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State Board of Ed Chair urges lawmakers to stay out of dispute over expanding Superintendent’s personal staff

The leader of North Carolina’s top school board wants state lawmakers to stay out of a broiling dispute over the powers of new GOP Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

U.S. Supreme Court to revisit challenge to NC’s “monster” voting law Friday

Conference comes a day after new report lauds benefits of same-day registration

The new line-up for the U.S. Supreme Court will meet tomorrow to decide what’s next for the constitutional challenge to North Carolina’s controversial voting rights law.

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Education Top Story

Local school districts prepare for “enormous disruptions” as Senate refuses to ease class size requirements

North Carolina’s largest public school system may be warning of “enormous disruptions” without speedy action from state lawmakers on a looming class size funding crisis, but key education leaders in Raleigh tell Policy Watch there’s little sign Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly will act soon.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

The truth about the Senate leaders’ tax plan from their own staff

The wisdom of the plan by Senate leaders to cut taxes by $839 million was called into question this week by an important source, the nonpartisan legislative staff that works for them and inadvertently by a powerful Senator himself.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Some hard truths about the North Carolina economy

Several years of tax cuts have not fixed our economic problems, and more of the same won’t either

In a yearly ritual as reliable as weird weather and parents stressing about finding summer camp for the kids, late spring finds some legislative leaders in Raleigh flogging another round of tax cuts, all the while claiming that past rounds of tax reductions have magically “fixed” North Carolina’s economy.

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Top Story

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Almost absolute power is corrupting in Raleigh, absolutely

Here is something you may not know about the way the General Assembly works these days. The odds are that your senator and representative have almost no say in what happens to controversial legislation. None.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Full speed ahead: GOP lawmakers plow ahead with plans to remake the state court system

It’s starting to look like “court-packing” may not be as dead in the water as some Republican lawmakers said it was in December.

The General Assembly passed House Bill 239 this week, which would reduce the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12 and add more than 100 cases per year to the state Supreme Court’s workload. Gov. Roy Cooper plans to veto the legislation.

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Education Top Story

Competing bills would alter method for funding charter schools

For the better part of a decade, charter and traditional school advocates have bickered over charters’ share of North Carolina dollars.

But two bills drafted by influential state Senate leaders in recent days want to settle the issue this session. One, Senate Bill 562, has the blessing of public school advocates; the other, not so much.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Local officials breathe sigh of relief as federal court strikes down legislature’s Greensboro redistricting plan

When a federal judge ruled last week against a state law that reconfigured and redistricted the Greensboro City Council, it was celebrated in the Gate City. But the larger implications of the ruling weren’t widely discussed.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

House bill would bring NC abortion law in line with U.S. Supreme Court ruling

With all that’s happened politically over the least several months, it’s easy to forget there was a major U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer that reaffirmed the constitutional right to access abortion. The Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt ruling that came out in June of 2016 pushed back strongly against many of the hundreds of restrictions that states have enacted since the 1973 decision that legalized abortion; and in particular the nearly 300 restrictions that have been passed since 2011.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Almost absolute power is corrupting in Raleigh, absolutely

Here is something you may not know about the way the General Assembly works these days. The odds are that your senator and representative have almost no say in what happens to controversial legislation. None.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The return of the “Know Nothings”

Anti-immigrant fervor spawns destructive (and utterly illogical) proposals on Jones Street

There are a lot of labels that have been applied to the ideology that has held sway in North Carolina policy and politics over the past six years. Some have been embraced by the politicians and pundits who have been running the show (“conservative,” “libertarian,” “fundamentalist” stand out) while others (“reactionary,” “backward-looking,” “right-wing”) have not.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

“Nuclear” fallout: GOP changes the rules to put Trump’s nominee on the Supreme Court

Photo credit: White House.gov Our national politics are in an ugly place, driven by an accelerating cycle of suspicion, accusation, blame, recrimination and retaliation. The circumstances by which Neil Gorsuch takes office as a justice of the Supreme Court sadly fit the mold – to the U.S. Senate’s discredit and the court’s peril.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

2---rank of North Carolina among the 50 states with the highest percentage of workers who earn below a poverty level wage (“Prosperity Watch Issue 65, No. 1: The Working Poor make up one-third of the North Carolina workforce, N.C Budget & Tax Center, September 13, 2016)

30---percent of workers in North Carolina’s smaller cities who earn poverty wages (Ibid)

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Law and the Courts Top Story

What does subdividing court districts have to do with voters? Everything.

With the exception of authoring formal opinions and issuing court rulings, it’s not often that judges step into the spotlight to make their voices heard.

Judges work for an independent branch of government and must remain neutral to keep the public’s trust. They take an oath to be impartial and deliver equal justice for all.

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Environment Top Story

DEQ Secretary Regan sails through Senate confirmation hearing

Today’s Senate committee hearing for NC DEQ Secretary Michael Regan felt like a softball game, and not even fast-pitch. Instead, lawmakers tossed questions at the nominee — some that Regan had seen in advance — which were ready for him to hit.

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