Tuesday News: Gerrymandering the courts


NC REPUBLICANS REDRAW MAPS TO STACK THE COURTS WITH FRIENDS: North Carolina House Republicans pressed ahead Monday with legislation redrawing electoral boundaries for trial court judges and district attorneys that its author said was months in the making but surfaced with the days left in this year's session quickly dwindling. The updated maps for Superior Court, District Court and prosecutors' districts, combined with the lack of formal input by judicial groups, only raised misgivings among Democrats that the altered boundaries are designed largely to benefit Republicans. "They're trying to rig the courts because they've lost," Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper told reporters earlier Monday. "This is an attempt to threaten the judiciary and to rig the judiciary in their favor."

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The word of the day is "Veto":

It's called strategy. When you have x number of days to make your decision, and your opponent has y number of days to counter that, and your opponent also has z number of other bills they want to schedule for votes, making their schedule "easier" may not be the wisest choice. And it's definitely not your responsibility.

If you want electoral gains, study the demographics

Because you better believe Republicans are looking at this:

North Carolina’s two largest metropolitan statistical areas – Charlotte-Concord and the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) – have driven much of North Carolina’s total growth since 2010, accounting for 72% of the state’s 611,000 person growth. For every one-year period since the last census (e.g. 2010-2011, 2012-2013, etc.), the cities of Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, and Cary have reported the largest numeric gains in population, typically in that order. Greensboro and Winston-Salem of the Triad, and the port communities around Wilmington, have also made significant gains since 2010.

Granted, this is no "stunning revelation," it aligns with previous growth numbers and forecasts. But much of the discussion (I've read/heard) on tactics to strengthen the Democratic Party has focused around energizing rural Democratic operations into a viable alternative in deep-red territory. And that should be done. But the infusion of large numbers of "new" people (not native North Carolinians) into metropolitan zones, provides not only a lot of potential voters, but also a lot of potential grass roots volunteers. But before we do what I heard somebody suggest recently, "Send them out to the rural areas to spread the messages," the real work that needs to be done is a lot closer to home:

Monday News: You're on your own

REPUBLICANS TAKE AWAY RETIREE HEALTH BENEFITS FOR STATE WORKERS HIRED AFTER 2020: People who go to work for the state beginning January 2021 will no longer qualify for state health insurance when they retire, a provision in the budget that caught critics by surprise. Republican state senators want limits on future retiree benefits to control costs and get the state more in line with perks private-sector employees get. The state employee health plan has a $42.2 billion unfunded liability, estimated future costs that are outpacing revenue. The retiree health care provision is in the budget the legislature passed this week. Republican senators filed a bill limiting future state employees’ retirement benefits that received a committee hearing earlier this year. That bill never went to a vote.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


SUPREME COURT AGAIN, TO NC: DON'T PLAY POLITICS WITH THE CONSTITUTION: It is becoming all too familiar. If it’s Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will declare another North Carolina law unconstitutional. It’s no joke. Since a new majority took control in 2011, more than a dozen laws passed by the General Assembly have been struck down by the federal courts. It is a sorry record that reflects a reckless disregard for our Constitution in favor of petty partisanship and the unbending desire to impose a rigid ideology on the state. It is a wasteful pastime that gains nothing and leaves innocent victims in the wake. If the politicians in office cannot restrain themselves from enacting unconstitutional laws, voters need to pick new ones who can.

Anti-abortion group funded by NC General Assembly uses deception to trick women into its web of lies

Subsidizing fraud with taxpayer dollars:

The groups call themselves “pregnancy resource centers.” They used to be called “crisis pregnancy centers,” and have long been the bane of abortion-rights advocates, who say they mislead pregnant women into thinking they are abortion clinics, and then try to coerce them out of the procedure. The groups dispute that and say they are simply helping women at a difficult time.

“Time and time again Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been revealed to provide false information about both abortion and birth control,” said Tara Romano, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-choice NC. “It’s outrageous that our legislature would increase these centers’ funding without also creating a mechanism to hold them accountable.” But the anti-abortion groups dispute that characterization. They say they are up-front with the women who contact them, and are just making sure they fully understand their options.

Within this huge budget bonanza for anti-abortion propaganda mills is $300,000 to set up an operation (In the Capitol, no less) of a Texas-based group called the Human Coalition, whose main goal is to fool women into believing they're contacting an abortion provider. In order to understand their true motives, we need to hold our nose and take a dive into the land of fanaticism:

Saturday News: Preferred customers first


OIL & GAS INDUSTRY MOGULS WRITING THEIR OWN TICKET IN TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Just four days after he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump delivered a clear message that he would use his office to help industry friends and political allies. He signed a Jan. 24 executive order that assured completion of the Dakota Access pipeline, which will transport oil fracked by various companies, including one owned by Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm, his longtime friend and energy adviser. Since that day, the president has tapped various friends and supporters to help shape his infrastructure agenda, including CEOs who have a financial interest in the regulatory relief Trump is promising and implementing. These include Stephen Schwarzman, who heads the New York-based Blackstone equity firm, which has multi-billion-dollar investments in infrastructure nationwide.

Friday News: Partisan to the last drop


BURR CLAIMS SENATE BILL WILL STRENGTHEN MEDICAID, BUT IT CONTAINS VICIOUS CUTS: Burr said the bill would strengthen North Carolina’s Medicaid program, even as critics focused on the deep cuts the Senate bill would make in the government health insurance program for poor, elderly and disabled people. The cuts to Medicaid are deeper even than the $834 billion proposed in the AHCA. “We were hoping it would be an improvement. We don’t see this as an improvement,” said Julie Henry, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Hospital Association. “We’re very disappointed in this version. The thing that is difficult for a lot of people to see — there are lots of things that are key buzzwords and phrases and repealing a lot of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act — is how much of a burden it pushes to the state.” North Carolina has roughly 2 million people on Medicaid, according to Henry, a figure in line with the national percentage of 20 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.


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