Wednesday News: He's Not Here

NC SUPERINTENDENT LITERALLY DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM TEACHER RALLY: As thousands of teachers gather in Raleigh on Wednesday to push state lawmakers for more education funding, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson will be more than 100 miles away, meeting with school officials near the coast. Johnson said last week he "absolutely" supports teachers but won't attend the rally because it's on a school day and will affect students, parents and other school workers who are forced to deal with schools closing that day. At the time, nearly a dozen school districts had announced they were closing due to the teacher rally, and Johnson said he hoped no others would follow. Since then, the number of school systems closing has ballooned to 42. As many as 15,000 teachers from across North Carolina are expected to march, rally and meet with lawmakers Wednesday to ask for more education funding, including higher teacher salaries.

WAKE COUNTY PLANS TO BREAK UP SCHOOL BONDS INTO SMALLER AMOUNTS: Wake County leaders are hoping taxpayers will be more willing to support borrowing money for school construction projects if they don't ask them for more than $1 billion at a time. The Wake County school board voted Tuesday to ask county commissioners to provide $2.4 billion over the next seven years to fully fund 15 new schools and 10 major renovations and to partially pay for other projects. Although a school construction bond referendum is expected to be placed on the November ballot, school leaders say commissioners want to keep it below $1 billion. To keep the amount down this fall, school board members say the county wants to go with smaller bond votes in 2018, 2020 and 2022 instead of larger ones this year and in 2022. Each refererenda would cover two years worth of projects to lessen how much money is requested at any given time.

BERGER & MOORE JOKE ABOUT TAKING POWER AWAY FROM ROY COOPER: Speed calls for vigilance, Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said this week. A leader in the minority party, Martin said he expects efforts to wedge policy changes into the budget. That's one way to pass them with less scrutiny and without a clean vote just on the policy in question. Democrats have also voiced concerns that the GOP majority may move again this session to limit power, something the legislative and executive branches have been locked in litigation over since before he took office. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Tuesday that would be news to him. "I haven't talked to anyone about that," said Berger, R-Rockingham. "Does he still have any?" "If you have any suggestions, let us know," Moore, R-Cleveland, joked during a joint press conference with the Senate leader.

CONSTANT US-SOUTH KOREA MILITARY EXERCISES MAY UNDERMINE TRUMP SUMMIT WITH KIM JONG UN: China on Wednesday urged ally North Korea to proceed with a historic summit between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump, amid the North's threats to scrap the meeting. The call came as President Xi Jinping met with a delegation from North Korea's ruling Worker's Party, at which he expressed support for the North's avowed new emphasis on economic development along with improving relations with South Korea. Kim and Trump are due to meet in Singapore on June 12, but North Korea on Wednesday threatened to withdraw, saying it has no interest in a "one-sided" meeting meant to pressure it into abandoning its nuclear weapons. North Korea's warning came hours after it abruptly canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea to protest U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

ACLU AND PP FILE LAWSUIT AGAINST IOWA'S "FETAL HEARTBEAT" LAW, WHICH BANS ABORTION AFTER 6 WEEKS: A lawsuit challenging the nation’s most restrictive abortion law was filed Tuesday in Iowa, a state that for years was largely left out of Republican efforts to overturn abortion protections and where the Democratic attorney general has refused to defend the law. If allowed to take effect, the law would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, around the sixth week of pregnancy, a point when, abortion-rights groups say, many women don’t know that they are pregnant. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced the filing of the complaint in Polk County District Court in Des Moines. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to halt the law’s July 1 implementation. Litigation could take years. Until the 2016 election, Iowa had little to no role in the broad GOP effort to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.