Gov. Roy Cooper outlined his priorities for the 2019 legislative session during his recent State of the State address. Cooper pushed for Medicaid expansion, a statewide school construction bond, and higher pay for public school teachers. The Democrat Cooper also talked about seeking bipartisan solutions. Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation senior vice president, analyzes Cooper’s remarks and the response from Senate Republican leader Phil Berger. Freedom of religion is the first freedom spelled out in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. It’s also the fundamental freedom that faces some of the strongest attacks in today’s America. Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with the Catholic Association, assessed ongoing challenges to religious freedom during a recent presentation at N.C. State University. Besides Gov. Cooper, top N.C. House leaders have expressed interest in a state school construction bond. Leading state senators have put forward an alternative plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, recently explained that the Senate plan would devote more money to school construction, available more quickly, and without incurring $1.2 billion in interest payments linked to a bond. Partisans like to bicker over whether Republicans or Democrats are more charitable. Richard Clerkin, director of the Institute for Nonprofits at N.C. State University, looks beyond the partisan spin to focus on the relationship between political competition and charitable giving. Debate over state government’s role in local school construction is likely to take up much of the General Assembly’s time this year. While Cooper and leading House Republicans back a bond, Senate leaders prefer their pay-as-you-go alternative. Terry Stoops, John Locke Foundation vice president for research and director of education studies, weighs pros and cons of the alternative approaches.