Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

Budget advice for NC progressives: “Yes” to negotiation, “hell no” to surrender

It’s crunch time in Raleigh. The end of the state fiscal year is just 12 days away and Republican legislative leaders have been secreted away, putting the final touches on a state budget bill that they will likely deign to share with Democratic members and the public sometime in this week.    As is always the case, the arrival of this moment is spurring all manner of fretting, speculation and bluster from people in and around the state policy world.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Refusal to close the Medicaid coverage gap echoes a dark era from the South’s past

In his recent “must read” book on the history of Jim Crow and how it shaped (and was itself shaped) by a typical town of the deep South (“Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White,” Harvard University Press), UNC Chapel Hill historian Prof. William Sturkey provides numerous illuminating and, often, maddening details of the harsh realities of the racial apartheid that was conjured up and enforced by the white supremacists who dominated so much of southern society for so long.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

“Gerrymander” is much too polite a word for what Trump and the GOP are trying to do

For some time now, it has seemed that the widespread and growing use of the words “gerrymander” and “gerrymandering” was a good thing for our state and nation. A decade ago, these words were insider terms used only by campaign consultants and politics wonks. In recent years, however, as the public has finally started to grasp the reality of how electoral districts have come to be drawn and manipulated...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five basic truths to remember this week about the state budget

It’s one of the great and maddening ironies of the state lawmaking process in North Carolina that the single most important piece of legislation each year is perhaps the most poorly reported and one of the least well-understood. Every year, as the fiscal year winds down toward its June 30 conclusion, state lawmakers birth a new state budget bill that runs to hundreds of pages and includes all sorts of fundamental decisions about state funding priorities and tax policy...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The General Assembly’s obsolete press rules are limiting public access to information

Just under sixteen months ago in an essay entitled “Darkness descends on the General Assembly,” I explored and lamented the shroud of secrecy that had overtaken the state legislature in recent years. Things haven’t gotten much better in 2019 and this situation hasn’t been helped – either symbolically or practically – by the decision of state Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five quick takes as the legislative session passes its symbolic midpoint

North Carolina lawmakers sped past their self-imposed crossover deadline last week – the date by which many bills must pass at least one house to remain alive for the session. Here are five quick takes on where things stand: #1 – GOP bulldozer downsized to a Bobcat – Traditionally, and especially during the last several years of conservative rule, the crossover deadline has served...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The price NC is paying for Tillis’s loyalty to Trump

The spectacle of Senator Thom Tillis’s spiritless kowtowing to Donald Trump in recent months has truly been something to behold. It wasn’t that long ago that Tillis was talking big about the need for humane immigration reform policies and the need to combat efforts to undermine investigations into Russian meddling in our democracy. Boy, did a few shots across the bow from the far right about a possible 2020 GOP primary challenge change all of that.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Saving us from ourselves: PW special report is a reminder that dramatically tougher environmental regulation is essential for human survival

It’s easy enough to understand the kind of thinking that goes into ignoring the dire environmental crises that currently afflict our state, nation and planet. Most, if not all, of us fall prey to it every day when we leave our empty homes with the heat and or air conditioning churning away and fire up our fossil fuel burning vehicles in order to idle in a fast food drive-through line to buy a sandwich that features meat produced in a polluting industrial farm.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Burr’s “I can’t remember” explanation of Mueller Report revelation strains credulity

Throughout his long and mostly uninspired political career, Richard Burr has filled the role of a classic, inoffensive, modern day American politician. Burr is reasonably telegenic, has an affinity for platitudes, remains an enigma to his constituents, is a reliable vote for the ruling class and, after a quarter century in Washington, appears to enjoy life in the nation’s capital.

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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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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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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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