BlueNC's blog

Monday News: You're on your own

REPUBLICANS TAKE AWAY RETIREE HEALTH BENEFITS FOR STATE WORKERS HIRED AFTER 2020: People who go to work for the state beginning January 2021 will no longer qualify for state health insurance when they retire, a provision in the budget that caught critics by surprise. Republican state senators want limits on future retiree benefits to control costs and get the state more in line with perks private-sector employees get. The state employee health plan has a $42.2 billion unfunded liability, estimated future costs that are outpacing revenue. The retiree health care provision is in the budget the legislature passed this week. Republican senators filed a bill limiting future state employees’ retirement benefits that received a committee hearing earlier this year. That bill never went to a vote.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article15...

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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SUPREME COURT AGAIN, TO NC: DON'T PLAY POLITICS WITH THE CONSTITUTION: It is becoming all too familiar. If it’s Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will declare another North Carolina law unconstitutional. It’s no joke. Since a new majority took control in 2011, more than a dozen laws passed by the General Assembly have been struck down by the federal courts. It is a sorry record that reflects a reckless disregard for our Constitution in favor of petty partisanship and the unbending desire to impose a rigid ideology on the state. It is a wasteful pastime that gains nothing and leaves innocent victims in the wake. If the politicians in office cannot restrain themselves from enacting unconstitutional laws, voters need to pick new ones who can.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-supreme-court-again-to-n-c-don-t-play-politics-with-the-constitution-/...

Saturday News: Preferred customers first

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OIL & GAS INDUSTRY MOGULS WRITING THEIR OWN TICKET IN TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Just four days after he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump delivered a clear message that he would use his office to help industry friends and political allies. He signed a Jan. 24 executive order that assured completion of the Dakota Access pipeline, which will transport oil fracked by various companies, including one owned by Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm, his longtime friend and energy adviser. Since that day, the president has tapped various friends and supporters to help shape his infrastructure agenda, including CEOs who have a financial interest in the regulatory relief Trump is promising and implementing. These include Stephen Schwarzman, who heads the New York-based Blackstone equity firm, which has multi-billion-dollar investments in infrastructure nationwide.
http://www.newsobserver.com/latest-news/article157881244.html

Friday News: Partisan to the last drop

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BURR CLAIMS SENATE BILL WILL STRENGTHEN MEDICAID, BUT IT CONTAINS VICIOUS CUTS: Burr said the bill would strengthen North Carolina’s Medicaid program, even as critics focused on the deep cuts the Senate bill would make in the government health insurance program for poor, elderly and disabled people. The cuts to Medicaid are deeper even than the $834 billion proposed in the AHCA. “We were hoping it would be an improvement. We don’t see this as an improvement,” said Julie Henry, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Hospital Association. “We’re very disappointed in this version. The thing that is difficult for a lot of people to see — there are lots of things that are key buzzwords and phrases and repealing a lot of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act — is how much of a burden it pushes to the state.” North Carolina has roughly 2 million people on Medicaid, according to Henry, a figure in line with the national percentage of 20 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article15...

Thursday News: Political gamesmanship

REPUBLICANS GO AFTER AG JOSH STEIN WITH DEEP BUDGET CUTS: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was taken by surprise this week when lawmakers he used to work beside as a state senator cut $10 million from the state Department of Justice budget with very specific targets. “This move is as irresponsible as it is short-sighted,” Stein said in a statement released Tuesday, the day after legislative leaders released the $23.03 billion budget to the public. Stein said he was “deeply troubled” that the General Assembly directed his office to “eliminate the attorneys who work to prosecute criminals and keep them behind bars, who save taxpayers millions of dollars by defending against frivolous suits, who keep corporate bad actors in line, and who protect our clean air and water.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article157510939.html

Wednesday News: The way the ball bounces

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JON OSSOFF FALLS SHORT OF FLIPPING GEORGIA'S 6TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Ossoff’s campaign had nothing if not an abundance of election-obsessed supporters, who helped him raise an unprecedented amount of money and assemble a small army of door-knocking volunteers. Many of them were political neophytes, men and women who once rarely voted but now served as precinct captains and social-media advocates. But Ossoff still lost in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District because his supporters, even when combined with politically moderate independents, couldn’t outnumber Republican partisans. “This is not the outcome many of us were hoping for,” Ossoff told supporters during his concession speech. “But this the beginning of something much bigger than us.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article157305869.html

Tuesday News: Prepping for the 2020 "we own the maps" Election

REPUBLICANS PASS MASSIVE TAX CUT TO GO INTO EFFECT IN 2019: The final budget compromise announced by House and Senate leaders Monday would sharply cut personal and corporate income taxes – but the new rates won’t kick in until 2019. “Millions of middle class families will also keep more of their own earnings,” Senate leader Phil Berger said during a news conference Monday, adding that 99 percent of taxpayers will see a tax cut or pay no income taxes under the plan. House Speaker Tim Moore said the change in the standard deduction will mean 95,000 people will no longer owe income taxes. The 5.25 percent personal income tax rate will be “the lowest rate in the Southeast among states that tax earnings,” according to a news release from House Republicans.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article157061604.html

Monday News: Right-wing terrorism

WHITE MAN DRIVES VAN INTO CROWD OUTSIDE LONDON MOSQUE: A white man plowed a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers outside a north London mosque early Monday in an attack that police say they are investigating as a terrorist incident. Ten people were injured in the attack and police said another man died at the scene, though he was receiving first aid at the time and it wasn't clear if he died as a result of the attack or of something else. "We have a witness saying that the guy who did what he did, the driver of the van, said 'I did my bit,' which means he's not mentally ill," Kacimi said. "This person was conscious. He did what he did deliberately to hit and kill as many Muslims as possible, so he is a terrorist." British security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with official policy, said hate crimes directed at Muslims have increased nearly five-fold in the wake of several attacks in Britain.
http://www.newsobserver.com/latest-news/article156901629.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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STILL TIME TO FIX STATE BUDGET INTO ONE THAT HELPS ALL NORTH CAROLINIANS: Word is that the remaining differences – whatever they might be -- between the N.C. House of Representatives and Senate over the state budget are being worked out by the legislature’s top-most leaders. However, before they wrap things up, lawmakers still have the chance to correct their course on some misguided proposals remaining on the table as well as to incorporate some needs that have been ignored or forgotten. First, stop giving the state’s revenue to people who don’t need it. Continued cuts in the corporate income tax are unnecessary and jeopardize the ability of state government to meet the most basic needs of citizens. Reverse the foolish neglect of public education. Take care of those in need. Reject spiteful cuts to important education programs that help disadvantaged students in the eastern part of the state; Discard mean-spirited cuts to food stamps – that would throw 133,000 people – children and the elderly included – off the program while not saving the state a dime.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-still-time-to-fix-state-budget-into-one-that-helps-all-north-carolinia...

Saturday News: Grifters gonna grift

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TRUMP EARNS TENS OF MILLIONS FROM HOTEL AND RESORT PROPERTIES: The Trump-branded hotel blocks from the White House has quickly generated almost $20 million of income for the Trump Organization while Mar-A-Lago, the private club used as a “Southern White House,” has seen profits climb nearly 25 percent — figures that are sure to fuel ethics advocates’ charges that Donald Trump is profiting off the presidency. One marquis property showing income gain is the Palm Beach resort called the Mar-A-Lago Club, which Trump calls his southern White House and it doubled its initiation fees to $200,000 in January, weeks before Trump took office. The disclosure form includes reported income of $37.2 million for the Florida resort, up sharply from $29.8 million in the prior year’s report.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article156701094.html

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