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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Florence recovery package wins unanimous approval, heads to Cooper

In an often contentious first week of the N.C. General Assembly’s lame-duck session, Democrats and Republicans unanimously came together to pass a roughly $300 million bill to fund Hurricane Florence relief efforts.

Senate Bill 823 passed the state House and Senate unanimously and was sent to Gov. Roy Cooper Thursday afternoon.

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Environment Top Story

Swine farmers, hog industry turns out in force to oppose revisions to draft permits

DEQ proposes stronger regulations, but waste lagoon and sprayfield system would remain status quo

Jed Arena stands in his backyard, placing most of his weight on one bent leg. A former hog farm worker for Tyson, Smithfield and smaller operations, he’s been fighting off a bacterial infection in his spine. About 10 years ago, well before his recent diagnosis of osteomyelitis, he contracted MRSA...

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Senate expands some voter ID provisions, advances bill to final vote

The voter ID bill moving through the legislature is not as “restrictive or burdensome” as some Democrats feared but it is still flawed and rushed, according to the most recent Senate debate. Republican Senators and three Democrats passed a second reading Wednesday night of Senate Bill 824...

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

After two years and a raft of allegations, investigation into Sen. Ralph Hise closes with a modest fine

For the better part of two years, allegations of myriad campaign finance violations have hung over state Sen. Ralph Hise, an influential western North Carolina Republican. But Tuesday morning, members of a key state elections and ethics panel unanimously agreed to a settlement that, as far as state election officials goes, closes the book with a relatively modest punishment.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers – a closer look at hunger and the power of SNAP benefits

As House and Senate negotiators work to finalize the 2018 farm bill, hunger-relief groups and anti-poverty advocates are working to call attention to the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. The following figures are based on the latest brief by the NC Budget & Tax Center.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

PW exclusive: Voting rights advocates spell out their recommendations for voter ID bill

In less than one week, after all the tryptophan has worn off, lawmakers will be back in Raleigh working on a measure that will require North Carolina voters to have a photo identification to cast a ballot. Residents voted on an amendment to enshrine such a requirement in the state constitution.

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Environment Top Story

EPA could toughen GenX standards: Here’s why and how you can comment

More people living near the Chemours chemical plant in southeastern North Carolina could qualify for alternate water supplies if the EPA's initial findings on the toxicity of GenX, released last week, are finalized. The basis for the potential switch is the EPA's draft report proposing a chronic reference dose for GenX that translates to a health goal of 110 parts per trillion in drinking water.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the impact of gerrymandering on the 2018 election

When North Carolina Democrats and Common Cause N.C. filed a suit in Wake County Superior Court last week, it was the culmination of roughly two decades of claims that the state’s top lawmakers had manipulated district lines for partisan advantage. A decade ago, Democrats were responsible. These days, Republicans are under intense scrutiny. Despite congressional maps that have been ruled unconstitutional, North Carolina elections in 2018 were conducted once again with gerrymandered districts.

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Environment Top Story

High-powered trial lawyers joust as latest hog trial commences

Robert Thackston, who is tall, bald, with a trunk as straight as a redwood’s, removed his midnight-blue suit jacket to reveal a white twill shirt so crisp it threatened to shatter. On the seventh floor, in Room No. 2 of the federal courthouse in Raleigh, the Texas lawyer sat at the head of a scurry of attorneys hired by Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer. He rocked in his chair and flipped through his thicket of notes, as if perusing a wine list.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Partisan gerrymandering will be North Carolina’s next big court battle

Breaking the Republicans’ veto-proof majority was the Democrats’ and voting rights activists’ short game. Their long game? Ending partisan gerrymandering for good in North Carolina. Common Cause, the North Carolina Democratic Party and a group of individual voters filed a lawsuit earlier this week in Wake County Superior Court challenging the...

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Environment Top Story

Republican legislators pledge to probe Cooper Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal

The Joint Subcommittee on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline voted Wednesday to launch an investigation into Gov. Roy Cooper's office, albeit one without an investigator -- and without any notion of how much the inquiry would cost. The investigation, spearheaded by Republican Senators...

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Folwell, State Health Plan swim against rising tide with denial of insurance coverage to transgender individuals

North Carolina is not the only state whose transgender state employees and dependents are without insurance coverage under their state’s health plan. But the state’s blanket exclusion of treatments for gender dysphoria—from counseling and hormone treatment to gender confirmation surgery—puts it firmly in the minority.

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News Top Story

Monday Numbers: A closer look at transgender discrimination laws and where NC fits in

As LGBTQ state employees and dependents struggle to restore State Health Plan coverage for transgender people, they are hardly alone. The Movement Advancement Project uses publicly available Census data, comprehensive studies, the latest surveys and original reporting to map policies impacting LGBTQ people all over the country. A look at the group's healthcare laws and policies map reveals just how many transgender people face discriminatory laws and policies across the country.

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Photo of Enviva's wood pellet plant under construction in Hamlet
Environment Top Story

Half-truths and sometimes no truth at all: Public debates pollution limits at Enviva’s wood pellet plant in Hamlet

About a quarter-mile off NC 177 in Richmond County, just north of Hamlet, skeletons of buildings gouge the horizon, as bulldozers coerce the dirt into mounds and flats. This is the site of Enviva’s new wood pellet production plant, ...
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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Midterm election proves to be Independence Day for NC courts

The North Carolina courts have a lot to celebrate after Tuesday night – voter turnout in statewide judicial races was higher than the past three midterm elections, voters elected the first openly LGBTQ candidate in any statewide political race and there was a rebuke on lawmakers’ efforts to politicize the judicial branch.

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Black sheriffs make history in sweep of seven largest NC counties

While Congressional and General Assembly races got most of the election headlines this week, history was quietly being made in a series of law enforcement races. On Tuesday the state's seven largest counties - Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake - all elected Black men sheriff.

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