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2019 Legislative Seminar

March 28, 2019 @ 9:30 am - 3:00 pm

Click here to register. Please register by Monday, March 25 to guarantee lunch.

Whether you are new to grassroots advocacy or have been engaged in this critical work for some time, the NC Council of Churches’ Legislative Seminar offers the opportunity to hear updates on issues being discussed at the General Assembly, network with others who share your concerns, and learn how you can make a difference. This seminar is unique in North Carolina in bringing together people of faith to learn ways we can impact legislation in our state.

The cost, which includes lunch, is $25 and current students may purchase a discounted ticket of $15.

The schedule for the day is:

9 a.m. – Check-in (light arrival snacks will be available)

9:30 a.m. – Opening worship

Choice of one workshop per session

10:30 a.m. – Workshop Session One

Power Struggles, the Sequel: Rob Schofield, Director, NC Policy Watch

  • Review legislative efforts to curb the governor’s powers. Are those efforts continuing, and what do they involve? How can Cooper and his allies effectively use the veto to advance the progressive agenda now that vetoes have some teeth? How is Cooper handling these challenges?

Shape of the Bench: Bob Orr, Former Associate Justice of the NC Supreme Court

  • Can the state’s courts remain independent in the face of legislative pressure to politicize? Is the federal judiciary — which has acted as a check against the General Assembly’s excesses — evolving sharply to the right with the president’s appointees? What can be done about it?

Voter ID, Theory, and Practice: Caitlin Swain, Executive Director, Forward Justice; Irving Joyner, Law Professor, NC Central University; Leah Kong, Staff Attorney, Forward Justice

  • Ins and outs of the new photo ID law, hastily enacted in December over the governor’s veto. What are the remaining problems? Will the law hold up in court? What more can be done to counter legislative attempts at voter suppression?

Health Care at Stake: Nicole Dozier, Director of the Health Advocacy Project, NC Justice Center

  • What more can/should legislators do to lower costs and improve access? What are the prospects for Medicaid expansion?

Environmental Protection: Susannah Tuttle, Director, NC Interfaith Power & Light

  • Challenges amidst global warming: sea level rise, intense storms, flooding threats. Protection vs. deregulation.

Blitz Campaign (ALEC): Bill Mefford, Faith Organizer, Americans United for Separation of Church and State

  • What is it and how do we prepare for it? How to recognize a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

11:30 a.m. – Workshop Session Two

Election Integrity: Melissa Price Kromm, Coalition Director, NC Voters for Clean Elections

  • Update on the controversies over elections administration and oversight. Will the legislature give up its push to control the state elections board? In light of the 9th Congressional District scandal, what further steps should be taken to guard against absentee ballot fraud? Any prospect for restoring public accountability for investigations into campaign finance violations? What happens if those investigations remain secret unless criminal charges are brought?

State Budget Trends: Alexandra Sirota, Director of NC Budget & Tax Center, NC Justice Center

  • How does the governor use his new veto clout to affect revenues, spending? Is North Carolina still trying to get by on the cheap?

Pulse Check on Public Education: Mark Jewell, President, North Carolina Association of Educators

  • A year after teachers flexed political muscles, how are their pay and working conditions improving? Update on schools’ performance amid a legislative push for more parental choice. Rich vs. poor districts; trends toward resegregation.

Immigration Challenges for North Carolina: Gail Phares, Founding member of Witness for Peace and recipient of this year’s Faith Active in Public Life Award

  • What more can the state do to take advantage of immigrants’ economic contributions while fostering an orderly immigration system? Detriments of 287G.

Polarized Politics and the Urban/Rural Divide: Rick Glazier, Executive Director, NC Justice Center

  • Any movement toward common ground, and if so should progressives cheer? Prospects for civil discourse. Strategies for effective progressive advocacy in a polarized environment.

12:30 p.m. – Lunch and KeynoteTom Ross, President Emeritus of the University of North Carolina system and co-chair of North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform, will provide the keynote on the health of our state’s and nation’s political systems.

1:30 p.m. – Workshop Session Three

Annals of Gerrymandering: Tom Ross, Co-Chair, North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform

  • Update status of anti-gerrymandering lawsuits; review progress due to court rulings. Will U.S. Supreme Court, as it considers a case involving North Carolina, finally set a standard to gauge unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering? Are advocates for nonpartisan redistricting making any headway? How can their efforts be pushed along?

Curbing Gun Violence: Becky Ceartas, Executive Director, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence

  • What can and should North Carolina do? The legislative role.

Higher Education Under Stress: David Rice, Executive Director, Higher Education Works

  • UNC system is at a crossroads with regard to governance and mission. Is one of the state’s principal assets at risk?

The Double-edged Sword of Opioid Laws: Lillie Armstrong, Community Overdose Consultant, NC Department of Health and Human Services and Chris Pernell, Director, Partners in Health and Wholeness

  • Drug-Induced Homicide Law. What is it and how it flies in the face of Good Samaritan Laws. Great start, but no reckoning of the unintended consequences.

Environmental Protection: Susannah Tuttle, Director, NC Interfaith Power & Light

  • Challenges amidst global warming: sea level rise, intense storms, flooding threats. Protection vs. deregulation.

2:30 p.m. – Closing Remarks