 8, Chemours ...

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Report: With DACA’s fate uncertain, U.S. universities look to protect immigrants

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 16:30

A new report from the Associated Press indicates the swirling confusion surrounding President Trump’s order last week to rescind DACA has some universities searching for ways to protect immigrant students. The news comes with national outlets reporting a tenuous deal between Democrats and Trump on the order, which would eventually remove Obama-era protections for certain ...

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The cost of securing “Silent Sam”

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 16:00

As the controversy over Confederate monuments  heads to the North Carolina Historical Commission on Sept. 22, we thought it was worth asking the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill what it costs to secure “Silent Sam,” the Confederate monument that has become the most recent flash point in the controversy. MC VanGraafeiland, media relations ...

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DACA recipients, advocates, legal experts pushing for clean passage of DREAM Act

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 15:15

Recipients of DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — and advocates are “laser-focused” getting the DREAM Act passed with no strings attached, according to a media teleconference Friday. “That is the line that we’re holding,” said Greisa Martinez Rosas, a DACA-recipient and Advocacy Director of United We Dream. President Donald Trump’s administration announced ...

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The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 14:45

1. Web of local money, political connections behind legislature’s decision to bypass DEQ in GenX clean-up The fire is elusive, but the smoke is thick. An analysis of professional and political relationships among major players in the GenX crisis shows the connections that led to a controversial state appropriation made by state lawmakers during the ...

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DEQ delays water quality decision, dealing setback to Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:20

Just a week ago, the utility companies behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline had urged federal regulators to fast track their application, citing “contractual obligations.” Their letter claimed that “the state’s actions for water quality certifications and other state requirements are proceeding and align with our anticipated construction schedule.” Apparently, that was merely wishful thinking. The NC ...

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BREAKING: First woman president of NC AFL-CIO elected

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 10:57

This just in from the good people at the North Carolina state AFL-CIO: North Carolina’s Labor Federation Elects First Woman President Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan Succeeds First African-American President James Andrews (Atlantic Beach, N.C., September 15, 2017) MaryBe McMillian becomes the first woman to lead the North Carolina labor movement after being unanimously elected President of ...

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As if GenX in the water wasn’t troubling enough, now it could be in the air

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 09:47

  When the groundwater tests for GenX came back, DEQ staff weren’t particularly surprised that nearly every monitoring well around the Chemours plant was contaminated with high levels of the compound. After all, that’s the source of GenX in the Cape Fear River and drinking water downstream. But what did surprise them is that one ...

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Legislature creates school funding task force, but appears unwilling and unable to seriously examine NC’s school funding needs

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 08:21

This week, the General Assembly announced which legislators will serve on the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform. The Task Force, created via the 2017 budget bill, is charged with developing recommendations to radically overhaul North Carolina’s school finance system. A serious review of North Carolina’s school finance system could substantially benefit the ...

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New data: Despite small gains, far too many people in poverty still left behind

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 15:19

New data today released from the US Census Bureau shows that 1.5 million North Carolinians lived in poverty in 2016. At 15.4 percent, the rate of poverty in N.C. has dropped by 1 percentage point from the previous year, yet still remains higher than pre-recession levels. Income has followed similar trends to the poverty rate. ...

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