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Tuesday News: Because lives *are* at stake


SWIFT FEDERAL ACTION VOWED ON COOPER'S MEDICAID EXPANSION PLAN (McClatchy Newspapers) -- The Obama administration pledged Monday to act quickly on North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans want to repeal. Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell suggested Monday that North Carolina could see a quick answer on its request to expand Medicaid. She demurred on the dispute between Cooper and the Republican-controlled state Legislature over Medicaid, but said, “We will process the governor’s proposal as expeditiously as possible when we get it.”

Monday News: Message for Mark


NEW ED. CHIEF - PUBLIC SCHOOLS KEY TO COMMUNITY PROSPERITY, DON'T MARGINALIZE THEM (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) -- Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 -- If Mark Johnson, the new state Superintendent of Public Instruction, truly believes in public schools he'll work to: improve teacher and principal pay; bring back the Teaching Fellows Program; require accountability and transparency from charter schools and the voucher program; and demand universal state-funded pre-K education. Mark Johnson has a chance to show he's more than another young ambitious politician looking to the next campaign and higher office. He can show that he is committed to the job he's been elected to by focusing on common sense solutions and avoiding the seductive allure of partisan political pandering.

Sunday News: Bill Cook can go suck a lemon

COOK CONCERNED ABOUT DEQ NOMINEE (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- State Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, said Friday he so far doesn't have major concerns with Gov. Roy Cooper's cabinet picks – except for his pick to run the Department of Environmental Quality. Cook said Regan is the only Cooper appointment he has concerns with so far, noting the nominee’s advocacy for wind and solar power. Cook has favored legislation reducing a renewable energy mandate and other supports for the industry, siding with some Republicans who say those policies ultimately drive up energy costs.

Saturday News: Coop leads the way

COOPER TAKES FIRST STEP TOWARD MEDICAID EXPANSION (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Gov. Roy Cooper made good Friday on his pledge to pursue federal approval for expanding the state’s Medicaid program. Cooper’s first step consisted of submitting a letter and a draft plan to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. His goal is having expansion in place by January 2018. Cooper’s plan amends the Medicaid reform waiver request submitted June 1 by the McCrory administration. That plan focuses on creating a hybrid oversight solution involving for-profit insurers and not-for-profit health-care systems with no expansion.

Friday News: 500,000 reasons to ignore them


GOP ASKS FEDS FOR REJECTION OF COOPER'S PROPOSAL (Fayetteville Observer) -- North Carolina's legislative leaders have asked federal regulators to reject an anticipated proposal by Gov. Roy Cooper to expand Medicaid, citing state laws they say show he lacks the authority to ask on his own. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore wrote the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday. Cooper announced Wednesday he'd file a request later this week seeking coverage though the federal health care overhaul.

Thursday News: Clear your desk, Donald


DEQ'S VAN DER VAART NEEDS TO EXIT, EVEN IF IT'S NOT GRACEFUL (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) -- Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Donald van der Vaart's self-demotion demeans him and the agency he once led. If he won't go on his own, he should be fired. Van der Vaart’s relatively brief tenure at the helm of the department has been marked more by controversy and dissension than accomplishment. The coal ash disposal issue, sparked by the Dan River spill before he came into office, remains unresolved. A bitter dispute over the wording of warnings connected with potentially unsafe well water ignited into accusations of lying under oath and resignations in protest. He has sought to thwart the development of renewable energy, including solar, one of the state’s top economic growth bright spots. If Cooper’s administration leaders can figure out a way to fire van der Vaart, they need to do it. If he wants, let him sue. Send the lawyers’ bill to the General Assembly, where there seems to be no shortage of legal defense funds.

Wednesday News: Free market cruelty

THE N.C. DOG FACTORY: INSIDE SICKENING WORLD OF PUPPY MILLS (Rolling Stone) -- The house on Hilton Lake Road was unremarkable, a brick one-story with an under-watered lawn and a scrimshaw of patchy shrubs. It was flanked by bigger and smarter homes on a two-lane strip in Cabarrus County, but nothing about it suggested to passersby that inconceivable cruelty lived at this address. It wasn't till we opened the side-yard entrance that the horror inside announced itself. A stench of complex poisons pushed out: cat piss and dog shit and mold and bleach commingled into a cloud of raw ammonia that singed the hair in our nostrils.

Tuesday News: Better skip Maaco

LEGISLATURE’S TAX HIKE MEANS CALLING THE HANDYMAN WILL COST YOU MORE (Charlotte Agenda) -- Calling the handyman is now likely to cost you more, thanks to a new expansion on sales taxes. Effective this week (New Year’s Day, to be precise), a lot more services are now subject to sales taxes. It’s a continuation of a new tax plan that lowers overall North Carolina tax rates but broadens the scope of things that are taxable. Some of the newly taxable things include: Minor home repair, Re-keying doors, Hardwood floor refinishing, Kitchen cabinet replacement, Swimming pool cleaning


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