The Pulse

Weekend reads: A chilling effect on education, NC takes a bet on sports gambling, and how Medicaid expansion finally won approval

By: - March 26, 2023 8:35 am

In this issue:

1. GOP bill to limit topics of discussion in public schools wins state House approvalParents, Democratic lawmakers decry censorship and “chilling effect on education”

A controversial bill that would restrict how the state’s public school teachers discuss race, gender and sexuality was approved by the state House by a 68-49 party line vote on Wednesday, and is now headed to the state Senate.Rep. Julie von Haefen

Several Democrats from the state’s urban centers vigorously opposed House Bill 187. The Republican-backed legislation would require school districts to give a 30-day notice to parents and the state Department of Public Instruction if teachers or invited guests plan to expose students to more than a dozen concepts GOP lawmakers deem unacceptable. [Read more…]

Bonus read: GOP bill establishing a federal parental bill of rights passed in U.S. House

2. North Carolina should learn from other places and try to do marijuana right

Cannabis – aka marijuana. Most Americans already live in a state where it’s lawful to sell, obtain and possess – either for medical purposes, recreational purposes or both – and the genie is clearly not going back in the bottle.

What’s more, if a bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers gets their way in the current legislative session, North Carolina will soon become the 38th state to embrace such a statutory environment. Senate Bill 3 – the “Compassionate Care Act” – would make marijuana a lawful treatment in this state for several specified medical conditions.[Read more…]

3. EPA asks for feedback on shipping waste to Sampson County, then admits it’s been doing just that — since 2017.

The stench punched them in the face. People scurried across the parking lot of the Snow Hill Missionary Baptist Church, trying to escape the clammy miasma that had descended over the neighborhood.

“It’s the landfill,” neighbors told the newcomers. “Some days we can’t even sit on our front porch.”

The Sampson County landfill, operated by GFL, is the largest in the state. It ranks second in methane emissions in the U.S. and first in North Carolina for vinyl chloride. But most of the time, it just stinks. [Read more…]

4.‘Beyond anything that most of us could have imagined’: Health officials, lawmakers tackle youth mental health crisis

Marcella Middleton grew up in foster care in Colorado and North Carolina and was taken to therapists and put on medications at a young age.

“A lot of people who really weren’t experienced were trying to diagnose me,” she told a town hall on the youth mental health crisis in Winston-Salem last week.

A good therapist helped her sort through the trauma of her early childhood and the experience of living with strangers, adjusting to foster homes. Now an adult volunteer with youth advocacy group SAYSO and the Pembroke County Housing Authority, she’s trying to help a new generation of young people navigate caring for their mental health. [Read more…]

5. Sports wagering advances with bi-partisan support and plenty of reservations
Legislation that would authorize gambling on professional and college sports in North Carolina cleared its first House committee on Tuesday.

After efforts failed last year, Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) said he and the co-sponsors of House Bill 347 began work on how to make the legislation more palatable.

“This is a truly bipartisan effort.The four sponsors are two Republicans and two Democrats, and we’re joined by 52 other members of the House representing both parties. I hope whether you are for or against the bill, you appreciate the effort to move something in a truly collaborative fashion.” [Read more…]6. NC House bill would ban COVID-19 vaccination requirements for public employees and students

A public health strategy meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 would be outlawed under a bill the state House is considering.

State and local governments, public schools, the community college system, and the UNC system would not be allowed to require workers, job applicants, or students to show proof that they were vaccinated for COVID-19. There are some limited exceptions, including for people working in federally-regulated health facilities.

Rep. Jon Hardister, a Guilford County Republican and a bill sponsor, said the state Department of Health and Human Services is not interested in a vaccine mandate. [Read more…]7. North Carolina’s existing abortion restrictions harm patients, doctors sayAs Republicans in the state legislature contemplate more abortion restrictions, doctors who treat pregnant patients highlighted the existing legal barriers that present obstacles to good medical care.

Among the state’s restrictions are a 20-week abortion ban, a 72-hour waiting period, a prohibition on telehealth appointments for abortion pill prescriptions, a requirement that patients take the first pill in the presence of a doctor, and a prohibition on medical professionals other than doctors prescribing abortion pills.

Sponsors call the bill lifting those restrictions and others “The RBG Act,” an homage to former US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[Read more…]

Bonus read: “More important than ever” UNC Panel talks faith and abortion

8. “A long, bumpy history”: North Carolina House gives final approval to Medicaid expansion. (w/video)

After more than a decade of contentious debates, it took the North Carolina House of Representatives less than two minutes on Thursday to pass Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Donnie Lambeth (R-Forsyth) wasted little time in urging his colleagues to support the bill that will extend health insurance coverage to about 600,000 North Carolinians who currently fall into the coverage gap.

All I’m gonna say to you is – thank you, thank you, thank you. Vote!” [Read more…]

9. ‘Kayla’s Law’ domestic violence bill clears committee with bipartisan vote

The proposal would allow survivors of domestic violence to testify remotely against their alleged abusers and increase the statute of limitations for prosecution of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Kayla Hammonds was afraid to go to court. She couldn’t bear the thought of facing her ex-boyfriend in the courtroom alone, so she would bring her sister for moral support. Terror-stricken, Kayla would glance at the door throughout the hearing, afraid her alleged abuser would walk through it. Sometimes, she just didn’t go.

“He threatened her life, family members [lives,] it’s understandable why she didn’t show up in court numerous times,” her grandfather, J.W. Hammonds, said at a press conference Tuesday. [Read more….]

10. Cooper launches Office of Violence Prevention as Republicans send gun reform bill to his desk

Last week Gov. Roy Cooper announced that he’d launch an Office of Violence Prevention, an initiative aimed at reducing violence and firearm misuse across North Carolina.

“All of us deserve to feel safe in our homes, our schools and our communities,” Cooper said in a statement. “This new office will help coordinate the efforts to reduce violent crime, tackle both intentional and careless gun injuries and deaths, and work to keep people safe.”

Cooper created the office via an executive order. [Read more…]

11. Neighbors of abandoned Wake Forest golf course want to know what chemicals are in the soil

Nature — and spray paint — are reclaiming the old Wake Forest Golf Course & Country Club. The 160-acre tract off Capital Boulevard was once a destination for those who wanted to conquer a difficult course, including the first hole, a Par 5, that according to ForeTee, a golf course review website, “plays to a whopping 711 yards from the back tees.”

Now the club house is boarded up, its mint paint faded by the sun. The swimming pool is empty, serving as a concrete canvas for graffiti artists. Golf cart paths are overgrown and muddy, flanked by noble old trees. Turtles bask on logs in the ponds, where beavers have built their dams. The fairways are still mowed, though, and the property has become a de facto park for walkers, joggers and nature lovers. [Read more…]

12. Weekly Radio Interviews and Daily Radio Commentaries:

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Clayton Henkel
Clayton Henkel

Communications Coordinator Clayton Henkel manages the NC Newsline website and daily newsletter, while also producing daily audio commentaries and the weekly News and Views radio program/podcast.