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Environment News Top Story

Several crises, malfunctions at Duke Energy led to rolling blackouts on Christmas Eve, utility officials tell state regulators

Three power plants malfunctioned. Freezing temperatures hampered the output of several nuclear facilities. Energy demand forecasts failed. Nearby utilities in other states, struggling to keep their own customers warm, had no power to sell. On Christmas Eve, a multiverse of mishaps prompted Duke Energy for the first time in state history to inflict rolling blackouts on an estimated 300,000 North Carolinians.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Voices that matter 2022: The year in stories of the marginalized and underrepresented

Policy Watch’s tagline is “Stories and Voices that Matter,” emphasizing our mission to bring you stories you don’t see elsewhere and to amplify the voices of those who might otherwise go unheard. This year, we pursued that mission with a series of stories highlighting some of those voices, including...

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Environment Top Story

Monday numbers: the environmental impacts of the VinFast electric car factory in Chatham County

With stands of loblolly pine, rivers, creeks and expanses of farm fields, southeastern Chatham County feels like the country. But this neck of the woods is home to many polluting industries: Arauco, a wood products company with a history of air quality violations; the Shearon Harris nuclear plant...

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Education Top Story

Leandro, ‘merit pay’ for teachers, role of superintendent and state board dominate NC education debates in 2022

North Carolina’s public schools won a key victory in November when the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling and ordered the General Assembly to fork over millions of dollars to pay for a long overdue school improvement plan. The court order in the landmark Leandro school funding case was highly anticipated, and many believe the most important news to emerge on the education front in North Carolina in 2022.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

A look back at my first six months reporting on criminal justice and corrections in North Carolina

I’ve gone to a lot of committee hearings over the course of my career. They’re mostly insider baseball, in-the-weeds conversations between policy wonks and department heads. One time, I watched a virtual committee hearing live on YouTube that had one other viewer.

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News Top Story

Year in review: stories of abandoned norms in politics and governance

As we look back on 2022 this week, a few themes emerge in Policy Watch stories across a spectrum of topics, from state ...
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News Top Story

Medicaid and Moore v. Harper: two issues that dominated North Carolina politics in 2022

This year in North Carolina was notable for something that didn’t happen – Medicaid expansion.   Republican legislative leaders had largely dismissed the idea of expanding Medicaid until this year. Then Senate Leader Phil Berger, once a staunch and vocal opponent, said he’d changed his mind.   After that blockbuster announcement, a Medicaid expansion bill passed the Senate, but soon thereafter, momentum slowed and the measure stalled.

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News Top Story

ER doctors call private equity staffing practices illegal, seek to ban them

Physicians call on Attorney General Stein to investigate growing national trend A group of emergency physicians and consumer advocates in multiple states are pushing for stiffer enforcement of decades-old statutes that prohibit the ownership of medical practices by corporations not owned by licensed doctors. Thirty-three states plus the District of Columbia (including North Carolina) have rules on their books against the so-called corporate practice of medicine.

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Environment News Top Story

Climate change is forcing cities to rethink their tree mix

NC State researcher, other experts say a commitment to planning and species diversity have become essential Cities need to plant more trees. But not just any trees. As communities prepare for a massive influx of federal funding to support urban forestry, their leaders say the tree canopy that grows to maturity 50 years from now will need to be painted with a different palette than the one that exists today.

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Must Reads News Top Story

New ‘must read’ report shines a light on women and poverty in North Carolina

Over 3.2 million North Carolinians are poor or near poor, and many more experience economic instability and challenges over time. We’ve described some of these communities and the hurdles they face, individually and collectively, in our prior research. With this report, we examine the ways that women in North Carolina are caught in the crosshairs of irreconcilable social and economic demands.

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News Top Story

After substation shooting, federal regulator orders review of security standards

Recent North Carolina attack helps spur new national effort Less than two weeks after gunfire damaged two Duke Energy substations in Moore County, knocking out power to about 45,000 people, federal regulators ordered a review of security standards at electric transmission facilities and control centers. Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC),...

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Education News Top Story

New Durham Public Schools policy to support LGBTQ students wins accolades

Queer author and former DPS student says such a policy "would have made a world of difference in my childhood" As a Durham middle school student in the late 1990s, Maximillian Matthews struggled to find his sexual identity. Matthews, who identifies as queer, was bullied and taunted. He felt unseen and unsupported by teachers, counselors and school administrators.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

Monday numbers: A look at juvenile justice in North Carolina, three years into Raise the Age

Nearly 13,500 teenagers had their crimes adjudicated in the juvenile justice system; under the old model these youths would have pled their cases in adult courts.  In 2019 North Carolina followed the rest of the country’s lead  and raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction for nonviolent crimes to age 18, meaning many 16- and 17-year old children would be spared punishment in the adult justice system.

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Environment News Top Story

Frustration, disbelief and a call for resignation: Lawmakers grill hurricane recovery official at oversight hearing

Laura Hogshead did not lose her job as the head of ReBuild NC on Wednesday, as many hurricane survivors had hoped. Instead, several state lawmakers on a government oversight committee used the hearing as another opportunity to publicly berate Hogshead for the many deficiencies of the hurricane recovery program.  An abysmal number of home completions and a lack of accountability. A pattern of deception and a culture of secrecy.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

NC providers, advocates to try again for legislative action to improve maternal health and birth outcomes

State legislators will soon get another look at a plan aimed at improving maternal health in North Carolina, with a request to provide better pay to health care workers who provide maternity services to people enrolled in Medicaid, reimburse for doula services, and increase payments to providers of group prenatal care.   The United States has the worst maternal death rate among industrialized nations, and Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. 

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News Top Story

Voters embraced affordable housing initiatives. Advocates say Congress should do the same.

Bond referenda successes in Buncombe County and Charlotte seen as emblematic of growing national support Voters in Colorado approved a statewide affordable housing initiative in November; while voters in nine communities across the country (including two in North Carolina) OK’d measures to finance the construction of affordable housing, preserve existing rental properties and support renters. But as housing costs soar, analysts and advocates say more needs to be done and argue that federal action is needed.

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