Policy Watch Investigates

Policy Watch Investigates

Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Policy Watch “Crucial Conversation” panel decries six constitutional amendments on the ballot

At a standing-room only gathering to discuss the six proposed amendments to the North Carolina constitution Wednesday, Gerry Cohen had a simple summation of the Republican-controlled legislature's message to Democrats. "You can win the governorship and the state Supreme Court," Cohen said the message went. “But we'll make it worthless for you."

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

State commission explains two constitutional amendments; punts on four more as they await court hearing

Members of a key state commission on Monday fleshed out descriptions for two of the six controversial constitutional amendments on the ballot this fall. Yet the Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission, which is tasked with crafting succinct...

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UNC Alumni on Confederate statue stagnation – “We deserve better.”

When Dr. Nora Dennis spoke before the UNC Board of Governors last week, her palpable frustration was shared by many UNC alumni.

Dennis, now a physician and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University, was a Morehead Scholar who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2001.

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New UNC Board of Governors chairman holds his fire at first meeting in charge

As Harry Smith opened Thursday’s UNC Board of Governors meeting – the first since he took over as chairman – he struck a conciliatory tone even as he doubled down on conservative changes he’s championed for the system.

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Plea deal offers glimpse into rampant bail industry fraud

When Sarah Jessenia Lopez plead guilty last month to attempted notary fraud related to bail bonding, it was not earth shattering. After all, fraud and criminality in North Carolina’s for-profit bail industry has been rampant for years.

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Not final yet: Trio of state officials must still agree on ballot language for proposed constitutional amendments

Lack of implementing language in amendment legislation raises additional concerns When the General Assembly’s legislative session closed last week, six amendments to the state constitution had been approved for November’s ballot.

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Local election officials detail problems with controversial early voting bill

Viola Williams has been crunching numbers and working out possible solutions since last week, when the General Assembly fast-tracked a controversial bill that makes sweeping changes to early voting.

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Allegations of sexism, partisanship follow local election board’s disqualification of Berger challenger

On May 25, the news headlines read that Democratic state Senate candidate Jen Mangrum had been disqualified from her bid to unseat Sen. Phil Berger, arguably the most powerful state lawmaker in North Carolina. Republicans had challenged Mangrum’s residency in Berger’s district near the Virginia line, and a panel of election officials from Berger’s Senate District 30 voted on party lines to oust Mangrum...

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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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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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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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Defending Democracy 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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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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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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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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