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Get ready seniors: Conservatives are coming after your healthcare next

Here in North Carolina, through painful experience, we know a thing or two about floods. With a flood, most of the focus – necessarily – is on not being swept away in the turbulent waters. But there’s more than the rushing waters. There’s what’s beneath – who knows what kind of contaminants picked up in the deluge, who knows what kinds of creepy-crawlies lurking beneath. That’s the way it is with Washington these days. The normal trickle of news out of the White House and Congress has turned into a flood of information. Beneath the roiling surface of that flood there are things of which we’d best be wary.

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Education Top Story

Republicans advance education budget over strong Democratic objections

A key House committee signed off on the chamber’s public school budget report Thursday, despite Democrats’ complaints that they had only just received the details of that multi-billion dollar spending plan that morning.

“We’re looking at a $17.5 billion budget that we’ve seen for the first time today and we’re going to vote on it in three hours,” said Rep. Henry “Mickey” Michaux, a veteran House Democrat from Durham, Thursday morning. “No, hell no.”

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Environment Top Story

Former House Speaker tried to strong-arm DEQ over chemicals in Jordan Lake

Harold Brubaker, the former Republican House Speaker turned powerful lobbyist, tried to ram through a scientifically dubious cleanup project for Jordan Lake and allegedly used hurricane relief funding as leverage, according to emails obtained by NCPW under the Open Records law.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Industry-backed cellphone tower bill advances despite consumer concerns

A bill to limit local regulation of small cell towers is moving to a full House vote, despite concerns over health effects and local control of tower sites.

House Bill 310, backed by the communications industry, is a first step to the creation of 5G wireless networks throughout North Carolina. But such networks would rely on millions of small cell towers rather than fewer large ones. The bill would allow companies to install them in public right of way areas.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

The most shameful thing about the Senate budget

The most shameful thing about the disastrous budget passed by the Senate two weeks ago is not the vindictive 3:00 a.m. budget cuts to education programs in Democrats’ districts.

It’s not the paltry raise given to state workers after years of neglect or the cruel refusal to give state retirees any cost of living increase at all.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The right-wing house of cards shudders

Court setbacks, public opinion, progressive activism and Trump bode ill for NC conservatives

Professor Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine School of Law is a nationally recognized Supreme Court watcher and elections law expert. Yesterday on his highly-trafficked Election Law Blog, Hasen posted a fascinating 13-point take of Monday morning’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down North Carolina’s hyper-gerrymandered 2011 congressional district map. After sifting through Justice Elena Kagan’s lengthy opinion and even some important footnotes, Hasen said this:

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Assessing the Supreme Court’s gerrymandering decision

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the North Carolina GOP drew unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered congressional districts, but what does it mean and where do lawmakers go from here?

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Progressive Voices Top Story

The Senate budget: Tax cut addiction leaves NC’s civic core crumbling

So, the question as always comes down to one of vision. The elected chieftains who decide how much money North Carolina’s state government will spend, what it will be spent on and how it will be raised must decide not only which programs and services will thrive and which will dwindle. They must decide to what degree the people of this state are truly a community, with an obligation to provide for the common good in the best interests of all.

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Top Story

The Follies

It has been a week since the Senate passed its disastrous budget and bad reviews keep rolling in about the choices Senate leaders made and the process they used to make them.

Senator Phil Berger and his staff are still busy scrambling to defend their partisan temper tantrum when Senate leaders recessed a late night session after Democrats offered some amendments that included a proposal to give teachers a bigger raise and make sure that state retirees received a cost of living increase.

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Education Top Story

Veteran House Democrats question the substance and process behind Senate budget proposal

Wednesday was the 63rd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the milestone U.S. Supreme Court case that ordered an end to racial segregation in American public schools.

That fact hasn’t escaped Rep. Henry Michaux’s attention as the veteran Democrat—the longest-serving member in the state House and a civil rights hero in Durham—shreds a $22.9 billion spending plan approved by the Senate shortly after 3 a.m. last Friday.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

North Carolina is not alone: The Right’s nationwide assault on state judiciaries

In the past few months, North Carolinians have seen our General Assembly make national news several times. At least a couple of those times were due to the continuing and shameless partisan assaults on the independence of our courts.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

The lowdown on NC’s “Raise the Age” legislation

A Q&A with key players ahead of today’s House vote

House lawmakers are expected to vote today on House Bill 280, a bill that would raise the age of juvenile prosecution from 16 and 17 years old to 18 years old.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

An offensive, belligerent and vindictive display in the halls of government

The last week has featured some of the most offensive, belligerent, and vindictive behavior by elected officials in generations---and that is not a reference to President Trump and his associates in Washington, though the characterization fits there too.

No, this startling episode came in the middle of the night last week in Raleigh when furious Republican leaders of the state Senate interrupted a debate on the state budget with a recess to meet with legislative staff.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump, NC conservative leaders to eastern NC: “Drop dead”

Hurricane Matthew non-response sets a new low when it comes to basics of governing

With the increasingly precarious situation in which he finds his presidency vis a vis the inquiries of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one would think that Donald Trump might well be taking any and all steps available to cozy up to the Committee’s chairman, North Carolina’s Richard Burr. Weirdly, however, no such actions were in evidence last week when it came to one of the most basic components of running the federal government – meting out disaster relief funds.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Still on the books and still unjust

Death penalty spree in Arkansas provides sobering reminder that NC’s system remains fatally flawed

Since Arkansas shocked the world by trying to execute eight people in 10 days just to beat the expiration date on its lethal drugs, there has been more talk about the death penalty in North Carolina.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

22.9 billion---amount in dollars spent in the 2017-2018 fiscal year by the budget passed by the Senate last week (“N.C. Senate Would Have State Stand Still in Face of Uncertainty, Growing Needs,” N.C. Budget & Tax Center, May 2015)

2.5---percentage increase in spending in Senate budget over current fiscal year (Ibid)

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