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Education Top Story

General Assembly-ordered cuts likely to hamper services for poor, rural schools

Support for needy districts and key positions within North Carolina’s top public school agency may be in jeopardy this week as the State Board of Education mulls ways to pass down millions in legislative cuts.

Officials confirmed this week that the State Board of Education could vote as early as Wednesday on how to dish out $3.2 million in General Assembly-ordered funding reductions for the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Opioid crisis hits Wilmington area hard; lack of public resources hinders response

Wilmington is bustling this summer.

Downtown, horse-drawn carriages take tourists along the riverfront the city advertises as “America’s best” where they drink at local pubs, eat seafood, sip cold brew coffee in cafes that also sell designer shoes and limited-edition t-shirts.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Trial judges gain new, valuable resources in Judicial Fellowship program

For the first time in a long time, trial judges in North Carolina have independent research assistance for complicated cases and questions of law. The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) launched the N.C. Judicial Fellowship program in April after a recommendation from the N.C. Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice (NCCALJ). The Fellowship is currently staffed by a director and four fellows, with four more to be added in August. Fellows provide independent legal research and writing support to the state’s 370-plus superior and district court judges. ...
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Education Top Story

State School Superintendent muzzles communication from DPI

A directive from Superintendent Mark Johnson to temporarily halt key listserv communications from the Department of Public Instruction has some concerned the order will chill the flow of information from North Carolina’s top public school agency.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Gerrymandering, the courts and the next election in North Carolina: All of your burning questions answered

It’s been a little over a month since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that 28 state North Carolina House and Senate districts were racially gerrymandered but lawmakers have yet to draw new maps.

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Education Top Story

School districts prepare for another year of class size controversy

When North Carolina legislators pushed through their $23 billion budget plan in June, it included one key, last-minute insertion in a separate technical corrections bill.

State lawmakers wrote that it’s their “intent” to use data collected this year from school districts to fund a new allotment for arts and physical education teachers beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

NC’s response to opioid crisis is too little, too late says lawmaker with personal expertise

Opioid overdoses took 1,200 lives in North Carolina last year – part of an 800 percent increase since 1999 whose body count has now surpassed 12,000.

So when lawmakers approved the final state budget late last month, many expected the bipartisan concern would lead to significant funding to combat the opiate problem.

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Environment Top Story

Unlikely bedfellows rally to oppose seismic air gun testing, offshore drilling near the North Carolina coast

The Atlantic Ocean has never been a silent place, what with the whales and their jabbering, the dolphins and their mating calls. The underwater sound waves of earthquakes, volcanoes and waves are background noise, akin to the hum of air conditioners in the summertime.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Attorneys for Board of Ed, Superintendent clash over transfer of power

Lawmakers either had no authority to transfer constitutional powers and duties from the state Board of Education to Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson or full authority to do so, and both arguments presented to a three-judge panel yesterday hinge on Article IX, Section 5 of the North Carolina Constitution. The provision reads as follows...

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Environment Top Story

The end is nigh: Just 36 hours until controversial environmental bills meet their fate

If the environment could talk -- come to think of it, she does, actually, through climate change -- she would protest the myriad insults she has suffered in the legislature this session. As on the federal level, the environment has lost -- or threatens to lose -- most of its state battles.

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Law and the Courts

Politically-driven judicial redistricting halted…for the time being

North Carolina lawmakers’ latest attempt to insert politics into the judiciary was thwarted Tuesday but is expected to be taken up again the next time they gather in Raleigh. Legislators unveiled new prosecutorial and judicial district maps this week that would dramatically change the way district attorneys and judges are elected across the entire state.

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Education Top Story

Budget bill fires State Board of Ed director, DPI staffers with ties to Atkinson

A N.C. General Assembly budget mandate to fire certain North Carolina public education officials would target Republican rivals’ allies and the top staffer in the State Board of Education, N.C. Policy Watch has learned.

Of the five filled positions set for termination within DPI—including an associate state superintendent, an education consultant, a business and technology analyst, a clinical research specialist and the agency’s director of external meetings and special projects—three are currently held by former campaign volunteers of Democratic ex-state Superintendent June Atkinson.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Campaign finance investigation of Senate Elections Committee chair continues

More than a month after a deadline to correct faulty campaign finance reports, N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) has yet to fully explain missing donor information and what appears to be a misappropriation of around $10,000 by Hise himself.

The campaign finance violations have drawn the ire of voter rights advocates and activists, including a billboard campaign to publicize Hise’s problems and pressure him to recuse himself from the legislature’s efforts to restructure state and local elections boards. Hise, a four-term Senator who chairs the powerful Senate Select Committee on Elections, has said little about the controversy.

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Environment Top Story

House Bill 374 and its restrictions on the citizens’ right to contest environmental permits, advances in Senate

Even before he dropped the gavel on the Senate Finance Committee meeting, Sen. Jerry Tillman, a notoriously cantankerous Republican from Randolph County, seemed to be in a particularly bad mood.

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Education Top Story

Public school advocates wary of “vouchers on steroids” in GOP-authored budget

The $23 billion budget deal speeding through the N.C. General Assembly this week includes a platoon of significant public school initiatives, including much-touted teacher raises, a swift ballooning of the state’s funding for a private school voucher program and dramatic cut-backs for North Carolina’s central K-12 bureaucracy.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Bill to deregulate concealed carry poses political dilemma for GOP

Royal Diadem Jewelers in Greensboro sets itself apart in a number of small ways - fast and friendly service, an intimate small business feel, Christian messages packed with your receipt for a pair of earrings or luxury watch repair.

And then there’s the message, painted on the glass next to the front door beneath the business hours.

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