Education Policy

  • The State Board of Education approved a “refined” version of the new K-12 social studies standards that requires more diverse voices and viewpoints in social studies and history classes but removed the words “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination,” and “gender identity.” The 7-5 vote reflected a partisan divide, with Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson continuing to protest that the new standards “unfairly portray America as systematically racist.” Republicans Olivia Oxendine, Amy White, Todd Chasteen and State Treasurer Dale Folwell also voted against the new standards.

  • A bill to require an in-person learning option for K-12 public school students received a favorable vote Thursday in the NC Senate. SB37 requires all state school districts to offer an in-person, full-time option with minimal social distance requirements to special needs students, and to offer this option or an alternative plan that includes 6 feet of social distancing to all students. Gov. Cooper has urged K-12 schools to reopen with or without social distance requirements, but wants to allow local school boards discretion rather than mandating statewide requirements. Teachers are in the next tier for vaccination, and Sen. Don Davis (D-Pitt) also wants to delay the start of reopening to give teachers time to get the shots. After a final vote in the Senate sometime this week, the bill will be sent to the House for review.

  • House Republicans introduced a bill that would substantially expand eligibility and funding for North Carolina’s three school voucher programs. Estimated to cost the state $159 million over 9 years, H32 increases the amount of taxpayer funds used to subsidize the cost of private school enrollment. In addition to increased subsidies to families, the bill allows some existing but unused funds to be used by “a nonprofit corporation representing parents and families” in an effort to further market the program.


Economic Policy


Health Care Policy

  • Attorney General Josh Stein announced that North Carolina will receive approximately $20 million for opioid abuse abatement as the states’ part of a nationwide settlement with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. The company, which had been accused of telling the makers of OxyContin to “turbocharge” sales of the drug despite addiction concerns, agreed to the settlement to avoid a lawsuit related to their work. The settlement requires the money to be spent on issues related to the opioid epidemic, which might include specialty drug courts, addiction programs in jails, needle exchanges, helping local governments to fund paramedics, or helping treatment centers stay afloat.

Education Policy

  • Republican lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that will likely require public schools to offer in-person learning to all grade levels, while still allowing parents the option to continue virtual learning for their children. Under Gov. Cooper’s existing emergency order for the state, full-time classes are only allowed through grade five. Both Republican and Democratic legislators would like local school districts to have more discretion about how and when to reopen schools for in-person learning. While some recent studies suggest there is little evidence the spread of coronavirus is increased by holding in-school classes when mitigation precautions are in place, results from other studies suggest more caution. Gov. Cooper has already said he intends to review the data with the State Board of Education and his health team “… remembering that we do want to get our children back in school as soon as we safely can."

  • Democratic and Republican appointees to the State Board of Education continue to be sharply divided on proposed revisions to the state’s social studies curriculum standards that could be approved by the SBE this week. Led by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Republican board members have called language in the proposed revision “divisive” and “politically charged.” Democrats want the new standards to include language and strategies that promote a more open examination of the “nation’s checkered history” including systemic racism. Robinson has said, “The system of government that we have in this nation is not systemically racist. In fact, it is not racist at all.” And newly elected State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, also a Republican, asked the board to delay adoption of the new rules. She has proposed replacing the terms “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination” and “gender identity” with “racism, discrimination, and identity.” “If the standard specifies gender identity, that doesn’t allow for other kinds of identities such as economic, regional, those types of identities to be included in the conversation and the same is true for various types of discrimination and various types of racism,” Truitt said.


Economic Policy

  • The assistant secretary of the NC Division of Employment Security (DES), in a report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance, indicated that applicant error rather than fraud is the main source of $70 million in overpayments made to recipients of COVID-19-related unemployment compensation programs. More than 1.4 million applications for unemployment benefits prompted by the pandemic have already been received, and DES has paid out over $8 billion in federal and state funds. Several committee members, recognizing the difficulty of navigating a confusing application system, supported waiving recovery of non-fraud overpayments.


Environmental Policy

  • Thirty Democratic legislators have asked the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to deny water quality permits to farms planning to participate in a controversial biogas partnership between Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy known as Align RNG. The partnership plans to build a pipeline network in Duplin and Sampson counties to enable connected farms to ship hog waste-generated methane gas through a central processing plant and ultimately to a natural gas line used by Duke Energy. DEQ has already approved the air permit for the processing facility, but participating farms must obtain their own water quality permits to ensure protection of wetlands and waterways from harmful runoff. Legislators and environmental justice organizations are concerned that the project will increase water pollution unless the company commits to installing technology that mitigates this and possible additional problems.


Criminal Justice



LGBTQ Rights

  • Following the expiration of a statewide ban on local non-discrimination ordinances last month, multiple North Carolina towns, cities, and counties have passed non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ people. The Orange County Board of Commissioners passed a non-discrimination policy covering the entire county, and the municipalities of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough passed their own local ordinances last week. On Tuesday, both Greensboro and Durham passed non-discrimination ordinances that, in addition to LGBTQ identity, also protect people with natural hair styles associated with a race or culture. While it is not clear how Republican legislators will react to the new ordinances, NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) has suggested that those with complaints may be best served in the courts.

Education Policy

  • The State Board of Education approved a “refined” version of the new K-12 social studies standards that requires more diverse voices and viewpoints in social studies and history classes but removed the words “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination,” and “gender identity.” The 7-5 vote reflected a partisan divide, with Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson continuing to protest that the new standards “unfairly portray America as systematically racist.” Republicans Olivia Oxendine, Amy White, Todd Chasteen and State Treasurer Dale Folwell also voted against the new standards.

  • A bill to require an in-person learning option for K-12 public school students received a favorable vote Thursday in the NC Senate. SB37 requires all state school districts to offer an in-person, full-time option with minimal social distance requirements to special needs students, and to offer this option or an alternative plan that includes 6 feet of social distancing to all students. Gov. Cooper has urged K-12 schools to reopen with or without social distance requirements, but wants to allow local school boards discretion rather than mandating statewide requirements. Teachers are in the next tier for vaccination, and Sen. Don Davis (D-Pitt) also wants to delay the start of reopening to give teachers time to get the shots. After a final vote in the Senate sometime this week, the bill will be sent to the House for review.

  • House Republicans introduced a bill that would substantially expand eligibility and funding for North Carolina’s three school voucher programs. Estimated to cost the state $159 million over 9 years, H32 increases the amount of taxpayer funds used to subsidize the cost of private school enrollment. In addition to increased subsidies to families, the bill allows some existing but unused funds to be used by “a nonprofit corporation representing parents and families” in an effort to further market the program.


Economic Policy


Health Care Policy

  • Attorney General Josh Stein announced that North Carolina will receive approximately $20 million for opioid abuse abatement as the states’ part of a nationwide settlement with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. The company, which had been accused of telling the makers of OxyContin to “turbocharge” sales of the drug despite addiction concerns, agreed to the settlement to avoid a lawsuit related to their work. The settlement requires the money to be spent on issues related to the opioid epidemic, which might include specialty drug courts, addiction programs in jails, needle exchanges, helping local governments to fund paramedics, or helping treatment centers stay afloat.

Education Policy

  • Republican lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that will likely require public schools to offer in-person learning to all grade levels, while still allowing parents the option to continue virtual learning for their children. Under Gov. Cooper’s existing emergency order for the state, full-time classes are only allowed through grade five. Both Republican and Democratic legislators would like local school districts to have more discretion about how and when to reopen schools for in-person learning. While some recent studies suggest there is little evidence the spread of coronavirus is increased by holding in-school classes when mitigation precautions are in place, results from other studies suggest more caution. Gov. Cooper has already said he intends to review the data with the State Board of Education and his health team “… remembering that we do want to get our children back in school as soon as we safely can."

  • Democratic and Republican appointees to the State Board of Education continue to be sharply divided on proposed revisions to the state’s social studies curriculum standards that could be approved by the SBE this week. Led by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Republican board members have called language in the proposed revision “divisive” and “politically charged.” Democrats want the new standards to include language and strategies that promote a more open examination of the “nation’s checkered history” including systemic racism. Robinson has said, “The system of government that we have in this nation is not systemically racist. In fact, it is not racist at all.” And newly elected State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, also a Republican, asked the board to delay adoption of the new rules. She has proposed replacing the terms “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination” and “gender identity” with “racism, discrimination, and identity.” “If the standard specifies gender identity, that doesn’t allow for other kinds of identities such as economic, regional, those types of identities to be included in the conversation and the same is true for various types of discrimination and various types of racism,” Truitt said.


Economic Policy

  • The assistant secretary of the NC Division of Employment Security (DES), in a report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance, indicated that applicant error rather than fraud is the main source of $70 million in overpayments made to recipients of COVID-19-related unemployment compensation programs. More than 1.4 million applications for unemployment benefits prompted by the pandemic have already been received, and DES has paid out over $8 billion in federal and state funds. Several committee members, recognizing the difficulty of navigating a confusing application system, supported waiving recovery of non-fraud overpayments.


Environmental Policy

  • Thirty Democratic legislators have asked the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to deny water quality permits to farms planning to participate in a controversial biogas partnership between Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy known as Align RNG. The partnership plans to build a pipeline network in Duplin and Sampson counties to enable connected farms to ship hog waste-generated methane gas through a central processing plant and ultimately to a natural gas line used by Duke Energy. DEQ has already approved the air permit for the processing facility, but participating farms must obtain their own water quality permits to ensure protection of wetlands and waterways from harmful runoff. Legislators and environmental justice organizations are concerned that the project will increase water pollution unless the company commits to installing technology that mitigates this and possible additional problems.


Criminal Justice



LGBTQ Rights

  • Following the expiration of a statewide ban on local non-discrimination ordinances last month, multiple North Carolina towns, cities, and counties have passed non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ people. The Orange County Board of Commissioners passed a non-discrimination policy covering the entire county, and the municipalities of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough passed their own local ordinances last week. On Tuesday, both Greensboro and Durham passed non-discrimination ordinances that, in addition to LGBTQ identity, also protect people with natural hair styles associated with a race or culture. While it is not clear how Republican legislators will react to the new ordinances, NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) has suggested that those with complaints may be best served in the courts.

Education Policy

  • The State Board of Education approved a “refined” version of the new K-12 social studies standards that requires more diverse voices and viewpoints in social studies and history classes but removed the words “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination,” and “gender identity.” The 7-5 vote reflected a partisan divide, with Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson continuing to protest that the new standards “unfairly portray America as systematically racist.” Republicans Olivia Oxendine, Amy White, Todd Chasteen and State Treasurer Dale Folwell also voted against the new standards.

  • A bill to require an in-person learning option for K-12 public school students received a favorable vote Thursday in the NC Senate. SB37 requires all state school districts to offer an in-person, full-time option with minimal social distance requirements to special needs students, and to offer this option or an alternative plan that includes 6 feet of social distancing to all students. Gov. Cooper has urged K-12 schools to reopen with or without social distance requirements, but wants to allow local school boards discretion rather than mandating statewide requirements. Teachers are in the next tier for vaccination, and Sen. Don Davis (D-Pitt) also wants to delay the start of reopening to give teachers time to get the shots. After a final vote in the Senate sometime this week, the bill will be sent to the House for review.

  • House Republicans introduced a bill that would substantially expand eligibility and funding for North Carolina’s three school voucher programs. Estimated to cost the state $159 million over 9 years, H32 increases the amount of taxpayer funds used to subsidize the cost of private school enrollment. In addition to increased subsidies to families, the bill allows some existing but unused funds to be used by “a nonprofit corporation representing parents and families” in an effort to further market the program.


Economic Policy


Health Care Policy

  • Attorney General Josh Stein announced that North Carolina will receive approximately $20 million for opioid abuse abatement as the states’ part of a nationwide settlement with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. The company, which had been accused of telling the makers of OxyContin to “turbocharge” sales of the drug despite addiction concerns, agreed to the settlement to avoid a lawsuit related to their work. The settlement requires the money to be spent on issues related to the opioid epidemic, which might include specialty drug courts, addiction programs in jails, needle exchanges, helping local governments to fund paramedics, or helping treatment centers stay afloat.

Education Policy

  • Republican lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that will likely require public schools to offer in-person learning to all grade levels, while still allowing parents the option to continue virtual learning for their children. Under Gov. Cooper’s existing emergency order for the state, full-time classes are only allowed through grade five. Both Republican and Democratic legislators would like local school districts to have more discretion about how and when to reopen schools for in-person learning. While some recent studies suggest there is little evidence the spread of coronavirus is increased by holding in-school classes when mitigation precautions are in place, results from other studies suggest more caution. Gov. Cooper has already said he intends to review the data with the State Board of Education and his health team “… remembering that we do want to get our children back in school as soon as we safely can."

  • Democratic and Republican appointees to the State Board of Education continue to be sharply divided on proposed revisions to the state’s social studies curriculum standards that could be approved by the SBE this week. Led by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Republican board members have called language in the proposed revision “divisive” and “politically charged.” Democrats want the new standards to include language and strategies that promote a more open examination of the “nation’s checkered history” including systemic racism. Robinson has said, “The system of government that we have in this nation is not systemically racist. In fact, it is not racist at all.” And newly elected State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, also a Republican, asked the board to delay adoption of the new rules. She has proposed replacing the terms “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination” and “gender identity” with “racism, discrimination, and identity.” “If the standard specifies gender identity, that doesn’t allow for other kinds of identities such as economic, regional, those types of identities to be included in the conversation and the same is true for various types of discrimination and various types of racism,” Truitt said.


Economic Policy

  • The assistant secretary of the NC Division of Employment Security (DES), in a report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance, indicated that applicant error rather than fraud is the main source of $70 million in overpayments made to recipients of COVID-19-related unemployment compensation programs. More than 1.4 million applications for unemployment benefits prompted by the pandemic have already been received, and DES has paid out over $8 billion in federal and state funds. Several committee members, recognizing the difficulty of navigating a confusing application system, supported waiving recovery of non-fraud overpayments.


Environmental Policy

  • Thirty Democratic legislators have asked the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to deny water quality permits to farms planning to participate in a controversial biogas partnership between Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy known as Align RNG. The partnership plans to build a pipeline network in Duplin and Sampson counties to enable connected farms to ship hog waste-generated methane gas through a central processing plant and ultimately to a natural gas line used by Duke Energy. DEQ has already approved the air permit for the processing facility, but participating farms must obtain their own water quality permits to ensure protection of wetlands and waterways from harmful runoff. Legislators and environmental justice organizations are concerned that the project will increase water pollution unless the company commits to installing technology that mitigates this and possible additional problems.


Criminal Justice



LGBTQ Rights

  • Following the expiration of a statewide ban on local non-discrimination ordinances last month, multiple North Carolina towns, cities, and counties have passed non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ people. The Orange County Board of Commissioners passed a non-discrimination policy covering the entire county, and the municipalities of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough passed their own local ordinances last week. On Tuesday, both Greensboro and Durham passed non-discrimination ordinances that, in addition to LGBTQ identity, also protect people with natural hair styles associated with a race or culture. While it is not clear how Republican legislators will react to the new ordinances, NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) has suggested that those with complaints may be best served in the courts.

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