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Articles

Fitzsimon File Top Story

The most shameful thing about the Senate budget

The most shameful thing about the disastrous budget passed by the Senate two weeks ago is not the vindictive 3:00 a.m. budget cuts to education programs in Democrats’ districts.

It’s not the paltry raise given to state workers after years of neglect or the cruel refusal to give state retirees any cost of living increase at all.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The right-wing house of cards shudders

Court setbacks, public opinion, progressive activism and Trump bode ill for NC conservatives

Professor Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine School of Law is a nationally recognized Supreme Court watcher and elections law expert. Yesterday on his highly-trafficked Election Law Blog, Hasen posted a fascinating 13-point take of Monday morning’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down North Carolina’s hyper-gerrymandered 2011 congressional district map. After sifting through Justice Elena Kagan’s lengthy opinion and even some important footnotes, Hasen said this:

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Assessing the Supreme Court’s gerrymandering decision

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the North Carolina GOP drew unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered congressional districts, but what does it mean and where do lawmakers go from here?

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Progressive Voices Top Story

The Senate budget: Tax cut addiction leaves NC’s civic core crumbling

So, the question as always comes down to one of vision. The elected chieftains who decide how much money North Carolina’s state government will spend, what it will be spent on and how it will be raised must decide not only which programs and services will thrive and which will dwindle. They must decide to what degree the people of this state are truly a community, with an obligation to provide for the common good in the best interests of all.

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Fitzsimon File

Monday numbers

2.8 billion---amount in dollars of needs in communities across the state for rebuilding efforts from damage sustained from Hurricane Matthew (“The word is in: It is up to NC policymakers to lead on Hurricane Matthew recovery,” Progressive Pulse, May 11, 2017)

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Environment

The $1 million mystery: The Senate budget gives a low-risk hazardous waste site a major windfall — at the expense of hundreds of critical projects

Off a stub of Pine Grove Road behind the West End fire station in Havelock, an old sand mine turned wayward recycling facility has become an environmental and civic albatross. The 34-acre former Phoenix Recycling site contains an assortment of wood, metal, plastic and cardboard — plus construction and demolition detritus that has been illegally dumped there since the company closed and declared bankruptcy in 2000.

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News

House members push to clean up Senate’s budget ‘mess’

As the N.C. House puts together its budget this week, the same thought is on the minds of representatives from both parties.

“It looks like we’re going to have to clean up the Senate’s mess again,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford). “The way it usually works now is that the Senate budget is the low bar, the House budget is more reasonable and we’ll end up somewhere in the middle.”

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Education Top Story

Veteran House Democrats question the substance and process behind Senate budget proposal

Wednesday was the 63rd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the milestone U.S. Supreme Court case that ordered an end to racial segregation in American public schools.

That fact hasn’t escaped Rep. Henry Michaux’s attention as the veteran Democrat—the longest-serving member in the state House and a civil rights hero in Durham—shreds a $22.9 billion spending plan approved by the Senate shortly after 3 a.m. last Friday.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

North Carolina is not alone: The Right’s nationwide assault on state judiciaries

In the past few months, North Carolinians have seen our General Assembly make national news several times. At least a couple of those times were due to the continuing and shameless partisan assaults on the independence of our courts.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

The lowdown on NC’s “Raise the Age” legislation

A Q&A with key players ahead of today’s House vote

House lawmakers are expected to vote today on House Bill 280, a bill that would raise the age of juvenile prosecution from 16 and 17 years old to 18 years old.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

An offensive, belligerent and vindictive display in the halls of government

The last week has featured some of the most offensive, belligerent, and vindictive behavior by elected officials in generations---and that is not a reference to President Trump and his associates in Washington, though the characterization fits there too.

No, this startling episode came in the middle of the night last week in Raleigh when furious Republican leaders of the state Senate interrupted a debate on the state budget with a recess to meet with legislative staff.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump, NC conservative leaders to eastern NC: “Drop dead”

Hurricane Matthew non-response sets a new low when it comes to basics of governing

With the increasingly precarious situation in which he finds his presidency vis a vis the inquiries of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one would think that Donald Trump might well be taking any and all steps available to cozy up to the Committee’s chairman, North Carolina’s Richard Burr. Weirdly, however, no such actions were in evidence last week when it came to one of the most basic components of running the federal government – meting out disaster relief funds.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Still on the books and still unjust

Death penalty spree in Arkansas provides sobering reminder that NC’s system remains fatally flawed

Since Arkansas shocked the world by trying to execute eight people in 10 days just to beat the expiration date on its lethal drugs, there has been more talk about the death penalty in North Carolina.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

22.9 billion---amount in dollars spent in the 2017-2018 fiscal year by the budget passed by the Senate last week (“N.C. Senate Would Have State Stand Still in Face of Uncertainty, Growing Needs,” N.C. Budget & Tax Center, May 2015)

2.5---percentage increase in spending in Senate budget over current fiscal year (Ibid)

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