Weekend reads: Public education’s ‘state of emergency’, lawmakers’ new wager on video gambling, and a bad week for NC waterways

By: - May 28, 2023 8:40 am

George Washington. depicted as a Roman general, is the centerpiece of the rotunda in the NC State Capitol. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

In this week’s top news:

1. Gov. Roy Cooper declares ‘state of emergency’ for public education

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said today that GOP legislative proposals are bringing about a “state of emergency” for the state’s public schools. (Photo: Screengrab from video feed)

By Greg Childress

Gov. Roy Cooper went on the attack Monday, blasting away at Republican legislation that he contends will “choke the life out of public education” in North Carolina. The Democratic governor said that it’s time to declare a “state of emergency” and he urged North Carolinians to contact lawmakers to protest legislation that could irreversibly damage [Read more…]

2. Newsline special report: A community inundated with industrial waste

The Lumber River
The Lumber River (Photo by Ryan Emanuel)

By Lisa Sorg

Fifty-nine thousand tons of carbon dioxide. Fifteen tons of hazardous air pollutants. Another seven tons of ultra-fine particulate matter that can burrow deep into the lungs, invade the bloodstream and cause babies to be born too early and too small.

Thirteen unlined dumps, their decades-old contents seeping into the groundwater. Fourteen hazardous waste sites, leaving behind a cancer-causing soup of solvents and pesticides, oils and dyes. Millions of gallons of urine and feces excreted daily by 300,000 hogs, plus an untold number of chickens and turkeys. [Read more…]

3. Judge tosses historic fine against Bottomley Properties because wrong DEQ employee signed the paperwork

By Lisa Sorg

A judge tossed a $263,000 civil penalty assessed to Bottomley Properties for procedural reasons, finding that the Department of Environmental Quality employee who signed the paperwork was not authorized to do so. Administrative Law Judge John Evans, himself a former DEQ chief deputy secretary in the McCrory administration, issued his decision earlier this month. In [Read more…]

4. Two NC House Republicans resign leadership positions in the wake of derogatory remarks

Rep. Jeff McNeely
Rep. Jeff McNeely (R-Iredell Co.)

By Greg Childress

North Carolina House Republicans Jeff McNeely and Keith Kidwell have resigned leadership positions within their caucus in the wake of controversial statements each representative made last week. The resignations were first reported by Raleigh’s News & Observer. Republican House Majority Leader John Bell announced the resignations during a House session Thursday morning, the paper reported. [Read more…]

5. State lawmaker was angered by colleague’s racist comments, but chose to forgive

Rep. Abe Jones on the House floor
Rep. Abe Jones speaks on House floor. (Screen grab NCGA video stream)

By Greg Childress

A white, Republican colleague’s question about whether Rep. Abe Jones was admitted to Harvard University in 1970 because he was a minority and a track athlete was only the second time the Wake County Democrat had experienced such an encounter. The first incident occurred several years ago during a party at UNC Chapel Hill when [Read more…]

6. Proposal to authorize video gambling machines draws mixed reviews in state House committee

a "sweepstakes sign outside a video gambling location
House Bill 512 is designed to regulate the illegal video gaming machines that have
proliferated across the state. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

By Clayton Henkel

Representative Harry Warren (R-Rowan) has been trying for more than a decade to address the proliferation of video gambling machines that can be found in bars, restaurants and “sweepstakes parlors” across the state. Warren hopes this year with House Bill 512, he’s found a winner. The “Forgivable Loans/HBCU Supplemental Funding” bill, first discussed Tuesday in [Read more…]

7. One on one with Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the NC State Board of Elections

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Clayton Henkel

The November 2024 general election is more than 530 days away. We don’t know who will be on the ballot. We don’t know the key issue that will drive voters to the polls. But what we do know is that this month and next could be among the most critical for the North Carolina State [Read more…]

8. Rash of legislation, intimidation, threats of violence pressure LGBTQ allies

a Target store mannequin in LGBTQ pride attire
Target’s Pride Month displays have led to threats of violence and confrontations in stores, the company said this week. (Photo: Joe Killian)

By Joe Killian

When the giant retail chain Target rolled out its line of LGBTQ Pride Month merchandise earlier this month, it was welcomed as a bright spot in a dark year of near unprecedented legislative assaults for the community. More than 700 bills have been filed across the country, including in North Carolina, that would restrict how [Read more…]

Bonus read: Facing restrictive school policies, Union County students organize LGBTQ Pride rally

9. Senate budget would expand medical release for aging, sick prisoners

About 2,500 more people in NC prisons would be eligible if the law is changed

Aging and infirm inmates make up a growing percentage of North Carolina’s prison population. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

By Kelan Lyons

State senators have proposed expanding the eligibility criteria for the medical release of people in North Carolina prisons, potentially giving thousands of sick and aging people in state custody an opportunity to go home before they die.

The law change, which can be found on page 310 of the Senate budget, comes after an NC Newsline story about a man named Bobby Norfleet, who spent 43 years in prison, in part because of North Carolina’s narrow eligibility requirements for medical release. [Read more…]

Bonus read: Senate Budget requires new reports from prison system

10. U.S. Supreme Court rejects Biden wetlands regulation


By Jacob Fischler

The U.S. Supreme Court in a major environmental decision on  Thursday overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of wetlands that fall under the agency’s jurisdiction, siding with an Idaho couple who’d said they should not be required to obtain federal permits to build on their property that lacked any navigable [Read more…]

11. Monopoly men: GOP legislative leaders continue to extend their power in all directions  (Commentary)

NC General Assembly. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

By Rob Schofield

Is there any aspect of life in modern North Carolina for which the Republican majority of the General Assembly doesn’t see itself as the font of all wisdom and rightful final arbiter?

That’s not a facetious question.

GOP pols and their pals on the religious right and in the business and gun lobbies love to describe themselves as champions of ideas like “limited government,” “freedom,” “local control,” and “constitutional” values, but as their actions have repeatedly confirmed, that’s all a smokescreen for the true objective: accumulating and exercising raw power. [Read more…]


12. Listen to this week’s episodes of News & Views with Rob Schofield

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13. Weekly Editorial Cartoon
By John Cole

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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.