Daily dose

Wednesday News: Constitutional union-bashing

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HOUSE PASSES AMENDMENT REFERENDUM TO PUT "RIGHT TO WORK" IN NC CONSTITUTION: N.C. voters would decide if the state’s anti-union “right to work” law should be added to the constitution under a bill approved by the state House Tuesday in a 75-44 vote. Under House Bill 819, voters would decide in November 2018 if the state law governing union activity should be added to the constitution. The law – and the constitutional amendment – bans employers from requiring their workers to join a labor organization or pay dues to a group.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article146765979.html

Tuesday News: NC, First in Pollution

SENATE GOP LOVES PLASTIC BAGS, HATES RIPARIAN BUFFERS: Banning plastic shopping bags from Outer Banks beaches – a personal mission of former Democratic Senate leader Marc Basnight eight years ago – would be undone in a bill Republican lawmakers are pushing. Senate Bill 434 would repeal the bag ban, lessen stream protections and deregulate other environmental procedures as part of the GOP’s ongoing drive to give businesses a break from what they consider unnecessary or overly burdensome rules. “The Senate appears to be becoming a no-science zone,” Molly Diggins, state director of The Sierra Club, said in a statement. “Yet the threats to our environment demand laws that are supported by careful research and informed by a full discussion of relevant data, with broad stakeholder input. Legislation by personal opinion has no place in environmental policy.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article146470994.html

Monday News: Without art, what's the point?

BILL TO SAVE ART, MUSIC & PE CLASSES FINALLY GETS A HEARING IN NC SENATE: A state Senate panel will consider Monday night a bill that school districts say is needed to prevent thousands of potential teacher layoffs and cuts in art, music and physical education classes in North Carolina elementary schools. Monday’s discussion comes after Senate leaders, who questioned how school districts were spending state money, put the bill on hold for two months. The bill’s consideration Monday comes less than a week after several hundred people rallied on the Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh to demand that the Senate quickly approve House Bill 13.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article146343209.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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INCESSANT TAX CUTS ARE RUNNING OUR STATE INTO THE GROUND: North Carolina tax cuts have primarily benefited large corporations and high income people. There is little evidence that this grows the economy. (We don't believe in trickle down any more than we believe in the Easter bunny.) By resisting any increases in the minimum wage, our legislative leaders’ policies are keeping a lid on disposable income. They’ve expanded sales taxes to more items and services as they’ve eliminated popular programs like the back-to-school sales tax-free weekend and the sales tax holiday on Energy Star appliances. None of these actions increase consumer purchasing power. Rather than continue with tax cut obsessions, legislative leaders need to focus first on what North Carolina needs to have – well paid teachers and school administrators; best-in-the-nation schools and universities; access for all to affordable health care and; a top quality of life. If there’s anything left over after that, only then should any adjustments in revenues be considered.
http://www.wral.com/obsessive-tax-cutting-hurts-n-c-economy-neglects-critical-needs/16656309/

Saturday News: Veto time, baby

GOVERNOR COOPER REJECTS ATTEMPTS TO SHUFFLE COURTS AND ELECTION BOARDS: Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed bills that would cut the state appeals court by three judges and deny the governor’s political party control of the state elections board. The legislature is likely to vote to override the vetoes. House Bill 239 would reduce the state Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 members, which would prevent replacement of three Republican judges approaching mandatory retirement age. Senate Bill 68 would consolidate the state elections and ethics boards. The new board would have eight members, four from each major political party, with a Republican chairman in presidential-election years and a Democratic chairman in midterm-election years. Local elections boards would also be split. A three-judge panel struck down an earlier attempt by Republicans to merge the boards.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article145960749.html

Friday News: Astroturfing the Triad

BELTWAY GROUP ORGANIZES OPPOSITION TO "WELCOMING CITY" RESOLUTION: An online petition to prevent Winston-Salem City Council from passing a “welcoming city” resolution is generating a Washington beltway publicity push through a privately held conservative influence outfit with a murky funding structure. Although Councilman Dan Besse withdrew a “welcoming city” resolution from consideration on Monday, Stand United is working to promote opposition to the resolution in the event that it is resurrected. Triad City Beat received an email from a strategic communications fellow at the Pinkston Group, an East Coast public relations firm that specializes in “earned-media exposure,” on Thursday morning with an offer to facilitate an interview with Stand United about the effort to kill the “welcoming city” resolution.
https://triad-city-beat.com/2017/04/beltway-influence-machine-lends-aid-welcoming-city-fight/

Thursday News: The people's court

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COMMON CAUSE AND CITIZENS FILE LAWSUIT ON SPECIAL SESSION SHENANIGANS: The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court contends that Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, president of the state Senate, Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the state Senate, and Tim Moore, speaker of the state House of Representatives, violated North Carolinians’ rights when they took up the bills in a three-day session in December without laying out to the public what was on the agenda. “Legislative leaders used the tragedy of a hurricane to conceal a sneak attack on the authority of a properly elected governor,” Morrison said. “There was not even a pretense of proper procedure and public input.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article145578589.html

Wednesday News: Conspiracy

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DEMOCRACY NC SEEKS CRIMINAL PROBE OF MCCRORY CAMPAIGN OVER VOTER CHALLENGES: A voter-rights organization hopes to persuade state and federal prosecutors to investigate whether former Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign and the state Republican Party conspired in late 2016 to falsely accuse hundreds of voters of fraud. Nearly all protests were prepared by attorneys with the firm Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky, based in Warrenton, Virginia, whose clients have reportedly included Republican strategist Karl Rove's American Crossroads organization and other GOP groups. Disclosure reports on the state Board of Elections website show that the Pat McCrory Committee and Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund paid the firm $98,000 in late November and December.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article145328789.html

Tuesday News: Come on, Georgia

DEMOCRAT JON OSSOFF LOOKING STRONG IN SPECIAL CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION: Voters in a suburban Atlanta congressional district will decide Tuesday whether Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff will win outright a special election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, in a district the Republican Party has held since 1979. The closely watched contest has drawn national attention as the first political bellwether of the Trump era, after the district nearly split its vote between the Republican leader and Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election. It even drew the president’s personal attention Monday, when the White House occupant criticized Ossoff in a tweet. “The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressioal (sic) race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!” Trump said.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article145072879.html

Monday News: Corporatocracy

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MANY OF DONALD TRUMP'S APPOINTMENTS ARE RECENT LOBBYISTS: President Donald Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck. The potential conflicts are arising across the executive branch, according to an analysis of recently released financial disclosures, lobbying records and interviews with current and former ethics officials by The New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica. In at least two cases, the appointments may have already led to violations of the administration’s own ethics rules. But evaluating if and when such violations have occurred has become almost impossible because the Trump administration is secretly issuing waivers to the rules.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article144961129.html

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