Monday News: Big government strikes again


BILL TO BLOCK MUNICIPALITIES FROM REGULATING AIRBNB GAINS STEAM: Several cities around the state have implemented or are working on regulations on short-term rentals, including Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Asheville. Mark Zimmerman, senior vice president for NC Realtors, says it’s a question of property rights. He says many people rely on the income from short-term rentals, and property owners have the right to use their property as they see fit. Cities and counties are against the regulation ban. Mooneyham says people who own the neighboring homes in those single-family neighborhoods have property rights too, and local governments are best suited to balance those competing interests. The bill would take it out of their hands. "Those people need to be protected, their quality of life needs to be protected, and the investment – the most important investment most people will ever make – needs to be protected," he said.

NC DOT MAY BE ON THE HOOK FOR A BILLION TO PAY OFF LANDOWNERS: Three years ago, the state Supreme Court ruled that a 30-year-old law that let the Department of Transportation reserve land for future roads without actually buying it amounted to an unconstitutional taking of private property. The ruling on the Map Act opened the way for hundreds of landowners to seek compensation for property the NCDOT had locked up for years. Now the bills are starting to come due. As of Friday, the state has reached settlements in about 360 Map Act cases, totaling $290 million. With another 260 cases still pending and others yet to be filed, NCDOT’s chief operating officer, Bobby Lewis, told the Board of Transportation last month that the cost of settling Map Act cases could exceed $1 billion. “I said a billion just to give gravity to the situation,” Lewis said in an interview. “We don’t know until we know how many are going to be filed.”

TRUMP ADMIN TEMPORARILY DELAYS CRACKDOWN ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD: A notice sent Saturday night to representatives of the clinics by the Department of Health and Human Services said the government “does not intend to bring enforcement actions” against clinics that are making “good-faith efforts to comply.” A copy of the notice, which includes a new timetable for the clinics, was provided to The Associated Press. The department had said last Monday that it would require immediate compliance. That caught clinics off guard and led Planned Parenthood and other providers to say they would defy the order. It was not immediately clear how clinics would react to the enforcement pause because they also are suing in federal court to block the abortion restrictions. The latest timetable from the administration says clinics must submit a compliance plan next month, and by mid-September must show they are carrying out most of the new requirements. Clinics have until next March to separate their office space and examination rooms from the physical facilities of providers that offer abortions.

OHIO COUNTIES ARE GROUND ZERO IN OPIOIDS LAWSUIT: The CVS in this white working-class suburb of Cleveland is a three-hour drive and, culturally, even farther from the southern Ohio section of Appalachia that has become widely associated with the opioid epidemic. But last week’s revelation that drug companies saturated the United States with 76 billion pain pills over seven years shows that no corner of the country escaped the drug crisis. Two other drugstores in this city of 80,000 placed second and fifth on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Cuyahoga County locations. Wholesalers shipped opioids at 5.4 million and 3.7 million doses respectively to those. The list was disclosed by The Washington Post last week. The defendants in the case include giant drug distribution companies such as McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Walgreens and Walmart, and manufacturers such as Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt. The companies have generally blamed the epidemic on overprescribing by doctors, over-dispensing by pharmacies and on drug abuse by customers. The companies say they were working to supply patients in desperate need of pain relief with legal, highly regulated drugs.

BORIS JOHNSON COULD BE DONALD TRUMP'S TWIN: Even allies acknowledge that Mr. Johnson sees himself as someone focused on the big picture, rather than on the details of governance. He is intuitive and improvisational, allies say, often junking a prepared text when making a speech. After a career as a journalist, Mr. Johnson was elected to Parliament in 2001, where he was enmeshed in some controversy, and was fired from the opposition leadership team, after falsely denying reports of an extramarital affair. “He liked to fly by the seat of his pants on things like this, and he was more than happy to bluff or lie,” said Jenny Jones, a London Assembly member for the Green Party at the time.Mr. Johnson, at that time already being discussed as a future prime minister, seemed enamored of the status and power of City Hall, but “bored with the whole concept of politics and taking responsibility,” Ms. Jones said. “I wouldn’t trust him to feed my cat.”