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Neighbors on Call's Weekly Policy Update for 7/19/21

Voting Rights

Education Policy and Economic Policy

  • In a Wednesday news conference, Senate leader Phil Berger announced that the Senate will propose an anti-affirmative-action constitutional amendment. The amendment uses language from a similar California ballot initiative in 1996 that banned affirmative action: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, an individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.” The proposed amendment would appear on the next primary ballot and, if passed, is expected to significantly impact the number of underrepresented minority students attending the University of North Carolina as well as the percentage of state contracts awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses.

  • During the same news conference, Berger also promoted a new bill that would ban North Carolina public schools from “promoting the idea that one race or gender is inherently superior to another and that someone is inherently racist or sexist because of their race or gender.” Berger spoke against “indoctrinating students” with critical race theory, even though critical race theory is not taught in any K-12 schools. The bill would be the NC Senate version of an anti-critical-race-theory bill already passed by the NC House (HB 324).

Environmental Policy

Criminal Justice

  • A criminal justice reform bill that previously included changes to the rules governing release of body camera footage has dropped those measures. In earlier iterations, SB 300 would have mandated the release of body camera footage upon request to families of those shot by police, a reform from the current law that requires families to receive approval from a judge to gain access to the footage. Despite passing the NC Senate unanimously with those reforms intact in May, the bill’s language was changed in response to law enforcement pressure before it began its process through the House this week. After a discussion in committee, the body camera language was stripped completely from the bill, meaning that current rules would stay in place if the bill passed without further changes.

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