Thursday News: The people's court


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.”

PESTICIDE MANUFACTURERS SEEK TO QUASH REPORTS OF ENDANGERED SPECIES THREATS: Dow Chemical is pushing the Trump administration to scrap the findings of federal scientists who point to a family of widely used pesticides as harmful to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species. Lawyers representing Dow, whose CEO also heads a White House manufacturing working group, and two other makers of organophosphates sent letters last week to the heads of three Cabinet agencies. The companies asked them "to set aside" the results of government studies the companies contend are fundamentally flawed.

SENATOR NO-SOCKS MAKES IDIOTIC JOKE ABOUT SUICIDE, GETS CHASTISED: Burr was speaking to a group of Chamber of Commerce members in Youngsville Tuesday night when he took a quick jab at The News & Observer. “If I had a subscription to the Raleigh News & Observer, I couldn’t read it, because I’d slit my wrists with what they say about me,” he said, as the crowd laughed. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention issued a statement Wednesday criticizing the remark. “As the mother of a child who died by suicide, I cringe whenever someone makes a joke about suicide,” said Betsy Rhodes, North Carolina area director for the group. “The very common gesture of pointing a gun-like finger to one’s own head is horrific for me, since my son died from the use of a firearm. I can only imagine the number of North Carolina citizens who were hurt by the senator’s comment, because their loved one has either died by this means of suicide or struggles and has attempted suicide by this means.”

AS CROSSOVER DEADLINE APPROACHES, LEGISLATURE PUSHES BILLS HARD: Crossover is the date by which most bills must clear either the House or the Senate to remain alive during the two-year session. So, lawmakers are cramming committee calendars with pending bills to get as many to a floor vote by next Thursday as possible. Measures expected to get hearings Thursday include a four-year moratorium on new wind farms in the state, a repeal of local impact fees on developers, a pot of money for the state superintendent of public instruction to hire staff without State Board of Education approval, looser billboard regulations, the creation of a state fried chicken festival and a proposed amendment to the state constitution declaring North Carolina a right-to-work state.

ORIGINS OF THE 420 "HIGH HOLIDAY" MARIJUANA SMOKE-IN: Some claimed it referred to a police code for marijuana possession or that it arose from Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35," with its refrain of "Everybody must get stoned" — 420 being the product of 12 times 35. But in recent years, a consensus has emerged around the most credible explanation: that it started with a group of bell-bottomed buddies from San Rafael High School in California, who called themselves "the Waldos." A friend's brother was afraid of getting busted for a patch of cannabis he was growing in the woods at Point Reyes, so he drew a map and gave the teens permission to harvest the crop, the story goes. During fall 1971, at 4:20 p.m., just after classes and football practice, the group would meet up at the school's statue of chemist Louis Pasteur, smoke a joint and head out to search for the weed patch. They never did find it, but their private lexicon — "420 Louie," and later just "420" — would take on a life of its own.