Friday News: Partisan hackery


LEGISLATIVE REPUBLICANS BLOCK SEVERAL COOPER APPOINTMENTS: Legislative Republicans turned back a number of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's appointments Thursday, giving little reason for the opposition in a couple of cases. Cooper's three State Board of Education appointments had been pending more than a year, a running source of friction between the administration and the GOP-controlled legislature. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said the Cooper administration didn't consult legislators before naming his appointees, a misstep that "bothered a number of people." Democrats said it sounded like partisan politics to them. The governor's office pointed out that the legislature confirmed people from Gov. Pat McCrory's administration to similar positions in the past, including his chief of staff's wife, who was appointed to the Industrial Commission two weeks before McCrory left office.

REPUBLICAN INCOME TAX AMENDMENT SETTLES INTO 7% MAXIMUM CAP: Your state income tax rate is 5.49 percent, and in November, you'll get a chance to ensure it won't rise above 7 percent. Republican legislators on Thursday approved a measure that could limit the income tax to 7 percent, so long as voters approve a referendum this November to amend the North Carolina Constitution. The constitution currently caps the income tax rate at 10 percent. Republicans earlier this month sought a constitutional amendment referendum to lower it to 5.5 percent. The Senate approved the 7 percent figure Thursday despite warnings from some Republicans a day earlier that they wouldn't support it, calling for a tighter cap. "We have a spending problem, therefore with the inability to curtail that at 5.5 percent, I’ll be voting against the motion to concur," said Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Union County Republican.

LAST SATURDAY OF EARLY VOTING RESTORED IN A SEPARATE BILL: House and Senate Republicans looked Thursday to short-circuit a potential legal challenge to their already-passed early voting changes by moving to add the final Saturday before Election Day back to the voting calendar. The day, one of the most popular to vote in North Carolina, had been removed as part of a bill that otherwise expanded early voting by lengthening the weekday hours that voting sites will be open. Voter statistics show that the final Saturday half-day of early voting is disproportionately used by African-American voters. A bill to restore the day was hastily unveiled late Thursday afternoon in the Senate Rules Committee and sent to the Senate floor with no debate. Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, said the change would remove a potential avenue for a lawsuit.

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS SPECIAL MASTER DISTRICTS EXCEPT WAKE AND MECKLENBURG: Persily redrew just a fraction of the state’s 170 legislative districts, mostly in urban counties that tend to favor Democrats. Most of the districts drawn in August by the lawmakers favor Republicans, according to a News & Observer analysis. Persily's plan altered nine legislative districts adopted by lawmakers in 2017, but the Supreme Court blocked the use of five of those districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. “North Carolina Republicans threw a hail Mary to the courts because they’re afraid to run in fairer districts, especially after refusing to give our public schools the resources they deserve and threatening health care for people with preexisting conditions," Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said. "Democrats are ready to break the super-majority this fall and bring common sense back to Raleigh."

UN MIGRATION AGENCY REJECTS TRUMP'S ANTI-MUSLIM NOMINEE FOR DIRECTOR: The U.N.'s migration agency has rejected the Trump administration's proposed candidate to head the body, a post previously held by Americans since 1951. Diplomats who took part in three rounds of voting Friday told the Associated Press that American Ken Isaacs was eliminated in the still-ongoing contest, now being led by Antonio Vitorino, a Portuguese Socialist, and the remaining candidate, IOM deputy director-general Laura Thompson of Costa Rica. Senegalese diplomat Youssoupha Ndiaye, upon leaving the voting in Geneva, said: "the American is out." An intergovernmental body that became a U.N.-related agency in 2016, IOM has had only one director-general who wasn't American since its creation in 1951. Aside from concerns about Trump policies, critics say Isaacs has made anti-Muslim posts on social media.