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Education Top Story

Legislation to make autism services more accessible on the fast track at the General Assembly

Bipartisan Senate and House bills would follow lead of other states in licensing behavior analysts It’s difficult to imagine that a child being diagnosed with autism could bring relief to parents, but that’s what happened to Kyle Robinson and his wife, Bonnie.

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Higher Ed Top Story

Democrat Joel Ford, straddling the political fence between right and left, elected to conservative UNC Board of Governors

Former State Sen. Joel Ford was elected to the UNC Board of Governors Wednesday, becoming the conservative-dominated board’s only Democrat. The N.C. Senate chose Ford to replace Darrell Allison, who stepped down from the board to become the new chancellor of Fayetteville State University.

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Environment Top Story

Natural gas gets a pass in new bill to further curb local government authority

A bill before the legislature would give preferential treatment to the natural gas industry, which has embarked on a nationwide push to force local governments to keep using the fossil fuel. House Bill 220 would prohibit cities and counties in North Carolina from adopting ordinances to limit the expansion of (or connections to) natural gas service. The measure's primary sponsors are Reps. Dean Arp, John Szoka, Charles Miller and Jason Saine, all Republicans.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Top Story

NC courts expand in-person proceedings, but online options may not be going anywhere

As with many other public and private institutions, the North Carolina court system is slowly but surely reopening to more in-person proceedings as COVID-19 infection and death rates continue to trend downward. It could, however, be a very long time before things return to "normal." Indeed, if recently introduced legislation and the assessments of some experts end up holding sway, online proceedings could become a permanent part of state judicial proceedings.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Must read: Education reform advocates respond to state’s proposed plan to comply with the Leandro mandate for NC public schools

News item:  Yesterday, the state defendants in the long running Leandro school finance case submitted a comprehensive plan to Judge David Lee that details how North Carolina proposes, at long last, to comply with the state Supreme Court’s 1997 ruling that every student in the state has a constitutional right to a “sound basic education.”

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

America needs to make it easier for everyone to vote. NC can and should help

It comes as little surprise that politicians have long generally favored voting rules that they have perceived as being beneficial to themselves and their allies. In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, racist white Democrats in the South concocted convoluted rules to suppress the votes of African Americans who generally favored Republicans – the party of Abraham Lincoln.

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Original Commentary Progressive Voices Top Story

It’s time to end gerrymandering for good in North Carolina

RALEIGH – It was 209 years ago this month that “gerrymandering” was coined, and our nation has paid the price ever since. In 1812, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry soiled his reputation by approving a ploy to redraw the state’s voting districts to unfairly favor his party in that year’s election.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the case for reparations for Black Americans

Last week Policy Watch spoke with Dr. William Darity, professor of Public Policy at Duke University, about his book, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century. Co-authored with A. Kirsten Mullen, the book examines the issues and makes the case for financial reparations to Black Americans, who have been historically been systematically denied financial, social and political equality in America.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

More than 100,000 N.C. children could be lifted out of poverty by federal stimulus bill

Expanded child tax credit is called a "game changer" The economic stimulus bill President Joe Biden signed Thursday includes provisions that will move millions of children out of poverty and will begin making direct payments to families by the middle of this year.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

COVID infections and deaths shine a light of NC’s lax workplace safety oversight

When COVID-19 hit North Carolina in 2020, complaints about the safety of workers flooded the state agency charged with their protection. Yet, state Department of Labor officials didn’t have enforceable standards to widely issue citations and conduct inspections and then-Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry determined that no new standards for COVID were needed.

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Environment News Top Story

Federal lawsuits reveal corporate intrigue behind controversial Lumberton wood pellet plant

Active Energy left Utah to build a wood pellet plant in Lumberton. Court documents describe a Jenga tower of "alter egos" allegedly designed to shield the firm from responsibility. Philip Scalzo and Daniel McCarthy were living large, pulling down $12,000 to $15,000 a month, plus expenses and benefits as top-tier workers for Active Energy Group.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

Congress clears giant $1.9T emergency relief package for Biden’s signature

Nearly $9 billion in direct aid headed for North Carolina WASHINGTON — A sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk after the U.S. House passed the latest pandemic relief measure Wednesday on a party-line vote.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Newly discovered innocence cases show how old problems still haunt the N.C. death penalty

Last month two men were newly added to the list of innocent people who had been sentenced to death in North Carolina. Anthony Carey was to be executed for a murder he took no part in, based entirely ...
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COVID-19 News Top Story

Asian-American communities are experiencing unique challenges in pandemic vaccination

The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations has increased rapidly in North Carolina this month with the growth in vaccine supplies, the addition of new vaccination sites, and expanded eligibility. But the push to vaccinate millions of people continues to face challenges -- especially in historically underserved communities where strained relationships with the government and health care providers make some people resistant to accepting the shot.

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Original Commentary Top Story Weekly Briefing

Stunning statistic shows how North Carolina is a national leader…in cruelty toward families in need

North Carolina legislators have provoked a lot of head-scratcher moments in recent years, but here’s one that has to be near the top of the list. Last week, state senators of both parties advanced a bill out of the Senate Health Care Committee that would allow parents on Medicaid, who temporarily lose custody of their kids, to keep their coverage so they can more easily get drug or mental health treatment. This makes obvious sense for numerous reasons.

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COVID-19 Original Commentary Other Voices Top Story

NC must act with speed and transparency to distribute rental, utility relief

Last December, as North Carolina was hurtling toward an eviction tsunami, a diverse group of stakeholders met to brainstorm policy interventions. Thankfully, a crisis was temporally averted when Congress passed a second Covid-19 relief bill in late December that provided the states with $25 billion in rental assistance and extended the nationwide eviction moratorium.

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