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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 numbers: 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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Higher Ed News Top Story

New federal student loan repayment plan aimed at low-income borrowers

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would overhaul a federal student loan income-driven repayment plan, and, if implemented, could help millions of low-income borrowers. However, it’s unclear how the agency would be able to finance the program. Many student debt relief advocates also criticized the proposal for leaving out graduate students and parental loans.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

GOP election gains in North Carolina make for a more conservative legislature with a long agenda 

The North Carolina legislative session begins Wednesday with a more conservative House and Senate and an environment in which GOP leaders will have an easier time pushing state laws and policies further to the right.   Republicans gained seats in both the House and Senate in the November election. The GOP won a veto-proof majority in the Senate and is one vote shy of a veto-proof majority in the House, making it much more likely that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes can be overturned.

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Education Top Story

Familiar debates over funding, teacher pay likely to dominate public education policy in 2023

The new year in K-12 education is likely to look a lot like the past year with the Leandro school funding lawsuit and a controversial teacher and licensure proposal likely among the key issues North Carolina lawmakers will debate when their 2023 "long session" begins later this month. Both topics garnered lots of attention toward the end of 2022. In November, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling and ordered the General Assembly to hand over millions of dollars to pay for a long overdue school improvement plan.

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Education Health News Top Story

Monday numbers: NC’s youth are struggling. State officials say it’s time to get serious about mental health services.

As the North Carolina General Assembly returns to Raleigh this week for the 2023 session, state educators and healthcare providers are issuing an urgent call for improved student access to mental health services. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) was recently awarded $17 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help student mental health needs in 15 school districts.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

Federal appeals court ruling likens North Carolina’s prison grievance system to a “real world ‘Catch 22’”

Lawsuit involves a disabled man sedated against his will after he complained his cell wasn’t compliant with federal law. The system that allows people incarcerated in North Carolina’s prisons to register complaints about how they are treated is a confusing and confounding process that can be so opaque it raises the question of whether the incarcerated can even access it, according to a ruling issued last week by the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

LGBTQ rights, the UNC System and Christian nationalism: Three stories we’ll be watching closely in 2023

“It is difficult to make predictions,” Dutch politician Karl Kristian Steincke once wrote. “Especially about the future.” But if you’re a reporter who carefully follows a few issues, you don’t need a crystal ball to have a fairly good idea of what to look for in the new year. Here are some stories we're certain we’ll be following and reporting on in 2023: 1. Renewed legislative assaults on LGBTQ people

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