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Thursday News: Imminent threat

COOPER WARNS CONGRESS ABOUT INACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called on the United States to reassert itself as a global leader in the fight against climate change, telling a divided congressional committee of the economic, commercial and personal toll of climate change to his state while touting his moves as chief executive. “We can’t afford not to take urgent action to fight climate change. It is not too late, but it soon may be,” Cooper told members of the U.S. House’s Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday in the first of a series of Democratic-led hearings on climate change. Cooper appeared alongside Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican. Cooper said there is “overwhelming scientific consensus” on climate change and the role humans are playing in it. And he outlined damage that storms and severe weather events have caused in North Carolina in recent years, including hurricanes Matthew and Florence, mudslides in the mountains, animal- and crop-killing heat in the summers and the loss of crops due to flooding and heavy rains.

Wednesday News: Time to testify


MCCREADY BLASTS HARRIS OVER ABSENTEE BALLOT FRAUD: "We don't know if he stole hundreds of votes or thousands of votes," he said, citing affidavits filed in the investigation that the elections board has made public so far that allege Dowless was seen with hundreds of absentee ballots and that he had crews of people going door to door collecting ballots. "One thing we know is that this all goes to the very top of Mark Harris' campaign," McCready said. Dowless' actions in elections have been scrutinized for years, and McCready said he heard rumors last fall of shenanigans Dowless was involved in during the 9th District campaign. "We're responsible for our actions. I'm responsible for what my people do or don't do," he said. "I only see two options here: Either Mark Harris knew what was going on, or he turned a blind eye to fraud and built a culture of corruption in his campaign."

Tuesday News: Keep it public


GOVERNOR'S OFFICE WANTS COMMITTEE INTERVIEWS, NOT PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS: Following criticism for refusing to allow agency employees to be interviewed by private investigators hired by the legislature, Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration is requesting a public committee meeting where agency representatives would answer questions about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline approval process. Cooper chief of staff Kristi Jones wrote to the legislative oversight committee probing the issue last week. “We have provided you the requested documents, answered your questions and appeared before your committees numerous times on this subject, yet you insist that we answer even more questions from private Republican investigators who should be paid for by the Republican Party and not North Carolina taxpayers,” Jones wrote. Her letter was first reported by WRAL reporter Travis Fain on Twitter.

Monday News: Rolling the health care dice


NC SWITCHING MEDICAID TO MANAGED CARE MODEL: North Carolina is shifting most Medicaid programs from traditional fee-for-service coverage to those in which companies or medical networks get flat monthly amounts for each patient covered. Instead of paying doctors and hospitals for every test and procedure, Medicaid would allow these "prepaid health plans" to keep whatever's left over after medical expenses and activities. While keeping patients healthier could boost plan profits, sicker patients could mean losses. The alterations should influence the debate over whether it makes sense at the same time to bring another 300,000 to 500,000 new low- and middle-income enrollees on board through expansion. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and party allies, who made legislative seat gains last November that gives them more negotiating leverage, are making expansion a top priority this year. Legislative Republicans have blocked it for years.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


TIME TO SHUT DOWN NC'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP: Amid the recent discussion over the effectiveness of the state’s economic development efforts, a new report this week exposed a less than flattering assessment of the private Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. The creation of the five-year-old partnership was a top priority of former Gov. Pat McCrory and the leadership of the General Assembly – who’d contended the state’s economic development efforts would be far better in private hands – and save taxpayer money with the use of private funding. It turned out to be meddling in a place that didn’t need it. As the partnership’s contract expires in October, it has little to show that it has met the effectiveness promised with its establishment. In fact, there’s little evidence of any improvement on what it replaced. There’s no way to tell just who is in charge.

Saturday News: Mapmakers on trial


NC PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING CASE WILL BE HEARD THIS SUMMER: A trial is set for this summer in the lawsuit Democrats and election reform advocates filed alleging North Carolina legislative districts violate the state constitution because of excessive partisan bias favoring Republicans. A state three-judge panel filed an order Friday directing a July 15 trial start in Wake County court. The plaintiffs allege partisan gerrymandering taints maps largely drawn by Republican legislators in 2017, even though a federal court altered them and Democrats won 16 additional seats in 2018. Republicans have said the plaintiffs are way off base and looking for a favorable state appeals court to rule their way.

Friday News: Bring back the cap


PUBLIC SCHOOL ADVOCATES CALL FOR A HALT TO NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS: Public Schools First NC says the state should reset charter school growth instead of adding new schools or expanding existing ones. The group is asking people to sign an online petition that calls on state legislators to put a new cap on while a comprehensive review is done of charter student performance, fiscal management and the impact of charter-related policies on students, public schooling, and taxpayers. “We can look at having a cap,” Natalie Beyer, a member of the board of Public Schools First and a school board member in Durham, said Thursday. “If there’s going to be charter schools, there can be a very limited number of high-quality schools as originally intended.” But calls for a new cap are drawing opposition from charter school supporters who accuse their opponents of being scared of competition.

Thursday News: A long time coming


LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATS PUSH FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION: House and Senate Democrats called Wednesday for a quick move toward Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, making their opening play on one of the biggest-ticket items to be debated during the new legislation session. Their plan would simply expand Medicaid, providing taxpayer-funded health insurance to hundreds of thousands of people in North Carolina, most of them the working poor. The Democratic plan is stripped free of work requirements and increased co-pays that are part of a competing plan with limited Republican support, known as Carolina Cares. Democrats said they can expand the program to as many as 500,000 people without a hit to the state budget. The federal government would cover 90 percent of new costs, and the other 10 percent would come from hospitals around the state, which have agreed to a new assessment commonly called a "bed tax" to raise the money.

Wednesday News: Delayed justice


AG STEIN PUSHES LEGISLATION TO FUND TESTING OF RAPE KITS: A bill backed by Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein and key Republican lawmakers would provide funding to test thousands of rape kits that have been sitting in law enforcement evidence rooms across North Carolina for years and establish protocols to ensure such backlogs don't recur in the future. An audit by the State Crime Lab determined a year ago that more than 15,000 rape kits statewide had never been tested. Stein said Tuesday that existing funds from his department and state and federal grants are whittling that number down by a few thousand, and the proposed Survivor Act would put $6 million in state funding over the next two years toward sending the rest to outside labs for testing. "Untested sexual assault kits ... represent one of the biggest threats to public safety we face in this state," Stein said at a news conference. "Each one of these kits represents a personal tragedy, and each of those victims deserves justice."

Tuesday News: Ticking time-bombs


4 STUDENTS IN SCOTLAND COUNTY SCHOOL WERE PLANNING COLUMBINE-STYLE ATTACK: Law enforcement and school officials in Scotland County are investigating after receiving reports that some students were discussing a Columbine-style attack, WMBF reported. Scotland County Sheriff’s Lt. Inv. Jessica Sadonikov said last week employee a Carver Middle School employee alerted the school resource officer about suspicious posts on Instagram. Officials determined that three or four students, between the ages of 12 and 13, were discussing a Columbine-style attack in a manner that made investigators think they were serious, Sadonikov said. She added that specific teachers and several students were targeted, and one of the alleged posters specifically mentioned Columbine when questioned.


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