Daily dose: Gerrymandering Greensboro edition

Wade's plan dilutes power of voters (Greensboro News & Record editorial) -- Greensboro’s one-woman Nanny State revealed her plan for changing the City Council on Tuesday. As expected, it mutes the voices of the people but creates greater opportunities for the powerful. State Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill would replace the 5-3-1 plan with a 7-1 scheme. THE WHOLE STORY



BORROW AND SPEND: McCrory wants loans for infrastructure, raise teacher base pay (AP) —Gov. Pat McCrory wants legislators to let the state borrow roughly $2.5 billion for transportation and government infrastructure and to fulfill their promise to raise base teacher pay to $35,000 this fall, but didn’t say where that money might come from. THE WHOLE STORY


McCrory makes big promises on education (EdNC) -- Gov. Pat McCrory talked teacher pay, testing, and university research during his State of the State Address to the General Assembly Wednesday. He made many big pledges, including fulfillment of lawmakers’ promise to raise base teacher pay to $35,000 and an end to unnecessary testing in state schools. “We need to give them the gift of time and allow them to start teaching again, but testing less,” he said. The call for less testing received a standing ovation, and he followed it by saying plans are in the works to figure out what tests improve student results and which ones “simply waste the time of both teachers and students.” THE WHOLE STORY


McCrory Hedges on Medicaid Expansion, Supports ‘Reform’ (N.C. Health News) -- Although Medicaid comprises close to $4 billion of North Carolina’s $21 billion budget, Gov. Pat McCrory mentioned the program that covers more than 1.7 million low-income children, their parents, seniors and people with disabilities only once during his 80-minute State of the State speech on Wednesday evening at the General Assembly. THE WHOLE STORY


McCrory: Giving NC 'best of everything' requires more work (WRAL-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory outlined a laundry list of priorities and wishes Wednesday evening that he said would make North Carolina a national model for both its big-city opportunities and its small-town charm. THE WHOLE STORY


McCrory ready to repair infrastructure (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory also asks legislators to work together, to increase entry-level teacher pay and to overhaul Medicaid as part of his State of the State address. THE WHOLE STORY


Wed. Wrap: Much more concise than SOTS (WRAL-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory threw as much as he could against the wall Wednesday night in his State of the State address to see how much would actually stick. In a wide-ranging, 80-minute speech to the General Assembly, McCrory discussed his transportation and infrastructure plans, the need for more economic development incentives, teacher raises, Medicaid reform, creating state agencies to handle IT and military affairs and other assorted issues. THE WHOLE STORY


McCrory outlines vision for state (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Midway through his first term, Gov. Pat McCrory presented his goals for a more prosperous North Carolina in his State of the State address on Wednesday night. THE WHOLE STORY


State Of The State Focuses On Transportation and Education (WFDD-FM) -- Cars and teachers were the focus of Gov. Pat McCrory's State of the State address Wednesday night. The Governor wants to borrow 2.5 billion dollars for road infrastructure and raise base pay for teachers to $35,000. THE WHOLE STORY


McCrory Delivers State of the State Address, Focusing on Jobs, Education, Health (TWCN-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory has laid out his vision for North Carolina as it moves forward. In his biennial State of the State Address, McCrory told a joint session of lawmakers he wants North Carolina to concentrate on jobs, education and health and public safety. THE WHOLE STORY


McCrory plans to create military and veterans affairs department (Fayetteville Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory used his biennial State of the State address on Wednesday to announce plans to create a N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. And he touched on, carefully, the controversial issue of expanding Medicaid government health insurance to hundreds of thousands of lower-income North Carolinians - a concept anathema to many of his fellow Republicans because of its connection to Democratic President Obama's Affordable Care Act program. THE WHOLE STORY


McCrory State of the State address: Quotes and reactions (Raleigh News & Observer) -- We have had great success over the past two years, but there is still a lot of work to be done, and that’s exactly what we will do.


McCrory’s State of the State through the lens of Twitter (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory’s State of the State address was closely watched, and the social media world had instant reactions to his proposal. THE WHOLE STORY


Sen. Phil Berger on State of the State (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Watch Sen. Berger's comments on Gov. Pat McCrory's State of the State speech, THE WHOLE STORY


Text of NC Gov. McCrory's State of the State address (AP) -- The prepared text of Gov. Pat McCrory's State of the State address, delivered Wednesday night. THE WHOLE STORY


Text of Rep. Larry Hall's response to State of the State (AP) — The prepared text of the Democratic response to Gov. Pat McCrory's State of the State address on Wednesday by House Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham: THE WHOLE STORY



Coalition starts bid to expand Medicaid in N.C. (AP) — A coalition of groups is beginning an effort to expand Medicaid in North Carolina despite opposition from Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly. THE WHOLE STORY


Groups renew push to expand Medicaid in N.C. (Charlotte Observer) -- A coalition of groups launched an effort Wednesday that is designed to put a face on their case to expand Medicaid in North Carolina. Republican legislative leaders have declined to expand the federal health care program for the poor and uninsured. THE WHOLE STORY


Eminent domain referendum clears NC House judiciary panel (AP) — North Carolina House members are again pushing for a constitutional amendment reinforcing limits on state and local government to take private property against the owner's will. THE WHOLE STORY


Early-session spending bill approved by NC Senate (AP) — The state Senate supports making spending changes to help a panel reviewing public school academic standards do its work and so a rule-making body can defend itself in a lawsuit against the State Board of Education. THE WHOLE STORY


ACLU talks at NC legislature about surveillance technology (AP) — Worried that state and local government could know too much about your private life? A civil rights group says more legislation is needed to regulate surveillance equipment that law enforcement agencies have at their disposal. THE WHOLE STORY


Driver ed funding steers concerns (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Discussion about the state removing funding for driver’s education in the next year has school officials concerned about safety and possible costs pushed onto other drivers. THE WHOLE STORY


Wade proposes smaller Greensboro City Council (Greensboro News & Record) - The legislation puts four current city council members and Mayor Nancy Vaughan in the same newly-drafted District 4, which means Council member Mike Barber, Marikay Abuzuaiter, Zack Matheny and Nancy Hoffmann would have to run against each other for a single seat. THE WHOLE STORY



Jon Stewart lectures Tillis on restaurant hygiene, free markets, and Typhoid Mary (The Week) -- Freshman Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) raised some eyebrows this week by suggesting that if it were up to him, restaurants and other food and drink establishments wouldn't be required to make their employees wash their hands after going to the bathroom. On Wednesday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart commended him on sticking to his free-market, anti-regulation guns. "Boom! This guy really walks the walk," Stewart said. "I'd high-five him, but I don't want to die like a character in the game 'Oregon Trail'" THE WHOLE STORY


Give Thom Tillis a hand for this novel idea (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Unlike Thom Transmissable, whose disdain for government regulations seemingly has him blissfully unconcerned about the spread of E. coli and other contagious diseases – and has North Carolinians lying and claiming that we’re from the other Carolina – my opposition to the sign is that it is too limiting. It should require everybody to wash his or her hands before leaving the restroom. THE WHOLE STORY


Raleigh restaurant sign responds to Tillis (WNCN-TV) -- A Raleigh restaurant is responding with a sign after some comments by Sen. Thom Tillis on whether restaurants should be required to make employee wash their hands. THE WHOLE STORY


Senator Tillis' recipe for disaster (Washington Post) -- Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) thinks government shouldn’t require employees who handle food to wash their hands after using the bathroom. THE WHOLE STORY


GOP Lawmakers Propose Alternative to Obamacare (New York Times) -- Three influential Republican members of Congress, including North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, unveiled a comprehensive proposal on Wednesday to replace President Obama’s health care overhaul with an alternative that would halt the expansion of Medicaid and scale back subsidies for middle-income people to buy private insurance.


GOP trio to propose tax credits for health coverage (AP) -- A small, influential group of Republicans, including North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard burr, in search of a replacement health care law, will propose tax credits to help lower-income individuals and families purchase insurance, officials said Wednesday. The GOP lawmakers would jettison the controversial coverage requirement in the current health care law. The proposal is part of an outline that Senators Burr, Orrin Hatch and Rep. Fred Upton plan to make public Thursday. It is an early marker among the competing recommendations likely to be floated in advance of an expected Supreme Court ruling in June on the constitutionality of a key part of President Obama’s health insurance overhaul. THE WHOLE STORY


NC ranks 3rd for insurance enrollment under Obamacare (WCTI-TV) -- According to numbers released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, during this year's open enrollment period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and as of the second week of January, North Carolina has the third highest enrollment in the nation with with 458,676 people getting insured. THE WHOLE STORY


Army holds 'listening session' about Bragg force reductions (AP) — Fort Bragg leaders and others will discuss the effect of force reduction plans on the sprawling Army post that's home to the famed 82nd Airborne Division. THE WHOLE STORY


Ft. Bragg To Listen, Answer Questions About Downsizing (WUNC-FM) -- The U.S. Army anticipates major cuts to brigade combat teams, which sets up the country's largest military base for a big hit. Now, Fort Bragg is considering what recommendations to make when downsizing. And they're opening the process up to public input. "At the end of the day, our responsibility is to make sure we have trained and prepared soldiers ready to go out the door, regardless of what decisions that might be made higher than here at Fort Bragg," says base spokesman Ben Abel. Fort Bragg could stand to lose 16,000 jobs. THE WHOLE STORY


Greensboro council approves use of word 'massacre' on marker (AP) — The 1979 Klan-Nazi shootings in Greensboro that left five protesters dead will be described as a massacre on a historical marker.


Mecklenburg health director proposes county tax on tobacco (Charlotte Observer) -- Marcus Plescia said a 10-percent tax on tobacco products would create a revenue source and discourage teenagers from smoking. His proposal would need state permission, and likely would have a tough time in Raleigh. THE WHOLE STORY


NC health agency reminds people to get measles vaccination (AP) — North Carolina's health agency is advising people to vaccinate against measles, especially since 102 people from 14 states were diagnosed with the illness last month. THE WHOLE STORY


Mel Watt on Rep. Pittenger's harsh tweets: ‘I consider him a friend’ (Charlotte Observer) -- In an interview Wednesday with economic reporters atop his offices that look out at the Capitol, Watt shrugged off the harsh comments. THE WHOLE STORY


Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report (New York Times) – A still-classified section of the investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has taken on an almost mythic quality over the past 13 years — 28 pages that examine crucial support given the hijackers and that by all accounts implicate prominent Saudis in financing terrorism. … Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-NC, pushing for the release of Part 4, said the Moussaoui claims might give momentum to the declassification effort. He said he was approached Wednesday on the House floor by lawmakers inquiring how to view the 28 pages. But there seemed to be little appetite for declassification among the Republican leaders of the intelligence panels. Sen. Richard M. Burr, the N.C. Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was skeptical of the value of releasing the pages, calling them more of a historical document in a fight against terrorism that has shifted substantially since 2002. “There may have been a level of participation by some Muslim country that is not commensurate with today,” he said. THE WHOLE STORY


Overseer of Fannie and Freddie Takes Cautious Steps to Strengthen Housing Market (New York Times) -- Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, lays out modest plans to help potential home buyers. THE WHOLE STORY


Secretary of Defense nominee promises Tillis a meeting about 440th if confirmed (Fayetteville Observer) -- If confirmed, President Obama's pick for the next Secretary of Defense has committed to meeting with local congressional representatives THE WHOLE STORY


North Carolina’s Executive Mansion (Walter Magazine) -- by Liza Roberts photographs by Catherine Nguyen Living above the store is a good way to ensure working around the clock. Even when “the store” is a gorgeous 1891 Queen Anne Victorian mansion set on nearly five lush acres, there’s an essential need to get away. THE WHOLE STORY


State official OKs petition to remove New Hanover elections director (Wilmington Star-News) -- The decision is final unless the state board of elections within 20 days defers the decision and holds a hearing on the matter. THE WHOLE STORY


The head of the FCC just proposed the strongest net neutrality rules ever (Washington Post) -- Tom Wheeler said his plan “assures the rights of Internet users to go where they want, when they want.” THE WHOLE STORY



Google's latest acquisition has a big Raleigh connection: Its co-founder (Triangle Business Journal) -- A toy company founded by an N.C. State University graduate was quietly acquired by Google this week. THE WHOLE STORY


Fort Bragg Air Force wife in running for Military Spouse of the Year (Fayetteville Observer) -- Voting has opened for a magazine's annual Military Spouse of the Year award, and a local Air Force wife is in the running. THE WHOLE STORY



NC schools getting A through F grades on student performance (AP) — Now, it's entire schools getting report cards demonstrating how they stack up with others. THE WHOLE STORY


Wake Co. Superintendent Criticizes State School Performance Grade System (TWCN-TV) -- Wake County’s superintendent says graduation rates are at a record high, but in his "State of the Schools" address, Dr. Jim Merrill says there are still a lot of areas where the schools need work. He also expressed frustration with the state's new single letter school performance grades.


Merrill: State report cards will not show Wake schools' progress (WRAL-TV) -- Overall achievement is up in the Wake County Public School System - over 80 percent of students met or exceeded state academic standards within the past two years - but Superintendent Jim Merrill doesn't believe such will be reflected when state school report cards are released Thursday. THE WHOLE STORY


Wake County releases progress reports for every school (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A day before the state’s new A through F school performance grades are released, the Wake County school system posted online Wednesday progress reports for each school that it says are superior to what will be released Thursday. THE WHOLE STORY


Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools prepare for letter grades from the state (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools will get their report cards Thursday as the state issues “A” through “F” letter grades to each campus in North Carolina for the first time. THE WHOLE STORY


BEST NC unveils draft vision schools, seeks feedback (EdNC) -- BEST NC released its draft vision for North Carolina schools today, highlighting three main strategies: support students, elevate educators, and raise expectations. Over the past several months, BEST NC facilitated discussions with more than 325 top education stakeholders across the state to create this vision. “We believe North Carolina can have the fastest-improving education system in the nation by 2020,” said Brenda Berg, president and CEO of the organization. THE WHOLE STORY


State sets conditions for online charter schools (AP) -- The statewide school board readied itself Wednesday to approve North Carolina's first online schools that are run by for-profit companies but depend heavily on parents to guide students sitting at home. THE WHOLE STORY


NC Education Officials To Vote On Virtual Charter Schools (WUNC-FM) -- State education officials are expected to vote Thursday on whether to approve two virtual charter schools to open next fall. The schools would serve up to 3,000 students who would take all of their classes at home and interact with students and teachers online. Supporters have argued that it would help students who don’t thrive in traditional settings – especially those dealing with health issues, athletic schedules, or bullying. THE WHOLE STORY


Online charters near approval (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The State Board of Education is preparing to approve two online charter schools Thursday that would begin enrolling students for fall. But the board on Wednesday had still not decided what its contract with the nonprofit groups running the schools would say. THE WHOLE STORY


NC Education Officials To Vote On Virtual Charter Schools (WUNC-FM) -- State education officials are expected to vote today on whether to approve two virtual charter schools to open next fall. THE WHOLE STORY


Is Your First Grader College Ready? (New York Times) -- Matriculation is years away for the Class of 2030, but the first graders in Kelli Rigo’s class at Johnsonville Elementary School in rural Harnett County, N.C., already have campuses picked out. Three have chosen West Point and one Harvard. In a writing assignment, the children will share their choice and what career they would pursue afterward. The future Harvard applicant wants to be a doctor. She can’t wait to get to Cambridge because “my mom never lets me go anywhere.” The mock applications they’ve filled out are stapled to the bulletin board. THE WHOLE STORY


Charting-accountability (EdNC) -- If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a chart worth? In this case it is an inspection chart that identifies the limits of information collected about private schools in North Carolina. THE WHOLE STORY


North Carolina School Privatization Could Impact Students With Disabilities (Public News Service) -- - There's no limit to the number of charter schools that can operate in North Carolina, and now there's a virtual charter school pilot program that will reallocate money to private entities and away from public schools. THE WHOLE STORY


Union Co. school board member Savage resigns (Charlotte Observer) -- Marce Savage has resigned, and had been under fire by fellow board members who had raised concerns over her expenses. The resignation was announced at the end of a lengthy board meeting by the school board chairman. THE WHOLE STORY


UNC's Board of Governors is threatening to silence Gene Nichol (Creative Loafing-Charlotte) -- The greatest threat to North Carolina, says Gene Nichol, director of UNC-Chapel Hill's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, is a plague of wrenching poverty. Ten years ago, North Carolina ranked 26th in poverty; it's now 11th. Forty-one percent of minority children are poor, and in places like Charlotte, with the worst upward mobility of any American metropolitan, their lives will never change. But the Poverty Center is on the verge of shutting down. Nichol's criticism of Republican policies made him an enemy of the governor, a target of the state legislature and a victim of a conservative takeover of the university system. THE WHOLE STORY


NC would save by expanding pre-K (Raleigh News & Observer editorial) -- It will be more difficult now for Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly to hesitate when it comes to more funding for pre-school programs and early childhood initiatives. The issue, which shouldn’t be an issue at all, became politicized as Republicans took over control of the legislature and seemed interested in dismantling anything connected to Democratic governors. Now, Duke University researchers have provided exhaustive research data showing what educators and parents already could see: Having children enrolled in North Carolina’s state-supported early education programs makes them less likely to be placed in very expensive special education classes by third grade. THE WHOLE STORY


Our schools: Film photography (EdNC) -- The film photography of Todd Brantley reminds us that our public schools are beautiful and important spaces in our communities. THE WHOLE STORY



Lawmakers push bill to reform renewable fuel mandate (The Hill) -- A bipartisan group of lawmakers pushed legislation to scale back parts of the renewable fuel mandate on Wednesday. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Steve Womack (R-Ariz.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) re-introduced a bill aimed at eliminating the corn-based ethanol requirement in the Renewable Fuel Standard, which is proposed every year by the Environmental Protection Agency. THE WHOLE STORY


US energy consumption at lowest level since 1975, feds say (The Hill) -- Consumption of energy by the U.S. government fell to its lowest level since 1975 in 2013, THE WHOLE STORY


Wind and solar energy have tripled since 2008 (Washington Post) -- A new report shows that on any number of metrics, progress in clean energy has really been immense. THE WHOLE STORY


O2 Energies gets new partner, new focus (Charlotte Business Journal) -- O2 Energies founder Joel Olsen has taken on a new partner and will refocus his company’s solar efforts on electric cooperatives at the newly renamed O2 Energies EMC. THE WHOLE STORY


Renewables Top Natural Gas for New US Generating Capacity in 2014 (Oil & Gas Daily) -- Ending a year-long race that had been nip-and tuck every month, renewable energy sources cumulatively provided more new electric generating capacity in 2014 than did natural gas. According to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects. THE WHOLE STORY


Electric Cooperative Keeps African American Land In The Family (NCSU Sustainability Center) -- Though Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s (REC) primary mission is to provide members with safe, reliable and affordable electricity, it also aims to enhance the quality of life in the communities it serves. As we outlined in a previous article, the REC has a number of initiatives to empower members to invest in sustainability, and to help drive economic development in the seven counties where it operates. Since 2013, the cooperative has also taken an active role in helping prevent African American land loss through a sustainable forestry initiative. THE WHOLE STORY


$51.8 billion total U.S. investment in clean energy in 2014 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance) -- Total U.S. investment in clean energy topped $51.8 billion in 2014, the second highest level in the world. The United States saw continued growth in renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency in 2014, according to the third annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. THE WHOLE STORY


Charlotte power companies team with Durham startup on no-carbon power plant (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Toshiba and Chicago Bridge & Iron are partnering with a Durham energy startup to develop a zero-carbon emissions natural gas plant in a $140 million demonstrator project. THE WHOLE STORY


NC's largest proposed solar farm to cost $173M (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A proposed solar farm billing itself as the nation's biggest east of the Rocky Mountains is ready for construction near Fayetteville, pending one detail: $173 million in financing. The planned 78.5 megawatt solar far would be built in Hope Mills, about 75 miles south of Raleigh. The site was a cornfield last year and could become a photovoltaic meadow if financing comes through. THE WHOLE STORY


Elon ponders solar farms within the city (Burlington Times-News) -- The Elon Board of Aldermen is set to vote on proposed changes to its land development ordinance that would allow solar farms within the city. The board held a public hearing this week to allow roof-mounted solar panels within all of its zoning districts and solar farms in various other zoning districts. One company, San Francisco-based Ecoplexus, has already expressed interest in establishing a solar farm. THE WHOLE STORY


Seismic surveys debated at offshore energy meeting (Charlotte Observer) -- Underwater sound waves that map oil and gas deposits, but may hurt marine mammals and fish, were debated Wednesday at a meeting on developing offshore energy. North Carolina is reviewing two proposals for seismic surveying, as the technique is called, that would be conducted in federal waters this year. The state expects to decide by late April whether the plans are consistent with its coastal management policies. The surveys came up during an invitation-only meeting in Raleigh hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. THE WHOLE STORY


Greenbacker buys 9.8 MW of US solar assets (SeeNews) - US-based firm Greenbacker Renewable Energy Co said Wednesday it had taken possession of 9.8 MW of operational solar parks in North Carolina and five other states. THE WHOLE STORY


Gardner Capital Develops Six Solar Projects in N.C. (Solar Daily) -- Gardner Capital provided tax equity financing for six solar utility-scale photovoltaic power generation systems totaling 37.5 MW located on rural property throughout North Carolina. The projects, developed by Heelstone Energy will provide clean, emission-free, renewable electricity to the Duke and North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency. THE WHOLE STORY


Navassa Superfund Site Slated for Cleanup (Coastal Review) -- More than $10 million has been allocated to clean up the site of a former wood treatment plant following a federal lawsuit that resulted in the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history. THE WHOLE STORY


NOAA, US Fish & Wildlife Service, N.C. to restore natural resources affected by wood treatment plant (NOAA News) -- A fund administered by NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in their capacity as natural resource trustees, has received a disbursement of more than $13 million and anticipate receiving an additional estimated $9 million to restore natural resources harmed by the activities of Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. as part of the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history. THE WHOLE STORY


Environmental group get $22 million to restore Navassa site (Wilmington Star-News) -- The money will be used to restore natural resources near the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Plant. THE WHOLE STORY


Creating Virtual Wind For Physical Turbines (Duke U. News Service) -- Armed with a grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program, Pratt graduate student Jenni Rinker will try to put a more accurate wind in the sails of turbine simulators. She’ll spend an entire year working on her dissertation at the National Wind Technology Center in Boulder, Colorado, which is part of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. THE WHOLE STORY


Humpback whale found stranded on Outer Banks (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Scientists examined a dead female humpback whale that washed ashore Tuesday afternoon. The juvenile was found near the Lighthouse Road beach access in Corolla with entanglement scars from fishing nets. THE WHOLE STORY



The Real Problem With Thom Tillis' Stance on Hand Washing (Bloomberg News column) -- The problem with North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis’s comment isn’t that he thinks employees should be allowed to opt out of post-poop hand washings, but that he’d rather make things easier for businesses than safe for consumers. Tillis’s example takes pressure off businesses to provide safe food, and forces consumers to judge every meal’s likelihood of making them violently ill. THE WHOLE STORY


Redistricting reform faces a dead end (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Well-meaning lawmakers have introduced new bills that would dramatically change the way redistricting is handled for the N.C. General Assembly and U.S. Congress. But they might as well have thrown their legislation into a strong headwind on Jones Street. The bills – backed by N.C. Rep. Paul Stam, a Republican; and N.C. Rep. Grier Martin, a Democrat – would put the responsibility for redrawing N.C. House, N.C. Senate and U.S. House seats in the hands of nonpartisan legislative staff or a special commission. The General Assembly would have final say-so over proposed redistricting plans, but legislators would not be allowed to submit maps of their own. The result would be a much fairer, less politicized approach to representative government. But the N.C. Senate shows no interest whatsoever in such a concept. THE WHOLE STORY


Time to let Pat take center stage (Charlotte Observer column) -- An open letter to N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. THE WHOLE STORY


Moving beyond test and punish (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Our current high-stakes testing regime does not provide accountability, but an expensive, harmful illusion of accountability. The current spate of over-testing is the direct and inevitable result of testing mandates enacted at both federal and state levels. THE WHOLE STORY


Funding for driver's ed (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Among proposed funding cuts state lawmakers are considering during this legislative session is a measure that would remove state support for driver’s education. THE WHOLE STORY