REPUBLICANS RESURRECT DEM HEALTH CARE BILL FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES: In an unexpected move Thursday, a North Carolina House Democrat moved to kill her own bill that would have started the process to create a statewide universal health care system. Republicans had resurrected the bill Wednesday night in an effort to highlight the economic impact of such a system. The bill — which had been sitting dormant in the House Appropriations Committee since April 2017 — was put onto the House Rules Committee agenda late Wednesday, surprising many observers because liberal policy proposals typically don't get committee hearings. Hours before the House met Thursday morning, the conservative Civitas Institute released an analysis of the bill, which it characterized as a "monster that could swallow the North Carolina state budget."
DUKE ENERGY HAS A BAD DAY AT NCUC RATE REQUEST HEARING: Duke Energy won't be able to charge customers up front for $13 billion it wants to spend burying power lines and making other changes to its electric grid, the North Carolina Utilities Commission said Friday. State regulators also ordered DEC, which serves the western part of the Triangle and much of western North Carolina, to refund customers $60 million a year for four years to cover benefits from state corporate tax cuts. There will also be offsets for federal corporate tax cuts approved late last year. The commission said the company can recoup from customers some $546 million in coal ash cleanup costs already underway, but it won't let the company charge customers now for future cleanup costs. It also hit the company with a $70 million penalty for mishandling coal ash.
HAPLESS MCCRORY WHINES ABOUT COOPER REMOVING MONUMENT TO HIS DOG: Former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory Friday criticized his Democratic successor Friday — over a dog. More specifically, McCrory blamed Gov. Roy Cooper for removing a metal sculpture of McCrory's dog, Moe, from the grounds of the governor's Western Residence in Asheville. McCrory said the sculpture was a gift from local animal rescue advocates. In the first legislative session after he was elected in 2012, his wife, Ann, championed what was known as the puppy-mill bill. It would have required breeders to provide daily exercise, fresh food and water, and veterinary care for their dogs. The bill failed to pass the Republican controlled Senate. McCrory said on air that he wishes he would have been more successful fighting for the measure.
TEMPERAMENTAL TRUMP SABOTAGES CONGRESS' IMMIGRATION EFFORTS: Just when House Republicans needed Donald Trump's backing the most — on their big immigration overhaul — he dashed off a presidential tweet on Friday saying they should quit wasting their time on it. It's hardly the first time the president has abandoned his allies in a moment of need. Over and over, Trump has proven himself a saboteur, willing to walk away from promises and blow up a deal, undermining the GOP agenda in Congress. "You just fear that tweet in the morning," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. The retiring Republican said members of Congress can't help but think, "Oh no, how many policies will you undo by the day's end? Because the day's not over. Heck, it's not even noon yet. How many times could he change his mind?"
TOXIC ALGAE BLOOMS SPREADING ACROSS WARMING UNITED STATES: Across the U.S., reservoirs that supply drinking water and lakes used for recreation are experiencing similar events with growing frequency. The trend represents another impact of global warming and raises looming questions about the effects on human health, researchers say. “When water bodies warm up earlier and stay warmer longer ... you increase the number of incidents,” said Wayne Carmichael, a retired Wright State University professor specializing in the organisms. “That’s just logical, and it’s being borne out.” Technically called cyanobacteria, the ancient class of organisms that create the blooms are present nearly everywhere water is found but thrive in warm, still bodies like lakes and ponds. They also create a unique class of toxins, the impact of which on humans is only partly understood. Long linked to animal deaths, high doses of the toxins in humans can cause liver damage and attack the nervous system. In the largest outbreaks, hundreds have been sickened by blooms in reservoirs and lakes, and officials in some areas now routinely close water bodies used for recreation and post warnings when blooms occur.