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Thursday News: Power play


DUKE ENERGY "GRID UPGRADE" SCHEME WOULD SEE RATES CLIMB EVERY YEAR: A $13 billion electric grid upgrade would boost Duke Energy electric rates in North Carolina well beyond the 16.7 percent base rate increase the company asked state regulators to approve last year. Duke's North Carolina president testified Wednesday that this additional rider would boost rates another 1.5 percent every year, give or take, for 10 years. That adds up to an additional 16 percent increase to pay for the grid, and since businesses pay a lower rate than residential customers, residential customers would see actually impacts up to 25 percent by the end of the decade. And that's after factoring in expected savings Duke has proposed to pass along to customers from a recent cut in the federal corporate tax rate.

Wednesday News: Duck and cover


GUN DEATHS IN NORTH CAROLINA RISE ABRUPTLY IN 2016: North Carolina has reached a grim milestone: More people died from guns in 2016 than any of the previous 35 years, new federal data shows. In 2016, more than 1,400 people died from guns in North Carolina, according to the most recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The firearm death toll rose by 120 that year. Experts are not yet sure why the numbers are rising. But a jump in firearm-related homicides appears to have driven the increase. Homicides involving guns climbed to 558 in 2016 – a 27 percent increase over the previous year. Gun control advocates – including Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence – blame the state’s laws. In its scorecard of state gun laws, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives North Carolina a D-. “It’s incredibly troublesome, saddening and frustrating,” Ceartas says of the rising gun toll in North Carolina. “Because we know there are gun laws out there that have been proven to save lives … We do know it’s a public health crisis and it needs to be handled as one.”

Tuesday News: Wetwork

FORMER RUSSIAN SPY AND HIS DAUGHTER FALL "MYSTERIOUSLY ILL" IN ENGLAND: British counter-terror specialists are supporting police in Salisbury after a former Russian spy fell critically ill after exposure to an "unknown substance." Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley told the BBC that the case is unusual and that it is critical to determine what happened as soon as possible. The incident involving Sergei Skripal, 66, immediately drew parallels to the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium 11 years ago in London. The Wiltshire Police force says "a small number" of emergency services staff were assessed after Sergei Skripal and a woman, believed to be his daughter, were found collapsed in the city of Salisbury on Sunday. One of them remains in hospital.

Monday News: Dream or nightmare?


FATE OF DACA RECIPIENTS UNCERTAIN AS COURT-BLOCKED DEADLINE ARRIVES: Cervantes Garcia visited a federal immigration office to renew his DACA status Sept. 4. That same month, President Donald Trump moved to rescind DACA, giving Congress a March 5 deadline to come up with replacement legislation. Two federal judges ruled against rescinding DACA and the Supreme Court declined to review the lower courts’ rulings, however, putting the president’s order on hold. With Congress unlikely to pass a new immigration bill by Monday, the future of Dreamers like Cervantes Garcia is unclear again. The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates 915 young unauthorized immigrants across the country would have lost their DACA permits each day beginning Tuesday had the deadline held.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


BANNING ASSAULT WEAPONS--SIMPLE QUESTIONS AND SIMPLER ANSWERS: We have two questions for the North Carolina Congressional delegation. The questions are simple. The answers are simpler: Do you support a ban on military-style assault weapons such as the AR-15? Is there anyone, aside from members of the military service and law enforcement, who need to possess military assault weapons? Please don’t give use a Second Amendment answer. WE SUPPORT the Second Amendment – all of it. But the Second Amendment doesn’t provide an unlimited right to all weapons. Sensible limits protect everybody. Where is that sensible limit? We think a sensible limit has been passed and it is time to renew the assault weapons ban. Just where do our members of Congress stand?

Saturday News: Drop those charges


JUDGE MIFFED AT BERGER & MOORE FOR ADOPTING RULES BY THEMSELVES: On Friday, Fox told attorneys for Carol Anderson and Dale Herman, the Durham residents who challenged the constitutionality of the rules, that he still agreed that General Assembly members had the authority to delegate rulemaking to a Legislative Services Commission. But Fox said he had trouble with the part of the law that allows rules to be made with just the House speaker and Senate leader present, not a quorum of the 10-member commission. “What I’m saying is if you have 10 members of a commission, you can’t have two deciding ... anything that involves criminal sanctions should require that there be a quorum,” Fox said.

Friday News: The price of bent lawmaking


ATTORNEY CALLS FOR WAKE LEGISLATIVE SPECIAL ELECTION IF NECESSARY: An attorney leading another challenge to North Carolina legislative districts wants Wake County House boundaries changed for this year's elections, but a lawyer for Republican state lawmakers says it's too late for that. Three state judges asked the lawyers Thursday how litigation by advocacy groups and voters should proceed. No decisions were announced. The plaintiffs contend four districts must revert to 2011 boundaries because the state constitution prevented lawmakers from changing them last summer without specific court orders. Complicating the case is the U.S. Supreme Court blocking a federal court ruling so last year's lines are in use for May primaries. Plaintiffs' lawyer Allison Riggs suggested holding special Wake County House primary elections this summer if her clients succeed. GOP lawyer Phil Strach says that would cause disruption and uncertainty.

Thursday News: Zero tolerance


DEMOCRATIC REP DUANE HALL ASKED TO RESIGN AFTER SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS: Top Democratic leaders, including Gov. Roy Cooper, called for state Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, to resign Wednesday after a left-leaning news site reported sexual harassment allegations against him. NC Policy Watch said it had five sources, one of whom the website named, describing "persistent sexual innuendo from the three-term legislator and, in some cases, repeated, unwanted sexual overtures." The site quotes Jessie White, described as a top campaign official for several Democratic legislative candidates, as saying Hall commented on her looks and weight. After she mentioned some relationship troubles to Hall at a bar in 2016 he whispered in her ear, “If you give me two hours, you’ll forget about all those other guys," the article states. "We must create a culture where harassment of any kind is unacceptable," Cooper said.

Wednesday News: They went to Jared


KUSHNER'S CONTACTS WITH FOREIGN OFFICIALS PROMPTS SECURITY CLEARANCE DOWNGRADE: Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter. Kushner’s interim security clearance was downgraded last week from the top-secret to the secret level, which should restrict the regular access he has had to highly-classified information, according to administration officials. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked people about the protocols Kushner used when he set up conversations with foreign leaders, according to a former U.S. official.

Tuesday News: Stopped clock version


SUPERINTENDENT MARK JOHNSON OPPOSES ARMING TEACHERS IN CLASSROOMS: North Carolina's schools chief is opposed to arming teachers in classrooms, an idea President Donald Trump and some legislators in North Carolina and other states have suggested following the shootings at a Florida high school that killed 17 people. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said Monday he supports the General Assembly increasing money to hire more law enforcement officers in the schools. But Johnson says in a release teachers should not be asked to take on the "massive responsibility" of having firearms in the classroom. He says he's been working to reduce burdens on teachers. A North Carolina House committee has been formed to evaluate school safety and how it can be improved. Johnson says firearms on school grounds should be in the hands of trained, uniformed law-enforcement professionals.


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