Daily dose

Friday News: Here we go again


TIM MOORE SET TO PUT VOTER ID CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON NOVEMBER BALLOT: Voters may be asked this November if the state constitution should require identification from people who cast ballots at polling places. Republicans in the state House on Thursday proposed placing the question of voter ID on the ballot in November two years after federal courts struck down the requirement, which was part of a broader law on voter restrictions. House Speaker Tim Moore is the lead sponsor of the bill. Republicans have enough votes to put the question on the ballot without Democrats' help. A ballot question on voter ID is expected to help draw conservative voters to the polls in November, when Republicans anticipate losing seats in the Legislature.

Thursday News: Unacceptable


GOVERNOR ROY COOPER VETOES REPUBLICAN TAX-CUTTING BUDGET: Cooper made his announcement flanked by teachers and said that the level of education spending in the budget was a major reason for his veto. He said he wanted to send a message. "When you are continuing to drop in per-pupil expenditures, when you’re still 37th in the country in teacher pay, that’s unacceptable," Cooper said. Republican leaders, however, don't appear worried about their ability to overturn Cooper's veto. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore defended the budget and criticized Cooper just minutes after the veto announcement. Cooper had proposed spending several hundred million dollars more than legislative leaders ultimately agreed to. The main difference, which Moore alluded to, was that Cooper wanted to stop the implementation of another corporate income tax cut next year and freeze planned tax cuts on income that people earn above $200,000, using the extra revenue to give teachers a larger raise and also spend money on other projects.

Wednesday News: Lunatic fringe


PITTMAN SAYS LAWMAKERS WILL HAVE "BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS" FOR NOT ARMING TEACHERS: "Seeking to avoid controversy in an election year, our leadership has chosen not to allow this bill even to be heard in committee," said Rep. Larry Pittman, a Cabarrus County Republican and one of the bill's sponsors. "This is a failure to act that I fear may one day cost lives that could have been saved." His warnings echoed an email he sent legislators in April, in which Pittman said there would be "blood on our hands" if the legislature did not act to deter shooters. However, most North Carolina teachers said in a poll this spring that they thought arming teachers would make schools less safe and would harm the learning environment. In the Elon University/ News & Observer/Charlotte Observer poll, 78 percent of teachers thought arming teachers was a bad idea. Since the Parkland shooting, teachers who accidentally discharged weapons at school have made national news.

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.

Monday News: Adding insult to injury

FLOODING IN NC MOUNTAINS SWEEPS TRASH INTO RIVERS: Recent heavy rain not only led to flooding across western North Carolina, it also sent garbage floating into rivers. WLOS-TV in Asheville reports trash and debris have been flowing along the French Broad River, and some has been caught by dams or trestles, creating large piles. Eric Bradford, director of operations for Asheville Greenworks, said about 75 percent of the debris starts out as litter on the roads. When heavy rain falls, the debris flows into a storm drain that feeds into a creek and then into the river. Bradford said the organization had already planned a big cleanup for Saturday, but it's now delayed until the flood waters recede. He said Asheville Greenworks will intensify efforts to recruit as many volunteers as are needed for the cleanup.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


IS NC IN THE HANDS OF DICTATORS? LATEST BUDGET PLOY SUGGESTS SO: North Carolina citizens should not be deceived. They need to be outraged. The leaders of the General Assembly are making a mockery of representative government. It is no understatement to say democracy is under attack in our state. Complaints over the decision to bypass open deliberations in the General Assembly on the new state budget aren’t some legislative playground squabble between Republicans and Democrats on Jones Street in Raleigh. It is a thumb-in-the-eye, a bully’s chest-bump and turned-up nose of disdain directed at each and everyone of the state’s voters and taxpayers by the tinhorn cabal of Senate Leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and a couple of their lieutenants.

Saturday News: Juggling judges


WAKE AND MECKLENBURG WILL GET NEW JUDICIAL DISTRICT MAPS: Wake County District Court judges would be elected from six newly drawn districts, instead of countywide, under a plan introduced Friday at the statehouse. The county would also add two District Court judges, for a total of 21, as part of less ambitious plans to redraw judicial districts around the state than what Republican lawmakers have debated since last year. Without consensus on a statewide plan, or on proposals to appoint judges instead, legislators are pursuing less controversial changes in a number of counties. Wake County's changes are attached to Senate Bill 757, which would also redraw judicial districts in Mecklenburg County, often the prime example lawmakers give when talking up the need for change. The districts there have unbalanced populations and are likely unconstitutional, experts have said.

Friday News: NC can't afford Trumpism


NC PORK AND TOBACCO FARMERS CAUGHT UP IN TRUMP'S TRADE WARS: North Carolina pork producers and tobacco farmers could feel a big hit from the back-and-forth trade threats being issued by the United States and trading partners across the globe, including Mexico, Canada, China and the European Union. The Trump administration announced this week that it would implement tariffs on aluminum and steel products from Mexico, Canada and the EU on Friday. Also this week, Trump renewed his threat to place tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese products. Those nations announced retaliatory measures Thursday, including threats to levy tariffs on tobacco and pork products. The state's pork producers export 25 percent of their product, said Andy Curliss, CEO of the North Carolina Pork Council. Mexico and Canada account for half of those exports. Curliss said in an email that it's hard to know the impact of the trade sparring at this moment.

Thursday News: Petty tyrants


DALLAS WOODHOUSE BULLIES SEN. DON DAVIS INTO VOTING FOR BUDGET: The vote, the first of two the Senate will take on the budget, was 36-14. Sen. Don Davis, D-Pitt, was the lone Democrat to cross the aisle to vote for a plan crafted by Republicans in a process that allowed no amendments once leadership signed off on budget changes drafted almost entirely behind closed doors. Davis occupies what may be the only competitive Senate district held by a Democrat, making this a tougher vote for him than most. North Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse called Davis out by name ahead of the vote, and Republicans were already plotting campaign commercials on social media during the debate, ticking off the state employee and teacher raises Democrats would be voting against.

Wednesday News: Twisted priorities


NC GOP BUDGET FUNDS ANTI-ABORTION CLINICS AND CHRISTIAN HUNTING CLUBS: The new state budget unveiled by Republican legislators Monday night will send hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to religious groups, including more than $1 million to pro-life pregnancy clinics. Other grants include a quarter of a million dollars for an outdoors group that combines Bible studies with hunting trips, as well as $100,000 to build a YMCA in an influential legislator's district, $35,000 for a prison ministry group, and more. The budget was written in secret by a handful of lawmakers and, now that it's public, GOP leaders have said it will not be open to any changes from other lawmakers of either party. It's the first time in modern North Carolina history that the budget has been closed to input from the public and amendments from lawmakers.


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