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Environment News Top Story

Skilled in diplomacy, Elizabeth Biser coasts to NC DEQ Secretary confirmation

As a former lobbyist, Elizabeth Biser is accustomed to corralling the lions and the lambs.  Those diplomatic skills helped Biser win over the Senate Agriculture, Energy and Environment Committee, which today voted to confirm her as the new secretary of the NC Department of Environmental Quality. She will be the first woman to lead the department.

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Higher Ed News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

PW exclusive: UNC pandemic specialist says school is repeating mistakes from 2020

Veteran epidemiologist and ethicist is fearful university leaders have not learned vital lessons from last year As students return for the fall semester at UNC-Chapel Hill Wednesday, Dr. Jim Thomas is having an uneasy sense of déjà vu. “I’m very uneasy about what I’m seeing,” said Thomas, a professor emeritus in the Epidemiology department at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Or what I’m seeing again.”

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COVID-19 Education News Top Story

Schools can reopen safely – an epidemiologist describes what works and what’s not worth the effort

Just when schools were getting ready to reopen for the new school year, cases of COVID-19 started surging in the United States, driven in large part by the more contagious delta variant. School administrators around the country are working to bring students back into the classroom safely, while still providing kids an enriching learning environment.

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Environment Top Story

Utilities Commission makes it tougher for companies to charge political expenditures to ratepayers

The NC Utilities Commission closed several, but not all, loopholes in rules prohibiting public utilities, notably Duke Energy, from passing along lobbying and advertising expenses to ratepayers, according to a ruling issued last week. This "discretionary spending" includes advertising that appears on social media, as well as promotional materials that serve only to burnish a utility’s image, compete with other utilities for customers, and are unrelated to providing service to the public.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the relative well-being of LGBTQ Americans

Last week Charlotte became the latest — and, by far, largest — North Carolina community to pass new LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections. The new protections come five years after state lawmakers and then-Gov. Pat McCrory passed HB 2, preventing local governments from introducing new non-discrimination ordinances.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts News Top Story

Republican legislators reject Democrats’ proposal to include racial data in redistricting

State lawmakers in the House and Senate have unveiled the rules for drawing new voting maps, as a new round of redistricting begins. As Policy Watch previously reported, the U.S. Census Bureau released new population and racial data on Thursday. Shifts in population require new district maps for local and state elections that will be held in 2022.

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COVID-19 Education News Top Story

Guilford protest against school mask requirement features passion and misinformation

GREENSBORO -- Lightning flashed across the Greensboro sky just outside the Guilford County Schools’ administration building.  None of the 50 or so parents, politicians, and school children standing under a clump of trees ran for cover, a fact cheered by a speaker revving up sign-toting, anti-maskers before the start of a school board meeting.

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Education News Top Story

Democrats challenge education spending, substantive law changes as House GOP rolls out proposed budget

House Democrats during a committee meeting Tuesday questioned the lack of full funding for programs needed to comply with a consent order in the long-running court case on public education.   The questions arose as the House budget committee went through details of the $25.7 billion proposal unveiled by the body's Republican majority. More debate is expected Wednesday and Thursday before the House votes on the plan.

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News Top Story

In victory for Biden, U.S. Senate OKs $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill

North Carolina's Tillis and Burr defy Trump by helping to craft compromise legislation The U.S. Senate passed 69-30 on Tuesday a sweeping bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, a milestone for one of President Joe Biden’s priorities after months of negotiation.

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

PW exclusive: Author Geeta Kapur discusses her new book detailing the history and legacy of racism at UNC

As a lawyer and civil rights activist, Geeta Kapur was well aware of racism in North Carolina. But she had a blind spot concerning the history of her alma mater. That changed in 2010, when she attended an ...
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Environment News Top Story

Monday numbers: A close look at what’s next now that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been canceled

Feds submit proposal for restoring hundreds of miles of cleared land A little more than a year after Duke Energy and Dominion pulled the plug on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, federal regulators have published a proposed restoration plan for the 600-mile route.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Nearly six weeks into the new fiscal year, House version of the state budget starts to emerge

Differences in HHS proposals indicate House and Senate negotiators have much work ahead House budget subcommittee leaders released big pieces of their spending proposal Thursday, as the chamber began speeding toward passage of its full budget. Still to come are salary increases or bonuses the House will propose for teachers and state employees.

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News Top Story

Trump allies’ lingering election ‘audits’ spark public skepticism, concerns in Congress

WASHINGTON — The months-long, Republican-led investigation in Arizona into the results of last year’s presidential election has cost millions of dollars and produced no evidence yet of major issues in tallying Maricopa County ballots. Yet supporters of former President Donald Trump are still attempting to follow Arizona’s lead by pushing for so-called audits in several other states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

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COVID-19 Education News Top Story

As debate over masks in public schools continues, experts say the answer is clear

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is “several-fold” more transmissible than the Alpha variant, making mask mandates in schools more important than ever, a Duke University professor of pediatrics said Wednesday.  Dr. Danny Benjamin’s advice comes as most of North Carolina’s 1.5 million school children prepare to return to classrooms and school boards wrestle with whether to adopt mask mandates amid surging COVID infections.

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Must Reads News Top Story

New and damning report: Black women with children excluded from federal cash assistance program

Experts call for feds to adopt anti-racist policy redesign WASHINGTON — A new research paper reviewed how each state implemented a federal program that has provided cash assistance to low income families over the last 25 years—and found that Black women with children repeatedly were excluded. On a call with reporters Wednesday, policy experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities...

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Push to replace law enforcement officers with unarmed crisis intervention experts gains momentum

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year helped instigate a new wave of interest in changing policing in the U.S., including new ways to respond to calls that involve people experiencing mental health crises.   The issue gained additional prominence after officer bodycam footage was released that showed Rochester, N.Y., police handcuffing Daniel Prude, a Black man in a mental health crisis, putting a spit hood over his head and pressing his face onto the pavement.

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