NC Policy Watch's the Progessive Pulse

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New study shows that state lost billions of dollars and thousands of jobs by refusing Medicaid expansion; Legislators can still change course.

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 13:25
A new report from Cone Health Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust finds that North Carolina lost out on billions of dollars and thousands of jobs by refusing to close the Medicaid coverage gap in 2014 and 2015. If the state acts in 2016, however, we can recoup some lost ground by covering 500,000 ...

Breaking: Supreme Court upholds state redistricting plan

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:52
It took close to a year from the date of argument,  but as expected by many the state Supreme Court today handed down its decision, upholding the 2011 redistricting plan. The justices voted along party lines in the 4-2 opinion in Dickson v. Rucho, with Justice Robert Edmunds writing the opinion for the majority. Justices Cheri Beasley and ...

New report: Tillis, McHenry among top recipients of payday lending industry campaign cash

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:30
Payday lenders (and other short-term lenders) along with their trade associations have spent more than $13 million on lobbying and campaign donations since 2013, according to a new report put out by the Americans for Financial Reform (AFR). The report is particularly troubling because it comes at a time when the government is finally beginning ...

Five education stories that you don’t want to miss this week

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:04
Virtual charter schools advance in North Carolina – One of the first decisions the State Board of Education may make in 2015 is whether to allow two virtual charter schools to operate in North Carolina. Sarah Ovaska has a great run down of the players in her story this week: Virtual charter schools on path ...

McCrory’s brewing ethics problem

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 08:14
The controversy surrounding Governor Pat McCrory’s acceptance of more than $170,000 from a mortgage company with a checkered past after he took office last year may or may not turn into a legal/ethics problem for the Governor. Regardless of where this whole thing leads, however, there are at least two preliminary takeaways from the affair ...

‘Tis the season for judicial introspection?

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 15:31
Maybe it’s the time of year, but it seems that there’s been more than a handful of reports these past few weeks about judges who are taking critical look at how court decisions are impacting their communities. There’s this story out of South Carolina, where yesterday Judge Carmen Tevis Mullen vacated the 1944 conviction of a black 14-year-old boy charged ...

Death sentences at 40-year low; death penalty remains threat to innocents, justice

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 15:30
The NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty reports that the number of exonerations have reached a record pace, with North Carolina in its eighth year without executions. However, the death penalty remains a threat to innocent people “sentenced to die on the thinnest of evidence,” many of whom have been incarcerated for more ...

President Obama: North Carolina’s Newsmaker of 2014

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 14:26
Make sure you check out Policy Watch’s main page for the most recent article in the Fitzsimon File, which argues persuasively that President Obama made a bigger impact on North Carolina this year than anyone else, on either side of the political aisle. On the Republican side, one name was brought up more during the ...

Duke Energy agrees to clean-up coal ash sites in South Carolina

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 14:25
The Southern Environmental Law Center on Thursday announced an agreement in principle with Duke Energy for the utility to remove all of the coal ash at its W.S. Lee facility from the banks of the Saluda River near Greenville and Anderson, South Carolina, to safer dry, lined storage away from the river. “With this announcement, ...

To Pope groups, “public” is a dirty word

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:24
Sometimes, its hard to figure where the folks on the far right are coming from in their crusade to sell off our public structures to the highest bidder. For some, plain, old-fashioned greed clearly plays a part, but with columns like this recent little doozy from the Pope-Civitas Institute, it’s clear that something else is ...

An update and a clarification on controversial mortgage broker legislation

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 10:24
As reported earlier this week, a committee of the General Assembly will meet tomorrow to, by all indications, recommend legislation to loosen regulations on mortgage brokers. As also reported in the story, consumer advocates believe that the proposals to lower bonding requirements and do away with  the requirement of audited financial statements for regulated businesses ...

Data Tools for Policymaking: Nominal Wage Tracker

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 09:55
One key measure to assess the strength of the recovery is to look at how nominal wages, wages not adjusted for inflation, grow over time. The reason being that low and flat nominal wage growth is an indicator that employers don’t have to offer wage increases to keep employees since the labor market market continues ...

Another editorial blasts cuts to driver’s ed

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 07:43
We’ve reported on several of the unwise cuts imposed or forced by state lawmakers and Governor McCrory in the past year — from cuts in child care to the courts to basic school supplies. This morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer highlights another ill-conceived and likely dangerous decision: the cuts to driver’s education ...

Independent voters more active in 2014 election, but many still dissuaded by law changes

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 16:40
New data put out today by Democracy NC found that voter participation was higher in the state for the 2014 midterm election than it was in 2010. In general, voter turnout increased across the board for most subgroups but the most significant increase came from the group of unaffiliated voters. Of the 250,600 more people ...

Koch brothers shape North Carolina’s history curriculum

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:01
In case you missed it, there is an excellent article on the main Policy Watch site today that highlights the unfortunate problems with the new history curriculum financed by the arch-conservative Koch family. The Bill of Rights Institute, funded by the Koch family and whose Board includes Koch employees, received a contract to help develop ...

A missed opportunity in the Supreme Court’s Heien decision

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:40
The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court handed their counterparts in North Carolina a victory this week, affirming the state Supreme Court’s ruling in State v. Heien and holding that that a traffic stop is justified if based upon an officer’s reasonable but mistaken belief that a violation of law has occurred. Heien, you may recall, involved ...

Condition of farmworkers in NC now an international human rights matter

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 07:34
How bad is the situation for farmworkers in North Carolina these days? This ridiculously bad: A member of the British parliament gave a speech yesterday in the House of Commons in which he spoke about his fact-finding mission here and likened what he found to “modern slavery.” It’s hard to know what’s worse: that we’re ...

Senate confirms Biggs as federal judge in NC

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 07:23
Just before midnight, the U.S. Senate confirmed by voice vote a slew of pending Obama judicial candidates, including Loretta Copeland Biggs, who will serve in the state’s Middle District. Biggs will take the seat opened up by Judge James Beaty, who nows serves on senior status. Her addition to the court is welcome news and will ...

Advocates for women’s health to rally Friday in support of reasonable abortion provider regs

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 15:16
The state Department of Health and Human Services will be holding a hearing this Friday morning on new proposed abortion provider regulations. As explained in this recent post by the good people at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, there is actually cause for optimism that the rules will not unduly burden women’s health. That said, anti-choice ...

More on virtual charter school companies in front of N.C. education committee tomorrow

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:54
Two for-profit companies vying to tap into public education funding streams and enroll thousands of North Carolina children into virtual charter schools will be in front of a state education committee tomorrow. A special committee designated by the State Board of Education to review virtual charter school applications will meet from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ...

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