Raleigh Report is a regular newsletter offering extensive legislative information from the NC Council of Churches. Click here to subscribe.

Register for 2015 Legislative Seminar — Updated with Workshops and Presenters

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Join us on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary for the Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar. Held every two years, the Seminar equips people of faith with the information they need to be advocates on issues before the NC General Assembly. Registration with workshop options is below. The cost is $15 for students, $25 for all others, and that includes a light breakfast underwritten by Partners in Health and Wholeness, and a boxed lunch prepared by the Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Catering with a Cause.  Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m; the Rev. Dr….

Time to Uphold UNC’s Anti-Poverty Mission

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One can say this about UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gene Nichol without fear of contradiction: He doesn’t seem to know when to keep his mouth shut or his keyboard quiet. Good for him! Throughout his years in North Carolina, Nichol from his law professor’s perch has been a pugnacious crusader on behalf of the state’s social and economic underdogs. And when it comes to criticizing the governmental chiefs whose conservative policies have hurt those underdogs’ interests, Nichol hasn’t been shy about calling them out – even when it became obvious that the…

Grading the Schools: The Poverty Link

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The scheme ordered up by the conservatives who hold power in the NC General Assembly to assign a single letter grade to each of the state’s public schools – ostensibly as a quality signal so simple that even a caveman could get it – has proved, well, unhelpful. Given the way the grades were figured, it’s hardly a surprise to find that schools where most of the students come from relatively well-off families scored on average pretty well. To find schools that rated A’s, just look in the upper-middle class…

Join us for HKonJ 2015

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In these challenging days in North Carolina, there is nothing more important for people of faith who support progressive and prophetic public policies to do than to take part in the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) march and People’s Assembly. It happens this coming Saturday, Valentine’s Day, in Raleigh.  Please do everything you can do to attend and bring others with you. People will gather near Memorial Auditorium (2 East South Street, for you GPS people) and Shaw University in downtown Raleigh at 9:00, with the march to…

Who Pays When It Comes to Taxes?

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People who are poor pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes than do those who are wealthy. The NC Council of Churches joined many allied organizations two years ago in opposing changes to the state’s tax structure that made it more regressive by, among other things, eliminating higher income tax brackets for wealthier people. Now there’s a report out confirming the impact of those changes. The following is from Alexandra Forter Sirota with the NC Budget and Tax Center, part of the NC Justice Center: The latest Who…

District Lines Entangle Race, Politics

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The Republicans who rule North Carolina’s General Assembly start the new year riding tall in the saddle – and yes, we can imagine GOP legislators tipping their Stetsons to salute the state Supreme Court, which gave them an early Christmas present that must have made their holidays glow even brighter. The gift arrived on Dec. 19, in the form of a long-awaited ruling that swept aside challenges to the current district boundaries for seats in the US House, the state House and state Senate. Those redistricting plans — crafted after…

Election Explanations as the Dust Settles

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North Carolina’s new U.S. senator-in-waiting, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, had what appears to have been the closest scrape among winning Republican Senate candidates in last month’s election. Tillis defeated first-term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan by 45,608 votes out of a total of 2,800,910 votes that were cast, according to the State Board of Elections, with Libertarian Sean Haugh picking up some loose change. The victory, which helped Republicans augment their new Senate majority, was by a margin of 48.8 percent to 47.3 percent. That she came close — and…

Expand Medicaid? Now’s the time

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The decision last year by the conservatives who control North Carolina’s state government not to expand the state’s Medicaid program has left an estimated half-million residents out in the cold when it comes to health insurance – that’s the number cited by the N.C. Institute of Medicine. These folks typically are among the state’s working poor, with incomes that might rise above the poverty line but not by much. As a practical matter, the lack of health insurance means they simply do without the kind of routine medical care that…

Conservatives, Riding High, Can Heed Cooler Heads

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There’s no getting around the fact that when North Carolinians went to the polls on Nov. 5, they gave a thumbs-up to the conservatives who’ve been in charge at the General Assembly for the last four years – doing damage that calls to mind the proverbial elephant in a china shop. Republican victories might not all have been overwhelming (putting aside those districts rendered virtually immune from competition by GOP gerrymandering), and in a handful of cases Democratic challengers emerged on top. But when the dust settled, the rightward tilt…

Voter Protection Hotline

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We are coming to the end of the time for voting. Early Voting ends this Saturday, November 1. (Check with your local board of elections for the places and hours for Early Voting in your county.) Election Day is Tuesday, November 4. Polls will be open across the state from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Our friends at Democracy NC operate a toll-free Voter Protection Hotline. If you or anyone you know encounters problems with being allowed to vote, call immediately for help. Write down the phone number and take it with you…

Judgeships Crowd Ballot with Bubbles

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For people who enjoy voting, North Carolina’s upcoming election promises to be a real treat. Federal, state and local offices are on the ballot. There’s no more straight-ticket voting for party candidates, so voters will have to (or get to) pick their favorite in each and every race. What’s more, the ballot is loaded with races that are at least technically non-partisan. So party allegiances aren’t supposed to be a big factor. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory. The truth is, the ballot in this state’s 2014…

Voter Suppression Highlighted From on High

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When thorny constitutional issues are being hashed out in the courts, it’s a fact of life that the show isn’t necessarily over until SCOTUS sings, or declines to sing. The acronym refers of course to the Supreme Court of the United States, which on Oct. 8 had the last word as to the rules for North Carolina’s upcoming election. The high court, in its wisdom, allowed a state law enacted in 2013 to continue in full force and effect. That was despite a strong challenge mounted by civil rights and…

Early Voting Map Helps Locate Sites

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Our friends at the NC Conservation Network have created a useful (and nifty) interactive map of North Carolina that will point you quickly to your closest early voting site. Click here to view it and use it. Just type in your address in the Search box at the top right, then click Return, NOT the little icon in the Search box. (Check to be sure it has given you a site in your county.)  It will tell you where the site is, show it to you on a map, give…

Judges Give ‘The Full Bill’ Thumbs-Down

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October 9, 2014 Update: On October 8, the US Supreme Court handed down the final word about voting for this fall’s elections in North Carolina. It upheld the District Court’s decision not to put any of our new voting laws on hold and overturned the Circuit Court’s decision which would have allowed same-day registration during early voting and out-of-precinct provisional voting on Election Day. So we are back to where we started with the voter suppression provisions of H 589 adopted by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor…

Where to Go for Voting Info

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Perhaps the N.C. chapter of Americans for Prosperity was just trying to be helpful when it mailed out a bunch of “official application forms” to prospective voters. Thanks a lot, guys. The State Board of Elections tells news organizations it has been hammered with queries and complaints about the forms, which include confusing misstatements about the voter registration process. If being helpful was its real intent, Americans for Prosperity would have done better simply to direct folks to the state board’s website. The board offers accurate, clear instructions for registering…