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Articles

Top Story Weekly Briefing

NC’s late summer political turmoil undermines democracy

The confluence of three essentially unprecedented events combined to make last week an extraordinary one in the modern history of North Carolina policy and politics. On Tuesday, the state conducted a special election to choose 15% of its delegation to the U.S House of Representatives. Under normal circumstances, such an event and its aftermath would have dominated the news cycle all week – especially given that one of the two districts had been the subject of intense national scrutiny ever since rampant ballot fraud tainted the 2018 vote. Not last week.

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News Top Story

Monday Numbers: How a Trump administration rule change threatens food stamp access in NC

If there is a strategy to President Trump’s administration – and really, who knows if there is? – it may be a kind of sleight of hand.  Take the immense stakes for North Carolina and many states in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s consideration of a rule change that threatens access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as “food stamps.” 

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Environment Top Story

DuPont tested Fayetteville workers’ blood, found elevated levels of PFAS

Congressional testimony this week by DuPont, Chemours and 3M was damning Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Florida, glared with the intensity of a welder’s torch at top officials from three chemical titans — DuPont, Chemours and 3M — seated at a table in a congressional hearing room.

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Environment Top Story

Environmental Management Commission approves new compost rules; PW investigation spurs regulators

State environmental regulators will have the power to require most composting facilities to test for emerging contaminants, including perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) and 1,4-Dioxane, according to new rules approved today. The Environmental Management Commission this morning voted to amend and readopt state rules over the 50 composters regulated by the Division of Waste Management.

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Education Top Story

A tale of two schools: One, taken over by the state, struggles. Another, controlled by locals, rebounds.

A few short years ago, Lakewood Elementary School in Durham was a low-performing school where only one in four students was proficient in reading. The school’s poor performance landed it on the list of schools for potential takeover by the state’s new Innovative School District (ISD) – a controversial initiative created by lawmakers in 2016 to allow consistently low-performing schools to be placed under the control of private operators.

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

PW special report: News and commentary on surprise NC House veto override vote

[Editor's note: In an extraordinary move unprecedented in modern state history, a narrow quorum of the membership of the state House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Cooper's veto of the state budget bill early this morning. Throughout the day, Policy Watch has been providing up-to-the-minute news coverage and commentary on the day's events, which are summarized below.]

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

After deflating charter school report, NC must confront the failures of school choice

Surrounded by the labyrinthine performance metrics of North Carolina’s charter school sector, Comment 12, a Pepto Bismol-colored side note to a 2016 report for the North Carolina legislature, is easy to overlook. The report dryly notes that, while charters may be more likely to earn an “A” than traditional schools, they’re more likely to earn an “F” as well, fitting for a K-12 movement often argued in the extremes.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

PW special update: Lawmakers commence court-ordered redistricting process

The North Carolina General Assembly is embarking on a historically transparent redistricting process without the use of partisan election data, but it’s been slow-going and not without snags. Lawmakers were ordered by a court to redraw House and Senate districts after a three-judge panel found they used unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering to harm Democrats when they created the 2017 legislative maps.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Gerrymandering in NC: Not dead yet

Nomination of longtime conservative financier and partisan as possible referee makes clear that GOP is still resisting real change There has been a great deal of understandable celebrating in recent days in the aftermath of the September 3rd ruling by a bipartisan panel of Superior Court judges that struck down North Carolina’s state legislative maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. Across the state and nation...

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Defending Democracy Progressive Voices Top Story

NC could be on a path to fairer maps and better government

If politics can be described as a contact sport, it’s perhaps fitting to say that when the Republicans who control North Carolina’s General Assembly went to court to defend the extreme gerrymandering that has helped keep them in power, they suffered no less than an epic beat-down. Three judges capped years of litigation with an explosive Sept. 3 ruling that scraps the current state House and Senate election district maps and requires them to be redrawn so they treat all voters...

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Environment Top Story

Monday numbers: Another not-so-bright idea from the Trump administration

Energy Department to roll back rules on energy-efficient light bulbs Methane, coal ash, tailpipe emissions, toxic releases, pesticides, endangered species: Since President Trump took office in January 2017, his administration has rolled back...

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Environment Top Story

To buy out or rebuild? Hurricane Dorian shines a spotlight on the future of NC’s low-lying coast

Forty-eight hours before the arms of Hurricane Dorian locked on the coast, North Topsail Beach in Onslow County sounded like an untuned symphony. The roar of the ocean lay down a musical bed for the shrieks of seagulls, a concussion of hammers and the caterwauls of power saws.

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News Top Story

Burr, Tillis keep quiet as volume rises in gun control debate

WASHINGTON -- Democrats are angling to put gun control at the center of the debate when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next week, but so far, North Carolina’s senators have stayed relatively quiet on the issue. After a summer marked by multiple mass shootings across the United States, gun control is gaining more traction in Congress, even among some traditionally reluctant Republicans.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Dan Forest to headline Charlotte event featuring controversial religious right speakers

Lt. Governor to share the stage with speakers who have vilified LGBTQ and Muslim communities, called for plan to "free Christian children from public education” Next month, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will be the special guest at The American Renewal Project’s “North Carolina Renewal Project” event in Charlotte. The roster of speakers for the private conservative Christian event includes:

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