Policy Watch Investigates

Policy Watch Investigates

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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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 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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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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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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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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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 Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

North Carolina LGBTQ community struggles with more threats, violence as visibility grows

Days before two Moore County power stations were shot in a targeted attack, plunging 45,000 people into a week of winter cold and darkness, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Terrorism Advisory System warned of a heightened danger of ideologically driven attacks against infrastructure. "Targets of potential violence include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media and perceived ideological opponents," the national bulletin read.

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Environment Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Leaks, mold, electrical problems, tilting floors: Some hurricane survivors discover their new homes are falling apart

Ms. Johnson’s toilet has sat, unconnected to any plumbing, in the middle of her master bathroom for more than a year. Mold is blooming in her master bedroom closet, caused by a leaking shower. The water pressure is low, and her floors are uneven. Her contractor, Persons Services has not fixed the issues since 2021, Johnson said. And the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency, also known as ReBuild NC,  has failed to hold Persons accountable.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Mail, Inc(arcerated)

A private company scans all mail sent to North Carolina prisons, digitizes it, and gives the incarcerated copies. Is that a problem? Those writing to loved ones in North Carolina prisons must send their letters not to whichever of the more than 50 prisons where their family member is locked up, but to a P.O. Box in Maryland, where their envelope is opened and scanned by a stranger before a copy is delivered to their family member in a North Carolina facility.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: After the Club Q mass shooting, a look at violence faced by the transgender community

As the LGBTQ community observed Transgender Day of Remembrance last week, it woke to further losses. After a mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs just before midnight on Nov. 19, police said a man armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a handgun killed five people and injured at least 19.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Fewer Black legislators will represent eastern NC counties that have significant African-American populations 

Five Black incumbent legislators lost elections in eastern North Carolina districts last week, contributing to an overall decline in Black representation from rural counties with significant African American populations.   Two of the incumbent House candidates who were defeated last week, Democratic Reps. Howard Hunter III of Hertford County and James D. Gailliard of Nash County, said new district lines, a barrage of negative ads and mailers, and lower turnout among Democrats contributed to their losses.  

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Defending Democracy News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Republicans fall short of a veto-proof legislative majority, but advocates foresee tough fights on several key issues

Close votes loom on bills impacting the environment, abortion rights, gun violence, public education, LGBTQ rights Republicans fell short of winning a supermajority in the state House, which may help preserve the strength of Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.   Republicans needed to pick up three seats in the 120-member House to win a supermajority, but fell short by one, the Associated Press reported.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

PW special report: Religious conservatives showcase close bond with NC Republican leaders

Recent church-based events test IRS rules, court allegations of Christian nationalism   Gary Miller has a story he likes to tell about religion and politics. When serving as pastor of a church years ago, he was frustrated by how long it took to get a building permit. So he ran for city council - and lost by one vote. “I came back to my people Sunday morning,” Miller told a crowd earlier this month at Cross Assembly church in Raleigh. “And I said, ‘I’d like for everyone who voted for me to please stand’. And those that remained seated, I handed out voter registration cards.”

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at fast-evolving public attitudes toward marriage equality

In 2012 North Carolina was the last U.S. state to ban same-sex marriage through a statewide referendum. In 2015, more than a decade ...
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Defending Democracy News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Election deniers are primed to challenge votes in NC. Voting rights groups are on alert.  

As the Wake County Board of Elections neared the end of its first tally of mail-in ballots this week, Marian Lewin rose from her seat in the audience to ask about the totals.   How many ballots were approved? Were any “spoiled,” requiring ballots be reissued? 

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