The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch:

 

The Week's Top Five on NC Policy Watch:

1. 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.

Two weeks ago, the Senate passed the proposal that would be yet another boon for corporations and wealthy North Carolinians with assurances that the state could afford it and that it wouldn’t hurt efforts to fund schools, health care programs, environmental protections and other vital state programs.

But the Fiscal Research Division of the General Assembly says that’s not true, that the tax package would result in state budget shortfalls of more than $600 million in just three years. [Read more...]

2. 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.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s any movement planned,” says Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat who sits on the state Senate’s Rules and Operations Committee, a panel that includes some of the chamber’s most powerful lawmakers and sets the agenda for future committee talks.

McKissick said he met late last week with Sen. Bill Rabon, the eastern North Carolina Republican who chairs the committee, but GOP leaders remain reticent to make any commitments regarding a legislative fix to the funding controversy, despite stiff warnings from district chiefs that thousands of teachers’ jobs are in jeopardy. [Read more...]

3. An important bright spot emerges at the General Assembly
Progress on “second chance” agenda marks a rare positive development in state policy wars
There are a lot of reasons for caring and thinking North Carolinians to be discouraged these days about what’s happening in the world of public policy. In the nation’s capital, the corrupt and illegitimate Trump administration is a perpetual, slow motion train wreck. Meanwhile, Congress is a frequently dysfunctional war zone in which some of the most conservative political leaders in modern American history are engaged in a pitched battle with far right extremists who want to repeal fundamental components of the national social contract.

And here in Raleigh, conservatives are wielding their ideologically driven wrecking ball for the seventh consecutive year. All around us, public structures and systems essential to a thriving and sustainable middle class society lie wounded and bleeding by the side of the road while the wealthy, large and profitable corporations, polluters, privatizers and religious zealots remain firmly in control of the bulldozer of state. [Read more...]

4. Committee reins in expansive powers for AOC director; approves District Court judges serving on Superior Court

After North Carolina representatives from both parties expressed concern about a bill that would give the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) director unfettered power over court processes, an amendment was approved to eliminate the provision altogether.

Rep. Rena Turner (R-Iredell), the sponsor of the bill, said she would have preferred to keep House Bill 236 whole, and a representative speaking on behalf of the AOC deferred to her when asked what the organization preferred.

Democratic Leader Rep. Darren Jackson and Rep. David Rogers (R-Burke, Rutherford) spoke against the overly-broad language of the bill, which as written, would allow the AOC director the authority to rewrite all court policies, procedures and processes.

Jackson and Rogers had been contacted by the District Attorneys in their districts with concerns about that section of the bill. [Read more...]

5. Elections watchdog calls for criminal investigation of NCGOP over baseless voter fraud claims

Carol Turner hadn’t lived in North Carolina long before last November’s election. A retired nurse, she had recently moved from Maryland with her son Mark, a Naval officer, and his wife to help take care of their baby.

But Turner had done everything necessary to vote here in the general election.

“I consider myself a very responsible citizen,” said Turner, 65. “Voting to me is a right as well as a privilege. I believe in being responsible about it. So after I voted in the primary in Maryland, I made sure to contact them and let them know I would be registering and voting in North Carolina in the general.”

Having been so careful, Turner was furious to find she was one of about 600 voters the North Carolina Republican party was accused of voting improperly in the wake of the election. About 95 percent of those accused voters were found to have cast their votes legally. But that didn’t stop them from being libeled in a political effort to manufacture a massive voter fraud problem, Turner said. [Read more...]

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WAKE DEMS WEEKLY UPDATE, Vol. 1, No. 2

WAKE DEMS WEEKLY UPDATE, Vol. 1, No. 2

Regardless of one’s political stripe or viewpoint, we the people are bonded by the faith that our lawmakers will abide by a fair process conducting the people’s business. But that did not happen last December. This was an affront to our democracy.

–Bob Phillips, Executive Director, Common Cause NC

EDUCATION
Teachers and parents protested in Raleigh this week to oppose HB 13 – Class Size Requirement Changes, which they argue will force teacher layoffs and sacrifice art, music and PE. After many years of GOP cuts to the public school budget, the laudable goal of lowering class size in K-3 challenges the physical limitations of a school building, lack of discretionary funds, and a teacher shortage. “Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill explains the district may have to consider cutting art and music from elementary schools, lay off art and music teachers, reassign students and have 40-student classes to meet new state K-3 class size limits.” The bill passed the House and was stuck in the Senate Rules Committee for weeks until it was referred Friday to the Higher Education Committee, which is chaired by Wake County’s own Chad Barefoot. As a member of the Rules Committee, Sen. Barefoot was a key roadblock to HB 13 getting a hearing, and he continues to be.

A WEEK OF GOOD GOVERNMENT BY OUR ‘TWO BOBS’

  1. Executive Director Bob Phillips announced that Common Cause NC and 10 residents of NC filed a lawsuit that alleges that the one-day session on December 15, 2016 – as well as the two bills passed into law that day – is unconstitutional. Read more here.
  2. Executive Director Bob Hall of Democracy NC wants state and federal prosecutors to investigate a “possible conspiracy by the Pat McCrory re-election committee, and the NC Republican Party to use fraudulent charges of voter fraud to harass and intimidate voters, deny them their right to vote, interfere with the elections process, and corrupt the results of the 2016 elections.” Read the report, The Deceit of Voter Fraud, here.

THIS JUST IN – VETO STAMP TIMES TWO
As promised, Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed HB 239 that reduced the NC Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 members. He wrote, “Having three fewer judges will increase the court’s workload and delay timely appeals. Just as bad is the real motivation of Republican legislators, which is to stack the court with judges of their own party. In addition, I believe this legislation is unconstitutional, and we should all be concerned about unwarranted attacks on the judiciary.” Read the governor’s veto message here.

The Governor also vetoed SB 68 that combined the State Board of Elections with the State Ethics Board. This was a “tweaked” bill that answered last month’s 3-judge panel ruling that the General Assembly overstepped their authority by combining these two boards. “This is the same unconstitutional legislation in another package, and it’s an attempt to make it harder for people to register and vote,” Governor Cooper said. Read the governor’s veto message here.

CROSSOVER WEEK
Crossover deadline is next Thursday, April 27. That means that next week at the General Assembly will be chaos: long days, unscheduled meetings, cancelled meetings, and recesses, while legislators desperately vie to get their bills passed and sent to the other chamber. Non-appropriation or finance bills that do not pass one chamber are dead for the short session.

 

Paid for by the Wake County Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
Wake County Democratic Party
PO Box 25548
Raleigh NC 27611 United States

WAKE DEMS WEEKLY UPDATE, Vol. 1, No. 1

WAKE DEMS WEEKLY UPDATE, Vol. 1, No. 1 

Welcome to the first “Wake Dems Weekly Update.” Our goal is to connect our members to some of the issues being debated at the NC General Assembly. We are watching. We want you to join us!

Calling the legislative redrawing of the Greensboro City Council districts unconstitutional, a federal ruling said it was “not directed or rationally related to any identifiable legitimate governmental purpose.”

–U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles

EDUCATION
GOP-sponsored HB 704 – Divide School Systems/Study Committee, a bill to study breaking up large school districts, was referred to the House Committee on Education-K-12. Rep. Chris Malone (R-Wake), a former Wake County School Board member, is a primary sponsor, and former school board chair Ron Margiotta said he favors this idea. But current school board chair Monika Johnson-Hostler pointed to the ability to share resources and maintain diversity in our merged district. Read more here.

TAXES
SB 325 – Billion Dollar Middle-Class Tax Cut passed the Senate and now resides in the House Rules Committee. Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake) is a cosponsor. NC Policy Watch explains, “Proponents of the bill claim that the tax cuts are targeted to middle-income taxpayers, but this is not the case. The majority of the net benefits for the tax cuts will go to the highest income earners in the state. Simply put, this bill is not a billion dollar middle class tax cut, despite the title of the bill. This is a false claim that becomes apparent upon a deeper analysis of the bill.” Read more here.

HOGS
Christmas came early for the corporate pork industry when HB 467 – Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies passed the House and was sent to the Senate. NC Policy Watch explains that the “bill would prevent plaintiffs from recovering damages unrelated to property value, including compensation for health effects, lost income, and pain and suffering.” Director of governmental relations for the NC League of Conservation Voters Dan Crawford had this to say: “It’s despicable that the bill sponsors attempt to equate the long-term suffering of their constituents to a ‘nuisance’ that can be silenced by a foreign entity.”

CONGRATULATIONS to Rep. Cynthia Ball (D-Wake) on her very first bill HB 84 – DL/Deaf or Hard of Hearing Designation that passed the House unanimously. This bill would allow a person to designate on their driver’s license that they or deaf or hard of hearing, if they wish.

CONSTITUTION? WHAT CONSTITUTION?
HB 780 – Uphold Historical Marriage Act introduced by Reps. Michael Speciale (R-New Bern), Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus), and Carl Ford (R-Rowan) claims that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows gay marriage is not valid in North Carolina. House Speaker Tim Moore quickly released a statement that the bill would not be heard because of “strong constitutional concerns.” Rep. Pittman took to his Facebook page to respond to the nationwide criticism that followed the bill introduction. As clarification, he compared Hitler to Abraham Lincoln.

SOUP FOR SYRIA – A Special Lunchtime Presentation: Tuesday April 18

3.8 Million Syrian People are Refugees from War.


Many of Them are Children.


We Can’t Help Them All, But Let’s Help a Few.


Have a Bowl of Soup, and Hear Their Stories.

A Special Lunchtime Presentation:
Tuesday April 18

Please join us for a captivating lunchtime presentation from former State Treasurer Janet Cowell. She has just returned from Jordan where she learned first-hand about the Syrian refugee crisis, its effect on children and the humanitarian efforts to help them. We will have soups honoring traditions from around the world, salads and breads for lunch, and all proceeds will go toward QuestScope.org to support its work helping Syrian children in Jordan.

Please bring your CHECK for $25 (or more!) made out to QuestScope (the organization through which Janet Cowell worked. We cannot accept credit cards or cash.)

RSVP contact: Deborah Nelson at DNelson52@nc.rr.com   

We look forward to seeing you there!

Where:

The Glenwood 3300 Woman’s Club Drive, Raleigh, NC

When:

April 18 - 11:30am to 1:00pm


TICKETS $25 PER PERSON - ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND SPONSORSHIPS WELCOME!


SPECIAL THANKS TO ANYA & ARTHUR GORDON, IRREGARDLESS RESTAURANT

Early Childhood Education – Town Hall Panel Discussion April 6 – moderated by representatives Cynthia Ball and Joe John

SAVE the DATE

Apr. 6, 2017

Town Hall Panel Discussion

Early Childhood Education

Panel of Experts (TBA) and Q/A

Moderated by Rep.  Joe John (House District 40):

Plus Special Guest Rep. Cynthia Ball (House District 49):

Umstead Park United Church of Christ

8208 Brownleigh Drive

Raleigh, NC 27617

Registration:  6:30 pm – 7:00 PM

Meeting:  7:00 pm – 8:30 PM

RSVP & Questions:  Lauren Trustman Noyes (LRTrustman@yahoo.com)

County Convention 2017 Agenda

Saturday, April 1 2017 Activity Who
10:00AM Check in Opens WCDP staff and volunteers
10:00AM – 11:00AM Help Delegates Get Seated
Check in Credentialing
WCDP staff and volunteers
11:00AM – 11:01AM Convention Gaveled in Brian Fitzsimmons
11:01AM – 11:02AM Invocation Paul Anderson
11:02AM – 11:03AM Pledge of Allegiance John Verdejo
11:03AM – 11:05AM Report of the Credentialing Committee Rebecca Llewellyn
11:05AM – 11:10AM Treasurer’s Report Max Adams
11:10AM – 11:15AM 2016 Minutes Nervahna Crew
11:15AM – 11:20AM Adoption of Convention Rules Brian Fitzsimmons
11:20AM – 11:40AM State of the County Brian Fitzsimmons
11:40AM – 11:45AM Election of the Chair Brian Fitzsimmons
11:45AM – 12:00PM Recognize Elected Officials Brian Fitzsimmons
12:00PM Announce Results of Chair Race Brian Fitzsimmons
12:00PM – 12:05PM Election of the First Vice Chair Chair
12:05PM – 12:10PM Election of the Second Vice Chair Chair
12:10PM – 12:15PM Election of the Third Vice Chair Chair
12:15PM – 12:20PM Election of the Secretary Chair
12:20PM – 12:25PM Election of the Treasurer Chair
12:30PM – 12:35PM Election of the Raleigh Vice Chair Chair
12:35PM – 12:40PM Election of the Cary Vice Chair Chair
12:45PM – 12:50PM Election of the Wake Vice Chair Chair
12:50PM – 1:10PM Election of the Female SEC Chair
1:10PM – 1:30PM Election of the Male SEC Chair
1:30PM Election of Delegates to the Congressional District Conventions Chair
1:30PM – 1:45PM Election of CD Committee Reps Chair – Chair and Vice Chair are automatically in, elect 2
1:45PM – 2:30PM Adoption of Resolutions Montica Talmadge
2:30PM – 2:45PM New Business New Chair’s Address to County
2:45PM – 3:00PM Announcements Chair
3:00PM Adjourn

Gerrymandering Toolkit

Stronger NC has published a “toolkit” to help making activism easier:
Stronger NC is committed to making activism easy, so we have put together a toolkit to educate, equip, encourage, and empower you to plan and carry out an effective grassroots public education or advocacy campaign on the topic of gerrymandering.
The toolkit can be accessed as PDF file on the StrongerNC website

Precinct Chair Jim Gulick’s Letter to Precinct 02-04

At the national level, it is essential that we elect the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine.  Everyone’s vote is needed. As you likely have heard, North Carolina is a battleground state in this election. The Republican candidate has proven in many ways that he is unfit for office, while Clinton is well qualified to be President.  So say even newspapers that traditionally endorse Republicans, such as the Columbus Dispatch of Ohio and the Arizona Republic.

If any of you are still undecided or are considering voting for a third-party candidate, I strongly recommend that you read the October 1 endorsement of Clinton by the Sun Sentinel of Florida. Among the overwhelming editorial endorsements of Clinton, I recommend reading this one because the Sun has not always endorsed Democrats — and indeed endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012. The Sun explains numerous positive reasons to elect Clinton that are independent of the fact that she is not Donald Trump. The Sun’s editorial staff separately declares Trump to be unfit for office. The Sun also urges that no one vote third party and explains why.  You can find the Sun’s endorsement here:

Many of you may have supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.  Sanders understands what is at stake in this race and is actively campaigning for Hillary Clinton in the General Election. See this video from October 5, 2016.

For the last six years the Republican Senate and House of Representatives have refused to work with President Obama. To have effective government, Democrats therefore must win back control of both the US Senate and the House of Representatives.  We have two strong candidates for these races in Deborah Ross and John McNeil.

Here in North Carolina we must turn back the regressive, hurtful and frequently unconstitutional policies of our Republican Legislature and Governor by electing Roy Cooper and electing enough Senators and Representatives to give Gov. Cooper a veto-proof legislature. Until my retirement in 2013, I served under Roy in the North Carolina Justice Department for eleven years as head of the Environmental Division. I know Roy Cooper as a very capable and honest government leader. On October 14, the Charlotte Observer, for the first time in 25 years did not endorse Pat McCrory in his bid for office. Instead, the Charlotte Observer has endorsed Cooper.

In addition, we need a Democratic General Assembly.  We have strong state legislative candidates in Lauren Deegan-Fricke and Joe John.

We also have the most outstanding group of Council of State candidates we’ve had in years.

Finally, if you are as repulsed as I am by the ideologically driven rulings of the North Carolina Supreme Court in recent years, you must vote for Mike Morgan for the Supreme Court.  There are also strong candidates for the Court of Appeals.

Sincerely,
Jim Gulick

Early Voting Has Started

Today’s the day!

Early voting locations are now open all over the state, which means that you can go cast your ballot — right now — for Democrats up and down the ticket:

  1. Vote for federal races: President, US Senator, and members of Congress
  2. Vote for the entire Council of State: from Governor to Treasurer
  3. Vote for the judges: NC Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and local judges
  4. Vote for your local state legislative races: both House and Senate

So don’t wait! Check your early voting location right now to make your plan to go vote, then forward this email to all of your family, friends, and neighbors so they can get their ballots in, too!

Use the North Carolina Democratic Party’s early voting locator tool. Go the site and enter your address.