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Environment Top Story

Industry bill to limit nuisance suits against hog operations nearing final passage

If it seemed impossible that neighbors of industrialized hog farms had any legal rights left to lose, a new version of the N.C. Farm Act strips those residents of any ability to sue industrialized hog farms for nuisance. After being amended six times Wednesday, the Farm Act, also known as Senate Bill 711, is on the verge of becoming law, even though several Republicans broke rank and opposed the measure.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

PW exclusive: Previously undisclosed fiscal note says victims’ rights constitutional amendment could cost state millions

Can you put a price tag on victims' rights? A fiscal note obtained by NC Policy Watch that has been kept confidential for the past year would indicate that you can – and a hefty one at that. The fiscal note, dated February 8, 2017, from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), estimates that a change to the victim rights section of the state constitution -- a multi-part proposal known as known as Marsy’s Law -- would cost the courts $16.4 million to implement and $30.5 million annually in subsequent years for additional district attorney staff.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

As the legislative session winds down, Democrats seek a compromise for storing “Silent Sam”

A new bill to relocate the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument on UNC’s flagship Chapel Hill campus aims to be a compromise in the contentious, decades-long fight over the statue.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the need to expand NC’s existing hate crime laws

As LGBTQ advocates face an uphill battle to expand North Carolina’s existing Hate Crime laws this legislative session, they do so against a backdrop of increased violence against lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

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Environment Top Story

After court loss, N.C. pork producer turns to legislature for a win

Near the end of an hour-long debate on the Senate floor, Senator Brent Jackson sounded exasperated. "I shouldn't have to defend this dang bill," he said, his voice cracking as if he were leading a tent revival. "There's not a dang one of you all that has not eaten today or this week ...

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Amid anti-LGBTQ violence, N.C. Democrats seek expansion of state hate crimes law

Last week Democratic lawmakers filed a bill to expand existing hate crimes statutes to cover lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Filed by Senators Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake) and Valerie Foushee (D-Orange), Senate Bill 794 would add sexual orientation, ...
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Education Top Story

Bill to allow municipal charters becomes law despite bipartisan opposition, specter of resegregation

On Wednesday, members of the N.C. House of Representatives were prepared to cast a vote on town-run charter schools with major ramifications for the future of public education, but Rep. Kelly Alexander’s mind was on the past. In the late 1950s, as Alexander explained, some North Carolinians were urging state lawmakers to pursue predominantly white sub-districts, an attempt to assuage the budding uproar over the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 order to desegregate public schools in Brown v. Board of Education.

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Environment Top Story

State lawmakers moving suddenly and swiftly to shut down nuisance suits against industrial hog farms

As the second hog nuisance trial against Murphy-Brown enters another week of testimony in federal court, a few blocks away, Republican lawmakers, working at the behest of the state’s hog industry, are trying to stop these cases against the world’s largest pork producer from ever happening again.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

“Piecemeal” judicial redistricting: Lawmakers pushing a trio of bills that would impact a third of state’s residents

Lawmakers are still trying to sort out their plans for judicial redistricting less than two weeks before candidate filing commences for judicial office and it’s not at all clear where the finish line will be. Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) all but promised last week that a Friday committee meeting at which two bill were approved would be the end of judicial redistricting, but Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) said Monday that there were still imbalances across the state that could be dealt with.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

The politics of “pork”

Much has been written this week about the process of the secretly-crafted $23.9 billion budget unveiled by the General Assembly’s GOP majority Monday night.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

GOP plan to redistrict judges in Mecklenburg wins quick Senate approval; Dems, judges cry foul

Sen. Dan Bishop recently said it himself: if lawmakers can’t get a consensus on judicial redistricting for the whole state, they’ll go after Mecklenburg County. Now he’s making sure they follow through. Bishop and fellow Mecklenburg Republican, Sen. ...
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Education Top Story

Education budget shocker could alter the fundamentals of NC school funding

When GOP leaders in the General Assembly unveiled their privately-crafted $23.9 billion budget Monday night, the biggest surprise wasn’t its proposals for teacher pay or another round of tax cuts.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Legislators seek background checks, fingerprinting for election workers

North Carolina election employees could soon be facing stricter scrutiny. House members rolled out a bill Tuesday night (that has not yet been officially posted online) requiring all current and prospective permanent and temporary employees of boards of elections, including the State Board, to undergo criminal background checks and fingerprinting.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

NC officials order dozens of campaigns to forfeit illegal PAC contributions from pharma giant

In one of the largest campaign donation forfeitures in state history, 48 improper donations from the Pfizer Inc. political action committee will be forfeited by political campaigns and committees across the state.

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Environment Top Story

Coincidence or collusion? NC Oil and Gas Commission receives curious requests to frack.

Friends, neighbors, colleagues of commission chairman Jim Womack submit nearly identical letters claiming Lee County drilling moratorium violates their rights

Earlier this month at a meeting of the state Oil and Gas Commission, Jim Womack, the agency's controversial chairman, seemed agitated, frantic even, to attend to what he deemed as Very Important Business: to hear from disgruntled people who want the commission to overturn Lee County's fracking moratorium.

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News Top Story

Democrats: Berger-Moore budget process may quash debate, amendments

When N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger addressed reporters last week, they boasted that negotiations on the state’s estimated $24 billion budget were “far ahead” of years past. According to top Democrats who spoke to Policy Watch this week, that may be because Republican lawmakers are considering a maneuver that would all but quash debate on the privately negotiated spending plan in the coming days.

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