Education Policy


Economic and Housing Policy

  • On Tuesday Governor Cooper announced the allocation of $175 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to help North Carolinians with rent and utility payments. The following day, he released a letter to both chambers of the NC legislature outlining his recommendations for the 2020-2021 State Budget and for the remaining federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. He once again called upon Republicans to expand Medicaid, increase unemployment benefits, pay teachers and other workers one time bonuses, and take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest in schools and infrastructure. Leaders in the General Assembly later said that they planned to add an additional $50 per week for unemployment benefits. Separately, the Governor indicated recipients of unemployment benefits should receive as soon as next week the first of three weeks of an additional $300 dollars in benefits allocated by the federal government for the first three weeks of August but not yet paid out due to issues with the state’s benefit administration.


Environmental Policy

  • On Monday the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality denied applications from Carolina Sunrock to build an asphalt and concrete plant in Anderson and a quarry in Prospect Hill. The department’s Division of Air Quality found that the proposed facilities would not comply with national air quality standards. A public hearing about the proposals was scheduled to take place September 10, but it is now canceled.


Health Care Policy

  • On Thursday a North Carolina Administrative Law judge dismissed a suit from three health care companies not selected as recipients of a NC DHHS Medicaid contract. The companies had claimed that conflicts of interest rendered DHHS’s decision to award a large portion of the contract to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina improper. Following Judge Tenisha Jacobs’ dismissal of the suit, the three suing companies appealed to Superior Court.


Criminal Justice

  • On Friday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Vinston Rozier Jr., the judge overseeing the case about measures to combat COVID-19 in North Carolina prisons, held a hearing to consider a request to appoint a “special master” to manage possible inmate releases. The plaintiffs, including the ACLU and NAACP, advocated for such an appointment, citing ways that the state has continued to fail to comply with Judge Rozier’s orders.

Updated: Aug 31, 2020


Covid-19

  • This week, four separate UNC system universities moved to shift all undergraduate classes online. UNC Chapel Hill, NC State University, East Carolina University and UNC Charlotte have all seen increases in COVID-19 cases associated with students returning to campus. UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz expressed surprise at the “velocity and magnitude of the virus’ spread” and cited a failure of students to follow mitigation requirements off campus as a factor in the spread. NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson cited a spike in cases and in the number of students in quarantine and isolation, expressing disappointment with non-compliant off-campus gatherings. Newly appointed UNC System President Peter Hans says his office will continue to look at campus-specific needs across the UNC system, but medical experts, public health officials, campus town leaders and students have long been highly critical of the decision to reopen in-person classes.

  • On August 13, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest dropped his lawsuit against Gov. Cooper, in which he had claimed the governor did not have the right to issue executive orders related to mitigating COVID-19 without the concurrence of the council of state. He had asked the court to stay the governor’s powers until after the case was decided, but Wake County Superior Court Judge Jim Gale dismissed Forest’s argument as unlikely to succeed, and Forest declined to pursue the case further.


Voting Rights

  • While absentee voting in the state has historically made up only a small percentage of total votes, State Board of Elections data shows requests for mail-in ballots - now numbering over 300,000 - are on track to exceed the combined number from North Carolina’s last two general elections. As of Thursday, 53% of requests have come from registered Democrats, 15% from Republicans, and about 30% from unaffiliated voters.

  • Attorney General Josh Stein joined attorneys general from five other states and the District of Columbia in a lawsuit seeking to block changes to the US Postal Service, asserting the changes will reduce the Postal Service’s ability to handle a projected substantial increase in mail-in ballots due to coronavirus concerns. Stein said the lawsuit “seeks to immediately reverse the agency’s actions and guarantee safeguards and standards for election mail.”



Economic and Housing Policy

  • North Carolina applied for and received funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would enable the state to pay $300 weekly unemployment benefits retroactively for the first three weeks of August. That represents half of the $600 benefit that expired July 31. Because the new funds are not paid through the existing unemployment systems and program, it remains uncertain as to when the payments will actually be made. NC Division of Employment Security officials have cited “additional burdens” imposed by the new program and the necessity to “reprogram its benefits system” to meet payment schedules.

  • According to the NC Division of Employment Security, while the overall number of North Carolinians employed increased in June, the July unemployment rate rose from 7.5% to 8.5%. This rate is more than double pre-coronavirus rates, but it is an improvement over the peak COVID-19 rate of 12.9% in April.


Health Care Policy

  • State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced new incentives, including reduced co-pays, to encourage State Health Plan participants to sign up with health care providers who agree to be part of the “Clear Pricing Project,” a new payment model. Folwell has claimed that the model, which ties health care providers’ reimbursement rates to Medicare rates, is a more transparent and less expensive insurance plan for state employees, teachers, state retirees and their families. Major hospital systems in the state have refused to join the plan, saying the reimbursement rates would force cuts in services. Duke University professor Ronnie Chatterji, Folwell’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming election, strongly criticized Folwell and the Clear Pricing Project, calling instead for expanded Medicaid and a reimbursement strategy based on data-driven assessment of hospital healthcare outcomes.


Criminal Justice

  • On Tuesday, Governor Cooper signed an executive order that will eliminate the requirement to disclose criminal convictions on applications for many North Carolina state jobs. As a result of this move to “ban the box,”applicants for many jobs will not be required to routinely report having a criminal conviction, an admission that often automatically excludes a person from consideration for a job even if the conviction is very old or unrelated to the position sought. Jobs related to security clearance or law enforcement are not included in the order. The order goes into effect Nov. 1.

  • A three-judge NC Superior Court panel heard arguments Wednesday challenging the state’s felon disenfranchisement law. The current law restores voting rights to those convicted of a felony after they have served their complete sentences, including prison and probation or parole; the lawsuit calls for the return of voting rights after a person is released from prison. Citing both a history of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system and uneven application of judicial prerogative in sentencing, the plaintiffs argue the law will prevent around 60,000 North Carolinians from voting in November. Lawyers for the defendants, including the state of North Carolina and the Republican-led legislature, say changing the law is up to the legislature, not the courts. The panel of judges expects to issue a decision by September 4.


Voting Rights

  • In a letter delivered Friday to NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, the US Postal Service warns that “certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.” As a result, state election officials are recommending that voters cast their absentee ballots early -- and at least a week before Election Day. Voters can request absentee ballots now, which will begin mailing on September 4. Completed ballots may also be delivered in person to your county board of elections office or to an open early voting site during the early voting period.


Education Policy


Economic and Housing Policy

  • Governor Cooper informed Republican lawmakers this week that his administration has prepared an application to provide the state matching funds required by President’s Trump’s recent Executive Order extending supplements to unemployment benefits. The $400 boost to unemployment benefits requires $100 in state funds to go along with a federal payment of $300. Whether the state funds will come from the Unemployment Trust Fund as the Governor wishes or from Federal Coronavirus Relief monies has yet to be determined. Cooper also urges extending benefits for 24 weeks as opposed to the existing 12-week duration.


Criminal Justice

  • On Thursday a coalition of groups filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state law requiring people convicted of a felony to pay all fines and fees included in their sentence before their voting rights are restored. The groups, which include the North Carolina NAACP, also launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the issue of people who have served their sentences but remain disenfranchised and to pressure state lawmakers into addressing the topic.

  • On Friday the NC Supreme Court issued a decision in a case related to the repeal of the Racial Justice Act, finding that the defendant, Marcus Robinson, who had successfully appealed his death sentence under the law when it was in place, could not be resentenced to death given its repeal. The 4-3 majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, found that such reimposition of the death sentence would constitute double jeopardy. The Racial Justice Act, a state law that allowed defendants to make a showing that racial bias tainted their trials, was passed in 2009 and repealed in 2013. Another ruling related to the case, issued two months ago, found that the repeal of the RJA could not be applied retroactively to pending cases.


Education Policy


Economic and Housing Policy

  • On Tuesday Governor Cooper announced the allocation of $175 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to help North Carolinians with rent and utility payments. The following day, he released a letter to both chambers of the NC legislature outlining his recommendations for the 2020-2021 State Budget and for the remaining federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. He once again called upon Republicans to expand Medicaid, increase unemployment benefits, pay teachers and other workers one time bonuses, and take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest in schools and infrastructure. Leaders in the General Assembly later said that they planned to add an additional $50 per week for unemployment benefits. Separately, the Governor indicated recipients of unemployment benefits should receive as soon as next week the first of three weeks of an additional $300 dollars in benefits allocated by the federal government for the first three weeks of August but not yet paid out due to issues with the state’s benefit administration.


Environmental Policy

  • On Monday the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality denied applications from Carolina Sunrock to build an asphalt and concrete plant in Anderson and a quarry in Prospect Hill. The department’s Division of Air Quality found that the proposed facilities would not comply with national air quality standards. A public hearing about the proposals was scheduled to take place September 10, but it is now canceled.


Health Care Policy

  • On Thursday a North Carolina Administrative Law judge dismissed a suit from three health care companies not selected as recipients of a NC DHHS Medicaid contract. The companies had claimed that conflicts of interest rendered DHHS’s decision to award a large portion of the contract to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina improper. Following Judge Tenisha Jacobs’ dismissal of the suit, the three suing companies appealed to Superior Court.


Criminal Justice

  • On Friday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Vinston Rozier Jr., the judge overseeing the case about measures to combat COVID-19 in North Carolina prisons, held a hearing to consider a request to appoint a “special master” to manage possible inmate releases. The plaintiffs, including the ACLU and NAACP, advocated for such an appointment, citing ways that the state has continued to fail to comply with Judge Rozier’s orders.

Updated: Aug 31, 2020


Covid-19

  • This week, four separate UNC system universities moved to shift all undergraduate classes online. UNC Chapel Hill, NC State University, East Carolina University and UNC Charlotte have all seen increases in COVID-19 cases associated with students returning to campus. UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz expressed surprise at the “velocity and magnitude of the virus’ spread” and cited a failure of students to follow mitigation requirements off campus as a factor in the spread. NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson cited a spike in cases and in the number of students in quarantine and isolation, expressing disappointment with non-compliant off-campus gatherings. Newly appointed UNC System President Peter Hans says his office will continue to look at campus-specific needs across the UNC system, but medical experts, public health officials, campus town leaders and students have long been highly critical of the decision to reopen in-person classes.

  • On August 13, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest dropped his lawsuit against Gov. Cooper, in which he had claimed the governor did not have the right to issue executive orders related to mitigating COVID-19 without the concurrence of the council of state. He had asked the court to stay the governor’s powers until after the case was decided, but Wake County Superior Court Judge Jim Gale dismissed Forest’s argument as unlikely to succeed, and Forest declined to pursue the case further.


Voting Rights

  • While absentee voting in the state has historically made up only a small percentage of total votes, State Board of Elections data shows requests for mail-in ballots - now numbering over 300,000 - are on track to exceed the combined number from North Carolina’s last two general elections. As of Thursday, 53% of requests have come from registered Democrats, 15% from Republicans, and about 30% from unaffiliated voters.

  • Attorney General Josh Stein joined attorneys general from five other states and the District of Columbia in a lawsuit seeking to block changes to the US Postal Service, asserting the changes will reduce the Postal Service’s ability to handle a projected substantial increase in mail-in ballots due to coronavirus concerns. Stein said the lawsuit “seeks to immediately reverse the agency’s actions and guarantee safeguards and standards for election mail.”



Economic and Housing Policy

  • North Carolina applied for and received funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would enable the state to pay $300 weekly unemployment benefits retroactively for the first three weeks of August. That represents half of the $600 benefit that expired July 31. Because the new funds are not paid through the existing unemployment systems and program, it remains uncertain as to when the payments will actually be made. NC Division of Employment Security officials have cited “additional burdens” imposed by the new program and the necessity to “reprogram its benefits system” to meet payment schedules.

  • According to the NC Division of Employment Security, while the overall number of North Carolinians employed increased in June, the July unemployment rate rose from 7.5% to 8.5%. This rate is more than double pre-coronavirus rates, but it is an improvement over the peak COVID-19 rate of 12.9% in April.


Health Care Policy

  • State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced new incentives, including reduced co-pays, to encourage State Health Plan participants to sign up with health care providers who agree to be part of the “Clear Pricing Project,” a new payment model. Folwell has claimed that the model, which ties health care providers’ reimbursement rates to Medicare rates, is a more transparent and less expensive insurance plan for state employees, teachers, state retirees and their families. Major hospital systems in the state have refused to join the plan, saying the reimbursement rates would force cuts in services. Duke University professor Ronnie Chatterji, Folwell’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming election, strongly criticized Folwell and the Clear Pricing Project, calling instead for expanded Medicaid and a reimbursement strategy based on data-driven assessment of hospital healthcare outcomes.


Criminal Justice

  • On Tuesday, Governor Cooper signed an executive order that will eliminate the requirement to disclose criminal convictions on applications for many North Carolina state jobs. As a result of this move to “ban the box,”applicants for many jobs will not be required to routinely report having a criminal conviction, an admission that often automatically excludes a person from consideration for a job even if the conviction is very old or unrelated to the position sought. Jobs related to security clearance or law enforcement are not included in the order. The order goes into effect Nov. 1.

  • A three-judge NC Superior Court panel heard arguments Wednesday challenging the state’s felon disenfranchisement law. The current law restores voting rights to those convicted of a felony after they have served their complete sentences, including prison and probation or parole; the lawsuit calls for the return of voting rights after a person is released from prison. Citing both a history of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system and uneven application of judicial prerogative in sentencing, the plaintiffs argue the law will prevent around 60,000 North Carolinians from voting in November. Lawyers for the defendants, including the state of North Carolina and the Republican-led legislature, say changing the law is up to the legislature, not the courts. The panel of judges expects to issue a decision by September 4.


Voting Rights

  • In a letter delivered Friday to NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, the US Postal Service warns that “certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.” As a result, state election officials are recommending that voters cast their absentee ballots early -- and at least a week before Election Day. Voters can request absentee ballots now, which will begin mailing on September 4. Completed ballots may also be delivered in person to your county board of elections office or to an open early voting site during the early voting period.


Education Policy


Economic and Housing Policy

  • Governor Cooper informed Republican lawmakers this week that his administration has prepared an application to provide the state matching funds required by President’s Trump’s recent Executive Order extending supplements to unemployment benefits. The $400 boost to unemployment benefits requires $100 in state funds to go along with a federal payment of $300. Whether the state funds will come from the Unemployment Trust Fund as the Governor wishes or from Federal Coronavirus Relief monies has yet to be determined. Cooper also urges extending benefits for 24 weeks as opposed to the existing 12-week duration.


Criminal Justice

  • On Thursday a coalition of groups filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state law requiring people convicted of a felony to pay all fines and fees included in their sentence before their voting rights are restored. The groups, which include the North Carolina NAACP, also launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the issue of people who have served their sentences but remain disenfranchised and to pressure state lawmakers into addressing the topic.

  • On Friday the NC Supreme Court issued a decision in a case related to the repeal of the Racial Justice Act, finding that the defendant, Marcus Robinson, who had successfully appealed his death sentence under the law when it was in place, could not be resentenced to death given its repeal. The 4-3 majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, found that such reimposition of the death sentence would constitute double jeopardy. The Racial Justice Act, a state law that allowed defendants to make a showing that racial bias tainted their trials, was passed in 2009 and repealed in 2013. Another ruling related to the case, issued two months ago, found that the repeal of the RJA could not be applied retroactively to pending cases.


Education Policy


Economic and Housing Policy

  • On Tuesday Governor Cooper announced the allocation of $175 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to help North Carolinians with rent and utility payments. The following day, he released a letter to both chambers of the NC legislature outlining his recommendations for the 2020-2021 State Budget and for the remaining federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. He once again called upon Republicans to expand Medicaid, increase unemployment benefits, pay teachers and other workers one time bonuses, and take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest in schools and infrastructure. Leaders in the General Assembly later said that they planned to add an additional $50 per week for unemployment benefits. Separately, the Governor indicated recipients of unemployment benefits should receive as soon as next week the first of three weeks of an additional $300 dollars in benefits allocated by the federal government for the first three weeks of August but not yet paid out due to issues with the state’s benefit administration.


Environmental Policy

  • On Monday the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality denied applications from Carolina Sunrock to build an asphalt and concrete plant in Anderson and a quarry in Prospect Hill. The department’s Division of Air Quality found that the proposed facilities would not comply with national air quality standards. A public hearing about the proposals was scheduled to take place September 10, but it is now canceled.


Health Care Policy

  • On Thursday a North Carolina Administrative Law judge dismissed a suit from three health care companies not selected as recipients of a NC DHHS Medicaid contract. The companies had claimed that conflicts of interest rendered DHHS’s decision to award a large portion of the contract to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina improper. Following Judge Tenisha Jacobs’ dismissal of the suit, the three suing companies appealed to Superior Court.


Criminal Justice

  • On Friday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Vinston Rozier Jr., the judge overseeing the case about measures to combat COVID-19 in North Carolina prisons, held a hearing to consider a request to appoint a “special master” to manage possible inmate releases. The plaintiffs, including the ACLU and NAACP, advocated for such an appointment, citing ways that the state has continued to fail to comply with Judge Rozier’s orders.

Updated: Aug 31, 2020


Covid-19

  • This week, four separate UNC system universities moved to shift all undergraduate classes online. UNC Chapel Hill, NC State University, East Carolina University and UNC Charlotte have all seen increases in COVID-19 cases associated with students returning to campus. UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz expressed surprise at the “velocity and magnitude of the virus’ spread” and cited a failure of students to follow mitigation requirements off campus as a factor in the spread. NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson cited a spike in cases and in the number of students in quarantine and isolation, expressing disappointment with non-compliant off-campus gatherings. Newly appointed UNC System President Peter Hans says his office will continue to look at campus-specific needs across the UNC system, but medical experts, public health officials, campus town leaders and students have long been highly critical of the decision to reopen in-person classes.

  • On August 13, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest dropped his lawsuit against Gov. Cooper, in which he had claimed the governor did not have the right to issue executive orders related to mitigating COVID-19 without the concurrence of the council of state. He had asked the court to stay the governor’s powers until after the case was decided, but Wake County Superior Court Judge Jim Gale dismissed Forest’s argument as unlikely to succeed, and Forest declined to pursue the case further.


Voting Rights

  • While absentee voting in the state has historically made up only a small percentage of total votes, State Board of Elections data shows requests for mail-in ballots - now numbering over 300,000 - are on track to exceed the combined number from North Carolina’s last two general elections. As of Thursday, 53% of requests have come from registered Democrats, 15% from Republicans, and about 30% from unaffiliated voters.

  • Attorney General Josh Stein joined attorneys general from five other states and the District of Columbia in a lawsuit seeking to block changes to the US Postal Service, asserting the changes will reduce the Postal Service’s ability to handle a projected substantial increase in mail-in ballots due to coronavirus concerns. Stein said the lawsuit “seeks to immediately reverse the agency’s actions and guarantee safeguards and standards for election mail.”



Economic and Housing Policy

  • North Carolina applied for and received funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would enable the state to pay $300 weekly unemployment benefits retroactively for the first three weeks of August. That represents half of the $600 benefit that expired July 31. Because the new funds are not paid through the existing unemployment systems and program, it remains uncertain as to when the payments will actually be made. NC Division of Employment Security officials have cited “additional burdens” imposed by the new program and the necessity to “reprogram its benefits system” to meet payment schedules.

  • According to the NC Division of Employment Security, while the overall number of North Carolinians employed increased in June, the July unemployment rate rose from 7.5% to 8.5%. This rate is more than double pre-coronavirus rates, but it is an improvement over the peak COVID-19 rate of 12.9% in April.


Health Care Policy

  • State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced new incentives, including reduced co-pays, to encourage State Health Plan participants to sign up with health care providers who agree to be part of the “Clear Pricing Project,” a new payment model. Folwell has claimed that the model, which ties health care providers’ reimbursement rates to Medicare rates, is a more transparent and less expensive insurance plan for state employees, teachers, state retirees and their families. Major hospital systems in the state have refused to join the plan, saying the reimbursement rates would force cuts in services. Duke University professor Ronnie Chatterji, Folwell’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming election, strongly criticized Folwell and the Clear Pricing Project, calling instead for expanded Medicaid and a reimbursement strategy based on data-driven assessment of hospital healthcare outcomes.


Criminal Justice

  • On Tuesday, Governor Cooper signed an executive order that will eliminate the requirement to disclose criminal convictions on applications for many North Carolina state jobs. As a result of this move to “ban the box,”applicants for many jobs will not be required to routinely report having a criminal conviction, an admission that often automatically excludes a person from consideration for a job even if the conviction is very old or unrelated to the position sought. Jobs related to security clearance or law enforcement are not included in the order. The order goes into effect Nov. 1.

  • A three-judge NC Superior Court panel heard arguments Wednesday challenging the state’s felon disenfranchisement law. The current law restores voting rights to those convicted of a felony after they have served their complete sentences, including prison and probation or parole; the lawsuit calls for the return of voting rights after a person is released from prison. Citing both a history of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system and uneven application of judicial prerogative in sentencing, the plaintiffs argue the law will prevent around 60,000 North Carolinians from voting in November. Lawyers for the defendants, including the state of North Carolina and the Republican-led legislature, say changing the law is up to the legislature, not the courts. The panel of judges expects to issue a decision by September 4.


Voting Rights

  • In a letter delivered Friday to NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, the US Postal Service warns that “certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.” As a result, state election officials are recommending that voters cast their absentee ballots early -- and at least a week before Election Day. Voters can request absentee ballots now, which will begin mailing on September 4. Completed ballots may also be delivered in person to your county board of elections office or to an open early voting site during the early voting period.


Education Policy


Economic and Housing Policy

  • Governor Cooper informed Republican lawmakers this week that his administration has prepared an application to provide the state matching funds required by President’s Trump’s recent Executive Order extending supplements to unemployment benefits. The $400 boost to unemployment benefits requires $100 in state funds to go along with a federal payment of $300. Whether the state funds will come from the Unemployment Trust Fund as the Governor wishes or from Federal Coronavirus Relief monies has yet to be determined. Cooper also urges extending benefits for 24 weeks as opposed to the existing 12-week duration.


Criminal Justice

  • On Thursday a coalition of groups filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state law requiring people convicted of a felony to pay all fines and fees included in their sentence before their voting rights are restored. The groups, which include the North Carolina NAACP, also launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the issue of people who have served their sentences but remain disenfranchised and to pressure state lawmakers into addressing the topic.

  • On Friday the NC Supreme Court issued a decision in a case related to the repeal of the Racial Justice Act, finding that the defendant, Marcus Robinson, who had successfully appealed his death sentence under the law when it was in place, could not be resentenced to death given its repeal. The 4-3 majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, found that such reimposition of the death sentence would constitute double jeopardy. The Racial Justice Act, a state law that allowed defendants to make a showing that racial bias tainted their trials, was passed in 2009 and repealed in 2013. Another ruling related to the case, issued two months ago, found that the repeal of the RJA could not be applied retroactively to pending cases.