Tuesday News: Now that's more like it


FLORENCE RECOVERY BILL PASSES, BRINGING FUNDING UP TO $850 MILLION: $65 million to draw down federal disaster recovery dollars that will go to victims of the storm, plus another $23 million for a homeowner repair and rehabilitation fund. $10 million to help develop new affordable housing. $65 million to draw down federal transportation funding. $60 million to help repair K-12 schools. $30 million to repair university campuses, particularly in Wilmington, Pembroke and Fayetteville, and $5 million for community colleges. $8.5 million to stabilize community college budgets and offset enrollment declines in the wake of the flooding. Scholarships of up to $1,250 per student per semester for university and community college students affected by the storm. $2 million for mosquito spraying programs. $20 million to help local governments make repairs and replace vehicles or other equipment.

PROVING THE STOPPED CLOCK THEORY, AFP-NC OPPOSES JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS AMENDMENT: The North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity — one of the most prominent political organizations in the country — is coming out against a Republican effort to limit governors’ power to appoint judges. The group started by the billionaire Koch brothers planned to launch what it said will be a six-figure ad campaign on Monday urging people to vote against one of the six proposed constitutional amendments that the Republican-controlled General Assembly put on the November ballot. “The amendment is nothing more than a political power grab that would grant more authority to special interests and politicians, opening the door to partisan court packing while weakening our constitutional right to select our own judges,” state director Chris McCoy said in a prepared statement. “That is bad for voters and bad for our courts. We’re strongly urging all North Carolinians to reject this backdoor effort that would lead to manipulation and cronyism in an institution that must remain fair, independent and impartial.”

HISE HEARING POSTPONEMENT EMBROILS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS IN CONTROVERSY: On Monday, the state Republican Party put out statements from several cancer survivors, chastising Penry for his "thuggish behavior" and tying it back to Cooper, who appointed the longtime Democrat to the board. The party said the governor was "apparently targeting Republican (board) members for payback." Lewis said he wouldn't put it that way but said he was approached with concerns that he should not have forwarded information about an open investigation. "I have not been told that I'm going to be removed," Lewis said, later adding, "It has been suggested that that is something they are considering." Lewis declined to say who told him this. Penry declined to discuss the matter. Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said, "We are not trying to remove John Lewis." Republican board member John Lewis had forwarded an email to a reporter indicating that the board's staff had not completed its inquiry into the allegations against Hise, making Wednesday's planned hearing premature.

MAYA LITTLE RECEIVES PRAYER FOR JUDGMENT FOR DEFACING SILENT SAM: Cabe said she struggled with her decision in the case. "I walked back in here still not knowing what I was going to do with the case," she said. "It makes the application of a statute that appears to be black and white very gray." Little used necessity as a defense, essentially saying that she had to take action to stop a clear and immediate threat of public harm. But Cabe said she didn't find that Little's actions met that standard. Even after finding Little guilty, Cabe continued judgment – no verdict was entered – and didn't impose any fines, restitution or court costs. "It’s kind of like a tie, really," Holmes said afterward. "There is a finding of guilt, but the judge really was wrestling with that and found a way to try to honor the actions of Ms. Little by not imposing a judgment."

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION EFFORT INCLUDES EXPUNGEMENT FOR PAST CONVICTIONS: It started in California in 2016 when voters approved Proposition 64, which not only legalized recreational marijuana but also made it easier for people with pot convictions to expunge their records. Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco have started giving people with prior convictions — or those from neighborhoods that were once heavily targeted for marijuana-related arrests — priority for licenses to start pot businesses. New Jersey, North Dakota and Michigan may soon follow suit, with advocates for pot legalization measures under consideration this fall making social and economic justice the centerpiece of their campaigns. It’s a decisive shift from the traditional rationales for legalization — evolving public attitudes about the drug and the opportunity to tax it. “In New Jersey, black residents are three times more likely than white residents to be arrested for marijuana offenses,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said in an email explaining his support for a marijuana legalization bill that lawmakers are expected to pass this month.