NC Politics in the News

March 22, 2021

Pardon Our Dust

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US NEWS: COVID-19 Relief Bill Offers Long-denied Aid to Black Farmers 
“It’s a significant piece of legislation that’s going to help thousands of farmers get relief,” said John Boyd Jr., founder and president of the non-profit National Black Farmers Association. Boyd, also a fourth-generation Black farmer, launched the organization in the mid-1990s to fight discriminatory practices at USDA that contributed to his losing one of his two farms and were a factor in the massive loss of land by other farmers of color.

Economic Development

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Fujifilm biotech form to build massive plant in central NC
Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies and government officials announced the overall $2 billion project in Holly Springs, just south of Raleigh, for what’s being billed as the largest end-to-end biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in North America. The company manufactures drugs and vaccines for other pharmaceutical companies.

WRAL TechWire: High-tech job openings in NC soar above 33,000-Raleigh demands surge 36.5% 
North Carolina’s high-tech jobs market continues to surge with the highest number of publicly posted open positions soaring above 33,000, That’s the highest level in more than a year and represents a 50% increase from the low point last May during the pandemic.


THE NEWS AND OBSERVER: as more NC students return to daily in-person classes, CDC eases its guidelines
Until the school reopening bill was signed into law on March 11, only elementary schools were allowed to operate on Plan A with daily, in-person instruction. Over the past week, at least 40 of the state’s 115 school districts have voted to switch middle schools and high schools to Plan A, according to a N.C. School Boards Association database.


ASSOCIATED PRESS: NC public education ‘remedial plan’ presented to judge
The “comprehensive remedial plan” includes funding improvements to help low-income students and those with disabilities, and to hire more school support personnel. Increased pay proposed for teachers, principals and assistant principal are not part of the monetary total because no amounts are given, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Absentee ballot turn-in deadline moved up in NC Senate bill
The bill, which would need both House and Senate approval before heading to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, also would spend $5 million for a program to identify people who need photo identification to vote in person and help them obtain one. A majority of voters approved adding a photo ID mandate to the state constitution in 2018. But that has not been carried out, as the amendment process and a measure implementing the requirement have been challenged in court.


THE NEWS AND OBSERVER: COVID cases back on the ride across the triangle, and school clusters are up in one county. 
In Wake County, DHHS reported 1,530 new cases of the coronavirus in the past week, bringing the county’s total to 78,227 cases since the pandemic began last year. That’s up from the 1,109 new cases that were reported in the week prior.

But while outbreaks dropped, clusters rose again in Wake — rising to 27 from 23 the week before. Of those, 15 were happening in child-care settings, while 12 were occurring in K-12 schools.


WRAL: Cheri Beasley, former NC chief justice, to launch NC Senate run
Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, the first Black woman to hold that post, will jump into the state’s U.S. Senate race next month, according to multiple advisers. “Justice Beasley is getting ready for a U.S. Senate run,” the one said Thursday. “She’s preparing a team, and the launch will be in the early part of next month.


WATAUGA DEMOCRAT: North Carolina auditor raises concerns over transportation departments internal audit. 
The NCDOT’s Office of Inspector General Internal Audit Division reviewed the Division of Highways’ bidding, advertising and contractor selection processes from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019. It found highway officials were effective in managing the processes, but Wood said the “lack of controls reported” did not support the conclusion.