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New report explains why North Carolina should not give corporations yet another round of tax cuts

Big corporations and wealthy executives have been on quite a run. Corporate profits are at historic levels, stock prices are through the roof, and plush executive pay has become the norm. At the same time, corporate taxes have been slashed both here in North Carolina starting in 2013 and last December at the federal level.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers: A look at the effects of mass incarceration related to NC bail practices

This week the ACLU of North Carolina announced an initiative to end cash bail in North Carolina. Regular Policy Watch readers will be familiar with our recent series of stories on the bail bond industry, the inequity of cash bail and the ways in which both impact those in poverty.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Speakers at Durham conference: Criminalization of poverty is big and growing problem in NC

When Andrea Hudson was pulled over for a routine traffic violation in 2013, the police officer found outstanding warrants for her arrest. The charges – abusing an elderly person and fraud – were a surprise to Hudson, who insisted it was a case of mistaken identity. Her bail was initially set at $10,000 – out of reach for the mother of two. Even pulling together the ten to fifteen percent that’s necessary to pay a bail bond agent to secure her release was a stretch. When a judge raised the bail to $30,000, she could see no way out.

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Environment Top Story

Residents voice passionate opposition to proposed methyl bromide operation; regulators remain tight-lipped

Right now in Shenzhen, which, with 12 million people is the fastest-growing city in China, a young couple perhaps is touring a prospective new home, admiring its varnished ochre floors made from Southern yellow pine. They likely are unaware of the origin story of that pine.

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Education Top Story

Teachers demand policy changes, cheer Cooper at unprecedented education rally

On Tuesday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger—one of the state’s most powerful Republican politicians—told North Carolina’s teachers they’d soon be receiving their fifth consecutive round of raises. Emily Rex heard Berger’s promise. But the fifth-year, special education teacher—who lives in Berger’s state Senate district in Guilford County—points out she’s received raises in four of the last five years, not that she could much tell after soaring health premiums took their toll.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Stealth session? G.A. returns today, but the agenda (including plans for judicial redistricting) remains under wraps

Unsurprisingly, the agenda for the General Assembly's "short session" that commences today in Raleigh is shrouded in secrecy. The recent primary election results — which unseated an unprecedented number of legislative incumbents — have North Carolinians wondering if GOP lawmakers will go into the session guns ablaze or if they will take a tamer approach to prepare for the November election.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Monday numbers: Gerrymandering in North Carolina

Hundreds of North Carolinians turned out over the weekend to run a jagged race around downtown Raleigh in an effort to raise awareness about gerrymandering. It’s an issue that has plagued the state for years. Here are some numbers to provide further context: 7 — the number of redistricting legislative bills that have filed this decade calling for an independent redistricting commission or impartial process blind of political consideration.

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Environment Top Story

PW exclusive: Unregistered agents pushing landowners to make way for proposed central NC gas pipeline

On a recent spring afternoon, Kelly and Daniel Bollinger were checking in on one of their fields, zigzagging on foot between furrows where Daniel had just planted pine seeds. “There’s one,” Daniel said, pointing to a finger-size conifer that had taken root and begun to grow.

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Education Top Story

Teachers, advocates: May 16th shaping up as an “historic day” for public education in NC

In the 11 years since she became a North Carolina teacher, Fayetteville’s Tamika Walker Kelly has seen more than a few changes in the state’s public schools. In 2009, she watched North Carolina, then under the control of a Democratic General Assembly and governor, push sweeping cuts and pay freezes in the midst of an economic recession. And she’s seen a new legislative majority—seized by Republicans in 2010...

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

A surprising voice comes to NC in support of progressive policy solutions

Republican Chief Justice of Texas Supreme Court pushes for legal aid funding, criminal justice reforms in Raleigh talk

Equal access to justice isn’t a partisan issue, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht told a crowd of more than 100 at the N.C. Bar Association Tuesday. It just looks like one.

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Environment

Department of Labor records document dangerous conditions inside Chemours facility

Despite severe worker injuries in 2013 incident, Department of Labor fines were minimal On Halloween afternoon in 2013, a worker at DuPont's Fayetteville Works plant was replacing a valve in a room that produces membranes containing Nafion. This is the same perfluorinated compound that for years flowed through an illegal, unlined "Nafion ditch" from the facility into the Cape Fear River and downstream to Wilmington's drinking water supply.

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Environment Top Story

Monday numbers: More bad news about methyl bromide

If Malec Brothers Transport, over vehement community opposition, does receive a state air permit to send methyl bromide into the air, the company would be the largest emitter of that highly toxic chemical in the state.

In fact, Malec Brothers's annual methyl bromide emissions -- in the tiny town of Delco, in Columbus County -- would be 33 to 40 times the total amount emitted statewide.

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Education Top Story

DPI veterans question cost, speed, and value of latest agency audit

The longtime leaders of North Carolina’s top public school agency are questioning the depth and the cost of a newly-released organizational review that calls for a “transformation” in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Consultants with Ernst & Young conducted the agency review over a period of 12 weeks this year, after state Superintendent Mark Johnson asked for and received a $1 million budget allocation from state legislators last year to audit DPI.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Orange County: Part of the changing-face of pretrial justice

The inequity of the cash bail system is something Orange County has long understood. The county is one of dozens across the state that supports pretrial services - a jail alternative system that identifies poor people who are low risks for violence and likely to show for their court dates and allows them to be released on very low or no bail.

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Environment Top Story

PW exclusive: Foreign company proposes to emit 140 tons of “super pollutant” each year in southeastern NC

Ashley Niquetta went to services last Sunday at Evergreen AME Zion Church in Delco -- the church she attended as a child -- and gave a talk about pollution. Not just any pollution, but the 140 tons of methyl bromide emissions that could be emitted into the air in around Delco, a hamlet in Columbus County, 18 miles west of Wilmington.

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Environment Top Story

Attacking the messenger: GOP lawmakers unhappy with GenX reports from UNCW scientist, Cape Fear utility official

Several Republican lawmakers want to hear good news about GenX and emerging contaminants, even apparently, if it’s not true. At the House Select Committee on River Quality last week, Reps. Jimmy Dixon, Larry Yarborough, Scott Stone, and Pat McElraft assailed a UNC Wilmington scientist and the head of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, alleging they were intentionally emphasizing bad news about emerging contaminants, and were essentially failing to be cheerleaders for Chemours.

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