Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
The Daily Reflector, Greenville, N.C., on voting measures seek exclusion:
When North Carolina Republicans claimed the 2010 election, seizing a legislative majority for the first time in a century, the public expected the new leadership would seek to maximize its hold on that status by using its power to draw legislative districts. After all, it is the responsibility of the party in power to draft those lines and, right or not, it creates an electoral advantage that state residents condone.
Altering the conduct of elections, as the Republican leadership intends to do, is a different matter entirely, however, and one that should generate greater scrutiny and concern. Through the majority claims its changes are intended only to prevent fraud, even casual observers recognize that the state GOP has eschewed measures that promise honest elections in favor of those that create a favorable political position.
With the massive tax cut completed and a budget agreement all but finalized, few items remain outstanding on the legislative docket prior to adjournment. Among these are proposed changes to the election system in North Carolina. Republican leaders know that initiatives like same-day registration and early voting periods favor Democrats, and they have therefore become targets of the majority.
To some degree, such tactics are expected. ...
Given that apathy is remarkably high — and approval ratings for government are at historic lows — it seems a worrisome time to push rules actively discouraging participation at the polls. As with so many things this session, Republican overreach could prove counterproductive to the state's best interests.
Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal on fight for sterilization compensation is almost won:
Cheers to state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger for agreeing on a budget that finally includes compensation for the living victims of the state's forced sterilization program. Once the members of their chambers approve this budget, it heads to Gov. Pat McCrory, a compensation supporter, for his signature.
North Carolina, on the verge of becoming the first state in the country to compensate sterilization victims, is about to make history. Sunday night, Tillis and Berger said in a joint press release that they'd included compensation in the state budget. The amount included is $10 million. Sterilization victims that the Journal editorial board has often profiled on this page told us that they finally felt vindicated in their battle. ...
This long, hard fight began in 2002, when the Journal published the investigative series "Against Their Will." The series initiated by reporter Kevin Begos detailed, for the first time, the inner workings of the program, one of the most brutal in the country. From 1929 through 1974, the program sterilized more than 7,600 men, women and children to "better" society and reduce the welfare rolls. The state played God, deeming these whites, blacks and Indians of modest means mentally or physically unfit to reproduce.
North Carolina charged on with its program even after most other states stopped.
Soon after our series ran, state Rep. Larry Womble of Winston-Salem took up the fight, never relenting, even after a car crash in December 2011 that almost killed him and caused him to leave the legislature to focus on his recovery. Tillis fully embraced the compensation cause in early 2012 and never let up.
The House and Senate chambers and Gov. McCrory will still have to sign on the budget, but we suspect they'll be on board. What's most important is that Sen. Berger, who had been hesitant on compensation, is now on board.
We're about to show the world that we're a state that believes in compassion and justice, in a groundbreaking way.
News & Observer of Raleigh on school revenue from snack foods not worth it
Parents know the drill all too well. Kids ask for a couple of dollars extra for school lunch money to allow them to buy cookies and chips and snacks not on the standard menu. The parent who says "no" is aware that most of the other kids are buying the snacks, and that things are going to be a little chilly at home if a child is forced to go snackless.
But new federal standards are coming in next year, standards that will require snacks to be healthier and thus, sadly, less appealing to youngsters. That means lower revenues for the Wake County school system, for example, because about $10 million of the child nutrition budget comes from snack sales. The budget total is $50 million.
Despite the strain on the budget, it's hard to find a parent who says, "Aw, let's go ahead and load 'em up on the cookies and run in some ice cream and some of those super caffeine sodas as well." Childhood obesity is a major health problem in this country, and this attempt on the part of the federal government to add some needed regulation in the area of school lunches is a strike against health problems. One parent told The N&O that if lunch prices have to be raised at elementary through high schools to make up lost revenue, so be it. The prices in Wake currently are $2 per meal at elementary schools and $2.25 at middle and high schools.
And while nutrition experts say no one can legislate healthy eating, they also say that changing snacks is something kids will actually do and that some will modify their habits. It may be a small step, but it's something. (Nutritionists also say there's no substitute for parental oversight.)
Habits of unhealthy eating follow many people all their lives and shorten those lives. A few cents more to compensate schools for the lost revenue from high-calorie, unhealthy snacks is a pittance to pay for better eating habits for kids.