Outside the Box


Opinion Roundup: Iron-fisted legislature went beyond the bounds of reason

Posted July 13

This is the N.C. Legislative Building as seen on Feb. 2, 2015 at 6 p.m.

Thursday, July 13, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on a former state Supreme Court justice's critique of the 2017 legislative session, a Duke Energy plan that isn't sitting well with North Carolinians, a frightening side effect of the state's opioid crisis and more.

FORMER JUSTICE BOB ORR: I’m Republican, but N.C. legislature went too far (Charlotte Observer column) -- The veto-proof Republican majority and the iron-fisted caucus control by GOP leadership … simply doesn’t care what the opposition or anyone else thinks. It’s power politics – and if necessary, good government be damned. And that’s where this legislative session really bothers me.

EMERY DALESIO: Coal Ash Neighbors: Don't Raise Rates As Pollution Lingers (AP analysis) -- The nation's largest electric company wants regulators in North Carolina to force consumers to pay nearly $200 million a year to clean up the toxic byproducts of burning coal to generate power. That doesn't sit well with neighbors of the power plants who have been living on bottled water since toxic chemicals appeared in some of their wells.

The foster care crisis (Greensboro News & Record) -- Nationally, the numbers of foster children had been falling for several years. Then, between 2012 and 2015, they climbed by 8 percent. In North Carolina, we’ve seen much worse. The number of children in foster care has jumped by 28 percent, to more than 11,000 today. A major cause of the spike is the opioid addiction epidemic.

MARK BARRETT: Buncombe Democrats frustrated by 2017 session (Asheville Citizen-Times analysis) -- Being a member of the minority party in the N.C. General Assembly often means playing a lot of defense. Some Buncombe County Democrats in Raleigh say they spent much of their time during this year's legislative session, where the Republican majority sets the agenda, trying to keep things they opposed from happening rather than getting their own bills passed.

Rape law needs clarification (Fayetteville Observer) -- Lawyers, police, prosecutors and legal scholars are still all over the map about whether state law protects people who initially consent to having sex and then change their minds. The question was raised by two recent cases — including one in Fayetteville — where women consented to have sex and then said “no” when their partner became violent.

DEAN BAKER: Obamacare is only ‘exploding’ in red states (LA Times column) -- If someone lives in a state with a Democratic governor other than North Carolina, they have a 1.8% probability of only having a single insurer in their exchange. If they live in a state with a Republican governor, there is a 20.7% probability of the same.

Of courage undaunted (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Marine planes roar out of North Carolina’s Cherry Point most every day. It’s such a common occurrence and the pilots do their jobs so well that many of us never stop to think of the danger. But it’s there, in peace and in war. Every time they rise, they can also fall.

KIRK ROSS: New Faces Join State Environmental Boards (Coastal Review column) -- Mitch Gillespie, a former legislator who is now the senior adviser to speaker of the state House, and University of North Carolina School of Government water law expert Richard Whisnant are among a wave of new appointees starting work this month on key environmental policy boards.

GOP lawmakers question Air Force about unit's ties to defense firm (AP analysis) -- Two N.C. GOP lawmakers questioned the Air Force's top civilian official on Wednesday about alleged improprieties in the way it acquires multimillion-dollar aircraft. Reps. Ted Budd and Walter Jones said in a letter sent Wednesday to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson that there may be a "serious, systemic problem" at an Air Force unit known as Big Safari.

JIM MORRILL: Pittenger calls Trump Jr. stories part of media’s ‘neurotic, tabloid obsession’ (Charlotte Observer analysis) -- Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger dismissed reports of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer as “just another story in the media’s neurotic, weekly tabloid obsession of Trump-Russian collusion.”

Make this the year for full Lumbee recognition (Fayetteville Observer) -- We’ve heard the song many, many times before. It’s been playing since 1956. We like it, though, and we hope it’ll catch on. Maybe even become a hit this year. The song is sung once more by members of our region’s congressional delegation -- Rep. Robert Pittenger and Sen. Richard Burr.

TAYLOR KNOPF: Naloxone 101: How It Works & Who Is Using It (N.C. Health News analysis) -- Sometimes called the "Lazarus drug" naloxone can almost instantly reverse an opioid overdose and save a life.

CAMMIE BELLAMY: Laney H.S. grad studies re-segregation in New Hanover schools (Wilmington Star-News analysis) – Julia Walker never shook the feeling that her low-income peers lacked the same chance to succeed, This fall, Walker will head to UNC-Chapel Hill, where, through the Carolina Research Scholar Program, she will expand her senior project -- “How the Neighborhood Schools Districting Policy is Re-segregating Schools" -- into a college-level thesis.

STEPHEN LEONARD: Will UNC Board serve the state – or partisan interests? (Charlotte Observer column) -- UNC Board of Governors, now smaller, meets in Asheville this week in watershed moment.


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