Tuesday News: Stealthy maps


SHORTER LIST OF GERRYMANDERED JUDICIAL DISTRICTS STILL RAISES QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS: House lawmakers Monday night gave tentative approval, largely along party lines, to proposals to redraw judicial and court districts in about a dozen counties. The two judicial redistricting measures, House Bill 1037 and Senate Bill 757, were rolled out in the House Rules Committee on Friday with little public notice. Questions arose on both sides of the aisle about exactly what the measures would do in specific districts, and technical amendments had to be offered to correct mistakes in the legislation. "You see the confusion that’s going on – that’s what happens when you roll out new maps on a Friday afternoon," argued Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake. "It’s just not the way to be doing these types of changes, especially for things that have been pending since last year." Both redistricting measures are scheduled to receive a final House vote Tuesday.

NC'S GUN WORSHIPERS DON'T EVEN WANT TO REGULATE GUNS THAT FREQUENTLY MISFIRE: The "Ensure Safe Handguns" bill instructs the N.C. Department of Public Safety to prohibit the use of handguns that have design flaws endangering users. The bill instructs the department to use California's Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale as a model. State Rep. Verla Insko of Chapel Hill, the Democratic House whip, referred to the proposal as a common-sense solution to an uncommon but deadly problem. "I grew up in a hunting, gun owner family and had a brother who was a gunsmith and gun shop owner. Gun safety was a very high priority. Misfires are uncommon; but they can be deadly," Insko said. Paul Valone, president of the gun-rights advocacy group Grassroots North Carolina, said the bill shows that Democrats "are trying to incrementally ban the ownership of firearms, one step at a time." He thinks it would drive up the cost of handguns.

SORRY, BEVERLY: BILL WOULD PREVENT "SORE LOSERS" FROM RUNNING AGAIN AS 3RD PARTY CANDIDATE: Some North Carolina legislators think it's wrong that a primary election could switch and run in November as the nominee of a new political party. The House approved omnibus election legislation Monday that would in part extend the state's current "sore loser" prohibitions to situations anticipated this year. The Green Party is a new party, and the Constitution Party could be approved this week. Those parties would select their party candidates by convention. The bill says a candidate who lost in a primary race last month would be ineligible to run for the same office this year with a new party. The measure returns to the Senate after an amendment to remove the prohibition failed. The bill also requires criminal background checks on many state and county election board workers.

WHITE HOUSE SNUBS HAITI FOR NOT JOINING THE ANTI-VENEZUELA CLUB: Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. ambassador to the OAS, said Haiti and others who backed Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro were intentionally left off the invitation list. “We did not invite any countries that recognize the Maduro regime as legitimate,” Trujillo said. Haiti has been under considerable pressure by the United States to change its stance from abstention to expulsion. But based on the speech Monday from its foreign minister, Antonio Rodrigue, it doesn’t appear that the Trump administration succeeded. While Caribbean ministers for the most part made no mention of the Venezuelan crisis in their interventions, Rodrigue pushed for dialogue with Venezuela and respect for all nations’ sovereignty and independence. “It is obvious to us that the Venezuelans themselves must resolve their problem. It’s the only way to a sustainable and lasting solution,” Rodrigue said.

SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF ANTI-GAY BAKER, BUT RULING IS NARROW: The Supreme Court ruled for a Colorado baker who wouldn’t make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in a limited decision that leaves for another day the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay and lesbian people. The justices’ decision Monday turned on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The justices voted 7-2 that the commission violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment. The case had been eagerly anticipated as, variously, a potentially strong statement about the rights of LGBT people or the court’s first ruling carving out exceptions to an anti-discrimination law. In the end, the decision was modest enough to attract the votes of liberal and conservative justices on a subject that had the potential for sharp division. Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the larger issue “must await further elaboration” in the courts. Appeals in similar cases are pending, including one at the Supreme Court from a florist who didn’t want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.