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19 minutes | 4 days ago
HeadLocke No. 142: School days matter, ‘sticky’ tax policy helps, and a property-rights victory
Five days of school are better than four. That simple statement of fact has critical importance for public school students who have faced four-day instructional weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai ponder new research on the impact of four-day weeks on students’ academic performance. Next, the focus shifts to taxes. A recent tax Foundation report suggests North Carolina generally fares well in limiting tax burdens for various types of businesses — from corporate headquarters to technology centers to labor-intensive manufacturers. Brooke and Mitch discuss the implications, and they highlight one state senator’s comments about making N.C. tax policy as “sticky” as possible. The conversation then turns to a victory for property rights at the N.C. Court of Appeals. A unanimous court chided the town of Apex for its response to previous court rulings about an improperly installed sewer pipe.
20 minutes | 11 days ago
HeadLocke No. 141: Rotten Apple deal, reining in government, and reducing housing barriers
The Big Tech company Apple will enjoy a state tax break totaling nearly $1 billion over 39 years, after announcing plans to locate a new facility in North Carolina. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss “rotten aspects” of the state’s Apple deal. Next, they turn to two bills in the state Senate this week addressing new limits on government executive action. One would place time limits on state emergencies declared by the governor. The other would ban state agencies from excluding the General Assembly from lawsuit settlements involving N.C. laws. Brooke highlights legislation that could remove regulatory burdens and boost housing supply in the state. Mitch notes a recent state Supreme Court ruling against a woman who claimed she was too drunk to be convicted of a crime.
18 minutes | 18 days ago
HeadLocke No. 140: Vaccine passports criticized, a ‘vaccine against tyranny,’ and new rights for taxpayers
Sixty-five of the the N.C. House’s 69 Republicans took a public stand this week against “vaccine passports.” In a letter, the GOP state representatives urged Gov. Roy Cooper to reject any type of government mandate involving proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Those 65 lawmakers represent a clear majority in the 120-member state House. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss the letter and its implications. Speaking of vaccines, the conversation turns next to “A vaccine against tyranny,” Brooke’s column recalling the importance of the Halifax Resolves, signed 245 years ago. The document made North Carolina the first American colony to authorize its Continental Congress representatives to declare independence from Great Britain. One could list the Halifax Resolves as an important stepping stone toward today’s U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Now members of the N.C. General Assembly want voters to have a chance to approve a Taxpayer Bill of Rights. John Locke Foundation experts have dissected the proposal and outlined five reasons to support it. Brooke and Mitch discuss the expert analysis.
17 minutes | 25 days ago
HeadLocke No. 139: Judge won’t order school spending, ‘disparate impact’ nonsense, and voting on the governor’s powers
The long-running Leandro school funding lawsuit recently produced a deal between plaintiffs and North Carolina’s public education establishment. Both sides endorse a San Francisco-based consultant’s plan to spend another $8 billion in taxpayer money on education programs over the next eight years. But the judge in the case recently said he would not order the General Assembly to foot the bill. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss the judge’s comments. Then they examine a key argument in the lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s voter identification law. They discuss how claims of “disparate impact” on minority voters miss the mark. The conversation turns next to a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow voters to place new limits on the governor’s emergency powers. Brooke and Mitch also welcome a new colleague, Carolina Journal Editor-in-Chief Donna King.
18 minutes | a month ago
HeadLocke No. 138: Tackling learning loss, tallying Biden and Cooper’s common flaw, taking on overregulation
Before heading on a weeklong spring break, N.C. legislators sent Gov. Roy Cooper a pair of bills addressing learning loss in public schools. Meanwhile, lawmakers and the governor could face another battle over the future of Opportunity Scholarship vouchers for private schools. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss recent developments in the state’s education debates. Speaking of Cooper, he and President Biden seem to share a similar distaste for prudent management of taxpayer funds. You’ll learn why the president and governor seem to be “cut from the same cloth.” The conversation then turns to a legal challenge filed by the owner of an innovative drone video mapping service. State regulators are trying to put him out of business. He’s accused of practicing surveying work without a government license.
18 minutes | a month ago
HeadLocke No. 137: Election safeguards, early literacy, tax credits, and Muscadine mandates
A recent Economist/YouGov poll shows a slight plurality of voters express more concern about voter fraud than voter suppression. Larger margins support measures — including voter ID — that would combat fraud, even though critics label those measures examples of suppression. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai sift through the polling data. Next they turn to the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill in the N.C. General Assembly that focuses on improving reading skills in early grades. The conversation then focuses on two questionable tax credit proposals in Gov. Roy Cooper’s state budget plan. Brooke and Mitch also pan a proposal to mandate that all N.C. public schools serve students a particular type of grape juice.
18 minutes | 2 months ago
HeadLocke No. 136: Cooper budget critique, broadband expansion ideas, and new civics group
Gov. Roy Cooper’s new state budget plan would increase government spending by 11.6%. The governor also would ask voters to approve another $4.7 billion in borrowing. Plus he continues to push for expanded eligibility for the Medicaid program. John Locke Foundation budget experts have examined these and other proposals in Cooper’s budget. Brenée Goforth and Mitch Kokai review the Locke experts’ critique. Next, they discuss a Locke report that offers ideas for speeding expansion of broadband access in underserved areas of North Carolina. The report focuses on three key reforms linked to rules surrounding utility pole attachments. Brenée and Mitch then turn to the Civics Alliance, the National Association of Scholars’ new effort to ensure that public school students get good education about the fundamental elements of American government.
17 minutes | 2 months ago
HeadLocke No. 135: New group targets classroom bias, send $5 billion back to the feds, and N.C. entrepreneurs flourish
It’s not uncommon to hear anecdotes about ideological bias and indoctrination in N.C. public school classrooms. Now Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson wants to compile hard evidence about the problem. He has formed the Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students task force. FACTS will tackle the topic of classroom bias. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss the lieutenant governor’s plan, along with negative reaction on social media from public school teachers. Next, the program turns to a John Locke Foundation expert’s unusual recommendation for $5 billion in new federal COVID-19 relief funding. The Locke fiscal analyst says N.C. legislators should send the money back to Washington. Brooke and Mitch also discuss the latest evidence of growth in entrepreneurship in North Carolina. They discuss the value of relying on markets and “creative destruction” to improve people’s lives throughout the Tar Heel State.
18 minutes | 2 months ago
HeadLocke No. 134: School reopening deal finalized, Cooper energy plan questioned, Emergency Management Act reform filed
A week after a fight between the executive and legislative branches of N.C. state government left schoolchildren in limbo, a compromise school reopening bill sailed through the General Assembly. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai assess the change in circumstances. They also dissect the reopening plan. Next, they discuss Gov. Roy Cooper’s support for the greenhouse gas reduction goals tied to the Paris climate agreement. Cooper’s energy plan threatens N.C. jobs, especially in the important manufacturing industry. Brooke and Mitch then turn to the Emergency Powers Accountability Act, a proposal in the N.C. House that would rein in the governor’s ability to take unilateral action in shutting down schools and businesses in response to challenges like COVID-19.
20 minutes | 2 months ago
HeadLocke No. 133: School reopening vetoed, literacy test targeted, and human capital valued
State lawmakers in North Carolina hoped to move public schools back to in-person instruction more quickly with Senate Bill 37. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the measure, and a Senate vote to override the veto fell one vote short. One Democrat switched sides to vote against school reopening, and another Democrat failed to show up for the vote. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss the importance of school reopening for addressing students’ educational needs. Next, the conversation turns to a shameful piece of North Carolina’s history: a literacy requirement for voter registration that remains within the state constitution. A recent Carolina Journal column urges lawmakers to seek to have that literacy requirement removed. Brooke and Mitch then peruse the latest evidence that human capital is helping the world avoid dangerous shortages of natural resources. They also offer kudos to Carolina Journal for its five recent awards from the N.C. Press Association, including a clean sweep of the “serious columns” category for online publications.
18 minutes | 3 months ago
HeadLocke No. 132: Just compensation for COVID-19 harm, tutoring for learning loss, and high praise for Raleigh
Everyone has felt the impact of COVID-19. Many have taken substantial hits to their livelihoods, often because of government restrictions. A recent John Locke Foundation research brief argues that people who’ve lost the ability to enjoy the “fruits of their labor” because of government restrictions ought to get the same type of “just compensation” as those who lose property to eminent domain. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss that idea. Next, they turn their attention to research highlighting the importance of tutoring to address COVID-related learning loss for public school students. On a lighter note, the conversation turns to a new Milken Institute report that labels Raleigh-Cary the No. 5 metro area in the country among top-performing urban economies.
19 minutes | 3 months ago
HeadLocke No. 131: Summer school challenges, ‘gold standard’ tax reform, PAC spending jumps
As the N.C. General Assembly finalized a bill this week to ensure public school students could return to in-person classroom instruction, some lawmakers were looking ahead. They’re pushing a bill that would enhance summer school options for struggling students. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss the proposal, with help from Bob Luebke of the John Locke Foundation’s Center for Effective Education. Luebke supports expanded Education Savings Accounts to address learning loss linked to COVID-19. Switching gears, Brooke and Mitch examine a recent column from the Des Moines (Iowa) Register. It proclaimed North Carolina as the “gold standard for pro-prowth tax reform.” The Tar Heel State offers a good contrast to tax reform problems that plagued Kansas during the last decade. In the week’s final topic, spending by political action committees has quadrupled in North Carolina during the past decade. The podcast highlights key factors in PAC growth from 2010 to 2020.
20 minutes | 3 months ago
HeadLocke No. 130: COVID-19 concerns include vaccines, price gouging, and election rules
Available vaccines are giving North Carolinians new hope about the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. But voters are not thrilled about the way state government is distributing those vaccines. A statewide poll conducted at the end of January showed just 37% of North Carolinians approved of the state’s vaccine distribution. That was before Gov. Roy Cooper decided to move school teachers ahead of more vulnerable seniors in the distribution queue. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai will discuss the public’s vaccine distribution concerns, along with the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the recurring debate over “price gouging.” Brooke and Mitch also highlight left-wing activist group Democracy NC’s efforts to turn temporary COVID-related election provisions into permanent rule changes. Please share your questions and comments about “HeadLocke” with Brooke Medina at email@example.com.
18 minutes | 3 months ago
HeadLocke No. 129: Social studies standards create controversy and more
A fight over plans to introduce new, misleading, negative social studies standards in North Carolina’s public schools heated up this week. Among the developments: A leading Raleigh television station ran an editorial cartoon comparing Republican members of the State Board of Education to the Ku Klux Klan. The John Locke Foundation responded with its own cartoon emphasizing positive comments about American history from Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican board member and African American. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai tackle that topic. They also highlight a new Western Carolina University study that emphasizes the importance of freedom in North Carolina’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Plus Brooke and Mitch analyze movement in the campaign to reopen public schools to students.
16 minutes | 3 months ago
HeadLocke No. 128: Cooper’s school shutdowns panned, left-wing funder gets prominent government job, research targets CON rules
During National School Choice Week, a new Civitas Poll shows overwhelming support — more than 80% — for parental choice in North Carolina. A plurality of the state’s likely voters disapprove of the way Gov. Roy Cooper has handled reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Voters show similar dissatisfaction with local school districts. Speaking of Cooper, he has hired a high-ranking Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation employee for the newly created position of philanthropy liaison. ZSR is North Carolina’s leading funder of left-wing causes. In other news, a new John Locke Foundation report scours academic research and finds the negative impact of state certificate-of-need laws. The report shows how CON reform could boost mental health and substance abuse services in North Carolina. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai chat about these topics.
18 minutes | 4 months ago
HeadLocke No. 127: Moving trucks head to N.C., the costs of a $15 minimum wage, taking aim at collusive settlements
More moving trucks continue to head into North Carolina than most other states. The Tax Foundation sees a link between the state’s friendly tax climate and its high rate of in-migration — No. 6 in the nation, according to United Van Lines. In the week’s biggest news, Joe Biden took the oath of office this week as the 46th U.S. president. One of his proposals would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. It’s an idea that would have terrible consequences for those struggling most in today’s American economy. Closer to home, now that the N.C. General Assembly has returned to Raleigh, one of its agenda items could involve closing a loophole in a law fighting collusive lawsuit settlements. The Democrat-led State Board of Elections used that loophole last year to bypass state laws protecting election integrity. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai tackle each of these topics.
20 minutes | 4 months ago
HeadLocke No. 126: General Assembly returns to work, Robinson takes the stage, COVID-19 sparks education innovation
Familiar faces will lead the N.C. General Assembly for the next two years. Lawmakers returned to Raleigh this week. They voted to keep the same N.C. House speaker and Senate president pro tempore. Brooke Medina and Mitch Kokai discuss 2021 legislative priorities, including a special focus on COVID-19 relief. The conversation then turns to the contrast between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, a veteran of more than three decades of state government service, and new Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a fresh political face just elected to his first political office. Speaking of fresh, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a fresh look at education. As parents consider learning pods and other alternatives or enhancements to traditional district education, Brooke and Mitch weigh the potential long-term benefits for parental school choice.
19 minutes | 4 months ago
HeadLocke No. 125: N.C. Supreme Court politics, slow vaccine rollout, ‘epic’ deal for Cary
The latest edition of HeadLocke introduces us to Brooke Medina, new vice president of communications for the John Locke Foundation. Brooke and Mitch Kokai discuss political shifts on the N.C. Supreme Court, the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina, and Epic Games’ decision to transform the old Cary Towne Center mall into a corporate headquarters. Brooke and Mitch also solicit ideas for a new name for the podcast. If you have suggestions, please submit them to Brooke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
15 minutes | 5 months ago
HeadLocke No. 124: Colorado law enforcement debate could offer useful N.C. lessons
Issues involving law enforcement and community relations have generated multiple headlines in recent months. That’s true in North Carolina and across the country, especially after the well-publicized death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Colorado legislature recently approved a bipartisan law enforcement reform measure. State Sen. John Cooke, assistant Republican leader, is the husband of John Locke Foundation CEO Amy Cooke. During a recent visit to Raleigh, John Cooke explained how he and his Colorado colleagues transformed a bad bill into a reform that won widespread support.
18 minutes | 6 months ago
HeadLocke No. 123: Evidence continues to back in-person student instruction as N.C. welcomes new education leader
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to generate headaches for those making policy decisions about public education in North Carolina and across the country. N.C. voters recently selected a new person to help make those decisions. Catherine Truitt will start the new year as state superintendent of public instruction. In this edition, Donna Martinez chats with Dr. Terry Stoops. John Locke Foundation vice president for research and director of education studies, about Truitt’s role in state education decisions. First, the discussion focuses on the latest evidence suggesting that public school students need to return to in-person instruction.
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