Morning News Briefs: Wednesday, November 26th, 2019
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Stalemate Still On As North Carolina Legislature Ends This Year
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and his Republican rivals fought to a draw as the North Carolina legislature adjourned its longest annual session in nearly 20 years this month. It may take the November 2020 elections to break the logjam.
Republicans had controlled state government for much of this decade until recent political gains for Democrats, including Cooper's 2016 election. Democratic gains in the legislature in 2018 narrowed GOP seat advantages and increased Cooper's leverage with his veto stamp. None of Cooper's 14 vetoes this year have been overridden.
Cooper's most consequential veto came in June when he blocked the two-year state budget approved by Republicans — partly over the lack of Medicaid expansion. Republicans wouldn't go for expansion, leading to a monthslong stalemate that's unlikely to be resolved soon.
Reps. Black, Conrad Won't Seek North Carolina House Seats
A pair of North Carolina House members — one Republican and one Democrat — have announced they will not seek re-election next year.
Democratic Rep. Mary Ann Black of Durham County made her decision public on Tuesday, a day after GOP Rep. Debra Conrad of Forsyth County made a similar announcement.
Conrad is in her fourth term following 18 years as a Forsyth commissioner. A news release says Conrad will "seek new opportunities in business and politics." Conrad endorsed a Lewisville town councilman to succeed her.
Black joined the legislature in early 2017, filling the seat vacated by Larry Hall when he became Gov. Roy Cooper's veterans' affairs secretary. She says she's proud of working to improve school safety and will keep pushing for Medicaid expansion.
All UNC System Schools Now On OK'd North Carolina Voter ID List
Students and employees at all University of North Carolina system campuses will be able to use their school identification cards for the state's voter ID mandate starting in 2020.
The State Board of Elections announced on Tuesday the approval of cards for students and employees at 12 of the 17 UNC schools. These IDs were rejected earlier this year because they didn't meet standards set in a law implementing the photo ID requirement. The ID mandate was added to the state constitution in 2018.
UNC To Update Policies Following Complaint Of Anti-Semitism
The U.S. Education Department is ordering the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to expand its anti-bias training and expressly forbid anti-Semitism following complaints about a conference featuring a Palestinian rapper accused of anti-Jewish bias.
The university announced the changes Monday after reaching a resolution with the department. Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz says the school is committed to creating a campus "free from anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination."
U.S. Rep. George Holding, a North Carolina Republican, called for an investigation following the March conference. It was hosted by a Middle East studies program run by UNC and Duke University.
WS/FCS Superintendent Lays Out Plan To Address Bus Driver Shortage
Schools across North Carolina are struggling with a bus driver shortage. The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School district says it's down to between 35 to 40 drivers.
Local officials say part of the reason is an increase in demand within the trucking industry, which is depleting the pool of candidates.
“Oftentimes, people can make more money in the trucking industry with a CDL license and a bus driver is required to have increased credentials when they drive students,” says Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Angela Hairston. “This is a nationwide issue.”
Hairston says she’s working on a plan to recruit and retain these vital staff members. That would include moving part-time bus drivers to full-time.