Friday News: Pay to not play?


COOPER OPPOSES GOP PLAN TO BLACKMAIL STATES WHO OPPOSE OFFSHORE DRILLING: The Democratic governors of five Atlantic states are calling on Congress to reject a proposal to impose heavy fees on states that oppose offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper joined the governors of Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island in signing a letter to party leaders urging a halt to the plan. "North Carolina should not have to pay a ransom to protect our beaches from the dangers of offshore drilling," Cooper said in statement released Thursday. "Our coastal communities generate more than 30,000 jobs and the risk posed by offshore drilling simply isn't worth it." Cooper says North Carolina would have to pay more than $500 million in order to protect its coastline. The proposal would also establish a plan for states that permit drilling to share in the revenue the drilling generates.

BLUST CUTS LOOSE ON HIS REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES OVER FARM BILL HANDLING: "It is about one giant corporation," Blust said. "[The bill's protections are] being sold to the public and to this body like it's Uncle Henry, Auntie Em, Dorothy, Toto and the three farmhand-type farms. That's not what it's about. It doesn't apply to farms like that." Blust tried and failed three times Wednesday to amend the bill, including striking the section on punitive damages and trying to ensure people now being harmed by hog farms won't be precluded from suing once the bill becomes law. "An iron curtain has descended on this legislature, and it just will not let go. A few people call all the shots, and their will governs, and I know the members cannot afford to go against it," he said. "I hate that you can make good arguments, right on point, and somebody holds a thumb up or down, and that determines it. That's a very regrettable situation." Moore then took the unusual move of addressing Blust's comments from the dais, saying he had "impugned integrity of the House."

NC GOP IS SCREWING AROUND WITH EARLY VOTING DAYS, ONCE AGAIN: The bill would set a 17-day early voting period that ends the Friday before Election Day, eliminating the following Saturday. All early voting sites that operate Monday-Friday must be open 12 hours, from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Under the proposal, early voting would start this year on Wednesday, Oct. 17 and end Nov. 2. Democracy North Carolina, a nonprofit concerned with election law, said nearly 200,000 people cast ballots on the last Saturday of early voting in 2016, and that the last Saturday is disproportionately used by African-American voters. Greg Flynn of Raleigh said keeping all sites open for 12 hours would strain Wake County's resources. Flynn is chairman of the Wake County Board of Elections, but said he was speaking for himself. The mandates would require the elections board to ask the county for more money or cut back on early voting sites, Flynn said. "To keep each open for 12 hours, we can't do it without more money," he said. "It's simple math."

JUNK HEALTH INSURANCE BILL RUNS INTO TROUBLE IN NC HOUSE: The fate of a proposal allowing North Carolina-based nonprofit organizations to offer health benefit plans not subject to state insurance regulations is uncertain because House lawmakers wouldn't agree to the Senate idea out of hand. The House declined Thursday night to accept changes senators made to a House measure that originally focused on how to recruit more school psychologists. The new provisions envision groups offering coverage that doesn't necessarily comply with the 2010 federal health care law. North Carolina Farm Bureau and the NC Realtors have pushed for the language. Critics say the plans would offer weak health coverage. Key House Republicans said Thursday more time was needed to review the idea. It's unclear if Senate and House leaders are willing to work out differences before the session ends.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION USES BIBLE TO JUSTIFY ABUSE OF IMMIGRANT CHILDREN: Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible on Thursday in his defense of his border policy that is resulting in hundreds of immigrant children being separated from their parents after they enter the U.S. illegally. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that she hadn’t seen Sessions’ comments but affirmed that the Bible did back up the administration’s actions. “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” she said. “It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.” In an unusually tense series of exchanges in the White House briefing room, Sanders wrongly blamed Democrats for the policy separating children from parents and insisted the administration had made no changes in increasing the use. Until the policy was announced in April, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.