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State Court of Appeals hears arguments in challenge to legislature’s limits on hog nuisance lawsuits

Eastern NC residents say industry-initiated prohibitions in 2017 and 2018 Farm Acts are unconstitutional On Wednesday afternoon, a 90-minute court hearing boiled down to an essential question: Do the Farm Acts of 2017 and 2018 — still controversial years after their enactment — provide a “right without a remedy”?

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Education Top Story

Proposed charter school’s application slowed by link to troubled management firm

Previous "compliance" issues of Torchlight Academy Schools, LLC leads advisory board to question proposal for Perquimans County charter A charter school Tony Riddick plans to open in Perquimans County and name after his mother, Elaine Riddick, the best-known victim of North Carolina’s now-defunct eugenics program, has hit a snag because of his relationship with Don McQueen, the operator of Torchlight Academy in Raleigh.

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Democrats risk losses in 2022 if they give up on paid leave, advocates say

WASHINGTON — When paid family leave was briefly dropped from congressional Democrats’ massive social spending and climate bill earlier this fall, the outcry was swift. Women and caregivers suddenly were calling lawmakers and advocates, and they were sharing their own stories on social media in huge numbers, said Dawn Huckelbridge, director of Paid Leave for All, a national advocacy group, during a virtual event with reporters on Tuesday.

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Environment News Top Story

Interior Department calls for oil and gas leasing updates, but not ending production

The U.S. Interior Department recommended increased fees for oil and gas exploration on federal lands as part of a long-awaited report released Friday that environmental groups said didn’t go far enough in limiting fossil fuels and Republicans derided as an attack on domestic producers. The report, ordered by President Joe Biden during his first week in office, focuses on fiscal reforms...

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: DOT budget includes $5 million for unmanned aircraft systems

The new state budget, signed into law by Gov. Cooper, the General Assembly included a raft of one-time appropriations of varying sizes that feature extremely vague descriptions and very few details as to the specific purpose for which the funds are to be used. For example, in the Department of Transportation budget, General Assembly allotted a $5 million grant to a Winston-Salem nonprofit known as AeroX for the "development of an urban advanced air mobility system."

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts News Top Story

Immigration protections in Biden’s social policy bill face a new test in the Senate

WASHINGTON — Nearly 100 House Democrats are pushing the Senate to expand immigration protections in President Joe Biden’s massive social spending and climate bill, and advocates say that it may be a last opportunity for years to advance any reform.The letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin of Illinois, urges the Senate to include in its version a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people—something the Senate parliamentarian already has rejected twice in the bill, known as the Build Back Better Act.

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News Top Story

Beyond partisan takes, ‘The Vote Collectors’ shows how the McCrae Dowless scandal was inevitable

In November of 2018, a blue wave brought election victory to Democrats in North Carolina and across the country, sparking a Republican backlash of dubious voter fraud claims. Though those claims were largely false, a genuine - and genuinely strange - election fraud story did emerge.

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How paid leave, a tax cut for the rich and more could get axed from Biden’s social policy bill

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats cheered on the floor of the U.S. House after approving President Joe Biden’s massive social spending and climate bill. But a major struggle lies ahead in the coming month in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats cannot lose any votes within their party if they are to send the so-called Build Back Better measure to Biden’s desk.

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Education News Top Story

Veteran NC educator, school integration pioneer recognized with state’s highest civilian honor

North Carolina Award recipient Dudley Flood reflects on a lifetime of combating segregation and improving public schools At age 90, Dr. Dudley Flood, an education trailblazer who helped North Carolina’s public schools to integrate, can easily recall attending an all-Black high school.  It was more than 75 years ago in tiny Winton, a town of fewer than 800 residents in Hertford County. 

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Monday numbers: A closer look at efforts to help NC renters and landlords during the pandemic

With the legislative session winding down, members of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations turned their attention last week to how federal dollars have been flowing to help landlords and renters hard hit by the pandemic economy. While the state's Housing Opportunities Prevention Eviction (HOPE) program got off to a bumpy start, distribution of funds has improved significantly since the spring.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

In Georgia, testimony concludes in trial of men accused of killing unarmed Black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery

Black pastors flock to courthouse from across the country as prosecutor pokes at credibility of man who fired fatal shots The lead prosecutor in Travis McMichael’s murder trial hammered him Thursday for contradictions and failing to take steps to avoid the deadly confrontation that ended with him shooting Ahmaud Arbery on a suburban Brunswick street in February 2020.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

General Assembly sends new state budget to Cooper for final approval

Despite concerns, most Senate and House Democrats vote to approve $25.9 billion plan  The first complete state budget in nearly three years will give teachers and state employees raises retroactive to July 1, spend nearly $1 billion to expand broadband, and billions more on new buildings.

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

NC State officials say troubled chemistry building has been found safe, but scientists who work there question testing

After a series of tests at N.C. State’s Dabney Hall, home to the Chemistry Department, the school’s Environmental Health and Safety office is saying concerns expressed by staff, faculty and students about air quality are overblown. But chemistry and safety experts in the department say the methodology of the tests was faulty and still show concerning levels of chemical compounds in areas where they shouldn’t appear — including offices where no chemicals are used or stored.

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Environment Top Story

The legislature’s environmental budget: What’s in it, how much, and why it matters to you

For the past 10 years, Republican-led majorities in the General Assembly have sacked the Department of Environmental Quality budget, apparent punishment for enforcing, even meagerly, state and federal environmental regulations. Yet, for the first time since 2017, the legislature's new proposed budget for DEQ exceeds $100 million.

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News Top Story

‘A matter of dignity’: Biden signs executive order to address violence against Indigenous people

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday addressing violence against Indigenous communities. “These efforts are a matter of dignity,” Biden said during the opening ceremony for the White House Tribal Nations Summit. “That’s the foundation of our nation-to-nation partnership.”

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

States, cities face deadline for proving how quickly they’ve helped renters in crisis

WASHINGTON — States, cities and counties that excelled at distributing emergency federal aid to renters struggling during the pandemic may soon be rewarded—with yet more cash. Their new funding would be drawn from sluggish states and localities that didn’t move as swiftly to help people facing eviction and homelessness, who were targeted for billions in assistance in relief legislation passed by Congress.

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