Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
The Daily Reflector, Greenville, North Carolina, on hope for rural areas:
Fears that Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican leaders of the General Assembly would turn their backs on rural North Carolina now appear entirely justified. There is no other way to accept that the governor's budget proposal and that passed this week by the N.C. Senate seek to radically gut or outright eliminate several institutions dedicated to economic development in places like the East.
Those in power disparage the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and the Golden LEAF Foundation as bloated, wasteful organizations that lack accountability. Yet, instead of proposing reform in the interest of greater efficiency, Republicans in Raleigh deem it necessary to swing the ax, an unnecessary overreach that disregards potential harm to the people of eastern North Carolina.
McCrory released in March the first state budget proposal of his tenure, in which it was expected the governor would indicate the primary priorities and goals he hoped to achieve while in office. Those living in rural communities were therefore justifiably disappointed to see the former Charlotte mayor take aim at two key institutions serving this region. ...
The Senate's budget plan, passed this week, goes one step further, as it proposes to stop funding the Rural Center entirely. Instead, Republican leaders there want to use that money to create a new division of the Department of Commerce that would oversee rural economic development efforts. That would replace effective, known organizations with an untested model, a move that could scuttle progress on numerous existing projects.
Eastern North Carolina once wielded influence in Raleigh, and with that deference came an understanding of the tremendous depth of need that exists in this region. Poverty, unemployment, hunger, sickness — those are the issues being addressed by rural economic development efforts that improve the infrastructure, assist business and strengthen communities.
The proposals under consideration in Raleigh could very well worsen that suffering, erasing the strides made in recent years. It is a sad commentary on how this leadership views places like the East, where a commitment to help looks conspicuously absent.
The Charlotte Observer on the state literacy test rule:
Voting changes N.C. lawmakers are pushing this year have conjured up images for opponents of suppression tactics reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. But North Carolina has on the books a constitutional requirement which is indeed from those segregationist days. It's a requirement that every voter be able to read and write a section of the N.C. Constitution.
The aim of the law, added to the Constitution in 1900, was to block blacks from voting. Most whites were grandfathered in with a clause that allowed anyone whose father or grandfather could vote prior to 1867 to vote as well.
Such literacy requirements are no longer enforceable, of course. Federal civil rights laws in the 1960s and 1970s prohibit them. But even in 1970, North Carolina voters shamefully voted against repealing the literacy rule to take it out of the Constitution.
So it's still on the books. It's time for it to go.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing legislation to do so. House Bill 311, co-sponsored by Mecklenburg Democrat Kelly Alexander and Republican Charles Jeter, passed the state House unanimously and is now in a Senate committee. If approved, the repeal question will go on the ballot for a vote in May 2014.
A campaign is needed to ensure voters repeal it. ...
Obama said Thursday that "journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs." He said he would have Holder review Justice Department procedures for cases involving leaks to reporters, and that Holder "shares my concern."
He does? Since when? Holder is ill-equipped to lead such a review, since he authorized the Rosen email seizure and, in a separate case, led a Justice Department that secretly seized records of 20 home, office and cell phone lines of AP reporters and editors in a leak investigation.
A free press is one of the only tools for holding government accountable ...
News & Observer of Raleigh on immigration reform:
With the passage of an immigration reform measure by a bipartisan group of members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, some advocates of long-awaited change are allowing themselves to hope. If President Obama has been nobly ambitious when it comes to taking on politically charged issues such as health care reform and gun control, he might be called a glutton for political punishment in advocating that the nation address a long-simmering lack of direction on immigration.
But the president is right to make this a priority. As millions of illegal immigrants have come to the United States over the years in search of higher hopes and better lives for themselves and their children, they have become targets of political opportunism on the one hand and exploited members of the agricultural workforce on the other.
Is it right for people without the proper documentation to enter the country knowing it is illegal? ...
But the Senate committee would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who passed pretty tough muster, and that path would take years to navigate, though illegal immigrants would be granted a degree of legal status in the meantime.
The House, with more hard-nosed tea partyers than the Senate, is unlikely to follow suit, and even the Senate measure will surely change in the course of debate. Still, this is something after decades of nothing. Sadly, there remain many lawmakers who share the view of Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who continues to fight the notion of providing any kind of path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Opponents of providing such a path to those who have worked in the U.S. and raised children here and who have been law-abiding apparently hold hope that, somehow, all illegal immigrants can be deported. Deport 11 million people? That's unrealistic.
Would it not be better to bring these people out of the shadows, have them pay taxes and buy health insurance and share the responsibilities that citizens share?
At the least, it is time for some forward progress. Republicans admit their difficulty in appealing to diverse groups of people, and this nation is becoming more diverse every year. They have a political motivation for trying to do something about immigration. And there are two other motivations that ought to be shared by both parties and for that matter by all Americans: compassion, and common sense.