HOUSE REPUBLICANS WANT TO FORCE SHERIFFS TO COOPERATE WITH ICE: In addition to no longer letting sheriffs decide whether to work with ICE, the bill would also increase the number of people who have their immigration status checked when arrested. State law currently instructs officials to check the immigration status of anyone charged with a felony or a DUI. But this new bill would make them check the immigration status of anyone charged with any crime. Birdsong said that could end up being costly for local governments who hadn’t budgeted for the additional jail population this bill would create. The bill is also an example of an over-reaching big government, she said. “What you see in this bill is a thwarting of local officials making decisions on how to keep their communities safe, and also a thwarting of the will of the people,” Birdsong said. “People voted for these sheriffs for a reason.”
HAPPY SUNSHINE WEEK: GOP SENDS TRANSPARENCY BILL TO 12 DIFFERENT COMMITTEES: You could actually call it 13 committees, since state Rep. Ray Russell's bill is slated to go twice through the House Rules committee, a way station where leadership can decide a bill's fate. "The life of a freshman," Russell, D-Watauga, said in a text. Russell's House Bill 341 runs two pages, and he titled it the "North Carolina Sunshine Act." It makes several changes to General Assembly practice, such as forbidding late-night sessions and bills that pop up unannounced – both fairly standard tactics in North Carolina and in other states. It would also require video streams of floor sessions and most committee meetings to be broadcast on the internet, something the House is already moving toward, albeit more slowly than Russell's bill proscribes. House leadership has also committed this year to schedule changes meant to make the legislative process more predictable.
ELON POLL SHOWS BIDEN VERY POPULAR IN NORTH CAROLINA: The percentage of N.C. voters with a positive impression of announced and potential Democratic candidates put Biden at 54.4 percent and Sanders at 44 percent. No other candidate broke the 30-percent mark — with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 29.6 percent, California Sen. Kamala Harris at 26.6 percent, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at 24 percent and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 22.8 percent. Biden has not yet announced he will run for president, but his net favorability rating of plus-24.3 was by far the highest of any candidate. Biden was a senator from Delaware before serving as President Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009 to 2016. Outside of Biden, only Sanders, Booker, Harris, Klobuchar and O’Rourke enjoyed positive net-favorability ratings. But none of them registered better than Sanders’ plus-3.5 points — far behind Biden’s level. North Carolina’s presidential primaries will be held on March 3 as part of Super Tuesday.
CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS (BUT NOT THOM TILLIS) FINALLY STAND UP TO TRUMP: Thursday afternoon, 12 Republican senators (should have been 13) abandoned the president to pass legislation, already adopted by the House, that would block Mr. Trump from declaring a national emergency to build his border wall — an act of defiance that he has vowed to overturn with the first veto of his presidency. “We’re saying today, ‘No, we do not acquiesce to this,’” Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said after voting to block the emergency declaration. “We do not agree that the president should be able to come in and go against the express intention of the Congress when it comes to these appropriated funds” for his wall. The series of votes vividly demonstrated a newfound willingness to stand up to the president among some of his Republican allies (but apparently not Thom Tillis) on Capitol Hill. And they underscored a deep frustration in Congress about the president’s supposed scorn for a coequal branch of government.
49 DEAD AS WHITE SUPREMACIST ATTACKS NEW ZEALAND MOSQUES: Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as "one of New Zealand's darkest days" and said the events in the city of Christchurch represented "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence." The man who claimed responsibility for the shooting said he was 28-year-old white Australian who came to New Zealand only to plan and train for the attack. He said he was not a member of any organization, but had donated to and interacted with many nationalist groups, though he acted alone and no group ordered the attack. He said the mosques in Christchurch and Linwood would be the targets, as would a third mosque in the town of Ashburton if he could make it there.