The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

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Cross-posted from the Progressive Pulse Blog:

1. Almost absolute power is corrupting in Raleigh, absolutely

Here is something you may not know about the way the General Assembly works these days.  The odds are that your senator and representative have almost no say in what happens to controversial legislation. None.

This week when the Senate considered a proposal from the House to combine the state ethics and elections commissions, taking power away from Governor Roy Cooper, Senators were banned from offering any amendments to the power-grabbing plan.

That’s because House leaders didn’t introduce a bill of their own to change the law, they simply took a bill that had already passed the Senate, stripped out its contents and replaced it with the proposal to merge the elections and ethics commissions.[Read more…]

2. Competing bills would alter method for funding charter schools

For the better part of a decade, charter and traditional school advocates have bickered over charters’ share of North Carolina dollars.

But two bills drafted by influential state Senate leaders in recent days want to settle the issue this session. One, Senate Bill 562, has the blessing of public school advocates; the other, not so much.

“If Senate Bill 562 were to move forward, I think you’d see a much more collaborative approach between the charter schools and the traditional schools,” says Bruce Mildwurf, associate director of government relations for the N.C. School Boards Association, a group that lobbies for local school board interests at the state legislature. [Read more…]

3. The return of the “Know Nothings”
Anti-immigrant fervor spawns destructive (and utterly illogical) proposals on Jones Street

There are a lot of labels that have been applied to the ideology that has held sway in North Carolina policy and politics over the past six years. Some have been embraced by the politicians and pundits who have been running the show (“conservative,” “libertarian,” “fundamentalist” stand out) while others (“reactionary,” “backward-looking,” “right-wing”) have not.

Of course, such labels are rarely static and can, over time, come to mean something very different from the original. There was a time in the United States in which “liberal” was widely understood to be a moniker for those who opposed government participation in the economy.[Read more…]

4. Full speed ahead: GOP lawmakers plow ahead with plans to remake the state court system

It’s starting to look like “court-packing” may not be as dead in the water as some Republican lawmakers said it was in December.

The General Assembly passed House Bill 239 this week, which would reduce the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12 and add more than 100 cases per year to the state Supreme Court’s workload. Gov. Roy Cooper plans to veto the legislation.

“The Republican effort to reduce the number of judges on the Court of Appeals should be called out for exactly what it is – their latest power-grab, aimed at exerting partisan influence over the judicial branch and laying the groundwork for future court-packing,” states a press memo from his office.[Read more…]

5. Local officials breathe sigh of relief as federal court strikes down legislature’s Greensboro redistricting plan

When a federal judge ruled last week against a state law that reconfigured and redistricted the Greensboro City Council, it was celebrated in the Gate City. But the larger implications of the ruling weren’t widely discussed.

But Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, who spearheaded the legal and popular resistance to the law, said the ruling was more than just a victory for Greensboro. It was more than a win for one of the state’s most liberal cities in a two year struggle against the conservative North Carolina General Assembly.

“I think it was a very important decision for the state of North Carolina,” Vaughan said this week. “It reaffirmed the ability of cities to determine their form of government. Importantly, it offers the citizens the ability to have a referendum, to have a voice in what their government looks like. That’s something they were trying to do away with here – and if it had been successful, it’s something a number of other towns and cities would have seen.” [Read more…]

Upcoming event on Tuesday, April 18 @ 8:30am:
Crucial Conversation breakfast – Immigration policy in the era of Trump: Where do things stand in North Carolina?
NC Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation breakfast: Immigration policy in the era of Trump: Where do things stand in North Carolina? What is the reality “on the ground”? Learn more and register today.