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Prosperity Watch: Racial disparities rooted in history, hold back North Carolina’s economy

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 15:42
The Budget and Tax Center’s weekly posting of Prosperity Watch takes a look at how North Carolina’s communities are grappling with stark racial income disparities. Economic exclusion has its roots in predatory and discriminatory economic policies dating back centuries. The harm of that economic exclusion is stark. Communities of color are far more likely to ...

Day 230 of Gov. McCrory denying justice to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 15:08
Wednesday marks the 230th day that Governor Pat McCrory has refused to grant a pardon of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, the two Robeson County men who both spent 31 years in prison for a rape and murder they did not commit. The two men, both mentally disabled and struggling to pay their bills, need ...

New blog series: Engaging the faith and business communities on workers’ rights

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 14:44
[Editor’s note: Stan C. Kimer is a retired IBM executive and former President of the North Carolina Council of Churches. He now runs a firm which offers consulting services around diversity management and training, and talent/career development.] How critical is it to involve both the business community and the faith/religious community in promoting workers’ rights? ...

Just what a struggling state with too few jobs needs: more guns

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 13:53
Be sure to check out today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File — “More guns, more guns, more guns” — which details the latest of gun deregulation nonsense at the General Assembly. As Chris correctly points out in examining the legislation pushed yesterday in the House Judiciary I Committee by Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer (of anti-abortion fame): ...

Pro-censorship activism of McCrory Board of Ed nominee draws more criticism

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 11:02
It’s a crazy busy week at the General Assembly, so a lot of folks may have already lost sight of Gov. McCrory’s recent bizarre nomination of Samaritan’s Purse lawyer Todd Chasteen to serve on the state Board of Education. Fortunately, however, some rational people are speaking out about why the nomination is a very troubling ...

Just in: Supreme Court affirms ban on direct campaign solicitations by judges

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:18
In an opinion with implications for those states where judges are elected, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in a plurality opinion that states can ban direct solicitations. In the case out of Florida, Williams-Yulee v. Florida State Bar, lawyer Lanell Williams-Yulee landed in hot water with the state bar after, in connection with her candidacy ...

Moral Mondays-Forward Together movement returns to Raleigh

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 08:50
The Moral Mondays-Forward Together movement returns to Raleigh today to to blow a little fresh air onto the increasingly wacky goings on in the Legislative Building. In case you missed it, this is “Crossover Week”at the General Assembly and, unfortunately, the deadline has helped give rise to a spasm of new, far right proposals on ...

On Kennedy, dignity and marriage equality

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 06:52
Start your morning with this excellent essay by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick about instances where the wheels fell off the gay marriage opposition bus yesterday, including most notably the failure of attorneys for that side to reach the critical swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, where he lives — in the world of dignity. As Lithwick points out, Kennedy ...

Bill increasing UNC professors’ course loads will get more study (Audio)

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 17:10
A controversial Senate bill that would have sharply increased the workload of UNC professors was reworked before being unexpectedly shipped off to a study commission on Tuesday. Senate Bill 593 originally would have required all UNC professors to teach no fewer than four courses a semester. Teaching less than eight courses a year would see ...

New report: “Medicaid expansion is producing large gains in health coverage and saving states money”

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 16:42
The wonks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are out with a new and powerful report today on the increasingly-evident benefits of Medicaid expansion. Here’s the lead: “In the short time since states have been able to expand Medicaid to low-income adults under health reform, a clear divide has emerged between states that ...

Lawmakers tell state Supreme Court no need to hurry in redistricting case

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 14:23
In papers filed with the state Supreme Court yesterday, lawmakers told the justices there was no reason to expedite proceedings in the North Carolina redistricting case, Dickson v. Rucho, sent back here last week by the U.S. Supreme Court — at least not within the time frame that challengers to the state’s redistricting plan want. That ...

Senate bill would require teaching all NC schoolchildren conservative foreign policy principles

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 13:53
[This post has been updated] No, that headline is not a typo. The Senate Education Committee passed a bill this afternoon with less than two minutes of discussion that would require the following items to be taught in American history classes in the state: Constitutional limitations on government power to tax and spend and prompt ...

Bill to improve A-F school grading formula moves forward

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 12:33
Lawmakers moved a bill Tuesday that would improve the formula for how the state’s schools are now awarded A-F letter grades to make them more reflective of how a school helps its students grow academically over time. There are a number of bills floating around the General Assembly that would change how schools receive letter grades ...

Same-sex marriage arguments getting underway at Supreme Court

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 10:02
Starting at 10 a.m. , the U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing two-and-a-half hours of argument in the cases challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. Since no cameras or other audio/video equipment is allowed in the courtroom, there will be no live feed of the argument. The Court is, however, expediting the release of the taped ...

Advocates for workplace health and safety to observe Worker Memorial Day today

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 09:29
Today is Worker Memorial Day, a day to honor workers who have died on the job. The recent construction accidents in Raleigh are stark reminders of why this day matters. Worker advocates will gather at 10:30 at 7 W. Lenoir Street in Raleigh, the site where 3 workers died, and will walk to the NC ...

Death, profits on the agenda this morning in House Judiciary committee

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 07:36
It should be quite a session when the House Judiciary I Committee gathers this morning at 8:30 in the state Legislative Building. Among the four bills on the agenda for the one-hour meeting: A proposal (sponsored by Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer — the sponsor of last week’s anti-abortion legislation) that would further relax the state’s already ...

Loretta Lynch: We will restore trust and faith in the criminal justice system (video)

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 20:46
North Carolina native Loretta Lynch was formally sworn in Monday as the 83rd U.S. Attorney General. Lynch is the first African-American woman to serve in this role. To hear some of her remarks, click below.

Veteran educator speaks out from experience against bill to make student assaults on teachers a felony

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 15:59
When Charlotte native and veteran teacher Scott Yamanashi saw NC Policy Watch reporter Lindsay Wagner’s recent news story (“Lawmakers move bill that would make it a felony offense for a student to assault a teacher”), he felt compelled to speak out. It turns out that Mr. Yamanashi has extensive direct experience in the area. Not ...

Day 228 of Gov. McCrory denying justice to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 15:08
Monday marks the 228th day that Governor Pat McCrory has refused to grant a pardon of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, the two Robeson County men who both spent 31 years in prison for a rape and murder they did not commit. McCollum and Brown, both mentally disabled, were freed September 4 of last ...

Busy week at General Assembly poised to get off to lousy start with environmental bills

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 11:52
This Thursday is “Crossover Day” at the General Assembly — a self-imposed deadline used by lawmakers to weed out some of the hundreds of bills that have been introduced so far this year. Without going into the details, it’s enough to note that the crossover deadline will make for a busy week of sausage grinding ...