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The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 16:00

1. Teacher development, struggling schools on chopping block as State Board of Ed implements G.A.-mandated cuts Members of North Carolina’s State Board of Education passed down $2.5 million in legislative cuts Tuesday, ordering layoffs and operations reductions that are most likely to impact professional development and support services for the state’s poor and low-performing districts. ...

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Week 4 of GenX sampling shows further decreases of chemical in drinking water

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 15:00

The NC Department of Environmental Quality yesterday released the results of the most recent sampling of drinking water contaminated with GenX.  Those results show that “finished water” — essentially what flows to people’s home faucets — in five treatment plants in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties have levels of the chemical below 140 parts ...

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Cooper signs Senate bill to help some North Carolinians expunge criminal records

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 13:45

North Carolinians with certain criminal records will now have an easier time accessing expungements. Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday signed into law Senate Bill 445, a bipartisan measure significantly expanding access to expungements, a process that erases criminal convictions in the eyes of the law. “The criminal justice system should not end in incarceration; it ...

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With public comment period, EPA takes first step in striking the key Waters of the US rule

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 12:15

Some wetlands, intermittent streams and other small but important bodies of water could be polluted with impunity if the EPA fully rescinds the Waters of the US rule. The agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers yesterday opened a public comment period on the repeal. Next, the EPA would begin to overhaul the definition ...

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Time to stop the foot-dragging and get serious about correcting NC’s legislative districts (video)

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 11:38

While the top news story of the day may be Sen. John McCain’s ‘No’ vote ending the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare, don’t miss our story over on the main Policy Watch site about Thursday’s court hearing on redrawing the state House and Senate districts, which  were unconstitutionally and racially gerrymandered. Courts and law reporter ...

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Justice Center: Time for Burr, Tillis to move beyond repeal discussion, make ACA work

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 11:00

The North Carolina Justice Center issued the following response to this morning’s Senate healthcare vote in which the latest Affordable Care Act repeal proposal was defeated: Relief for North Carolinians as ACA repeal effort fails General Assembly should seize opportunity to expand access to coverage for those in the Medicaid coverage gap Early this morning, ...

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Superintendent’s office: After controversial shutdown, full DPI communications resume Aug. 1

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 10:20

Full communications from the state’s top public school agency will resume Aug. 1, state Superintendent Mark Johnson’s office said Friday. Policy Watch reported this month on a controversial order from Johnson that staff in the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) would halt communications over a state listserv used to dispatch instructions and support to schools ...

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Immigrant rights groups to protest detentions, hold press conference this evening in Raleigh

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 09:31

An important announcement from immigrant rights advocates this morning: **MEDIA ADVISORY ** Immigrant rights groups will hold a press conference and rally to demand an end to immigrant detention Raleigh, NC – On Friday, immigrant rights groups and families of people in detention will hold a press conference and rally at the Wake County Public ...

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Victory on healthcare! (at least for now as Senate “skinny” repeal bill fails)

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 07:32

Another day and, happily, another stinging defeat for Trumpcare. Here’s the Associated Press: Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump’s agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama’s health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol. Unable to pass even a ...

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Justice Center: Trump’s transgender ban consistent with his “cruel and exclusionary view of the world”

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 17:30

The North Carolina Justice Center — parent organization of NC Policy Watch issued the following official statement late today condemning President Trump’s latest action to ban transgender Americans from serving in the armed forces. The North Carolina Justice Center is deeply disappointed in President Trump’s impulsive, disturbing and highly disruptive decision, announced as policy via Twitter, banning transgender individuals from serving in the ...

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Federal judges not pleased with Republican delay over redrawing unconstitutional racial gerrymanders

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 16:39

Two federal judges chided an attorney representing North Carolina lawmakers Thursday about not taking the redrawing of unconstitutional districts serious enough. “This is serious,” said 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Wynn. “You’re asking us to keep delaying it.” Wynn is part of a three-judge panel that previously found 28 State House and Senate ...

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In signing wind moratorium and executive order promoting wind energy, Gov. Cooper tries to have cake, eat it too

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 16:19

House Bill 589, a promising renewable energy bill until it was saddled with a last-minute wind farm moratorium, is now law. Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bill today. From the governor’s press release: A strong renewable energy industry is good for our environment and our economy. This bill is critical for the future of significant ...

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After two months, DEQ still hasn’t produced public records on $1.3 million SePro deal for chemicals in Jordan Lake

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 14:37

After more than two months, the NC Department of Environmental Quality still has not provided contracts and proposals regarding an Indiana-based company’s $1.3 million plan to chemically treat Jordan Lake — a plan that is now law. On May 19, NCPW filed a public records request with DEQ seeking any contracts and proposals, both draft ...

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Rep. Meadows played a key role in Trump’s disgraceful transgender military ban

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 12:56

President Trump’s announcement on Twitter Wednesday that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military not only caught the Pentagon and Congressional leaders completely off guard, it prompted criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. Senator John McCain, who earlier this week Trump called brave for returning to Washington to vote on health care despite ...

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New data: More confirmation that McCrory’s “Carolina Comeback” was illusory

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 09:51

The latest Prosperity Watch from Dr. Patrick McHugh at the N.C. Budget and Tax Center pours another big bucket of cold water on conservative claims (frequently trumpeted by former Governor pat McCrory) that their slash and burn austerity policies have somehow engineered a rousing economic comeback in North Carolina. The hard truth: North Carolina continues ...

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Tillis protesters back again today in response to disastrous Senate healthcare actions

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 07:01

An editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer has an extremely understated but accurate headline: “Burr, Tillis fail to lead on health care.” Perhaps there wasn’t enough room for “Burr, Tillis vote to continue outrageous efforts to condemn thousands of their fellow citizens to premature deaths.” Here’s the lead from the editorial: ...

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Déjà vu: Well-known GOP mapmaker to consult again for lawmakers redrawing unconstitutional districts

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 17:26

North Carolina Republican legislative leaders will hire the same mapmaker largely responsible for the racially gerrymandered maps that are court-ordered to be redrawn. Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) broke the news that Tom Hofeller would be consulting for the GOP at the first joint legislative committee meeting Wednesday. Democrats, he added, will not have access to ...

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Essential nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is now at risk by proposed amendment

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:56

Nonpartisan federal government agencies that often go unnoticed but are vital for good government include the U.S Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The CBO, for example, has provided Congress with budgetary and economic information in a variety of ways and at various points in the legislative process for over 40 years. ...

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Report finds North Carolina includes some of the most and least educated cities in America

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 13:49

In case you missed it, here’s a fascinating story from The News & Observer on a new report that ranks North Carolina cities among the most, and least, educated in the nation. It captures a fascinating dichotomy that falls, coincidentally, with news that the state will pursue an independent consultant to consider the varying quality ...

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Complaint: Lawmakers could be sued over leachate bill because their election wasn’t legit

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 13:18

If lawmakers override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the leachate aerosolization bill, they could open themselves to a lawsuit, according to court documents filed in the Covington redistricting case. Attached to a legal brief is a declaration and a letter from the Southern Environmental Law Center. It states that since 28 seats in the legislature ...

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