Daily dose

Wednesday News: Safe zone?

GOP EXPELLED JOURNALISTS TO CREATE LOUNGE WHERE LAWMAKERS CAN HIDE: After kicking the media out of their longtime press room in the Legislative Building and banishing them to a corner of the basement, officials have finally converted the former press room into a legislative hideaway. Reporters have dubbed the couch- and art-filled room, which can only be accessed by lawmakers and isn't open to the public, the "teachers lounge." Outside of the lounge, not much occurred Tuesday as the House didn't hold session and the Senate took up only a couple of bills. One issue creating a rift among elected officials, however, is a proposed casino near Charlotte that the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation wants to build. North Carolina Republican U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis are co-sponsoring a bill in Congress to make it happen, while 38 state senators have written to a U.S. Senate committee to oppose the measure.

Tuesday News: A taxing proposition


PROPOSED 10% PROPERTY TAX INCREASE IN WAKE COUNTY DRAWS FIRE: While some asked for more money for schools, most speakers at Monday’s public hearings questioned a nearly 10% property tax rate increase in Wake County’s proposed budget. The anti-tax speakers — some holding homemade signs and wearing American-themed costumes — called on Wake County leaders to reject County Manager David Ellis’ proposed 6.36-cent tax-rate increase. Ellis’ $1.47 billion spending plan would raise the county tax rate from 65.44 cents to 71.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value. That increase includes 3.8 cents to fund the education and parks bonds backed by voters this past fall. Wake County is trying to cover the failures of the state legislature’s unfunded mandates, said Kristin Beller, president of the Wake County chapter of the N.C. Association of Educators.

Monday News: Welcome to Gilead

PERSONAL STORIES OF RAPE TOLD DURING DEBATE OF SC'S FETAL HEARTBEAT BILL: A bill was being debated that would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected; Mace, a Republican lawmaker, wanted to add an exception for rape and incest. When some of her colleagues in the House dismissed her amendment — some women invent rapes to justify seeking an abortion, they claimed — she could not restrain herself. “For some of us who have been raped, it can take 25 years to get up the courage and talk about being a victim of rape,” Mace said, gripping the lectern so hard she thought she might pull it up from the floor. “My mother and my best friend in high school were the only two people who knew.” As one Republican legislature after another has pressed ahead with restrictive abortion bills in recent months, they have been confronted with raw and emotional testimony about the consequences of such laws. Female lawmakers and other women have stepped forward to tell searing, personal stories — in some cases speaking about attacks for the first time to anyone but a loved one or their closest friend.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NC NEEDS CONSCIENCE IN CONGRESS, NOT TRUMP CULT FOLLOWERS: Today we have a president who seems unable to tell the truth to Congress, and who lies daily to the American people. Republicans in the North Carolina delegation sit quietly as Trump lies about his China tariffs, saying that China is sending billions of dollars to the United States. American importers and consumers know that is not true. We pay those billions. This is not about politics. This is about whether the leaders of our congressional delegation have moral values that require support for the truth and expect the president to comply. If the leaders of North Carolina’s congressional delegation are so mesmerized by Donald Trump that they will not speak to the truth of what the president says, they don’t need to be taking up space in our Capitol.

Saturday News: With friends like that...


DESPITE HIS HORRIBLE RECORD, GROUP CLAIMS TILLIS IS LGBTQ-FRIENDLY: As speaker of the N.C. House, Thom Tillis helped place a ban on same-sex marriages in the state constitution and then defended the amendment in court. As a U.S. senator, Tillis has consistently received low marks for his voting records on gay rights from the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights organization. But in an invitation for a fundraiser this week in D.C., Tillis was touted as “a pro-LGBTQ Republican” by the conservative gay rights group hosting the event. American Unity Fund, which wants to make the conservative case for gay Americans, hosted the fundraiser to benefit Tillis and five other Republican congressional incumbents, including Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine. “On all the votes that have mattered since he has been in the U.S. Senate, he has not voted with the LGBTQ community,” said Ames Simmons, policy director at Equality NC.

Friday News: Feeling the Bern?


SANDERS SWINGS SOUTH FOR THE WEEKEND, ASHEVILLE AND CHARLOTTE INCLUDED: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is making his first public appearances in North Carolina for his 2020 presidential bid as part of a long weekend traveling through the South. Sanders' campaign says the Vermont senator will hold outdoor rallies at midday Friday in Asheville and late in the afternoon in Charlotte. The Asheville event will be held at the Salvage Station venue and the Charlotte event will be on the Central Piedmont Community College campus. Sanders' campaign says he'll talk about the need to restore voting rights, reform K-12 education, eliminate poverty and address environmental racism. Sanders' weekend tour also will take him to South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

Thursday News: Striving for equity


AFRICAN-AMERICAN LAWMAKERS PUSH MORE FUNDING FOR HBCU'S: Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, noted that each UNC campus that has a doctoral-level research program is supposed to get an extra $10 million a year for faculty and equipment, but N.C. A&T gets only $2.5 million – and even that has been a recent improvement. Republican leadership has promised to include another $7.5 million in this year's state budget, she said, but the inequity shouldn't have existed for so long. "This is not about HBCUs versus non-HBCUs. This is about equity, and this is about parity," said Rep. Raymond Smith Jr., D-Wayne. Smith fought during the debate over the House budget to shift some of the $100 million earmarked for agricultural research and cooperative extension at North Carolina State University to N.C. A&T, which he said got nothing, even though the two land-grant universities have a similar focus.

Wednesday News: Dan vs. Dan


BISHOP WINS 9TH DISTRICT REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARY: Bishop will face Democrat Dan McCready and two third-party candidates on Sept. 10 in what’s expected to be the nation’s most closely watched special election. With 93% of votes in, Bishop defeated Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing 48% to 20%. Among 10 candidates, former Mecklenburg County Commissioer Matthew Ridenhour was the only other one in double figures, with 17%. As he had throughout the campaign, Bishop decried the “liberal crazy clowns” in Washington. He described their agenda as “socialism, open borders (and) infanticide.” In a statement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee signaled its own attacks against Bishop: As the architect of House Bill 2, the so-called “bathroom bill,” and the heir to what it called Republican election fraud.

Tuesday News: Flip-flop pays off


PENCE TO THROW BIG-MONEY FUNDRAISER FOR TILLIS IN GREENSBORO: Vice President Mike Pence will attend a fundraising dinner with Sen. Thom Tillis in Greensboro on May 22, an important sign of support from the administration for Tillis, who faces a primary challenge in 2020. Tillis, from has faced criticism from some North Carolina Republicans for not sufficiently backing Trump on immigration issues, notably Trump’s national emergency declaration. Tillis, who wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post explaining his rationale for voting against the emergency declaration, voted with the president after the backlash. Tucker, in his first television ad, hit Tillis for his “flip flop” on the issue. Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and the party’s national deputy finance chair Louis DeJoy — the former CEO of New Breed Logistics and a Republican mega donor — will also attend the event. DeJoy hosted a fundraiser for President Donald Trump at his home in 2017. The event has giving levels from $2,800 to $35,000.

Monday News: Justice, delayed


MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO SEXUALLY ABUSING MINOR IN THE 1980'S: A woman who chose years ago not to pursue prosecution of the North Carolina man who sexually abused her says she supports the plea agreement that gave the abuser a one-year prison term. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that 63-year-old Arnold Ray Lasseter pleaded guilty on May 6 to six counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor. He received the one-year active sentence and a six-year suspended sentence. He must register as a sex offender for 30 years. Assistant District Attorney Pansy Glanton says the woman told Forsyth County authorities in September 2016 that Lasseter sexually assaulted her in the 1980s. Her father reported the abuse at the time, but the victim decided not to pursue prosecution. She changed her mind after years of counseling.


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