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NC Policy Watch reporter arrested as he attempted to cover debate in state House of Representatives

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 18:00

Statement from NC Justice Center Executive Director Rick Glazier and NC Policy Watch Director Chris Fitzsimon on arrest of NC Policy Watch reporter during special session RALEIGH (December 15, 2016) — Joe Killian, one of our credentialed NC Policy Watch reporters, was arrested this evening while doing his job covering a large protest in the ...

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Independent State Chief Information Officer bill could block administrative policies, programs

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 16:29

Amidst the flurry of activity at the General Assembly special session this morning is a less flashy but nonetheless vital bill, HB6, which would massively reorganize the digital backbone of state government. The proposal has not received a great deal of attention, but could have far-reaching consequences. HB6 – Independent State CIO – would create ...

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GOP’s last minute anti-democratic power grab drawing national attention and scorn

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 15:47

The absurd power grab by Republican legislative leaders is not only prompting outrage in North Carolina, folks across the country are paying attention too.  Here is a partial rundown of the national coverage and commentary about the unprecedented attempt to seize power from the governor the people of the state elected. New York Times: North ...

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Among its many weaknesses, HB 17 would remove protections for low-performing school program

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 14:43

The General Assembly unveiled 28 bills as part of this week’s second special session.  For those focused on education policy, the most wide-ranging and controversial bill is undoubtedly House Bill 17.  The bill goes to extraordinary lengths to strip Governor-elect Roy Cooper’s power, slashing the number exempt positions he can oversee from 1,500 to 300 ...

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Legislators move to address major impacts of mandated class size reductions

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 13:35

Lawmakers in a House education committee have signed off on a hastily arranged fix to a budding problem for North Carolina public schools. House Bill 13, co-sponsored by a handful of influential House Republicans, will seek to address a problem covered in detail in a November Policy Watch report.  It’s not a simple problem, but ...

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Watchdog groups: Special session courts/elections legislation is “shameful,” “deceitful”

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 13:06

It’s hard to overstate just how far beneath contempt the behavior of the North Carolina General Assembly has been during the last 24 hours, but a pair of statements from two of the state’s leading nonpartisan watchdog groups — Democracy North Carolina and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina — do a good ...

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NAACP, hurricane victims shred N.C. General Assembly Republicans over special session lawmaking

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 12:40

At first, it seemed a surprisingly amiable greeting in the midst of a broiling partisan turf war in the N.C. General Assembly in Raleigh. Al McSurely, a Chapel Hill civil rights attorney who directs communications for the N.C. NAACP, was offering a welcome to Dallas Woodhouse, the controversial executive director of the state Republican party, ...

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Environmentalists: Regulatory Reform bill increases flood risks, ‘boggles the mind’

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 11:15

House and Senate members who took steps this week to aid the flood victims of Hurricane Matthew are now pushing legislation to increase future flooding. Environmentalists note House Bill 3 proposes changing state law to allow up to 300 feet of a stream to be damaged before restoration is required, benefiting developers. The Environmental Defense ...

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Senate Bill 4 touted as bipartisan effort; Democrats told special session not the right time to amend

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 10:58

Republican Senators touted their bipartisan effort bill Thursday morning as a way for both parties to work together, but brushed off Democrat Senators’ requests to add an amendment to create a bipartisan redistricting committee. Senate Bill 4 is a complex, four-part, 25-page document that was introduced late Wednesday during the General Assembly’s fourth special session ...

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Regulatory reform, part 2: Now the really bad news

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 10:07

You know it’s been a horrible day for democracy when the best thing we can say is, “Well, they didn’t kill renewable energy.” The Regulatory Reform bill, which has a few positive aspects, nonetheless contains troubling stormwater provisions and a public records bombshell. First, the bill would prohibit the NC Department of Environmental Quality from mandating stormwater ...

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Legislature moves to consolidate power for new GOP public school superintendent

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 09:56

It’s been 12 years since Democrat June Atkinson assumed the post of superintendent of public instruction in North Carolina. Now, fresh from Atkinson’s surprising Election Day defeat to Republican Mark Johnson, GOP lawmakers in the N.C. General Assembly are moving quickly to consolidate power in the office. Among the many controversial components of House Bill ...

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ALEC-inspired proposal lets franchisors escape responsibility, puts onus on small businesses for violations

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 09:29

In another twist in the ongoing saga of the special legislative session, the first section of the General Assembly’s so-called Regulatory Reform Act (HB3) deals a blow to restaurant and other franchise owners who take actions at the direction of the franchisor (the corporate entity that grants an individual or corporation the right to run ...

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Pat McCrory’s last chance to do the right thing

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 07:00

As the North Carolina General Assembly hurtles forward with its stunning power play to seize numerous duties that Gov.-elect Cooper is scheduled to assume January 1, it’s increasingly clear that there’s only probably one person left who can conceivably do anything to stop it. That would be the current inhabitant of the Governor’s mansion, one ...

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NCGA Special Session Day 2: When the levee breaks

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 23:15

After a relatively uneventful first day of the North Carolina General Assembly’s special session…well, the levee broke. The GOP supermajority in the NCGA had been saying this week they didn’t intend to go beyond disaster relief in this session. So, having passed the disaster relief bill that prompted the extra session, the Republicans decided to ...

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General Assembly moves to dramatically limit new governor’s powers

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 21:51

The North Carolina General Assembly’s GOP majority moved to dramatically limit the powers of the governor’s office Wednesday as Democratic Governor-Elect Roy Cooper prepares to take office next month. House Bill 17, filed late Wednesday during a special session called without warning to Democratic lawmakers, is the widest ranging example. The bill would strip the ...

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Senate bill seeks to create new bipartisan Board of Elections agency, restore partisan court races, diminish power of NC Supreme Court

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 20:53

A bill filed by Senate Republicans on Wednesday night would take away the political advantage of having Governor-elect Roy Cooper appoint positions to the State Board of Elections by creating a new, bipartisan agency: the Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The Board would consist of eight members; four Republicans and four Democrats appointed by ...

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The regulatory reform bill: Imperfect, but it could be worse

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 20:04

The good news about the Regulatory Reform Bill: There are no ominous “studies” about locating wind turbines near military bases, a precursor to a potential kibosh on the renewable energy resource. In fact, there is no mention of renewable energy at all, which means the portfolio standard passed in 2007 is safe — today. Whew. The ...

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Senate Republican files school bond bill; rewrite to come?

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 17:33

It remains to be seen whether a Wednesday filing by Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, a Jacksonville Republican, can be taken at face value or—as North Carolina legislators have done in the past—is simply being used as a placeholder for other lawmaking. A Policy Watch phone call to Brown’s office was not immediately returned Wednesday ...

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House Democrats protest special session, “legislating in the dark”

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 16:31

The scene on the House floor today was an exercise in civil disobedience. Democrats, one by one, stood and officially defied the Republicans’ vote to hold an extra special session — a session whose agenda is known only to those holding the majority of political power. “I’m formally joining the protest,” each lawmaker announced, following the lead ...

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N.C. House Democrats protest constitutionality of new session

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 14:48

As the N.C. House opens the fourth special session of of 2016, Democratic representatives are lodging a constitutional protest against the session. Rep. Darren Jackson of Wake County lodged the protest, joined in by the rest of the House’s Democrats. His argument: The N.C. constitution states that when the House speaker receives the signatures necessary ...

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