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The Path Forward: HB2 in the new age of Trump

The new reality of a Donald Trump presidency has thrown into question a number of evolving civil rights struggles.

As many LGBT North Carolinians and their allies feared, November’s election may have radically changed the legislative and legal future of the controversial House Bill 2.

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Environment Featured Articles

Environmental Management Commission defies EPA over state’s polluted waters

The best way to experience the swamps and rivers of Brunswick County is by kayak. Enter the wide Cape Fear River via Lilliput Creek – you might see the Fort Fisher Ferry pass in the distance -- and head north to Snow Cut. From there, if you keep paddling, you will eventually arrive at Wrightsville Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

Unfortunately, this 12-square mile segment of the Cape Fear is also contaminated with arsenic and nickel, both heavy metals. The levels are high enough that the EPA has overruled state officials and placed this part of the river on a federal inventory of impaired waters, also known as a “303(d) list."

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Environment Featured Articles Must Reads

Jones Street primer: What to expect from the 2017 legislative session (Part Two)

The 2017 session of the legislature kicked off this morning with House and Senate members gathering to establish rules and then picking-up where they left off in December. The repeal of House Bill 2, voting rights, the question of raising the age at which individuals can be prosecuted as adults in the criminal justice system, the state's coal ash problem and a new budget are among the issues lawmakers will tackle in the coming months. This afternoon reporter Lisa Sorg has a rundown of the environmental issues facing the General Assembly. Click here for Part One of our legislative preview by NC Policy Watch reporters Joe Killian and Melissa Boughton.

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Education Featured Articles

Raleigh-based charter school threatened students with expulsion in apparent violation of state law

Longleaf School of the Arts is less than four years old, but the charter school—housed in an old downtown Raleigh church, complete with stained-glass windows—has an air of antiquity about it.

Midterms are underway, and students pack the halls while Rachel Davis, head of school, ushers buzzing teens to their classrooms. Davis, an eminently cheerful woman, occupies a busy corner office crammed with boxed records.

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Education Featured Articles

New Superintendent of Public Instruction highlights urgent need to transform “outdated” school system

Pledging to “transform” North Carolina public schools, new Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson told members of the State Board of Education Thursday that he believes the state’s system of schooling is “outdated.”

“I will be generous and say that this system was designed for students in the 1950s,” Johnson said. “I will be generous because you could probably trace this system back to the 1920s or even earlier.”

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Featured Articles Law and the Courts

Three-judge panels to hear Constitutional arguments on laws passed by Republican legislature in surprise special session

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin appointed three-judge panels this week in two cases challenging the constitutionality of laws passed by the Republican-led General Assembly in a surprise special session last month.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens temporarily blocked the implementation of the two laws last week – the first part of Senate Bill 4, which overhauls the State Board of Elections; and Section 4 of House Bill 17, which transfers power from the State Board of Education to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a recently elected Republican.

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Environment Featured Articles

Ten of North Carolina’s worst environmental fiascos of 2016

Environmental reporting in 2016 was like shooting two-headed fish in a toxic waste barrel: It's tough to miss. As we come to the end of the year, this is an occasion for the airing of environmental grievances. For the sake of time, we had to limit ourselves to ten. 1. The saga of coal ash Two words North Carolinians would like to never hear again: Coal. Ash.

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Featured Articles Law and the Courts

Lawsuits to keep an eye on in the New Year

With the New Year less than a week away, legal experts and advocates are planning to keep an eye on litigation likely to make an impact in 2017. Below are just some of the lawsuits they expect will be heard or decided in the next year and anticipated litigation that could arise in response to actions taken in 2016. Gerrymandering: There are several ongoing cases in North Carolina that involve partisan and racial gerrymandering claims. Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Bob Phillips, executive director at Common Cause North Carolina, agree those cases will big ones to watch in 2017.

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Environment Featured Articles

After five-year legal battle, NC Supreme Court rules Asheville can keep its water system

If it were whiskey, not water, that flowed from the taps in the City of Asheville, then perhaps the state's highest court would not have had to intervene. But whiskey is for drinking, Mark Twain once said, and "water is for fighting over."

And fight, Asheville did, in a five-year battle against the state legislature that finally ended today. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that a state-mandated takeover of the Asheville water system is unconstitutional. Justices Paul Newby and Mark Martin dissented.

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Environment Featured Articles

“Silence equals guilt” and other internal DEQ, DHHS discussions about coal ash

"Liberal groups" launched a "coordinated attack" earlier this year on the NC Department of Environmental Quality over coal ash, according to a top-level official at the agency.

Crystal Feldman, DEQ deputy secretary for public affairs, told a News & Record reporter that environmental organizations were more interested in "scoring political points and fundraising" than science when they wrote a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory over concerns about seemingly contradictory decisions about safe levels of hexavalent chromium in drinking water wells.

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Featured Articles Law and the Courts

Good concepts or bad – experts say politicizing the courts in special session detrimental to judicial independence, public perception

Court systems are complicated, and legislation like Senate Bill 4 should be thoughtful with an informative process that allows time for understanding and discussion – it shouldn’t be drafted in secret by one party and passed in a ...
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Featured Articles Policy Watch Investigates

Governor Pat McCrory has called the General Assembly back into special session to consider repeal of House Bill 2

The announcement came after the Charlotte City Council voted Monday morning to repeal its own ordinance granting LGBT protections, including the ability of transgender people to use public restrooms that match their gender identity. The repeal is contingent ...
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Environment Featured Articles

Duke denies it will build a coal ash landfill at Lee, even though draft permit allows it

The line is easy to miss. On Page 2 of a highly technical 53-page document involving Duke Energy’s H.F. Lee plant, are four words: “new lined ash landfill.” Those four words, inserted in a draft wastewater discharge permit issued by the ...
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Featured Articles Law and the Courts

Will they or won’t they?

Court packing remains unclear, but damage to public confidence in politics, courts does not

With less than 24 hours to go until the Governor’s open-ended special legislative session, the public remains in the dark about whether lawmakers will make a power grab at the North Carolina Supreme Court by adding two justices.

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Law and the Courts

Groundswell of support for “raise the age” proposal could push legislation forward in next session

This year could finally be the year North Carolina raises the age at which juveniles are prosecuted as adults. Officials and advocates acknowledge they’ve heard that line before, but they also claim this year really is different. Why? ...
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Education Featured Articles

Public school advocates welcome “champion” in the Executive Mansion, offer advice on the challenges Cooper will face

The N.C. Association of Educators was one of the first major political advocacy groups to side with Roy Cooper.

So when news spread over social media Monday that Gov. Pat McCrory had at last conceded a bitterly contested gubernatorial race to Cooper—three weeks and six days after Election Day—it’s fitting that the 70,000-member political arm of teachers across North Carolina was one of the first to trumpet the news.

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