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Legislators hope to find a compromise and a new home for UNC’s controversial Confederate statue

Students, faculty and staff at UNC continue protest the Chapel Hill campus’ Confederate monument, “Silent Sam.” The North Carolina Historical Commission continues to grapple with whether it can legally remove the statue.

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Too big to barter? Why the marriage between UNC Health Care and Carolinas Healthcare System raises real concerns

For most North Carolinians, the planned “marriage” between two of their state’s largest hospital systems, UNC Health Care and Charlotte-based Atrium Health (until recently known as Carolinas Healthcare) probably seems like a distant and incomprehensible arrangement involving giant conglomerates and corporate bigwigs.

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Environment Top Story

12 years of negligence. 1 million gallons of manure. A $64,000 fine. A Jones County hog farm is out of business — for now.

On a sultry day last September, Megan Stilley arrived at Lanier Farms, a large swine operation in rural Jones County. An environmental specialist with the state’s Division of Water Resources, Stilley investigates complaints of illegal spills and other environmental violations. The people responsible are rarely glad to see her.

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Education Top Story

NC’s massive school facility needs could overwhelm agreement on “historic” class size reductions

When North Carolina lawmakers approved what one Republican described as a “historic” investment in reducing elementary class sizes this week, it was viewed by many as a godsend for school districts that feared thousands of teaching jobs were at stake.

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Courts in Crisis Top Story

Keeping up with the…judicial maps – There are now more than there are Kardashians

Lawmakers late last week released two new versions of a judicial redistricting bill, making these the eighth and ninth maps released since last summer.

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Education Top Story

Special update: Controversial bill on class size, pipeline fund, elections/ethics board merger heads to the Governor

An omnibus bill alleviating some of the headaches associated with North Carolina’s class size crisis easily passed the state House by a 104-12 margin Tuesday, despite continuing opposition from top Democrats on its controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Board of Elections provisions.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Taking cynicism to new levels

The General Assembly’s latest mashup legislation is an example of government at its worst In the complex world of modern politics, it’s easy to imagine scenarios in which difficult compromises must be made. Sometimes, the circumstances are such that there simply isn’t any way for elected leaders to proceed without making multiple accommodations to multiple parties.

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Original Commentary Progressive Voices Top Story

Why we are calling on Congress to protect basic food assistance

Every day brings new reports that Congress is interested in further whittling away at the programs comprising the social safety net for low-income households, the disabled, and the elderly. One of the programs at risk is SNAP, formerly Food Stamps, a program that helps 1.5 million low-income North Carolinians buy essential groceries each month for themselves and their families.

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Education Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the K-3 class-size “fix”

When members of the North Carolina Senate passed a four-year plan for partially alleviating the state’s class size crisis Friday, some would say it was a long time coming. Local school districts and public school advocates have long warned that a legislative order to chop K-3 class sizes would have deleterious effects on the state’s classrooms, demanding a massive investment in classroom space and possibly crowding out “enhancement” teachers...

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Legislators interrogate Cooper’s newest aide over control of mitigation money

Thursday afternoon Lee Lilley ambled over to Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building thinking he had been summoned to cordially introduce himself to Joint Appropriations Committee.

But Lilley, on his fifth day on the job as Gov. Cooper’s new legislative director, instead walked into a buzzsaw.

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News Top Story

Republicans unveil omnibus bill with jumble of controversial law changes

After weeks of public inaction on a host of smoldering policy controversies, Republicans at the North Carolina General Assembly unveiled a new and controversial bill yesterday afternoon that addresses several high-profile issues. The new legislation, which was negotiated and written behind closed doors by and at the direction of House and Senate leaders, was made public in a contentious joint House-Senate Appropriations Committee meeting that featured several rancorous interactions between Republican defenders and Democratic critics of the bill.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Elections/Ethics board still silent on Hise investigation; Senator reports spending campaign funds on lawyers, accountants

Nearly a year after the Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement began a probe into alleged campaign finance violations by State Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), the investigation continues.

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Environment Top Story

Renewable energy? Legislative committee considers whether NC trees burned in UK and EU should qualify

From the initial roar of a chainsaw to a North Carolina tree’s final incineration in a British power plant, the wood pellet industry disguises itself as a purveyor of renewable energy. But science shows that the practice of burning wood on a utility scale not only damages forest biodiversity but also releases more carbon into the air per megawatt than coal.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Local officials voice opposition to judiciary overhaul as issue resurfaces at General Assembly

As lawmakers prepare to vote later this week on measures that are a secret to the rest of North Carolina, there is fear in some circles judicial reform could be put back on the table. House, Senate and joint committees have been talking about judicial redistricting and judicial selection for months without agreement between the two chambers.

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Education Top Story

Despite backing of legislature and UNC leaders, critics worry NC’s lab school experiment is doomed to failure

When Appalachian State University opens its Academy at Middle Fork to 300 chosen elementary students in Winston-Salem this August, by some accounts, it’ll be one of several pioneering, university-led efforts bound to turn around test scores for lagging North Carolina children in the coming years.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Congress must act ASAP on two noncontroversial healthcare programs

When Congress finally passed a continuing resolution last month allowing the government to re-open, there was much rejoicing. In addition to agreeing that continuing basic government services is a good thing, lawmakers reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which provides critical funding for more than 10 million children nationwide. Unfortunately, CHIP was but one in a long list of “must do” items that, for one reason or another, was left undone.

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