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If you have a run-off in your district, don't forget to vote today.

Senate nixes House coal ash bill, negotiating next (AP) — Legislation designed to clean up coal ash ponds at Duke Energy power plants in North Carolina is now heading to final negotiations after the Senate rejected the House version of the bill.

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"We're going to go in. We're going to have a short session. It's going to be focused. It's going to be disciplined. We're going to get in and out.,"
-- House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, WRAL-TV 05/10/2014

“All indications point toward a session that will be short, with a continued focus on economic growth, job creation, and wise investments.”
-- Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation, 05/09/2014

“We will probably be more assertive than in our first year, which I frankly thought was extremely assertive. … “We had a heck of a good first year, but now I think we can take even more initiatives. … I anticipate that we’ll be together 80 to 90 percent of the time. “We’re having very good dialogue and, in almost all cases, good cooperation.”
-- Gov. Pat McCrory, Charlotte Observer, 05/10/2014

“Hopefully (Gov. McCrory) has learned that we have to work together to get things done. I don’t know if he’s there yet. Hopefully this session will tell us that.”
-- Senate Rules Committee Chair Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, Charlotte Observer, 05/10/2014

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Some NC voters face 2nd round of primary elections (AP) — It's a sign of how much is at stake in next week's runoff election and how narrow the expected margin of success is that a Republican congressional election has devolved into one candidate claiming his Facebook page was hacked to make it look like he was fibbing about his education.

Caustic battle in 6th District race wears on GOP (Greensboro News & Record) -- Will bitterness of race hurt party in November, political observers wonder.

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At Town Hall, riverkeeper explains coal ash peril (Davidson News) -- Problems with coal ash have grabbed headlines across North Carolina and nationwide since a February spill at Duke Energy’s Dan River plant in Eden. But Dan River is only one of many plants with potential storage problems. Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman is also on the list, but experts say it could be 15 years or longer before Duke closes down the ponds of toxic waste there. But that’s too long, Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins said in a presentation to Davidson commissioners Monday, July 7. The reason for the longer potential cleanup timeline is that Marshall Steam Station has been classified as “low risk” in state legislation aimed at requiring Duke to shut down its coal ash ponds around the state. Perkins says the plant shouldn’t be allowed to continue with business as usual, especially when business as usual means toxic chemicals seeping into the groundwater around Lake Norman.

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New coal ash ad targets Tillis (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A new barrage of TV ads criticizing state lawmakers over environmental issues will begin airing this week, this one singling out House Speaker Thom Tillis. This ad is the opening salvo from the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, and is part of what the organization says is a $1 million drive to hold polluters accountable and win greater protections against future spills like the coal ash pollution of the Dan River this year. Earlier this year, several state environmental advocacy groups and the national Natural Resources Defense Council kicked off a series of TV ads targeting specific Republican state legislators. The NRDC said more than $1 million would be spent. The League of Conservation Voters coal ash campaign, separate from the state and national coalition’s campaign, begins with an ad buy of $845,000 airing from Friday to July 24 in the Triangle, Charlotte, Triad and Asheville, the League says.

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What do you do with 100 tons of coal ash? (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Dump trucks – each loaded with 20 tons of coal ash – make some 200 trips a day from Duke Energy's Lake Julian power plant to the Asheville Regional Airport, where the toxic material is used as fill to create flat, usable land. The disposal method is considered a cost-effective and environmentally sound reuse of the material. About 4 million tons will have been removed from the plant's two ash ponds by the time the project ends next year. But, as state lawmakers struggle with legislation to better manage coal ash in the wake of the Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River, there are concerns about what to do with amounts of the byproduct far larger than what's being reused in Asheville. Duke estimates there are 102 million tons of coal ash in 33 ponds across the state.

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93-year-old woman speaks against voting changes (AP) — The 93-year-old lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's new voting restrictions recounted in federal court Tuesday how she was forced to take a literacy test as a young woman registering to vote.

N.C. attorneys say removed provisions ripe for problems (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The issue of voter fraud – one of the many reasons state legislators cited in their push for North Carolina’s new voting law – was front and center Tuesday during a federal hearing on whether to block many of the provisions of that very law.

Daily dose SCOTUS fever

Court rulings could lead to challenges of NC marriage amendment (NEWS14-TV) -- The Supreme Court ruling could lay the groundwork for North Carolina's marriage amendment to be challenged in court. The marriage amendment defines marriage as between one man and one woman in the North Carolina constitution. All eyes were on Washington, DC Wednesday as the Supreme Court ruling struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act. "This is undisputedly a landmark ruling," said UNC School of Law Professor. "This is a tremendous victory for the LGBT community," said Equality NC Executive Director Stuart Campbell. The ruling by the Supreme Court will allow same-sex couples that are legally married access to federal benefits which supporters of marriage equality say is a huge step for same sex couples. "We're also trying to figure out exactly what it will mean in states like North Carolina that have things like amendment one but overall it's moving in the right direction and we're very excited," said Campbell. But the ruling doesn't allow same-sex couples in North Carolina federal benefits because of the state's marriage amendment. It's an amendment gay marriage opponents said is important to keep intact.


Daily dose: VRA eulogy version

The march backwards continues:

Ruling threatens progress (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- At a time when Republicans in the General Assembly are chipping away at access to polling stations through voter ID bills and shorter early voting periods, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively handed them a hammer with its Tuesday ruling


More madness below the fold:

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McCrory's 'retreat' with donors raises funds and eyebrows (Raleigh News & Observer) -- What McCrory and his gang aren’t too sensitive about is how this looks to all the people who don’t have $5,000 for a weekend and who voted for McCrory as the man who was going to fix what he said was a broken state government and return control and money to the people. It appears control is being returned to the people – the ones with a spare $5,000 for a golf outing. … Secrecy, special interests, big money. Just how is this different from the system candidate McCrory said was broken?



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