TIM MOORE SET TO PUT VOTER ID CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON NOVEMBER BALLOT: Voters may be asked this November if the state constitution should require identification from people who cast ballots at polling places. Republicans in the state House on Thursday proposed placing the question of voter ID on the ballot in November two years after federal courts struck down the requirement, which was part of a broader law on voter restrictions. House Speaker Tim Moore is the lead sponsor of the bill. Republicans have enough votes to put the question on the ballot without Democrats' help. A ballot question on voter ID is expected to help draw conservative voters to the polls in November, when Republicans anticipate losing seats in the Legislature.
BILL TO RAISE CAP ON LOAN FEES WILL BE COSTLY TO THE POOR AND MIDDLE CLASS: Legislation moving at the statehouse would let banks triple origination fees on loans under $20,000. The new fee cap would be $150, the first increase since 1991. This would be part of a sliding scale of fees contained in House Bill 810, with the fee for loans under $100,000 topping out at $250. Above that, it would be based on a percentage. "It's much broader than ATVs and lawn equipment," said Kelly Tornow, from the Center for Responsible Lending. "It's opening a large playing field that could potentially let some bad lending practices into our state," said Al Ripley, head of the Consumer & Housing Project at the North Carolina Justice Center. Lobbyists for the North Carolina Bankers Association and for BB&T spoke in favor of the change, which cleared the Senate Commerce Committee on a voice vote.
BILL REQUIRING "IN GOD WE TRUST" IN SCHOOLS PUSHED BY CONGRESSIONAL CHRISTIANS: Supporters of House Bill 965, which passed 94-15, said that the legislation would promote the nation's history and identity because "In God We Trust" is the national motto. They denied that the bill was an attempt to promote religion in general or Christianity in particular. The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, which works with a group of members of Congress on faith issues, has launched "Project Blitz," an effort to flood state legislatures with bills such as "In God We Trust" legislation. The group says it's trying "to protect the free exercise of traditional Judeo-Christian religious values and beliefs in the public square, and to reclaim and properly define the narrative which supports such beliefs." "In God We Trust" was adopted as the national motto by Congress in 1956.
WITH DETENTION CENTERS FULL, ICE SENDS IMMIGRANT DETAINEES TO FEDERAL PRISONS: More than 1,600 people arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border, including parents who have been separated from their children, are being transferred to federal prisons, U.S. immigration authorities confirmed Thursday. They said they're running out of room at their own facilities amid President Donald Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration. The move drew condemnation from activists who said the detainees may have legitimate claims to asylum and don't deserve to be held in federal prisons. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a letter Thursday night seeking more information from the Justice Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after learning that ICE had transferred dozens of mothers who had been separated from their children to the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac. "The Trump Administration's new family separation policy is inflicting intentional, gratuitous, and permanent trauma on young children who have done nothing wrong and on parents who often have valid claims for refugee or asylum status," they wrote.
RYAN ZINKE SIDES WITH LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS AND PUNISHES YELLOWSTONE PARK HEAD: Yellowstone National Park’s superintendent said Thursday that he’s being forced out in an apparent “punitive action” following disagreements with the Trump administration over how many bison the park can sustain, a longstanding source of conflict between park officials and ranchers in neighboring Montana. Superintendent Dan Wenk announced last week that he intended to retire March 30, 2019, after being offered a transfer he didn’t want. He said he was informed this week by National Park Service Acting Director Paul “Dan” Smith that a new superintendent will be in place in August and that Wenk will be gone by then. “I feel this is a punitive action, but I don’t know for sure. They never gave me a reason why,” Wenk said. The only dispute he’s had with U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees the park service, was whether the park has too many bison, Wenk said.