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Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NC CHAMBER IS AWOL IN THE FIGHT FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS: At the height of the debate last week North Carolina’s foremost business organization, the state Chamber of Commerce was asked how it stood on House Bill 13 (which only partially deals with the problem, was passed and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper this week). “The North Carolina Chamber does not currently have a position on House Bill 13 and remains focused on policies that return accountability to the talent pipeline while raising student and school achievement,” was the reply. This non-answer, answer represents the unfortunate lack of leadership the state Chamber has shown in those issues most critical to supporting North Carolina’s public school system.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-n-c-chamber-is-awol-in-fight-for-public-schools/16669220/

Saturday News: Hog wild

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CURRENT LAWSUITS MOVE FORWARD IN HOG FARM NUISANCE CLAIMS: Last October, over the objections of Murphy-Brown, the court allowed investigators to visit the hog farms, take air-quality samples, record video evidence, send in drones and catch as many pathogen transmission vectors – flies – as they could. The lawsuits also allege that the smells, pig transport trucks, open-air lagoons and spraying of waste onto fields are so offensive that people living in the vicinity can’t have visitors to their homes or have outdoor activities. The company says it complies with all existing laws and regulations, rendering the lawsuits groundless. The federal trials cleared their most recent hurdle Thursday. The state legislature passed proposed legislation protecting hog farms against lawsuits, after lawmakers agreed to remove a provision that would have made the protections retroactive to the Murphy-Brown lawsuits.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article147425529.html

Friday News: Trolling Trump

NEW TRUMP INITIATIVE FOR CITIZENS TO REPORT ILLEGAL ALIENS BACKFIRES: A newly unveiled federal hotline intended to collect reports of crimes committed by immigrants has instead been inundated by accounts of UFOs, killer robots and Superman. The Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement, or VOICE, office opened Wednesday to track crimes committed by immigrants – legal or undocumented – to the United States. The office, part of the Department of Homeland Security, also rolled out a hotline for tips from the public. It didn’t take long for non-fans of President Donald Trump to come up with ways to register their disapproval of the whole idea. And the internet rose to the, well, call.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article147295794.html

Thursday News: Brocking the African-American Vote

EXTENDING VOTING HOURS DUE TO FAULTY MACHINERY UNFAIR, ANDREW BROCK SAYS: Voting hours could not be extended in a precinct where there was equipment malfunction or another problem unless every other precinct in the state stayed open just as long, under a bill approved in the Senate on Wednesday. Citing problems in Durham County in the last general election, when voting was extended at eight precincts due to technological problems, bill sponsors said it wasn’t fair that some voters benefitted from longer hours of voting. Heightened news media coverage of the problems elevated the importance of those votes, sponsors said. “Durham was given an extra at-bat,” Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican who represents Davie, Iredell and Rowan counties, said in a committee meeting Tuesday.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article147013814.html

Wednesday News: Constitutional union-bashing

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HOUSE PASSES AMENDMENT REFERENDUM TO PUT "RIGHT TO WORK" IN NC CONSTITUTION: N.C. voters would decide if the state’s anti-union “right to work” law should be added to the constitution under a bill approved by the state House Tuesday in a 75-44 vote. Under House Bill 819, voters would decide in November 2018 if the state law governing union activity should be added to the constitution. The law – and the constitutional amendment – bans employers from requiring their workers to join a labor organization or pay dues to a group.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article146765979.html

Tuesday News: NC, First in Pollution

SENATE GOP LOVES PLASTIC BAGS, HATES RIPARIAN BUFFERS: Banning plastic shopping bags from Outer Banks beaches – a personal mission of former Democratic Senate leader Marc Basnight eight years ago – would be undone in a bill Republican lawmakers are pushing. Senate Bill 434 would repeal the bag ban, lessen stream protections and deregulate other environmental procedures as part of the GOP’s ongoing drive to give businesses a break from what they consider unnecessary or overly burdensome rules. “The Senate appears to be becoming a no-science zone,” Molly Diggins, state director of The Sierra Club, said in a statement. “Yet the threats to our environment demand laws that are supported by careful research and informed by a full discussion of relevant data, with broad stakeholder input. Legislation by personal opinion has no place in environmental policy.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article146470994.html

Monday News: Without art, what's the point?

BILL TO SAVE ART, MUSIC & PE CLASSES FINALLY GETS A HEARING IN NC SENATE: A state Senate panel will consider Monday night a bill that school districts say is needed to prevent thousands of potential teacher layoffs and cuts in art, music and physical education classes in North Carolina elementary schools. Monday’s discussion comes after Senate leaders, who questioned how school districts were spending state money, put the bill on hold for two months. The bill’s consideration Monday comes less than a week after several hundred people rallied on the Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh to demand that the Senate quickly approve House Bill 13.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article146343209.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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INCESSANT TAX CUTS ARE RUNNING OUR STATE INTO THE GROUND: North Carolina tax cuts have primarily benefited large corporations and high income people. There is little evidence that this grows the economy. (We don't believe in trickle down any more than we believe in the Easter bunny.) By resisting any increases in the minimum wage, our legislative leaders’ policies are keeping a lid on disposable income. They’ve expanded sales taxes to more items and services as they’ve eliminated popular programs like the back-to-school sales tax-free weekend and the sales tax holiday on Energy Star appliances. None of these actions increase consumer purchasing power. Rather than continue with tax cut obsessions, legislative leaders need to focus first on what North Carolina needs to have – well paid teachers and school administrators; best-in-the-nation schools and universities; access for all to affordable health care and; a top quality of life. If there’s anything left over after that, only then should any adjustments in revenues be considered.
http://www.wral.com/obsessive-tax-cutting-hurts-n-c-economy-neglects-critical-needs/16656309/

Saturday News: Veto time, baby

GOVERNOR COOPER REJECTS ATTEMPTS TO SHUFFLE COURTS AND ELECTION BOARDS: Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed bills that would cut the state appeals court by three judges and deny the governor’s political party control of the state elections board. The legislature is likely to vote to override the vetoes. House Bill 239 would reduce the state Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 members, which would prevent replacement of three Republican judges approaching mandatory retirement age. Senate Bill 68 would consolidate the state elections and ethics boards. The new board would have eight members, four from each major political party, with a Republican chairman in presidential-election years and a Democratic chairman in midterm-election years. Local elections boards would also be split. A three-judge panel struck down an earlier attempt by Republicans to merge the boards.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article145960749.html

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