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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Free speech policy, controversial conservative academic on the agenda for tomorrow’s UNC Board of Governors meeting

The UNC Board of Governors is holding its last meeting of 2017 Friday, where the latest of its many recent controversies is expected to come to a crescendo, even as the next is cued up. The full board is expected to vote on a controversial new speech policy that civil liberties advocates, students, staff and faculty groups worry could chill speech and discourage certain types of protest on UNC’s 17 campuses.

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Environment Top Story

Stretched regulators to state lawmakers: We have no idea what’s in most closed NC landfills

Just south of Candler off the Pisgah Highway is a lovely piece of property on Little Piney Mountain Road. Wooded, with creeks nearby, it would be an idyllic retreat for those who love the bucolic hills and valleys of western North Carolina. Yet part of this same land was the site of the old Buncombe County Landfill, where before 1983, trash from the area was dumped into an open pit. In those days, there were no laws requiring landfills to be lined...

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Education Top Story

Special report: How poorly-crafted education policies are failing North Carolina’s children

Veteran North Carolina education policy expert Kris Nordstrom has authored a new and vitally important report about the path that state elected officials have taken during recent years in crafting state education policy.

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Education Top Story

Delayed action by state Superintendent creates big hurdles for legislature’s mandated audit

When Joni Robbins, a section chief in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, closes bidding next week for an upcoming audit of the state’s top K-12 agency, state leaders will have a little more than four months to find a vendor and begin work on a weighty review of the department’s operations.

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News Top Story

New report: The disastrous impact for NC of not renewing the DACA program for young immigrants

Congress has just a few days left this month to enact legislation that would address the immigration status of at least 1 million immigrants who arrived in this country as children after President Trump announced in September his plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. Failure to act will mean that beginning on March 6, 2018, 915 people on average will fall out of DACA status each day.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers

12.2 million - the number of people nationally who signed up for health care coverage using HealthCare.gov or a state-based health care exchange last year (Healthcare.gov)

31 - percent of consumers who were new to the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2017

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Environment Top Story

Pressure mounts on NC’s largest pork producer to clean up its act

Frenches Creek Finishing lies in the watery lowlands of Bladen County, near Lion Swamp, Conkill and Briary bays, and a chain of canals that drain toward the Cape Fear River and the sea.

Owned by Murphy-Brown, the farm, which includes a nursery, can house more than 17,000 hogs, including the newly weaned and those ready for slaughter. It is also one of 11 industrialized swine farms named in a 2006 federal consent decree because their operations threaten the quality of the groundwater.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Five questions with Professor Valerie Johnson

Historical commission member weighs in on monuments, free speech Valerie Johnson is the Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of Africana Women’s Studies at Greensboro’s Bennett College and chair of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. She is also one of only two Black members of the 17-member North Carolina Historical Commission, which must approve any proposed removal, relocation, or alteration of historical monuments on state property.

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Environment Top Story

Atlantic Coast Pipeline sues NC landowners, asks federal court to allow “quick take” of properties

The Gardner farm in Wade, population 567, in Cumberland County has been in the family for more than 70 years. On these 960 acres, two generations of Gardners have raised grains, oats, barley, soybeans, and more recently, beef cattle. But the Gardner family is now among several defendants in a federal case involving the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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Education Top Story

Mark Johnson accused of misleading the public regarding literacy program spending

North Carolina’s former public school superintendent June Atkinson says the state’s new K-12 leader “misled” the public when he blasted the Department of Public Instruction last month over $15 million in unspent Read to Achieve dollars.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Monday numbers

157 – days since the state budget bill became law containing a provision that makes it more difficult for judges to waive fees for indigent defendants (North Carolina General Assembly)

4 – days since the fee waiver provision went into effect (NCGA)

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Environment Top Story

Lawmakers who slashed state environmental protection efforts weigh reversing course over GenX

Chemours has stopped discharging all wastewater from its manufacturing processes at its Fayetteville Works plant, a ban that will become permanent as a condition of the company’s new permit.

Assistant Secretary of the Environment Sheila Holman told the the House Select Committee on River Quality yesterday that department staff were visiting the plant to ensure the company complied with the order. The Department of Environmental Quality had taken enforcement action — a civil penalty should be announced by mid-December — because Chemours’s failed to report a spill of GenX for more than a month.

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Education Top Story

Two decades later, Governor’s appointees look to breathe life into NC’s landmark school funding ruling

“By every objective measure, we are underfunded and we are failing.”

That’s how Larry Armstrong, longtime attorney for the Halifax County Board of Education, summed up the task before Gov. Roy Cooper’s Commission on Access to Sound, Basic Education Thursday—more than two decades after the pivotal Leandro Supreme Court decision rebuked the state for school funding inequalities in some of North Carolina’s poorest counties like Halifax.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Board of Governors may consider moving UNC system offices out of Chapel Hill

In the last few months the UNC Board of Governors has proposed a lot of controversial moves for the university system.

One of the latest might be the most perplexing – even to members of the board itself.

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Environment Top Story

Coal ash debate takes center stage as Duke rate hike cases get underway

The Dobbs Building hearing room was so stuffed with dark suits and shiny calfskin shoes that it resembled a Brooks Brothers warehouse.

“Are there any North Carolina lawyers who aren’t here?” asked Ed Finley, chairman of the NC Utilities Commission, as he prepared to preside over what is predicted to be a two-week slog: the Duke Energy Progress rate case.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

The sound of silence: Judges all but muzzled in complaints against lawmakers

Judges are considered to be in command of their courtrooms. But when state legislators pass laws attacking them— shortening their terms, shrinking the appellate court — judges are no longer in charge and have few ways to defend themselves.

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