Politics & Government

Political news

Photo: A camera pinned on a police uniform
cops.usdoj.gov

Police body cameras are slowly catching on in North Carolina as a way to hold both police and civilians accountable for their actions. But body cameras also raise questions about the privacy of the people they record.

Should that footage be public record? And will body cameras be the answer for communities that have lost trust in their police force?

Image of the agave plant, used in tequila production
Amante Darmanin / Flickr Creative Commons

In the early 2000s, a shortage of the agave plant used to make tequila prompted producers to partner with Mexican farmers in an effort to harvest more crops. But those agreements heavily favored tequila companies and have had lasting impacts on small farms. 

Photo: Proposed legislative maps of 2016
North Carolina General Assembly

Federal judges are being asked to approve the new North Carolina congressional maps approved by state lawmakers last week. Earlier this month, three voters successfully sued after claiming the previous maps were racially gerrymandered.

Image of Omid Safi with students on a trip
Omid Safi

In the past decade, Omid Safi has become one of the country’s leading voices in discourse around Islam and Islamophobia. 

His public commitments range from writing a weekly column for the public radio program “On Being” to being a go-to expert for national networks like NPR and Al Jazeera.

North Carolina General Assembly

North Carolina lawmakers met a Friday deadline to complete a court-ordered rewrite of the state's congressional voting maps. They also postponed the congressional primary until June 7. 

The new plans will move forward after the U.S. Supreme Court late Friday declined Republican lawmakers' request to stay the lower court order. Here are some of the key takeaways from the redesign:

Why did the General Assembly re-draw the maps?

Photo: Proposed legislative maps of 2016
North Carolina General Assembly

February 19 update:  Lawmakers gave final approval to the new maps on Friday.

North Carolina lawmakers are just steps away from rearranging the state’s congressional districts and eliminating runoff elections. The actions are at the behest of a federal court’s finding of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering in two of the state's congressional districts.

Photo: Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Mecklenburg County
Jorge Valencia

Republican legislative leaders proposed a new outline for North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts on Wednesday, moving two incumbents out of districts they represent and likely pushing the primary elections for congress past the scheduled March 15 date.

Lawmakers, responding to a federal court ruling that said they had racially gerrymandered some congressional districts in 2011 and ordering them to draw new ones, presented maps that would rearrange almost all of the state’s voting lines. The proposal would keep the delegation’s 10-3 Republican majority.

The modern day race for political office includes a series of competitions for endorsements and money. And the race for chief executive of North Carolina is no exception.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper have each raised millions of dollars in advance of a gubernatorial election that is expected to be among the closest in the country.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina voters will head to the polls to cast their primary ballots in about one month. As the election draws near, candidates are working hard to gain support, particularly financial backing.

The end of January marked the deadline for campaign committees to report their end-of-year financials, and WUNC examined contributions to the two frontrunners in the governor’s race: incumbent Pat McCrory and democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

Cooper received smaller donations than McCrory on average, but the attorney general raised more money overall. 

The death of conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has sparked a political battle in Washington.
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is being remembered as a conservative justice known for his sharp dissents from the bench.

Scalia died Saturday at the age of 79. And his death almost immediately started a political battle in Washington. Senate Republican leaders say they will refuse to vote on a nominee to replace Scalia while President Obama is still in office.

The Republican presidential field has thinned with Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina dropping out. Ohio Governor John Kasich remains and will try to keep up the momentum follwing his second-place finish in New Hampshire.
Alex Hanson / Flickr Creative Commons

The race for the White House heats up as voters in Iowa and New Hampshire made their choices. Several candidates, including Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, dropped out after poor showings in the first two contests.

And in North Carolina, the March 15 primary is in flux because of a court ruling declaring two congressional districts unconstitutional.

Image of green urine sample bottles
Steven Depolo

Earlier this week, state officials released results from the first round of drug testing for some welfare recipients. The findings show little evidence pointing to widespread drug use among beneficiaries of the state's Work First public assistance program. 

Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Paul Modrich, recepient of a 2015 Noble Price in Chemistry, during a tour of Duke Medical School on Wednesday.
Jeff Tiberii

Vice President Joe Biden told an audience in Durham that he hopes to serve as a facilitator in the efforts to cure cancer.

Biden visited Duke University Wednesday afternoon to visit a research laboratory, ask questions about how to improve collaboration,  and pledge to help clear the way through bureaucratic obstacles.

U.S. Representative Alma Adams
U.S. Representative Alma Adams

Federal judges have struck down the maps of two congressional districts in North Carolina.

New York Times reporter Adam Liptak discusses his career covering the Supreme Court of the United States.
Supermac1961 / Flickr Creative Commons

It takes a certain kind of reporter to cover the Supreme Court of the United States. Interpreting the Constitution is one thing, and interpreting complicated legal decisions is another. 

Adam Liptak of The New York Times has made a career out of dissecting SCOTUS, including the decades of legal battles over same-sex marriage and the court's place in the judicial systems of other developed countries. 

Asheville 'Bans The Box'

Feb 3, 2016
Asheville is removing questions from city job applications that ask about criminal convictions. The city hopes to remove this hindrance for job seekers who have a criminal history.
Kathryn Decker / Flickr Creative Commons

Asheville passed a policy last week that will remove any question about criminal convictions from city job applications.

Proponents want to “ban the box” that job seekers check for convictions because they claim it puts previous criminals at a disadvantage. Though this doesn’t preclude private companies from including questions about criminal histories, the city hopes to lead by example.

Ken Spaulding is a Democrat from Durham running for Governor. Political scientists, polls and campaign finance reports indicate he is a long-shot. Spaulding continues to campaign across the state, believing he can win a primary contest against Roy Cooper,
KenSpaulding.com

Nine months from now voters will cast ballots in what is expected to be one of the tightest gubernatorial races in the country.

Donald Trump made news by skipping the GOP Fox News debate, instead holding his own event in Des Moines.
Marc Nozell / Flickr Creative Commons

The Iowa caucuses are just a few days away, and presidential candidates are making their final pushes before the primary season begins.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump did not attend the Fox News debate last night and instead hosted his own event in Des Moines.

How did his absence affect the debate? And campaign finance data from 2015 has started rolling in. Who leads the money race?

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

Polls show Donald Trump continues to lead the Republican race ahead of the Iowa caucus on Feb. 1.
Ninian Reid / Flickr Creative Commons

The Iowa caucuses are less than a week away and early voting for North Carolina’s primary starts in just more than a month.

Campaigns are heating up, but how are voters responding? And are North Carolinians more or less politically engaged this cycle than in previous years?

First responders in Guilford County have administered hundreds of doses of Naloxone, or NARCAN, this year. Heroin overdoses and deaths are on the rise.
Jeff Tiberii

Members of a task force on mental illness are developing policy recommendations for state legislators.

The task force was called for by Gov. Pat McCrory, and is made up of about 30 people who are considering how to improve issues of mental illness, substance abuse, public housing, and support systems throughout the state.  State officials are optimistic a task force on mental health can have an impact.

Image of special agent Rosalynde Fenner
Rosalynde Fenner

Rosalynde Fenner has always been fearless. As a young kid growing up in Durham, she called cabs for herself and took them alone wherever she wanted to go. In high school, she spent a week doing ride-alongs with an officer in the Durham Police Department. And at the age of 22, she embarked on a 25 year career as a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, including stints in Guatemala, Bolivia, New York City, and Puerto Rico. 

An image of a CSX train
Flickr upload bot / Wiki Creative Commons

Opposition to a proposed CSX transportation hub in Johnston County is growing. CSX announced plans for an intermodal cargo center last week.

Val Kerry / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama has repeatedly called for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but this month marks 14 years since the first detainees landed on Cuban shores.

Several detainees have participated in hunger strikes in protest of their imprisonment. A federal judge has ordered the release of videos showing guards force-feeding detainees but the government has until Friday to appeal the ruling.

Host Frank Stasio talks with VICE News reporter Jason Leopold about the latest.

Ballot Box
Wikipedia

Whether it is the local elections or the race to the White House, each vote counts. But what is driving voters as they cast their ballots in 2016?

 The State of Things is taking a look at the political mood of the state and wants to hear from you. 
As a North Carolinian, are you more or less politically engaged this year than in the past? Why? Send your response to sot@wunc.org with “politics” in the subject line.

The North Carolina Association of Educators is endorsed Democratic candidate Roy Cooper for governor in early December.
Jess Clark

Attorney General Roy Cooper's bid to be Governor has significant labor support. The North Carolina chapter of the AFL-CIO is throwing its endorsement behind the current Attorney General.

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