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Law and the Courts News Top Story

Dispatches from the North Carolina court system: responding to racism in a Buncombe County courtroom

All that separated Reece from freedom was just $300. But he couldn’t afford to post the bond, so on the morning of Jan. 25 he appeared via video, streamed from the Buncombe County Detention Center to the courtroom of Chief District Court Judge James Calvin Hill.

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Higher Ed News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

UNC System asks legislature for $24.3 million to expedite professors’ retirement, improve on-time graduation rates

As the North Carolina General Assembly begins its legislative session in earnest this week, the UNC System is requesting additional money to reduce salary costs at universities and help students graduate on time. The UNC Board of Governors is asking for a one-time appropriation of $16.8 million to incentivize eligible professors to retire, and a recurring $7.5 million to assist students at five campuses that need to shore up their on-time graduation rates.

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Environment News Top Story

Sampson County site ranks No. 2 among U.S landfills for methane emissions. Rotting food is part of the problem.

Twenty-five million tons of garbage is rotting in the Sampson County landfill: disposable diapers from Durham, moldy leftovers from refrigerators in Wake, face masks and old toothbrushes from Brunswick.   Over time the detritus of our lives, particularly food waste, breaks down in the landfill and emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that ranks only second to carbon dioxide in driving human-caused climate change.

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Education Top Story

Facing legislative headwinds, State Board will ask lawmakers for funds to implement Leandro plan

Request enjoys bipartisan support, but state Superintendent is notably silent The State Board of Education has agreed to ask lawmakers to support the “full implementation” of a court-approved school improvement plan during 2023 budget deliberations. The state board and other supporters of the Comprehensive Plan believe it can transform North Carolina’s system of K-12 education and nudge the state toward its constitutional mandate to provide children with sound basic education.

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Health News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

300,000 North Carolinians who were able to use government health insurance since 2020 could lose it

About 300,000 people in North Carolina are on track to lose their government health insurance by the middle of next year.   That estimate comes from the state Department for Health and Human Services, which is preparing plans to have Medicaid recipients’ family, health, and income information checked to make sure they are eligible for the insurance plan.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the make up of the new General Assembly

Who did North Carolina voters send to Raleigh this year for the new legislative session? We know that Republicans made gains in the November election and now hold 30 of 50 seats in the Senate and 71 of 120 in the House, but here is a by-the-numbers look at some additional details about who is representing us in Raleigh, according to documents filed by the House and Senate clerks.  

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Higher Ed News Top Story

A watchdog says the feds aren’t doing enough to investigate problem colleges

Report is the latest indictment of the Trump administration's consumer protection efforts in higher ed WASHINGTON — Incomplete written guidelines and penalties that had not been updated since 2016.  Significant turnover and reductions among staff.  Changing agency priorities and department probes put “on hold.”

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Higher Ed News Top Story

UNC Board of Governors courts more controversy with new proposed rule on hiring and enrollment

Proponents say their objective is to protect freedom of speech and thought, but critics see other motives and many potential landmines Discussions about political debates, beliefs, affiliations, ideals or principles could be banned in employment and enrollment processes at UNC System schools, if the UNC Board of Governors approves a proposed rule change.

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Environment News Top Story

Durham City Council rejects huge housing development proposal in Falls Lake watershed

Competing concerns over Triangle's housing shortage and fragile environment fuel 4-2 vote. The contentious Kemp Road project – 655 single-family houses and townhomes on 280 acres in the environmentally fragile Falls Lake watershed – is dead, at least temporarily. But before sticking a fork in the proposal, Durham City Council members dug into several underlying issues vexing residents of one of the fastest-growing areas in the country: housing, gentrification and race.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

NC Supreme Court justice discusses work of Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice at Greensboro event

Anita Earls touts progress in combating criminal justice inequities, calls for work at state and local levels to continue When Anita Earls moved to Charlotte in 1988, one of the first people who welcomed her to the Queen City was the chair of the Charlotte League of Women Voters. Earls credits the chapter with helping her grow as an attorney and inspiring her through its work in support of maintaining racial integration in the city's schools.

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COVID-19 Education Health News Top Story

Child vaccination rates, already down because of COVID, fall again

Child vaccination rates dipped into dangerous territory during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools were shuttered, and most doctors were only seeing emergency patients. But instead of recovering after schools reopened in 2021, those historically low rates worsened, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts fear that the skepticism of science and distrust of government that flared up during the pandemic are contributing to the decrease.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday number: A closer look at the mounting toll of fentanyl on the nation’s youth

Last year, Policy Watch delved into the epidemic within the opioid epidemic: the terrifying rise of synthetic opioid fentanyl and staggering number of deaths it has caused in North Carolina and across the country. This month a new analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by the non-profit Families Against Fentanyl shed new light on the ongoing crisis, particularly deaths among children 14 and under. The group’s analysis found fentanyl deaths among that group are rising faster than any other, tripling nationwide in just two years from 2019 to 2021 (the last year for which full CDC data is available). Over the same period, fentanyl deaths among infants increased twice as fast as overall deaths.

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Environment News Top Story

States that limit business with banks that ‘boycott’ fossil fuels could pay high cost, study says

Republican state policymakers’ efforts to boost fossil fuels by prohibiting their governments from doing business with companies that take sustainability into consideration has the potential to cost states millions, according to a study released Thursday. Researchers looked specifically at the possible effects on Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and West Virginia if they passed Texas-like legislation limiting investment options on municipal bonds and found it could cost them between $264 and $708 million...

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

Committee pitches juvenile justice funding as legislative session begins

The proposals were included within the final report written by the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee. A committee of juvenile justice experts has recommended legislators approve a step pay plan for employees who work at juvenile detention centers. The proposal comes a month after Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Justice Billy Lassiter told committee members North Carolina’s juvenile detention centers were understaffed and over-capacity...

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Environment Top Story

Utilities Commission approves new plan to reduce carbon emissions, but advocates are underwhelmed

Around 6 o’clock on the evening of Friday, Dec. 30, when anyone who could be was mentally checked out for the holidays, the North Carolina Utilities Commission dropped one of its most important rulings of the last decade: The 137-page Carbon Plan, the commission's directive to Duke Energy to drastically reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and to do its part in thwarting a planetary crisis.

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News Top Story

Shared power used to be the norm in state government. Now it’s nearly extinct.

North Carolina is one of a shrinking group of states in which different parties control the legislature and the Governor's office Terry Kilgore has been a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 1994. During that time, there have been four years in which the GOP controlled the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature. For two years, Democrats held complete control.

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