Skip navigation

Friday Forward News Roundup

Disapproval of Two-Party System Amid Biden-Trump Rematch

A significant 61% of American adults have expressed unfavorability toward both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, highlighting widespread disapproval of the two-party system. As Biden and Trump prepare for a historic rematch in the 2024 presidential election—the seventh in U.S. history—discontent with partisanship continues to grow. The system is criticized for its failure to evolve beyond the Democratic and Republican parties, which control electoral regulations and maintain power. Myia Hall, Vice President of the North Carolina Forward Party, emphasized, "Our founding fathers warned us against this, especially George Washington in his farewell address. Under the leadership of the two-party system, the power of the people has been stripped away." (Niner Times)

Raleigh City Council Considers Major Election Reforms

The Raleigh City Council is deliberating on two significant election reform proposals that could impact the 2026 election cycle. The first proposal suggests changing council terms from two years to four years with staggered terms and introducing nonpartisan primaries. The second proposal, which has sparked more debate, involves increasing the number of council seats from eight to eleven by adding three district seats. This latter proposal was introduced without extensive prior discussion or supporting studies, leading to concerns about its basis and potential effects. While some council members and residents see the increase as a way to manage large districts more effectively, others, including Eric Braun, chair of a previously appointed study group, argue for a delay in decision-making until more substantial data and public input can be gathered. The council has yet to adopt these resolutions formally, with further discussions and a community engagement workshop scheduled to gather more feedback before potentially moving forward with a referendum. Pat Newton, Chair of the North Carolina Forward Party, along with several volunteers, attended the workshop to advocate for ranked choice voting, gaining significant support as 29 out of the 30 participants agreed that it should be advanced as part of the election reforms. (Indy Week)

Kelly Daughtry Suspends Campaign in 13th Congressional District Race

Kelly Daughtry has suspended her campaign for the 13th Congressional District, effectively conceding the Republican nomination to Brad Knott, who will now face Democrat Frank Pierce in the general election. Daughtry's decision follows a challenging primary where she received 27.4% of the votes but was labeled a "RINO" by former President Donald Trump in his endorsement of Knott. Despite her withdrawal, Daughtry vowed to continue advocating for conservative causes, particularly focusing on voter registration and supporting conservative judicial candidates. NCGOP Chairman Jason Simmons praised both candidates, noting Daughtry's commitment to her values and the party's goals. (North State Journal)

Leland Residents Debate Proposed Tax Increase at Special Council Meeting

At a special council meeting in Leland, approximately 50 residents expressed opposition to a proposed 17% tax rate increase, which would raise the tax rate to 27 cents per $100 of property valuation. The increase is part of efforts to accommodate the town’s rapid growth and the need for enhanced infrastructure and public services, despite some residents' preference to maintain Leland's town status rather than transitioning into a city. The Leland town council plans to vote on the proposed $50 million budget on May 16th. (WWAY 3)

Tragic Shooting Incident in Charlotte Leads to Congressional Response

In a distressing event in Charlotte, North Carolina, four law enforcement officers were fatally shot and four others injured during a confrontation on Monday. The incident occurred as members of the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force attempted to serve a warrant on Terry Clark Hughes Jr., a 39-year-old wanted for firearm possession by a felon and related charges. The shootout took place in east Charlotte around 1:30 p.m., resulting in the death of a U.S. marshal, two North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections officers, and a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer. Hughes was also killed in the exchange. Following standard protocol, twelve officers involved were placed on administrative leave. The event prompted North Carolina’s congressional representatives, led by Rep. Jeff Jackson, to honor the fallen and injured officers with a moment of silence on the House floor, emphasizing the community's loss. (Charlotte Observer)

Procession Honors Fallen Officer Alden Elliott

In Newton, North Carolina, a procession escorted the body of U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force Officer Alden Elliott from Charlotte to Catawba County. Elliott, a 14-year veteran with the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction and former Marine, was one of four officers killed during a shootout in east Charlotte. Businesses along the route displayed flags in tribute, and a memorial service with military honors is planned to celebrate his life. Elliott leaves behind a wife and child, and the community has been encouraged to support his son Theo through donations. (WCNC)

Tensions Escalate at UNC-Chapel Hill with Flag Incident and Protests

At UNC-Chapel Hill, demonstrators forcibly replaced the American flag with a mock Palestinian flag in the main quad, leading to a significant disruption and a subsequent campus safety alert declaring a suspension of classes and non-mandatory operations. Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts intervened to restore the American flag and emphasized campus safety in his statements. The protest included chants referencing "intifada" and "from the river to the sea," phrases associated with Palestinian nationalism and, in some contexts, the call for the elimination of Israel. This event has sparked intense reactions, including a critique from Amy Rosenthal of the North Carolina Coalition for Israel, who criticized the influence of faculty and leadership in fostering such demonstrations. (Carolina Journal)

UNC-Chapel Hill Indefinitely Closes Campus Y Building Amid Security Concerns

UNC-Chapel Hill has indefinitely closed the Campus Y building, a central hub for student social justice activities, following recent pro-Palestine protests on campus. Despite other buildings resuming normal operations, Campus Y remains closed due to ongoing security concerns highlighted by incidents of non-compliance with building access rules during the protests. The closure has sparked controversy among students and faculty, with co-presidents of Campus Y suggesting the action is punitive rather than protective, citing past security breaches that did not result in similar lockdowns. The decision affects various student services housed within the building, including a food pantry and a student-run coffee shop, and has been met with significant opposition from the student community. (WUNC)

NCSU Reaffirms Commitment to Free Speech Amid National Campus Protests

North Carolina State University's Board of Trustees has adopted a resolution reaffirming the university’s commitment to free speech and institutional neutrality, particularly in light of recent disruptive protests on college campuses across the country, including those related to the Israel/Gaza conflict. This move underscores NCSU's adherence to the principles outlined in the 2017 North Carolina law that promotes free expression on UNC System campuses. The law prevents institutions from confining free speech to designated zones, mandates educational programs on free speech for new students, and requires neutrality on political controversies, ensuring that the university does not take sides in political disputes like those currently seen in protests demanding divestment from Israel. (Carolina Journal)

North Carolina Senate Committee Approves Major Expansion of School Voucher Program

A North Carolina Senate committee has approved a bill to significantly expand the state's school voucher program, increasing funding by $248 million for the next school year due to a surge in applications. This addition raises the program's budget to $825 million by the 2032-33 school year. The expansion makes vouchers accessible to families at all income levels, with amounts ranging up to $7,468. Despite nearly 55,000 applicants remaining on the waiting list, the expansion has faced criticism from Governor Roy Cooper, who argues it lacks accountability and diverts funds from public schools to benefit private institutions, including those attended by wealthier families. The debate continues as the bill moves to the House, with political tensions highlighting differing views on educational funding priorities. (Queen City News)

Update on North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program

During the recent priority application period, the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) received approximately 72,000 applications for the Opportunity Scholarship for the 2024-2025 school year. On March 29th, 13,511 new students from the lowest income households (Award Tier 1) were offered scholarships. These families have until April 19, 2024, to accept the awards through their MyPortal accounts. Notifications for families in other tiers have also been issued, with potential offers for some Tier 2 families expected in early May, depending on the responses from Tier 1. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, families in Tiers 3 and 4 currently do not have award offers, but they could receive notifications if additional funds become available. (NCSEAA)

North Carolina Slips in National Teacher Salary Rankings

North Carolina has fallen to 38th place in national teacher salary rankings, according to the latest report from the National Education Association. The state's average teacher salary of $56,559 is nearly $13,000 below the national average, and the growth rate of salaries in North Carolina increased by only 3.1% compared to the national average of 4.1%. This decline in rankings is occurring amidst a growing teacher shortage and a drop in enrollment in education preparation programs. These figures are sparking rallies across the state, including in Wake County and Durham, where educators are advocating for better compensation. (CBS 17)

Winston-Salem Authorities Take Firm Stand Against Violence Toward Teachers

Forsyth County's top law enforcement officials, including District Attorney Jim O’Neill, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, and Winston-Salem Police Chief William Penn Jr., have unified in their stance against violence directed at educators. This follows the arrest of a 17-year-old Parkland High School student accused of assaulting a teacher, an incident that was captured on video and received national attention. The student, who faces charges including felony second-degree kidnapping and assault on a government employee, will be tried as an adult. The officials emphasized a zero-tolerance policy for such actions, promising "swift and severe" punishments for those who harm educators. Sheriff Kimbrough highlighted the alarming number of juvenile petitions in recent years, stressing the community's concern over the safety of teachers and students. (FOX 8)

North Carolina Senate Passes Controversial Immigration Detainer Bill

The North Carolina Senate has passed legislation that mandates local sheriffs to detain individuals at the request of federal immigration authorities (ICE), if they are unable to determine the person's legal status following an arrest. This move, supported by Republican lawmakers who argue it will enhance community safety, has reignited debates over immigration enforcement and local autonomy. Opponents, including some urban sheriffs and advocacy groups, argue that the bill could lead to racial profiling and deter crime victims from contacting police for fear of deportation. The bill, which now requires one more House vote before potentially facing a veto from Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, reflects broader national political tensions over immigration policies, particularly concerning illegal border crossings. (NC Newsline)

Judge Rules Some North Carolina Abortion Pill Restrictions Unlawful

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles deemed certain North Carolina regulations on dispensing abortion pills, like the exclusive requirement for doctors to prescribe and provide the drug in person, as illegal, stating they impede Congress's aim for FDA-regulated safe distribution. The ruling was a partial victory for a physician who sued state officials. While some restrictions remain, Eagles highlighted those that haven't been expressly reviewed and rejected by the FDA or focus on broader health concerns. Republican legislators may appeal the decision, which comes amid broader debates over abortion laws in the state. (Spectrum News 1)

Federal Court Rules NC State Health Plan Discriminates Against Transgender Workers

A federal appeals court has ruled that North Carolina’s state health insurance plan discriminates against transgender workers by excluding coverage for gender-affirming care. The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found the exclusion, which pertains to treatments for gender dysphoria, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, emphasizing the intimate link between gender dysphoria and transgender status. The decision, which has potential to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, counters the state’s argument that the exclusion applies uniformly to all diagnosed individuals, asserting instead that it discriminates based on gender identity. The State Health Plan covers over 740,000 public employees and their dependents. (News & Observer)

United Methodist Church Removes Ban on LGBTQ Language from Official Teachings

United Methodist delegates voted 523-161 to remove a 52-year-old declaration considering homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching, part of a broader shift away from the denomination's historic disapproval of LGBTQ activity. Additionally, they approved a new definition of marriage as a covenant between "two people of faith," replacing an exclusively heterosexual definition, with tensions between U.S. and international delegates exposed during the debate. (WRAL)

Biden Pledges $3 Billion to Replace Lead Pipes Across America

President Biden announced a $3 billion commitment to replace lead pipes nationwide, emphasizing the urgency of eliminating lead exposure in drinking water. This funding supplements the $5.8 billion allocated in February for water infrastructure projects, sourced from the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure law. North Carolina, with an estimated 370,000 lead pipes, will receive $76 million for statewide replacements, reflecting Biden's aim to replace all lead pipes in the country. The visit, part of Biden's broader engagement in North Carolina, also underscored political dynamics, with Democrats investing heavily in the state ahead of the upcoming elections, contrasting with GOP efforts to address issues like rising costs and border security. (ABC 11)

Continue Reading

Read More