The Party Line

The Party Line is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s elections, debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

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John Arrowood
James, McElroy & Diehl

Updated 1:06 p.m.
A battle between Gov. Roy Cooper and state lawmakers over the state Court of Appeals has escalated, with the governor's appointment of a new judge Monday. Cooper got the chance to pick a Democrat after a Republican judge on the court retired early to protest his party’s efforts to shrink the court. 

Republicans have eliminated or updated a variety of state regulations since taking control of the legislature in 2010. But in the past couple of years, they've found it harder to agree on reforms.

On Wednesday, the state Senate rejected the expanded House version of the GOP-backed 2016-2017 regulatory reform bill. It's got both years in the title because the two chambers also failed to agree last year before the legislature adjourned.

Updated 4:25 p.m.
The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to reduce the number of state appeals court judges, and gave preliminary final approval to a bill that would relax state regulations on the environment and businesses. Senators also confirmed three more Cabinet picks of Gov. Roy Cooper, for commerce, environment and cultural resources. Other bills making their way through the General Assembly would enact new restrictions on opioids, and limit lawsuits against large hog farms. 

It's way past the deadline set by Congress - 35 years past - but women are organizing in North Carolina and nationwide around a bit of unfinished business: ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.

ICE officers making an arrest.
Immigration & Customs Enforcement

Ever since President Donald Trump's executive orders in January, immigration officials have insisted that when it comes to enforcement, it's business as usual - mostly. Statistics are hard to come by, especially at the local level. But there are signs of a shift at Immigration Customs & Enforcement, or ICE.

A wind farm near Elizabeth City, NC.
Sarah McCammon / NPR

Several Republican state senators are trying again this session to limit the expansion of wind power, saying new turbines could interfere with military flights. The bill filed Wednesday, the Military Operations Protection Act of 2017, would halt permits for new wind farms until studies show they are safe.

A North Carolina House Judiciary committee voted 6-5 along party lines Tuesday to advance a bill that would take away state funds from local governments that take steps to help undocumented immigrants. 

The state House of Representatives gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would return local judgeship elections to partisan races. Meanwhile, a Senate committee advanced a bill to let voters decide this November whether to lower the constitutional cap on the state income tax to 5.5 percent.

Lawmakers are considering a revised bill that would withhold state funds from local governments deemed to be sanctuary cities.  A House Judiciary Committee discussed the bill Tuesday, but took no action.

The bill calls for penalties to go along with a 2015 law that prohibits cities and towns from adopting policies to protect unauthorized immigrants.

NCGA

The North Carolina House passed a bill Wednesday that would make District and Superior Court races partisan. In other words, judicial candidates would have their party affiliation appear on the ballot.

The vote was unusual, 65 to 51, with Democrats and Republicans voting for and against the measure.

Proponents argue that listing a party affiliation next to a judicial candidate’s name on the ballot provides voters with needed information.

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