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Updated: 21 min 51 sec ago

Hobby Lobby wins and women’s health loses at Supreme Court

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:56
The US Supreme Court decided today that “closely held” corporations that object to contraceptives on religious grounds can deny this preventive coverage to female employees. There will be a great deal of constitutional banter on this opinion but, not being a constitutional scholar, I will make a few practical points. First, when HHS wrote this popular ...

What Hagan and Tillis are saying about today’s Supreme Court rulings

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:45
Monday’s Supreme Court rulings on contraceptive coverage for women and public sector unions are predictably bringing very different reactions from U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, her Republican challenger. Hagan released a statement calling the Hobby Lobby v. Burwell ruling ‘shameful’: “I am extremely disappointed in today’s Supreme Court decision. It is shameful that ...

Hobby Lobby: The best eight lines from Justice Ginsburg’s dissent

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:21
As reported in numerous places — click here for Ian Millhiser’s quick take at the for the Center for American Progress — the widely-dreaded Hobby Lobby decision came down today from the U.S. Supreme Court. In response, the good folks at Mother Jones posted the following article. On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering ...

Five must read stories to start your work week

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:44
Supreme Court Deals Sharp Blow To Public Sector Unions  Session stalemate no help to Tillis campaign Yes, if You Cut Taxes, You Get Less Tax Revenue (and why NC should pay attention) Third health insurer to enter NC exchange for 2015 Bacon Academy management company earns millions from schools  

Editorials condemn amendment allowing charter school secrecy on salaries

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 08:00
In case you missed it over the weekend, the Wilmington StarNews had another good editorial concerning the efforts of some of the state’s public charter schools to keep the salaries they pay secret and en effort by lawmakers to approve of the secrecy. “The public has a right to know who works for its government ...

Consensus on the Supreme Court?

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 14:23
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court will wrap up its term with decisions expected in two remaining cases. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc., the justices will decide whether the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate unconstitutionally impinges upon the company’s religious freedom. (Read more about the case here.) In Harris v. Quinn, the justices will decide whether home ...

Don’t visit the failures of high-stakes testing on special needs children

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 13:18
This week, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan announced that the Department of Education will require states to make a comparisons between students with special needs and their counterparts who have not been so-identified. In the past, the United States Department of Education only asked that schools districts follow timelines and procedures by ensuring that correct ...

Prosperity Watch: State sees boom in ultra-low-wage jobs

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:35
We keep hearing that North Carolina’s economy is turning around. But while it’s true that we’re slowly making progress in replacing the jobs lost during the Great Recession, the bad news is that the overwhelming majority of these new jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet. In fact, many don’t pay enough to ...

Most voting discrimination is local

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:28
Deserved or not,  Jasper, Texas — population 7600 —  has become known to those living in other regions of the country as a hot bed of racist activity. It was in Jasper in 1998 that three white men chained a black man, 49-year-old James Byrd, Jr., to the rear bumper of a pick-up truck and dragged his ...

A life well-lived: RIP Cy King

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:46
We lost Cy King this week. As Anne Blythe of Raleigh’s News & Observer reported in this excellent story yesterday, the veteran progressive activist passed away on Wednesday after a brief illness at age 92. Would that we could all look back at the end of our days on a life so well and richly ...

Monday deadline looms for eugenics compensation

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:32
Monday marks the deadline for victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program to apply for compensation. Some 7500 men and women were involuntarily sterilized in North Carolina between 1929 and 1974 under the authority of the state Eugenics Board.  It’s estimated fewer than 2,000 of those individuals are still alive. Last year lawmakers set aside $10 ...

Charter school discrimination vote highlights absurdity of voucher law

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:00
The North Carolina House voted yesterday to amend the state charter schools law to bar discrimination against children “with respect to any category protected under the United State Constitution or under federal law applicable to the states.” While the language was drawn hastily in the aftermath of Rep. Paul Stam’s embarrassing homophobic rant of the ...

New report: Accidental shootings took lives of 100 children, including 3 in N.C., last year

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 08:15
A hundred children, including three in North Carolina, were shot and killed in accidental shootings last year, largely in situations where loaded guns had been left unattended in places reachable by small children. The 2013 deaths of children under 14 were tallied through press reports by the gun control groups Everytown for Gun Safety and ...

Charter school bill now includes language barring discrimination against students (video)

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 22:17
House lawmakers approved an amendment to a broader charter school modification bill Thursday that  bars discrimination against students. The legislation, introduced by Buncombe County Republican Rep. Nathan Ramsey, came two days after another non-discrimination amendment was derailed after Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam stated on the House floor that pedophilia and necrophilia were sexual orientations. While ...

Is state program devoted to fighting inefficiency and redundancy redundant?

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 15:39
A friend of NC Policy Watch points out that a new and controversial $4 million McCrory administration program to fight inefficiency in state government may itself be an example of inefficiency and redundancy. As WRAL reported earlier this week, the head of the NC Government Efficiency And Reform initiative (NC GEAR) — a former John ...

Experts: Senate coal ash bill is an improvement but still not nearly enough

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:03
Lest anyone have the impression that the coal ash clean-up plan adopted in the Senate yesterday takes care of all of the problems and inadequacies in the Governor’s proposal, be sure to check out this list compiled by the experts at the Southern Environmental Law Center. Though certainly an improvement (the Sierra Club calls it ...

Conservative politico’s charter school still stonewalling on salary info

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 10:57
The once semi-prevalent illusion that the charter school movement is somehow about aiding public education and not just privatizing it continues to fall apart. The latest confirmation comes from the Wilmington Star-News which which has still more news on the stubborn and absurd refusal of charter school chain owned by conservative power broker Baker Mitchell ...

House makes incremental progress on elections transparency; will Senate follow suit?

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 07:17
It kind of feels like dispensing praise for not robbing a bank, but hey, in today’s North Carolina political world , we’ll take what we can get. Accordingly, the House of Representatives deserves a sincere ‘attaboy and ‘attagirl for passing legislation this week to require electronic records filing by most local and state candidates and ...

House Appropriations Committee passes a new $21.25 billion budget as conference process stalls

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 17:35
In a bizarre turn of events, the House Committee on Appropriations met today to review and vote on a new spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. The bill passed in what appears to be along partisan lines, and it heads to the House floor tomorrow. For the most part, the new spending plan leaves ...

McCrory partners with Tillis on teacher pay as House revises its education budget proposal

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 16:24
House Speaker Thom Tillis partnered with Gov. Pat McCrory today to announce their efforts to work together toward a teacher pay plan they characterized as responsible and affordable—but key details of the House’s new mini-budget proposal, unveiled today, remain unclear. “We’ve been preparing plans from not inside the belt line but outside the belt line ...