Wednesday News: Autocracy


REPUBLICANS EXCLUDE DEMOCRATS FROM SECRETIVE BUDGET AMENDMENT PROCESS: Democrats are upset that Republican legislators are mostly excluding them from state budget talks, as it's unlikely any proposed changes will be adopted once the budget is revealed. Republican leaders plan to gut an old bill and amend it as a "conference report" to include their budget plans, meaning state lawmakers will have no method for amending the legislation. Republicans hold a supermajority in the House and Senate, so it's unclear whether Democratic proposals would be adopted. Democratic Rep. Darren Jackson, the House minority leader, said the Republicans plan amounts to a "secretive process that will prevent input and consideration" from all legislators.

GOP IMMEDIATELY BURIES (JUDGE) MARCIA MOREY'S GUN SAFETY BILL IN RULES COMMITTEE: The proposal, often referred to as a "red flag" law, allows for law enforcement or a family member to petition the court to take guns away from someone for up to 10 days if they're acting erratically or dangerously. The person would have the chance to contest the order in a court hearing, but if a judge were to find clear and convincing evidence that the gun owner poses an imminent threat, his or her guns could be taken away for a year, and they would be legally banned from buying other guns. Nine other states have such laws already, including Florida, which adopted it with bipartisan support after the Parkland, Fla., shooting three months ago. No Republican lawmakers have signed on as sponsors to the bill, however, and it has already been shunted off to the House Rules Committee, where bills are often held to prevent them from getting a committee hearing.

DONALD TRUMP FLIPS HIS LID OVER ISSUE OF FBI INFORMANT: President Donald Trump escalated his efforts to discredit the Russia investigation Wednesday, saying the FBI has been caught in a "MAJOR spy scandal" over their use of a secret informant to determine whether some of Trump's campaign aides were working with Russia ahead of the 2016 election. "SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!" Trump said in an early morning Twitter tirade. Trump and his GOP supporters in Congress are now demanding information on the outside informant, claiming it is proof that the Obama administration was trying to spy on his campaign for political reasons. The White House has negotiated rare access to classified documents for Trump's congressional allies in a briefing expected Thursday.

FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS WILL LIKELY CONTINUE TO ENRICH TRUMP IF NO ACTION IS TAKEN: Ethics watchdogs and political adversaries called last week's events a blatant case of Trump appearing to trade foreign favors to his business for changes in government policy, exactly the kind of situation they predicted would happen when the real estate mogul turned politician refused to divest from his sprawling business interests. And they say that such dealmaking will likely become business as usual, unchecked by a Republican-led Congress, court cases that could take years and a public that hasn't gotten broadly excited about the obscure constitutional prohibition on accepting emoluments, or benefits, from foreign governments without congressional approval. "It's an issue that seems highly technical and complex, and is difficult to link to everyday lives," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who is heading up an emoluments lawsuit brought by about 200 or so members of Congress.

FCC CHAIRMAN AJIT PAI VISITS NC HIGH SCHOOL TO CELEBRATE INTERNET ACCESS FOR SCHOOLS: Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai paid a visit to Alamance County on Tuesday, May 22. The location was Graham High School, which was chosen to host a celebration of North Carolina being the first state to connect every classroom to high speed broadband. “Back when I was a student roaming the halls of a school very much like this in rural Kansas, the cutting edge technology was a No. 2 pencil, and you could get by if the most advanced electronic you had was a TI calculator. That has, of course, changed,” Pai said. “As we enter a digital economy, we want our students to have the tools necessary to compete and, increasingly, that means access to the internet.” Over the last 11 years, North Carolina has received $700 million from the FCC’s E-rate program, which provides discounts of as much as 90 percent to help eligible schools and libraries obtain affordable internet access.