Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

Two competing tax cut proposals symbolize the ideological debate in NC

There are a lot of important public policy issues right now in North Carolina on which right and left diverge in fundamental ways. Medicaid expansion and health care, reproductive freedom, gun violence, education spending, climate change and environmental protection, public transportation, voting rights, immigration policy: the list is a long one. If, however, one were forced to select a single debate that really captures the essence of the ideological divide...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Cynical, hypocritical, dangerous: Proposal to force cooperation with ICE is Trumpism at its worst

The nation is more than two years into its destructive dalliance with Trumpism, but new and toxic waves of regressive policy continue to ooze across the national landscape. For a recent and disturbing example in North Carolina, check out proposed legislation advanced by Republicans in the state House last week that would require all of the state’s 100 sheriff’s departments to act as an extension of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

House Speaker needs to take action regarding lawmaker accused of domestic violence

By many of the usual political metrics, State Rep. Cody Henson ought to be an up and comer. Henson, a young (he was graduated from high school in 2010) Republican from western North Carolina is an ex-Marine with a winning smile. His biography on the website VoteSmart.org reports that he was an infantry machine gun team leader in the Marine Corps Reserve who then found work as a call center supervisor with a global marketing company.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Latest school testing proposals are emblematic of NC’s failed public ed policies

There’s an old adage – often attributed to Albert Einstein and/or Mark Twain – that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Neither Einstein nor Twain ever had occasion to review the effectiveness of North Carolina’s K-12 education policy, but it seems likely...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Getting real about the minimum wage

A new and promising push to raise North Carolina’s minimum wage gets underway today. Lawmakers and advocates will convene a press conference at the General Assembly this morning to announce the introduction of House Bill 366 – a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next five years and index it to inflation thereafter. A Senate companion bill will be introduced shortly.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Gov. Cooper’s extremely moderate budget proposal

Gov. Roy Cooper is an enormously skilled politician with a top-flight staff and many years of experience in the state policy wars, so it probably makes some sense to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the budget negotiations he will conduct with Republican legislative leaders over the next few months. One imagines that Cooper understands well what will push the right and wrong buttons – both for GOP leaders and the public at-large – and, ultimately lead to the best outcome when the final deal gets done sometime this summer.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The Equal Rights Amendment makes a long overdue comeback

There’s no denying that the American public policy environment is measurably more progressive in the aftermath of last November’s election. In Washington, congressional leaders of both parties are pushing back against President Trump’s attempt to declare a national emergency, and the U.S. House is seriously discussing proposals for a “Green New Deal” and a massive overhaul of federal ethics and voting rights laws.

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A courageous judge taps the brakes on a rogue General Assembly

In case you missed it, there was an enormously important ruling issued last Friday afternoon by a Wake County Superior Court judge that ought to rekindle the public’s belief in (and support for) democratic, constitutional government. The case – NAACP and Clean Air North Carolina v. Moore and Berger – was originally filed last summer and it challenged the constitutionality of four of the constitutional amendments approved by the General Assembly during the final days of the regular 2018 legislative session.

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On its last legs: It’s hard to see a path forward for the Mark Harris candidacy

Just about anything can happen in American politics. Those who doubt this oft-demonstrated truism need only to turn their gaze a few hundred miles north to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to be reminded of just how possible it still is for seemingly inconceivable eventualities to come to pass. That said, it’s extremely difficult to see a path forward for Rev. Mark Harris in his candidacy to become a United States congressman representing North Carolina’s ninth district after yesterday’s state Board of Elections hearing in Raleigh.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Senator Phil Berger is just plain wrong

There’s an old maxim in American politics, usually attributed to former U.S. Senator and Nixon administration cabinet secretary Daniel Patrick Moynihan, that “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.” Would that Moynihan were still alive today so that he could direct a reminder of this simple truth toward North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Marching this Saturday in Raleigh: The moral (and effective) thing to do

There’s a vexing conundrum that frequently confronts movements for social justice when they’re trying to rally supporters to action. It turns out that the best and easiest times to spur people to action often coincide with the moments at which the movement is at its weakest and least able to effect real change.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

THE issue of the 2019 session

The 2019 session of the North Carolina General Assembly gets underway in earnest this week in Raleigh and, as always, dozens of important issues will compete for lawmakers’ attention. There’s the increasingly energetic and promising effort to end partisan gerrymandering, the desperate need to adequately fund our public schools and bring accountability to vouchers and charters, the mushrooming environmental crisis that continues to unfold in myriad guises, the chaos that has gripped the UNC system, and, of course, our desperately out-of-whack tax system...

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Trump’s NC shutdown accomplices and the mess they’re making

Donald Trump does not and cannot act alone. Notwithstanding his serial dishonesty and raging narcissism and megalomania, the current inhabitant of the White House could never inflict the kind of damage he is currently inflicting on the nation and the planet without the assistance of powerful and willing enablers.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Doubling down on secrecy: The legislature’s latest assaults on transparency

If there’s a single most maddening and telling hallmark of the hard Right leadership that’s dominated the North Carolina General Assembly over the past eight years, it has to be its failure to live up to its members’ past promises to champion open and transparent government. It’s difficult to remember now, but when Republicans took the reins of power back in 2011, they rode in on a platform that promised a new era of openness in government.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Holding Cooper vetoes in 2019: First, Democrats will need to show up

As you may have heard by now, there was a rather maddening side story to the veto override votes that took place during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day at the North Carolina General Assembly. As commentator Thomas Mills rightfully pointed out last week on the website Politics NC, had all Democratic members of the House showed up, it’s quite possible that Governor Cooper’s vetoes of two badly flawed bills (or at least one of them, anyway) could have been sustained.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The giant policy elephant in the room at the start of 2019

Well, another new year is upon us and the public policy landscape is, in many ways, more crowded and contentious than ever. Everywhere one turns, there are large, important and hotly contested issues to be examined and debated and yawning ideological divides to be confronted and overcome. Name the issue – taxes, the economy, the growing wealth and income gaps, health care, education, racism, gun violence...

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