Thursday News: Brocking the African-American Vote

EXTENDING VOTING HOURS DUE TO FAULTY MACHINERY UNFAIR, ANDREW BROCK SAYS: Voting hours could not be extended in a precinct where there was equipment malfunction or another problem unless every other precinct in the state stayed open just as long, under a bill approved in the Senate on Wednesday. Citing problems in Durham County in the last general election, when voting was extended at eight precincts due to technological problems, bill sponsors said it wasn’t fair that some voters benefitted from longer hours of voting. Heightened news media coverage of the problems elevated the importance of those votes, sponsors said. “Durham was given an extra at-bat,” Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican who represents Davie, Iredell and Rowan counties, said in a committee meeting Tuesday.

CROSSOVER MASHUP INCLUDES SPEECH STIFLING AND UNION BASHING: The two chambers took up a combined 109 bills, passing many with little discussion and others with debate marked by irritation and exhaustion. Here are some of the measures that successfully navigated the so-called "crossover" deadline: Immigration compliance: The Senate passed a proposal that would punish cities, counties and college campuses that don't enforce immigration laws by withholding state funds. Campus free speech: The University of North Carolina Board of Governors would have to establish a policy on free expression that can be limited only by "narrowly tailored viewpoint- and content-neutral restrictions on time, place, and manner of expression" and includes a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone who "substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others."

REPUBLICANS PASS "MOW 'EM DOWN" BILL AGAINST STREET PROTESTORS: Drivers who hit a protester who’s blocking the road couldn’t be sued for injuries if they “exercise due care,” under a bill that passed the N.C. House on Wednesday. House Bill 330, approved in a 68-47 vote, comes in response to protests last fall in Charlotte. Protesters upset about the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott blocked interstate highways and other roads in the city. “These people are nuts to run in front of cars like they do ... and say, ‘me and my buddy here are going to stop this two-and-a-half-ton vehicle,’” said Rep. Michael Speciale, a New Bern Republican and a supporter of the bill. “If somebody does bump somebody, why should they be held liable?”

NC SENATE PASSES PORK TORT REFORM BILL LIMITING DAMAGES PAID TO NEIGHBORS: A measure placing limits on what hog farms could pay out in lawsuits filed by neighbors complaining about animal waste odors is nearing final approval by the North Carolina legislature. The Senate voted 30-19 late Wednesday for the measure restricting compensatory damages in cases where a judge or jury rules a farm or forestry operation has become a nuisance. That liability would be limited to the lost property value or rental value plaintiffs can prove was the result of the nuisance and couldn’t exceed the property’s market or rental value.

TWITTER-IN-CHIEF GOES ON EXTENDED RANT THREATENING JUDGE: President Donald Trump’s latest legal defeat has provoked him into another round of judge-baiting. In public comments and an early morning tweet-storm Wednesday and an angry late-night White House statement Tuesday, Trump blasted the “egregious overreach” and “ridiculous” ruling by an “unelected” federal judge based “in San Francisco,” following a decision that blocked the administration’s plans to financially punish so-called sanctuary cities. “We’ll see them at the Supreme Court,” Trump said midmorning Wednesday at an unrelated Interior Department event.