Saturday News: Lame duck dynasty


FEARING LOSS OF POWER, REPUBLICANS PLAN NOVEMBER SESSION FOR SHENANIGANS: "We want to have the option of coming back – assuming that these constitutional amendments pass – if we need to adopt legislation along those lines, to consider that, plus as well as things that may come up between now and then," said Moore, R-Cleveland. "So we have a date to reconvene. Who knows if we’ll do anything at that period of time?" Moore mused, "but the consensus was to go ahead and put that date on there and then we’ll come back at that point." Asked the same question, Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham, was more pointed. "I think what is clear is this: There seems to be a belief that there may be some change in the election in November, and they want to have an opportunity in November to push through legislation that there’ll be no way on earth they'll get pushed through in January 2019," Reives said.

BUDGET CUTS FOR DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION HURT LOW PERFORMING SCHOOLS: This is the second year in a row that cuts have been made to divisions that work with low-performing schools. Several employees in that division were fired last year as part of a $3.2 million cut ordered by state lawmakers. These cuts will hurt the schools that need the help the most, according to Keith Poston, president and executive director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina. He said that DPI has done a good job of helping to transform challenging schools. "The cuts announced today fall disproportionately on the professionals who are supporting our low-performing and most challenging schools," Poston said. "It’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing." In addition to the $3.2 million cut that was part of last year's state budget, legislators also built in a $5.1 million cut for this year.

TRUMP DOJ REFUSES TO PROSECUTE ASHEVILLE COP WHO BEAT BLACK MAN JAYWALKING: The U.S. Department of Justice says no federal charges will be filed against a former North Carolina police officer who was seen on body camera videos beating a black pedestrian. U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray said in a news release Friday that after a thorough and independent investigation, the evidence doesn't warrant prosecution of a violation of federal criminal civil rights laws. The video from last August showed former Asheville police officer Christopher Hickman punching, choking and shocking Johnnie Jermaine Rush, whom officers had accused of jaywalking. Hickman, who is white, was arrested in March on a state felony charge of assault by strangulation, plus misdemeanor counts of assault and communicating threats. An arrest warrant said Rush suffered head abrasions and swelling and lost consciousness when Hickman pressed his arm on his throat.

POTENTIAL TRUMP APPOINTEE TO SUPREME COURT NOTED FOR ANTI-WOMEN AND ANTI-LGBT VIEWS: Last year, during a confirmation hearing to join the Court of Appeals, Willett faced questions from a panel of senators about tweets and a memo he wrote as a staffer in the office of then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush. The memo advised Bush to revise a proclamation he had written for the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women. “I resist the proclamation’s talk of glass ceilings, pay equity (an allegation that some studies debunk), the need to place kids in the care of rented strangers, sexual discrimination/harassment, and the need generally for better working conditions for women (read: more government),” Willett wrote. The memo also criticized the women’s group for advocating for affirmative action and abortion rights, among other things. The panel accused Willett of trivializing same-sex marriage in a 2015 tweet. Willett tweeted a picture of a pan of sizzling bacon, under which he wrote, “I could support recognizing a constitutional right to marry bacon.”

CANADA RELEASES LIST OF TARIFFS IN RESPONSE TO TRUMP TRADE WAR: Canada announced billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. on Friday in a tit-for-tat response to the Trump administration’s duties on Canadian steel and aluminum. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government released the final list of items that will be targeted beginning July 1. Some items will be subject to taxes of 10 or 25 percent. Many of the U.S. products were chosen for their political rather than economic impact. For example, Canada imports just $3 million worth of yogurt from the U.S. annually and most of it comes from one plant in Wisconsin, the home state of House Speaker Paul Ryan. The product will now be hit with a 10 percent duty. Another product on the list is whiskey, which comes from Tennessee and Kentucky, the latter of which is the home state of Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. Freeland also said they are prepared if U.S. President Donald Trump escalates the trade war. “It is absolutely imperative that common sense should prevail,” she said. “Having said that our approach from day one of the NAFTA negotiations has been to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”