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Updated: 1 hour 28 min ago

Ethics Commission member makes questionable comment about Governor’s stock disclosure

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 14:31
Here’s a fascinating and disturbing, if not terribly surprising, sidebar to the story that has erupted in recent days around Governor McCrory’s failure to disclose his Duke Energy holdings: one of McCrory’s own appointees to the State Ethics Commission (the group that would likely review the Governor’s behavior in the matter) appears to have made ...

Request for stay of 4th Circuit same-sex marriage decision now at the Supreme Court

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 14:18
Attorneys for the Virginia county clerk who has been defending the state’s same-sex marriage ban asked the U.S. Supreme Court last night to stay implementation of the Fourth Circuit’s decision, in Bostic v. Schaefer, striking down that ban as unconstitutional. Per SCOTUSBLOG, that decision will go into effect at 9 a.m. next Thursday absent intervention by the high ...

Surprise! Last minute “regulatory reform” bill includes polluter wish list

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 09:44
[Updated: The Senate adopted the conference committee report as its first act this morning]. As state lawmakers prepare to gather this morning for what could be the final day of the 2013-14 General Assembly, it should come as no surprise that one of the final acts is likely to be the enactment of a polluter ...

What could be better that one adjournment resolution? Try three!

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 09:10
You read that right. The Senate actually passed three unique adjournment resolutions Thursday evening that would allow: lawmakers to wrap-up this session and head home for the year (House Joint Resolution 1276) lawmakers to return November 17th to consider Medicaid reform  (House Joint Resolution 182) lawmakers to head home now, but return November 17th to ...

Is this finally THE day?

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 08:07
You know…the day that North Carolinians can finally say adieu to the 170 members of the 2013-14 General Assembly? As has almost always been the case with the current crop of state lawmakers, the signals are mixed and confusing. News reports this morning indicate that even as legislative leaders  look for ways to append a ...

McCrory: Leaving teacher assistant positions vacant is not a budget cut

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 14:51
Following a presentation today to educators and advocates at an NC Chamber of Commerce event, Gov. Pat McCrory told reporters that if local school districts do not hire people to fill vacant teacher assistant positions, then that action can’t be characterized as a result of a budget cut to TAs handed down by state lawmakers. ...

Enviro advocates call for review after DENR staffers engineer backdoor disapproval of pollution rule

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 13:52
Advocates at the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation have formally called on the state Environmental Management Commission to conduct a review of questionable circumstances surrounding the demise of rules designed to prevent water pollution. According to a letter from the groups that was delivered to the Commission yesterday, ...

Teacher pay raises: The real price comes into sharper focus

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 10:13
The verdict on the confusing new pay structure enacted by the General Assembly and the Governor’s office continues to draw, at best, mixed reviews. As Raleigh’s News & Observer noted — somewhat charitably — last week: Once again, the inexperience of Republican leaders is showing. Their teacher pay plan does address the need to pay ...

As marriage equality victory nears, another battle looms

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 07:29
Michael Biesecker of AP has a wonderfully heartwarming story this morning that’s available in several news outlets about one of the couples leading the legal fight for marriage equality in North Carolina. Pearl Berlin and Lennie Gerber have been together for 48 years and the notion that they might taste victory in the near future ...

Another hidden gem: Troubling new law on drones slipped into the state budget bill

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 15:53
As Sarah Ovaska reported this morning in her story on some of the hidden gems in this year’s state budget bill, North Carolina now has – with virtually no meaningful public discussion — a new and flawed law on the use of those cute little aerial spying machines known as “drones.” Unmanned aircraft, also known ...

No permanent pay raises for assistant principals in state budget

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 13:35
Many assistant principals in the state will go without pay raises this year – even as the teachers and other school staff working in their schools do. The N.C. legislature responded to widespread discontent over North Carolina’s low teacher pay this year by including pay raises for teachers in their $21.1 billion budget. Republican legislative ...

Fourth Circuit denies request for stay in same-sex marriage case

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 13:00
The Fourth Circuit today denied a request by parties defending Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban to stay the court’s ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer pending a petition for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. On July 28 the court held that the Virginia law was unconstitutional and entered judgement on that date. The ruling is scheduled to ...

McCrory casts a wider net as he looks for fixes to the education budget

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 10:45
A couple of days ago, I reported that Gov. McCrory was reaching out to state school superintendents to figure out a couple of fixes to the education budget that he proudly signed last week. As it turns out, he’s casting a wider net – on Monday, his education staff also met with staff at the N.C. Department ...

Editorial: Pro-fracking forces are ignoring voices they don’t want to hear

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 10:07
This morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer tells it like it is with respect to the state’s pro-fracking forces and a little thing called “science.” As the N&O explains, compelling evidence on the dangers of fracking from experts at Duke University is being summarily ignored by the Mining and Energy Commission because it ...

Schools rely on sharing, older materials as textbook funding dwindles

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 09:16
Confusion over teacher pay and the loss of teaching assistants are not the only troubling stories making headlines as the new school year is set to begin. The Asheville Citizen Times reports today that a reduction in state funding for textbooks will force many Buncombe County students this fall to share their books, or rely ...

Today’s amazing inequality graphic

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 17:07
The good people at and the online publication Too Much do a great job each week of documenting America’s one-sided class warfare and the fast-mushrooming gap between the haves and have nots. If you’re not already a subscriber to their updates, click here to get signed up. The graphic at left was featured in ...

Social Security at 79: New report highlights benefits for North Carolinians

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 14:51
This week marks the 79th anniversary of Social Security, and the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans is marking the occasion with a new report on the economic impact of those benefits in our state. Here are ten quick facts from that report, Social Security Works for North Carolina. • Social Security provided benefits to ...

Scotland County Schools will cut TAs’ hours to save jobs

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 12:13
Members of the Scotland County Schools Board of Education voted on Monday to cut teacher assistants’ hours to 88 percent for the upcoming school year as a way to save jobs while coping with state budget reductions. To keep teacher assistants working 100 percent of the time, the county would have to deplete a large ...

ICYMI: The freedom to marry in North Carolina: Now what? (Full Video)

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 10:22
For those who missed last week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation with the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina, the full program is now available online. Please watch and then share – The freedom to marry in North Carolina: Now what?

RSVP today for next week’s luncheon on the Supreme Court

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 09:37
Seats are going fast for next week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation – “The state of the U.S. Supreme Court with Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress.” Where do things stand in the after math of the disastrous Hobby Lobby decision? What’s is on the Supreme Court docket for the fall? What can ...