by Michael Lowrey
Or state issues that are currently in the news and whether they will stay there.
Fracking: One of the biggest state policy issues at the moment is whether the state should allow drilling for natural gas using including hydraulic fracturing aka fracking.
How long fracking remains a big deal though will depend in large part on how much natural gas there is under North Carolina. A new Raleigh News & Observer story hints that the previous estimates were probably way high. If that’s the case, then fracking may not amount to that much, and the issue could recede to the back burner after drilling is allowed and a few test wells sunk. Natural gas prices are quite low and are projected to stay that way for some time, which certainly doesn’t encourage drilling.
Juvenile justice: Unless you’re a lawyer specializing in the subject, involved in the juvenile justice system, or an absolute policy wonk, you probably won’t know that North Carolina tries 16-year old as adults. No, not sometimes. All the time. We’re alone in doing so among the 50 states. A new JLF report says this practice is counterproductive. And there’s been a push for several years to change the law, to try at least some 16 and 17-year olds as juveniles.
As the Associated Press reported over the weekend, its going to be a slow process. Republicans are increasingly supporting the idea. Implementation is the sticking point, as it might actually cost some money. A bill in the state House would raise the age to 18 for misdemeanors… in 2019. So expect to hear a lot about this for years to come, whether it passes this session or not.