2023 legislative session

The House budgeted for Voter ID. The Senate did not.

BY: - May 17, 2023

In its budget proposal unveiled last month, North Carolina’s House of Representatives budgeted $3.5 million for the State Board of Elections to implement voter ID requirements — before the state Supreme Court even ruled on whether it was constitutional. The Senate released its budget proposal this week. Unlike their House colleagues, however, it did not […]

Pornography, drag shows are focus of child obscenity bill debate

BY: - April 25, 2023

Legislators advanced a bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning that would increase the punishment for disseminating obscene materials when a minor is present. “[The] material’s got to depict or describe in a patently offensive way sexual conduct,” said Sen. Buck Newton (R-Greene). It’s already a crime to intentionally spread such materials in […]

NC Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on Voter ID yet. House Republicans budgeted for it anyway.

BY: - April 3, 2023

The North Carolina Supreme Court hasn’t yet ruled on whether a voter ID law was intended to discriminate against prospective voters of color, but that didn’t stop House Republicans from funding it. Legislators released a budget proposal last week that would give $3.5 million to the State Board of Elections to implement voter ID requirements. The board also […]

Photo of two men in orange jumpsuits behind prison bars

NC House budget expands prisoners’ access to college education

BY: - April 3, 2023

The House budget bill released by Republican leaders last week includes a $4 million influx of cash to broaden incarcerated people’s opportunities to earn associate’s and bachelor’s degrees while they are imprisoned. The recurring funding would bump the net appropriation for prisoner education to $13.9 million for each of the next two years. That’s a […]

New public defender offices planned in the House budget, but no intent to expand public defense statewide

BY: - March 30, 2023

The House budget unveiled by Republican leaders Wednesday night would provide funding to establish new public defender offices serving eight counties across North Carolina, an infusion of  funds to ensure poor people charged with crimes are adequately represented in court. But despite that there are such offices in less than half of the state’s 100 […]


Veto showdowns and voter ID: Democracy will be on the defensive again at the legislature in 2023

BY: - January 19, 2023

The N.C. General Assembly gathered on Jan. 11 amid trappings of ceremony and good cheer to kick off its 2023 session. Then reality reared its head: At least in the state House, the majority party apparently intends to play rough. Democrats in the minority are left to wonder if their Republican counterparts see them not as duly elected colleagues with whom they may disagree over this bill or that, but as enemies to be muzzled and marginalized.

Job #1 for the 2023 General Assembly: ending easily preventable deaths

BY: - January 10, 2023

State government has scores of vitally important roles to play in modern North Carolina. The list of agencies and missions is a long one. At a basic level, however, government’s most important task is – or at least ought to be – protecting the lives and health of the state’s residents. And so, while state lawmakers obviously have numerous priorities to weigh and debates to have during the 2023 legislative session that convenes tomorrow, one extremely efficient path for prioritizing their work, fulfilling their most basic duty, and making the state a measurably better place would be this: ending easily preventable deaths.

The year ahead: Capital punishment and other criminal justice issues in North Carolina

BY: - January 4, 2023

One of the first things I did after starting at Policy Watch last summer was ask the Department of Public Safety to give me tours of a few of the state’s 53 prisons. I’d done the same thing at my last job, in Connecticut. My thinking is, if I’m going to write about a state’s prison system, I owe it to readers and those locked within to see some those places firsthand. A guided tour is not the best way to get a sense of how incarcerated people are treated each day, but it has some advantages. While prison officials can present a sanitized version of their correctional facilities, they cannot change each building’s architecture, the layout of the housing units or the size of the cells in which the incarcerated live, locked away for years at a time.

‘We are sinking’: More anxiety, more violence, and a shortage of NC healthcare workers

BY: - December 6, 2022

State lawmakers get an earful during mental health town hall "Folks, we have a huge problem with mental health," state Senator Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) told a room full of people at a town hall in Kannapolis last week. Sharing the stage with North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley and three other Republican legislators, Sen. Burgin said lawmakers wanted to hear directly from the public about mental health and substance abuse challenges in advance of the upcoming legislative session.