Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

Now is no time to settle for inadequate half measures on gerrymandering

If there is a single brightest and most hopeful bit of news on the North Carolina public policy horizon these days, it has to be that our state could, at very long last, be on the verge of ending partisan gerrymandering. With a three-judge panel set to rule in the Common Cause v. Lewis litigation any day (a case in which much of the key evidence offered by legislative defendants was thrown out for being not credible), good government advocates are having to work hard to avoid a sense of giddy optimism about where the case is headed.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Budget gridlock: Part of the right’s strategy for undermining state government

There was a fascinating exchange regarding North Carolina’s ongoing budget stalemate last week at a community meeting in High Point between State Rep. John Faircloth – a conservative Republican and co-chair of the House Appropriations Committee – and one of his constituents. The subject of the Q&A was Senate leader Phil Berger...

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NC leaders demonstrate right and wrong ways to deal with #MeToo issues

One of the more hopeful developments to take flower in American culture during the Trump era is the #MeToo movement. While women have been calling out and resisting predatory and inappropriate behavior by men since the beginning of time, there’s no denying that the emergence of Trump – that paragon of misogyny, sexism, malignant narcissism and exploitative inequality...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Legislative hypocrisy on “pork” (and we’re not talking about hog farms)

It may seem like ancient history, but there was a time not that long ago in North Carolina in which Republican legislators were out of power and, alongside conservative advocacy groups, passionately promoting a “change” platform that blasted the incumbent Democrats for: 1) gerrymandering elections for partisan gain; 2) abusing power at the General Assembly...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Unbecoming of a judge: NC Supreme Court justice’s Trump-like comments go too far

It’s no secret that the United States has a significant and growing problem when it comes to the matter of selecting judges. This problem was on vivid public display in 2016, when the Republican majority of the United States Senate refused to consider a highly qualified presidential nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court for nearly a full year on blatantly partisan grounds.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Republican legislative leaders could end the Common Cause gerrymandering lawsuit tomorrow

There’s an old adage in the law that’s often used to describe situations in which a judge jails someone for contempt of court. Because the jailed individual normally needs only to comply with the judge’s directive in order to be released, it’s said that they “have the keys to the jail cell door in their pocket.” Today in North Carolina, there is an analogous situation under way in state Superior Court

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Latest GOP trial balloons confirm Cooper has been right to keep pushing for Medicaid expansion

It’s going to happen eventually. It may not be right away and it may not look exactly like it ought to look at first, but at some point in the not-too-distant future, North Carolina is going to expand its Medicaid program.   The momentum to move forward is too strong and the arguments against doing so are just too weak. Consider the following:

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The Lt. Governor is wrong; multiculturalism is our hope for the future

It comes as little surprise that the inhabitant of the second highest elected office in the state of North Carolina would stoop to engage in the kind of dog whistle talk that one would normally associate with white nationalists like Congressman Steve King and David Duke. After all, as Policy Watch has reported on multiple previous occasions, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump-inspired anti-immigrant bill poses a grave threat to crime victims and public safety

It’s back…and, tragically, worse than ever. After fading from view back in April upon winning approval by the state House of Representatives, a Trump Administration-inspired bill to force North Carolina sheriffs to become accessories to federal immigration enforcement operations is moving quickly and could be on Gov. Cooper’s desk later this week.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Budget advice for NC progressives: “Yes” to negotiation, “hell no” to surrender

It’s crunch time in Raleigh. The end of the state fiscal year is just 12 days away and Republican legislative leaders have been secreted away, putting the final touches on a state budget bill that they will likely deign to share with Democratic members and the public sometime in this week.    As is always the case, the arrival of this moment is spurring all manner of fretting, speculation and bluster from people in and around the state policy world.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Refusal to close the Medicaid coverage gap echoes a dark era from the South’s past

In his recent “must read” book on the history of Jim Crow and how it shaped (and was itself shaped) by a typical town of the deep South (“Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White,” Harvard University Press), UNC Chapel Hill historian Prof. William Sturkey provides numerous illuminating and, often, maddening details of the harsh realities of the racial apartheid that was conjured up and enforced by the white supremacists who dominated so much of southern society for so long.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

“Gerrymander” is much too polite a word for what Trump and the GOP are trying to do

For some time now, it has seemed that the widespread and growing use of the words “gerrymander” and “gerrymandering” was a good thing for our state and nation. A decade ago, these words were insider terms used only by campaign consultants and politics wonks. In recent years, however, as the public has finally started to grasp the reality of how electoral districts have come to be drawn and manipulated...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five basic truths to remember this week about the state budget

It’s one of the great and maddening ironies of the state lawmaking process in North Carolina that the single most important piece of legislation each year is perhaps the most poorly reported and one of the least well-understood. Every year, as the fiscal year winds down toward its June 30 conclusion, state lawmakers birth a new state budget bill that runs to hundreds of pages and includes all sorts of fundamental decisions about state funding priorities and tax policy...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The General Assembly’s obsolete press rules are limiting public access to information

Just under sixteen months ago in an essay entitled “Darkness descends on the General Assembly,” I explored and lamented the shroud of secrecy that had overtaken the state legislature in recent years. Things haven’t gotten much better in 2019 and this situation hasn’t been helped – either symbolically or practically – by the decision of state Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five quick takes as the legislative session passes its symbolic midpoint

North Carolina lawmakers sped past their self-imposed crossover deadline last week – the date by which many bills must pass at least one house to remain alive for the session. Here are five quick takes on where things stand: #1 – GOP bulldozer downsized to a Bobcat – Traditionally, and especially during the last several years of conservative rule, the crossover deadline has served...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The price NC is paying for Tillis’s loyalty to Trump

The spectacle of Senator Thom Tillis’s spiritless kowtowing to Donald Trump in recent months has truly been something to behold. It wasn’t that long ago that Tillis was talking big about the need for humane immigration reform policies and the need to combat efforts to undermine investigations into Russian meddling in our democracy. Boy, did a few shots across the bow from the far right about a possible 2020 GOP primary challenge change all of that.

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