Steph Beckett

NC House Bill Targets Orange County School Construction Fees

Orange County currently charges an “impact fee” on developers to pay for a portion of the cost of providing public services to the proposed development. But a new bill in the North Carolina General Assembly could end that. Impact fees in Orange County are used for school construction or expansion. But earlier this week, Representative Sarah Stevens filed House Bill 406 in the state legislature that proposed getting rid of the fees in Orange County. Orange County Board of Commission chair Mark Dorosin says the fees are important for schools and generate almost $3 million of revenue per year....

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NC Scores Vary on Child Health Report Card

North Carolina broke a record for number of children covered by health insurance. According to the 2017 NC Child Health Report Card, nearly 96 percent of children in the state have coverage. The report is issued annually by organizations North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) and NC Child. “This is significant,” said Laila Bell, NC Child Director of Research and Data. “Because we know that health insurance really does promote children’s best health, by allowing them to access critical medical care when they are ill, by also giving them access to the preventative care that helps them from getting...

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Hillsborough Police Join Fight Against Opioid Overdose

Hillsborough Police officers are receiving training to administer a drug to those suffering from an opioid overdose. Naloxone is known for its ability to reverse the effects from a fatal opioid overdose of drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, morphine, heroin and others, within minutes. Carrboro and Chapel Hill police departments and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office have already been equipped with naloxone since 2015. Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said he’s glad the town is joining the fight. “I think having the Hillsborough folks trained completes all the law enforcement jurisdictions in Orange County,” he said. “And so we’re prepared to...

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Coalition Develops New Way to Measure Gerrymandering

Two gerrymandering lawsuits are set to be heard in federal court this summer in Greensboro. There are two types of gerrymandering, or when district lines are drawn to benefit one group and disenfranchise another. One is racial gerrymandering, which is illegal under the Fifteenth Amendment. The other is partisan gerrymandering, or drawing districts that will favor one political party over another. This isn’t exactly illegal. Mostly because judges have no way of measuring how gerrymandered a district is. But the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the Campaign Legal Center are leading one of the lawsuits: League of Women Voters...

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Chapel Hill Town Council Supports Nonpartisan Redistricting

The Chapel Hill Town Council is speaking out about independent redistricting. The council voted Monday for a proclamation supporting the idea, that would allow for congressional and legislative districts without gerrymandering, or blind of political consideration. Gerrymandering happens when the lines of a district are redrawn to favor some voters and disenfranchise others. North Carolina has a long history of it. Most recently, the map used twice to elect the North Carolina General Assembly was found to be unconstitutional by a panel of federal judges last year. Judges said 28 of the 170 legislative districts were racially gerrymandered, and...

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Future of Debated Event Space Uncertain

The Barn of Chapel Hill has 17 weddings scheduled beginning this summer at its rustic venue, but they may not happen. The Board of Adjustment determined Monday night that the barn could not host weddings or retreats. “I’m not entirely sure what the decision or what the written decision is going to be from what the board decided, because I’m a little unclear as to what they did decide,” said Barn owner Kara Brewer. She’s been fighting to use the barn as a venue for the past year, but the board has rejected her proposal three times in the past...

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OWASA to Add Fluoride Back to Water Supply

The Board of Directors for the Orange Water and Sewer Authority voted to continue the policy of adding fluoride to the drinking water. The OWASA board held a meeting with public comments March 9, in order to help make a decision: whether to add fluoride, or to review the practice of fluoridating the water. “Undertaking such a review would not change the widely accepted and scientifically supported view that community water fluoridation is safe and effective,” said Alex White, Assistant Professor at the UNC School of Dentistry. “Spending taxpayer resources on a new review may not be advisable, given...

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Managing Attorney Weighs in on UNC Center for Civil Rights’ Future

The future of the UNC Center for Civil Rights is unclear after a proposal was filed to ban lawyers at the center from litigation. The Educational Planning, Policies and Programs Committee of the board debated the proposal earlier this month, and has requested reports from UNC and North Carolina Central University before making a decision. The center’s managing attorney Mark Dorosin said it’s important for the center to continue to do the things it was founded to do in 2001. “One is educating the public—public policy research and training,” he said. “The second is training law students to become...

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Chief: Immigration Status Not Important to Chapel Hill Police

North Carolina operates under a law that prohibits any county or municipality from restricting local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration officials. And while that technically prohibits sanctuary cities in the state, most law enforcements choose what to prioritize in their respective towns. Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said immigration status hasn’t been and won’t be a priority for CHPD. “It’s still not something that’s important to us,” he said. “That’s not consistent with the role of local law enforcement in our view.” But multiple proposals have been filed with varying penalties against local governments and...

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UNC BOG Considering Future for UNC Center for Civil Rights Litigation

UNC Board of Governors member Joe Knott proposed a ban on litigation for the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and said there should be a distinction between the law school’s legal clinics that provide education to students. The Educational Planning, Policies and Programs Committee debated the proposal and voted to do more research before making a final decision. Anna Nelson is the chair of the committee. She said the committee will be developing a joint report with Chancellors Carol Folt and Johnson Akinleye to help make the decision. “We have committed to further study and asking the chancellors at...

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