JUDGE RULES NC'S 20 WEEK BAN ON ABORTIONS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: North Carolina’s ban on women having abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy is unconstitutional, a federal court ruled Monday. But the ruling won’t go into effect immediately. The judge gave state lawmakers 60 days to either write a new abortion law or appeal his ruling. The ruling was a win for Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU who sued to overturn the law. “All decisions about pregnancy, including abortion, are deeply personal and should be decided between a woman and her doctor, without medically-unnecessary interference from politicians,” said Jenny Black, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, in a press release. “This ruling affirms that right and (sends) a clear message to politicians that women deserve our care, not our judgment.”
"FOLWELL'S FOLLY" RUNS INTO ROADBLOCK IN NC HOUSE: A House committee voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to halt proposed changes to the State Health Plan until the end of next year so that a thorough study of the plan's operations and potential cost-saving measures can be conducted. State Treasurer Dale Folwell began pushing last fall to set prices the State Health Plan would pay hospitals and other providers for specific procedures. He said the change would save the state about $300 million a year and would provide more transparency and consistency – Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, which handles claims for the plan, currently negotiates rates with health systems in secret. House Bill 184 calls for creating a 17-member commission to study cost drivers in the health plan, claims data, projected costs, various pricing models, cost transparency, premiums, incentives to encourage more primary care and possible subsidies for state workers to purchase private insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
DURHAM SHERIFF SUPPORTS REP MARCIA MOREY'S "RED FLAG" LAW TO TAKE GUNS FROM DANGEROUS PEOPLE: Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead wants the state to pass a law allowing courts to order firearms temporarily taken from people considered dangerous. Birkhead lent his support Tuesday to House Bill 454, which would allow a family member or law enforcement agency to seek what’s known as an extreme risk protective order from a court to have guns taken from a person considered to a threat to themselves or others. “It’s another tool for law enforcement to use to protect our communities,” Birkhead said at news conference Tuesday. “I’ve long advocated for smart gun legislation, giving us the tools we need to protect our citizens and our residents who live in our counties.” Rep. Marcia Morey, a retired District Court judge from Durham, sponsored the same bill last year after the Parkland high school shooting. That bill died in committee. Morey said Tuesday she would continue to push for what’s known as a “red flag law.”
JOYCE KRAWIEC USES DISABLED AS PAWNS TO OBSTRUCT MEDICAID EXPANSION: Senate leaders are proposing an expansion of a Medicaid waiver program for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults as an alternative to wider Medicaid expansion backed by Democrats and some House Republicans. The bill filed Tuesday would add $41 million in state funds to increase IDD slots in the state from 12,000 to 14,000. Those slots provide a range of supportive services, from housing to employment assistance, making it easier for IDD adults to live independently. Sponsor Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, said about 12,000 people are currently on the IDD waiting list, and the average wait time is seven to nine years. “It is crucial that that population is taken care of first. Democrats keep focusing their agenda on reducing the number of the uninsured but not increasing access to care,” Krawiec said at a news conference. “We just believe they should be taken care of first before we talk about any other expansion.”
NEWEST STRUGGLING CAMPAIGN TACTIC: SHOOT DOWN A SATELLITE WITH A MISSILE? Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India announced on Wednesday that India had shot down a low-orbit satellite with a missile in a test, hailing it as a major moment of national pride. “India stands tall as a space power!” Mr. Modi tweeted after his announcement. He added that the entire effort was “indigenous.” Mr. Modi announced the news in a rare televised address to the nation, and many Indians were immediately suspicious that his primary objective was more political than technological. In a little more than two weeks, India will begin holding an enormous election — billed as the biggest in human history, with nearly 900 million registered voters — and Mr. Modi is up for re-election. Leaders in his political party have recently been heckled in public and attendance has been poor at rallies for some of his allied candidates.