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State Board of Elections approves Wautauga voter suppression

WRAL reports that the Republican-controlled NC Board of Elections has approved a plan by Wautauga County's Republican dominated BoE to move a one-stop voting site from the campus of Appalachian State University. Wautauga Dems that attended the meeting say a lawsuit is likely.

Well, if you can't get voters to buy in to what you're selling, just try to keep them from showing up to vote.

The Dems might have a case. The Republicans might want to look at the text of the 26th amendment:

The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

'Decline to Sign' movement taking off in Davie schools

The Winston-Salem Journal has a story today about a growing petition movement in the Davie County schools, with teachers declining to sign new contract offers mandated by the legislature that trades tenure for a pittance of a raise.

Deb Gustafson, the president of the Davie County chapter of the N.C. Association of Educators, said that as of last week, 100 percent of teachers from four schools and 90 percent of teachers from two others have vowed not to sign contracts as a show of solidarity.

She expects those numbers to increase as the “Decline to Sign” petition makes its way to more teachers.

NAACP legal defense fund documenting local voter restrictions

The NAACP's legal defense fund has just released a report on how states and local communities have been responding to the court decision in Shelby versus Holder that struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act. The report (pdf file) includes a section on actions in North Carolina by the state legislature and local voting boards in Wautauga and Forsyth.

They're asking for your help - if you know of other examples of changes to voter access in your community that impact people of color, email vote@naacpldf.org. They're using the information to fight voter restrictions in the courts and to pressure Congress to strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

Republican legislators change law for Duke Energy lobbyists

This isn't just a problem for DENR and Governor McCrony.

The AP has the story:

Documents and interviews collected by The Associated Press show how Duke's lobbyists prodded Republican legislators to tuck a 330-word provision in a regulatory reform bill running nearly 60 single-spaced pages. Though the bill never once mentions coal ash, the change allowed Duke to avoid any costly cleanup of contaminated groundwater leaching from its unlined dumps toward rivers, lakes and the drinking wells of nearby homeowners.

Passed overwhelmingly by the GOP-controlled legislature, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory, a pro-business Republican who worked at Duke for 28 years.

Republican NC legislators - you own this just as much as Pat McCrory does.

Brannon: An extremist lies about Planned Parenthood "secret plan"

Greg Brannon, Rand Paul's fav running in the primary for the GOP nomination in the NC Senate race, has said on the campaign trail that Planned Parenthood has a secret plan to legalize the murder of newborns as old as three months.

Brannon operates a network of pregnancy "crisis centers" here in NC and is a licensed obstetrician.

If you thought the current crop of right-wingers were crazy, just consider what's at stake with the new and improved conservative extremists coming down the pike in the next couple of election cycles.

These people are deluded and dangerous.

McCrory Coal Ash Scandal: Subpoenas issued for Utilities Commission records

The Greensboro News and Record is out with the news that federal investigators convening a grand jury on the DENR's handling of the Duke coal ash spill have issued subpoenas for records covering the last ten years from the NC Utilities Commission. The state legislature shifted the responsibility for oversight of the coal ash ponds from the Utilities Commission to DENR in 2010.

Observers take this as a sign that the Feds are looking at the long-term record of the state's oversight of the coal ash ponds and the more recent response and settlement with Duke Energy by DENR to lawsuits about the coal ash situation. The grand jury meets next week.

Will Roy Cooper shed a tear for NC's gays and lesbians?

Last week, news outlets covered the tearful statement by Kentucky's attorney general where he said he could not defend that state's ban on gay marriage. Meanwhile, as NC's Amendment One is challenged in court, our own attorney general has remained silent.

Will you join the attorney general of Kentucky, Mr. Cooper, and do the right thing? Or will liberals be too embarrassed to cast a vote for you in the governor's race in 2016?

Medi-Share, the ACA and the religious exemption flimflam

While you weren't noticing, many Americans have been opting out of the Affordable Care Act under the law's religious exemption provisions primarily through a Florida outfit called Medi-Share.

Let's be clear - Medi-Share is not insurance. It's a cost sharing plan where individuals apply for membership and agree to pay for each other's medical expenses through a shared pool of "donations". It doesn't cover routine checkups and many other common expenses and offers no guaranteed coverage if the members are hospitalized.

In October of last year, a Kentucky judge shut down the operation in Kentucky after objections by insurance companies who maintained that the plan was being offered as "insurance" and misleading members. The service is still legal in NC.

UNCG students stage walkout over budget cuts

Thursday afternoon, students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro staged a walk-out protesting budget cuts at the institution. About $12.8 million will possibly but cut from the state appropriated budget in 2014-15; since 2007, the university has seen permanent cuts totalling $39 million. The university is responding with a "Reduction-in-Force Plan" that will see staffing and budget cuts to all academic departments, the library and services provided by staff.

At the same time as cutting academic departments, the university's administrators have gone ahead with controversial plans for new athletic and recreational facilities.


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