MIDWEEK: Back to work? — The idea behind the customary two week pause between the ceremonial swearing in of the legislature and the opening day was to give the new legislature planning time so it can hit the ground running with committees and legislation and so forth. Not so much in 2019. The action has been mostly in the form of brief press conferences. That changed little this week as a few committees got down to business and less than a dozen bills were readied for filing. For now, the Senate is in slo-mo and the House, where the heavy lifting this week was passing a set of new rules that include the return of “floaters,” has no votes scheduled through next Monday. Float on.
Despite the lackluster start there are a few bill filings to note, including the opening salvo by Democrats in what is sure to be a complex negotiation around Medicaid expansion. Also quickly out of the box were companion bills in the House and Senate calling for repeal of the 2015 monuments legislation intended to prevent removal of confederate statues. Although the law failed to protect Silent Sam, another newly filed bill would grant the statue a graceful exit off campus and a new spot at a confederate cemetery. That bill and the repeal legislation have little chance of even getting a hearing, but the controversies they focus on still have considerable life to them. One thing for certain is that this year’s election of the Board of Governors is going to be interesting.
Elections & Politics
• Abortion bills filed — Two bills filed that would restrict abortions, including an outright ban after 13 weeks.
• Cooper talks climate — Gov Cooper testified before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee calling for action on climate change and help with NC’s resiliency plans.
• Records to ICE — State turns over roughly 800 voter records to Immigration and Customs Enforcement after the agency requested a few million of them.
• Voting investigation — There was a federal investigation over 2016 election in NC. But it wasn’t over absentee ballot rigging. WaPo reports.
• AOC changes — Marion Warren, executive director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, is stepping down from the post and joining Chief Justice Mark Martin at Regent University.
• The Money — Longleaf Politics on what it’s all about even if it shouldn’t be.
• About that dredge — The state agreed to help a private company build a dredge dedicated to Oregon Inlet. The winning bidder didn’t incorporate until after getting the contract. And, yeah, there’s more.
• Interim chancellor named — Neuroscientist Kevin Guskiewicz, a respected researcher known for his work on sports-related concussions, has been named interim chancellor at Carolina.
• Toxic imports — GenX is being imported to NC from the Netherlands, a new investigation reveals. The EPA has contacted its Dutch counterpart to object.
• Race controversy — An assistant principal in Cary has drawn criticism from parents for promoting “National Black Lives Matter At School Week” in an email to staff.
• Questionable investment — Duke’s student newspaper found that the university invested $10.3 million in a Brazilian company involved in government corruption scandals.
• Duke abuse scandal — Camp K, a Duke-sponsored summer camp for children with chronic illnesses, is at the center of a lawsuit alleging that sexual abuse among the children was covered up and concealed by the school’s medical center.
• Charter school issues — An increase in the number of charter schools statewide is having a negative effect on the state’s traditional public schools; in one county, low enrollment has caused an elementary school to close and two middle schools to merge.
• Opioid addiction — Several counties in Western NC are getting funds from the Center for Disease Control to fight the epidemic of opioid overdoses and abuse. In 2017, 1,184 people in the state died of accidental overdoses related to opioids.
• Keg tapped — A former advocate for craft brewers in Asheville was charged last week with embezzlement and credit card fraud of the Asheville Brewers Alliance, where she worked as executive director until last summer.
• Viral baby video — In December, a Greensboro woman strapped on her infant and served customers at a restaurant during a snowstorm. Footage of the incident led to the family appearing on Rachael Ray’s show last week.
• In the doghouse — Forsyth County has started penalizing bars that allow dogs. Is this ruff treatment justified?
• Catching up w/ bears — ICYMI, we already have a winner for best bear story of the year. A 3-year-old boy, missing for several days in Craven County, said he spent some of that time hanging out with a bear.
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