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Neighbors on Call's Weekly Policy Update for 12/14/20


Election Update


  • “A hand-recount of votes in North Carolina’s election was not enough for state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley to overcome her colleague’s lead in the race to retain her seat." On Saturday, Justice Beasley conceded the race to her Republican challenger, North Carolina Supreme Court Judge Paul Newby.


  • “With his win, Republicans have swept all of North Carolina’s statewide judicial races in the 2020 elections. Victories by Republicans Newby, Phil Berger Jr. and Tamara Barringer leave Democrats with a narrow 4-3 majority on the seven-member North Carolina Supreme Court.”


COVID-19

  • “The spread of the coronavirus across the state and record hospitalizations prompted Gov. Roy Cooper to issue a modified stay-at-home order effective Friday that requires businesses to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. except those that sell food, gas or pharmaceuticals.”

  • “After the state Department of Labor in November rejected a petition to mandate emergency workplace rules, several North Carolina advocacy groups are asking the Wake County Superior “Court for a judicial review of the denial.”


Education Policy


  • More than 150 UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members published an open letter to the university administration urging abandoning Spring semester plans to increase the number of in-person classes and triple the number of students living on campus next semester.

Economic and Housing Policy

  • Governor Cooper and Republican legislators reached an agreement and released $30 million in funding to boost access to broadband services in rural areas throughout NC. The monies had been held back due to squabbles regarding the state’s disposition of the federal Cares Act funds, but the agreement allows for a work-around to avoid spending the monies by the end of 2020.

Environmental Policy


  • In a majority decision the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the North Carolina Utilities Commission must reconsider electricity rates and potentially shift some of the cost of coal ash pollution cleanup from consumers to Duke Energy and its shareholders.

Criminal Justice


  • On Friday, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Vincent Rozier Jr. appointed a “special master” to oversee parts of the North Carolina prison system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Judge Rozier, who has been overseeing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of conditions in state prisons, cited the state’s “ongoing failure to make modifications to a key program that would allow the state to decrease its prison population” as a reason for appointing the special master.


  • Although not yet public, the final report from Governor Cooper’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice is expected to include over 100 different recommendations on how to address racial inequalities in North Carolina’s criminal justice system.

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