GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEWS
Senate wraps up approval of latest constitutional amendments
Virginian Pilot // Gary Robertson // August 27, 2018
Summary: North Carolina legislators on Monday finished revamping two constitutional amendments aimed for the ballot this November after a judicial panel rejected their initial proposals because it decided they were misleading. On near party-line votes, the Senate voted to approve the newly worded amendments. The House had approved them on Friday after the Republican-controlled General Assembly convened a special session to consider new amendments. Both amendments, if approved by voters in November, would take the power to appoint members of the state elections and ethics board from the executive and give it to the legislature. One also would swing power held by the governor to fill judicial vacancies to the legislature.
On N.C. constitutional amendments, voters now at least stand a chance
Charlotte Observer // Editorial Board // August 27, 2018
Summary: You might want to sit down for this: For the first time in a long time, something went more or less like it was supposed to in Raleigh. Instead of head fakes, blame-throwing, fibs, dodges and tricks, Republicans made actual changes in response to their earlier inappropriate actions. Here’s what happened: After Republican legislative leaders schemed to put vague and misleading wording on the November ballot about their proposed constitutional amendments, Gov. Roy Cooper and others challenged in court. Judges ruled, correctly, that the wording on two of the amendments was unacceptable. And on Monday, believe it or not, legislators appropriately addressed the court’s concerns, and then some.
Republicans planhearing to review Cooper's handling of hurricane relief, Atlantic Coast Pipeline
WRAL // Travis Fain // August 27, 2018
Summary: General Assembly leadership announced Monday that the legislature will hold an oversight hearing this week on how Gov. Roy Cooper's administration has handled the Hurricane Matthew recovery and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permitting process. The administration has taken criticism on both fronts. A key hurricane rebuilding program, funded by the federal government, took months to stand up. The administration worked a deal with pipeline builders to pay nearly $60 million into an escrow fund as state regulators approved a key permit for the natural gas line. That money was going to be controlled by the Governor's Office and pay for economic development and other grants until the GOP majority blocked the plan by shifting any money that comes in from the deal to schools along the pipeline's route. "Governor Cooper and his administration have stonewalled the legislature and the press despite repeated requests for information and explanation on the two subjects," a joint hearing announcement form Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger's and House Speaker Tim Moore's offices said Monday. "The Commission will discuss the information currently available and determine what next steps are required to conduct proper and comprehensive oversight."
2 constitutional amendment bills in NC got a redo. So what’s different this time?
N&O // Will Doran // August 27, 2018
Summary: Legislators on Monday approved their second attempt at writing constitutional amendments, just days after their first attempt was thrown out in court for being potentially misleading to voters. Barring any other legal struggles, the new language passed Monday is expected to replace the old language that the court system found unacceptable — although Democrats said the new versions of the amendments are hardly better than the old ones. Both amendments would transfer power from the governor to the legislature. One involves the N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, and the other is about appointing new judges. “Once again it’s false, it’s misleading,” Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat from Durham, said during Monday’s debate on the Senate floor.
Colin Campbell: Meet the amendments lawmakers don’t want you to vote on
Salisbury Post // Elizabeth Cook // August 27, 2018
Summary: You can learn a lot about the state legislature by looking at the bills that didn’t pass. Lawmakers file more than a thousand bills during every two-year session. And behind each failed proposal is a decision by leadership — either that the measure lacks enough support in the majority party, or that the issue isn’t worth considering. That’s true of this year’s efforts to change the state constitution. Lawmakers decided to pursue six different amendments, ranging from hunting rights to the governor’s appointment powers. Voter haven’t had that many constitutional questions to decide at once since the 1980s.
Lawmaker to push plan for safer water in NC schools and daycares
Charlotte Observer // Editorial Board // August 24, 2018
Summary: The reports are as concerning as the photo is gross. In Mecklenburg County, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools ran tests on drinking fountains at 58 schools last fall and found 27 had unacceptably high levels of lead, the Observer reported this month. In Guilford County, a sampling of one tap per site at 99 Greensboro-area schools found three with lead levels to the point at which the Environment Protection Agency recommends corrective action, the News & Record reported last week. Then there’s that photo, which is best not viewed within a half-hour of meals. It was taken by a South Mecklenburg High School teacher and showed a bag with rust-colored liquid tied to a faucet. It didn’t appear to be a faucet that students would be drinking out of, but the photo nevertheless tied together a troubling issue that schools face: old plumbing might be threatening the water our children drink.
GOV. COOPER NEWS
FEMA decision being appealed by governor Sub: Chimney Rock, Lake Lure needs help
Daily Courier // Jean Gordon // August 28, 2018
Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper is appealing a decision made by FEMA last Monday not to grant a major disaster declaration for the May floods in Western North Carolina. Cooper, who visited Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Village after the flooding in May, is asking for assistance for those who were hit by flooding and mudslides.
Lake Lure receives $223,000 PARTF grant from state sub. Developing property off Boys Camp Road
Daily Courier // Jean Gordon // August 28, 2018
Summary: Thee Town of Lake Lure is the recipient of a $223,125 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) to be used for properties on Boys Camp Road. The announcement came Friday from Gov. Roy Cooper's office. The N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund has awarded over $6.7 million in grants to fund 27 local parks and recreation projects across the state, including Lake Lure.
Fayetteville eyed for 208 jobs, sources say
Fayetteville Observer // Paul Woolverton // August 27, 2018
Summary: More than 200 new jobs with above-average salaries may be coming to Fayetteville, according to multiple sources. Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to visit Fayetteville at noon Tuesday to announce the company’s expansion, several elected officials said. Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin described the positions as “pretty good salaried jobs” in the defense sector. City and county officials were told in the spring that the company specializes in management consulting and engineering services and already employs 40 people here. They were told the 208 new jobs will have average salaries well above the market. Colvin said on Monday he does not know the name of the firm. Instead, the expansion has been known by the code name “Project Intelligence,” according to Colvin and Larry Lancaster, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. This year, the City Council and the county commissioners each approved incentive grants of $89,000, for a total of $178,000, to persuade the company to expand in Fayetteville rather than elsewhere.
Cooper to legislators: ‘Expect further legal action’ on constitutional amendments
N&O // Will Doran // August 27, 2018
Summary: After losing a lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper, the North Carolina legislature had to return to Raleigh to rewrite two of the changes to the state constitution they want to put in front of voters on this November’s ballot. Just a few hours after they finalized their changes on Monday afternoon — which Republican leaders say they think ought to satisfy the courts — Cooper’s office shot back and said the lawsuits are not over yet. “Yes, you can expect further legal action,” Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said in response to a News & Observer question about a potential lawsuit. “Less than a week before ballots are to be printed, rather than repeal their old misleading amendments, Republicans have passed more misleading amendments to erode checks and balances in our state’s constitution.”
Gov. Cooper orders flags athalf staff in honor of McCain
Spectrum News // Staff // August 27, 2018
Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper has ordered all U.S. and North Carolina flags at state buildings to be lowered at half-staff in honor of the passing of military veteran and U.S. senator, John McCain. The governor said, “John McCain was a true American hero who served his country with honor throughout his life, and our nation has lost a great man. Our prayers are with his family and all those who love him and served with him."
Bell Tower Green project receives $350,000 grant
Salisbury Post // Staff Report // August 27, 2018
Summary: On Friday, Salisbury’s Bell Tower Green project was one of 27 North Carolina parks to receive grant funding from the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. The fund is administered through the state Division of Parks and Recreation and was established in 1994 by the N.C. General Assembly. Some $350,000 was allocated to the Bell Tower Green project, of a total $6.7 million awarded to all selected parks and recreation projects. “Parks and Recreation Trust Fund projects support conservation, strengthen communities, and help local economies thrive,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “These grants improve quality of life and encourage residents and visitors to get outdoors.” Local communities applied for the grants to fund land acquisition, development and renovation of public park and recreation areas. All told, 50 grant applications were considered with requests totaling $12.6 million. The maximum grant awarded for a single project under the program was $500,000. Awardees must match funds dollar-for-dollar for the awarded amount. Susi Hamilton, who worked in community planning before her tenure as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said she had seen firsthand how these grants impact communities. “From our most rural areas to our largest towns and cities, … (these) grants instill new life into our communities and continue to benefit these areas for generations,” she said.
Bladen, Brunswick parks receive grant money from state
WECT // Staff // August 27, 2018
Summary: Some parks in our area will be getting a financial boost after grants were approved at the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Authority meeting Monday. Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday that the fund has awarded $6.7 million in grants to fund 27 parks and recreation projects across the state. Five area parks — three in Brunswick County and two in Bladen County — are getting grants. In Brunswick, Ocean Isle Beach Town Park was awarded $498,900, Robert Muse Memorial Park was awarded $208,000 and Calabash Waterfront Park was awarded $147,332. In Bladen, Green's Lake and Conservation Park is getting $500,000 and McLean Park is getting $200,595.
NCDP NEWS & MENTIONS
U.S. court says North Carolina gerrymander is illegal, seeks new congressional map
Reuters // Jon Herskovitz // August 27, 2018
Summary: A federal court ruled on Monday that North Carolina Republicans illegally drew up U.S. congressional districts in the state to benefit their party, suggesting that new lines be crafted before November’s election. The three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina said in a 321-page opinion that Republican legislators responsible for the map conducted unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering to dilute the impact of Democratic votes. “That is precisely what the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly sought to do here,” the opinion said. The panel gave parties until Thursday to file their recommendations to fix the problem. The decision could have national implications in this November’s battle for control of Congress. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that could thwart Republican President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda. North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said the decision “is a monumental and necessary line in the sand stating that politicians cannot choose their voters by silencing other voters.”
The Democratic Party’s Biggest Outside Group Is Launching an Ambitious Ballot Research Project
Daily Beast // Gideon Resnick // August 27, 2018
Summary: Priorities USA Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit of the Democratic Party’s largest super PAC, Priorities USA, is embarking on an ambitious plan to research and identify possible barriers that voters face via the ballot process in various states. Priorities USA Foundation has begun to collect ballot information—such as instances when voters had to file provisional ballots, cases where votes were cast for only a portion of the ballot, and times where ballots were discarded—to detect patterns and spotlight discrepancies that may exist in counting procedures. The group is focusing on communities of color and young people and calling its initiative the “Voter Research Project.” The initiatives are primarily focused so far on Midwestern states that were narrowly won by President Trump. The underlying purpose is not to contest official results of the 2016 presidential election but rather to inform and bolster future voter right protections. The group could use its research as an additional measure to lawsuits against voter suppression in a number of states nationwide, including Missouri, Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.
Partisan gerrymandering case could force another congressional primary in NC
WRAL // Travis Fain // August 27, 2018
Summary: A federal court on Monday raised the prospect of another legislative session to redraw North Carolina’s congressional maps before the November elections. The three-judge panel wants all sides in the case to weigh in by Friday evening on throwing out the current maps and holding primaries again in congressional races this November with newly drawn districts. That would move the general election to shortly before a new Congress is seated in January. The court also contemplated not holding new primaries at all and setting aside the results of the May primaries in favor of new districts and a general congressional election without primaries. Here the panel used some of the Republican legislative majority's own argument against it, noting that the General Assembly canceled this year's judicial primaries.
NC Supreme Court
GOP ‘enemy’ to get Republican ballot label in NC Supreme Court race
N&O // Paul Specht // August 27, 2018
Summary: The North Carolina Court of Appeals has cleared the way for an N.C. Supreme Court candidate to be listed as a Republican on the November ballot. The appeals court on Monday denied a motion by Republican legislative leaders to issue a stay on the case of Chris Anglin, one of two registered Republicans who filed to run for an open seat on the state Supreme Court. The other is Barbara Jackson, the incumbent. Anglin had sued the legislature along with Rebecca Edwards, a Democrat who is running to become a district court judge in Wake County, after the legislature earlier this summer passed a new law that would have prevented Anglin or Edwards from being able to have their party affiliations on the ballot. Republican legislators suspect Anglin, who changed his party affiliation shortly before he filed to run, is trying to split the Republican vote to secure a win for Democratic candidate Anita Earls. The N.C. GOP last month referred to Anglin as a political “enemy” and “Democratic plant.”
‘Take this envelope, put money in here.’ GOP leader’s comments to donors get scrutiny
N&O // Paul Specht // August 27, 2018
Summary: The chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party faces criticism for comments he made at a recent campaign fundraiser, where some say he misrepresented campaign finance laws and possibly forecast his intentions to break them. Robin Hayes, chairman of the NC GOP, spoke at the fundraiser for U.S. Rep. David Rouzer at the Figure 8 Yacht Club in Wilmington on Aug. 10 when he asked attendees to donate to the party organization to help Rouzer. A Democrat who attended the fundraiser recorded part of Hayes’ speech and gave it to The News & Observer. “This is an envelope. You have heard things that should inspire you to dig deep tonight. But federal law says you can only give, you and your wife, $5,200 to David Rouzer,” Hayes says in the recording. Rouzer then corrects him to say the individual federal spending limit is $5,400 per year. “But you can take this envelope, put money in here and give it to your friend and citizen, Robin Hayes, who happens to be party chair and I can take unlimited money and put it to his campaign, legally,” Hayes said.
The Doctors Want In: Democratic Docs Talk Health Care On The Campaign Trail
Daily Journal // Shefali Luthra // August 27, 2018
Summary: Democrats hope to gain control of Congress by harnessing what polls show to be voters’ dissatisfaction with both Capitol Hill and President Donald Trump. The president maintains Republican support but registers low approval ratings among Americans overall, according to news organization FiveThirtyEight. Democrats also see promise in candidates such as Davidson, a left-leaning physician who may have a special advantage: firsthand health system experience. Polls by Quinnipiac University, The Wall Street Journal and the Kaiser Family Foundation suggest health care is among voters’ top concerns as midterm elections approach. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent project of the foundation.) Research suggests Americans hold their own physicians in high regard. “Voters listen carefully to what physicians have to say about health policy,” said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of social medicine and health policy at the University of North Carolina. “In a district that’s not so one-sided red or blue, there’s no question that the white coat confers prestige. It’s something physician candidates can speak to with authority.” There’s Dr. Kyle Horton, an internist running in the North Carolina 7th District. She supports expanding Medicare, by lowering the eligibility age from 65 to 50. She also supports a “public option” health insurance plan sold by the government.
Keep a close watch over Iran, Qatar and Hezbollah, urges US Congressman
Al Arabiya // Staff Writer // August 26, 2018
Summary: Those who thought that President Trump was not serious when he threatened to pullout of the Iran nuclear deal have been surprised by the consistent moves by the present US Administration to confront Tehran over its errant behavior. This is the opinion of Republican Ted Budd, who is a member of the US House of Representatives from North Carolina. Budd also serves on the Financial Services Committee and its Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee. Ted Budd represents North Carolina's 13th Congressional District and is serving his first term in the 115th United States Congress. In an Opinion piece on Fox News website, Budd has written on the that the Trump administration “deserves credit” for pilling out of the disastrous deal, and according to him, “It is clear that Iran is promoting the expansion of military and terrorist activities across the Middle East.” In this context, Budd goes on “to examine the actions of the Iranian government on several fronts”.
After breast cancer diagnosis, NC Democrat takes break from campaign in competitive House race
N&O // Paul Specht // August 27, 2018
Summary: A Democrat running for a competitive seat in the North Carolina legislature says she is taking a break from her campaign to fight breast cancer. Local attorney Sydney Batch made the announcement on Facebook on Monday morning. She said her campaign will continue, but she won’t personally be on the campaign trail for the House District 37 seat for “several weeks.” Batch said she was recently diagnosed with “early, non-invasive breast cancer.” The district, which covers southern Wake County, is currently held by a retiring Republican. John Adcock, a former candidate for Wake County commissioner, is Batch’s Republican opponent.
Judge issues temporary restraining order against contractor
WSOC // Jason Stoogenke // August 27, 2018
Summary: More customers complained about Randy Briel to Action 9 than any other contractor since 2012. They accused him of taking their money and not doing the work. Action 9 ran multiple news reports about Briel and shared its findings with North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. Last week, Stein sued Briel and his business partner, Glenn Dunnam. Stein went to the WSOC-TV station for a one-on-one interview about the case. "These guys are crooked and they're taking advantage of people. They're taking folks' money in, and they're not delivering the goods," Stein said. A judge issued a temporary restraining order against Briel and Dunnam Monday. The 10-day restraining order bans them from performing contractor services, taking money for any contractor work, destroying financial records and getting rid of assets without permission. Stein is asking for a permanent injunction, which would ban Briel and Dunnam from doing contractor work in North Carolina for life. Stein also hopes to get customers refunds.
NC Economic Development
Is Raleigh Ready for Apple?
US News & World Report // Seth Cline // August 27, 2018
Summary: Raleigh is having a moment. Apple and Amazon, giants of American enterprise and darlings of the tech world, are sniffing around the once sleepy provincial capital of North Carolina. The question is, is the city ready for them? Most rumors are swirling around Apple, which revealed in January it would announce the location of a new U.S. campus, its fourth, "later in the year." Unlike Amazon, the company has conducted its search largely in private, but word of negotiations between Apple CEO Tim Cook and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper leaked in May, and internet prognosticators and local gossip have linked the two ever since. But if Apple does choose Raleigh – likely bringing thousands of high-paying jobs along with it – some experts say the city is unprepared for what comes next. "It'll be terrible from a housing perspective. We have not planned ahead for that," says Mai Thi Nguyen, a professor of city and regional planning at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. "Right now the Triangle is experiencing a housing crunch. We have an affordability problem as it is." The city of about half a million, and the surrounding Research Triangle, are struggling to keep up with the population growth of recent years, Nguyen says. Technology companies like Red Hat and Citrix have brought thousands of jobs to the area, adding more high-paid workers to a region still growing from a biotechnology boom years ago. The result has been a rapidly rising population and a housing market that can't keep up.
NC Disaster Recovery
Federal denial of aid disheartens storm-ravaged communities, but state plans appeal
Carolina Public Press // Karrigan Mong // August 27, 2018
Summary: Western North Carolina communities counting on federal aid to help repair damage caused by May storms were disheartened by last week’s Federal Emergency Management Agency decision to deny Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for federal assistance. FEMA’s official denial letter, signed by Administrator Brock Long, stated the agency was treating the damage as being caused by two separate events. “Based on our review of all the information available, it has been determined that the damage identified in your request resulted from separate and distinct events, none of which were the severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state and local government,” Long wrote. “Accordingly, we have determined that supplemental federal assistance is not necessary.”
A Red State Raises Its Workers' Minimum Wage to $15
Governing // Katherine Barrett, Richard Greene // August 27, 2018
Summary: In one of the most surprising legislative twists in state government this year, North Carolina became the first state to implement -- and the first red state to approve -- an increase in the minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour, or $31,200 a year. California, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania have passed legislation that puts them on a path to reach a $15 minimum wage for state employees, but none have reached that goal yet. The North Carolina decision is “unexpected,” says David Cooper, senior economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute and an expert on minimum wage issues. “You don’t expect to hear about minimum wage increases happening in conservative places.”
UNC boards have special meetings in aftermath of statue fall
Greensboro N&R // AP // August 28, 2018
Summary: The boards that govern North Carolina's flagship university are holding special meetings a week after protesters tore down a century-old Confederate statue on campus. The University of North Carolina declined to confirm the purpose of the specially convened meetings Tuesday, a week after the fall of the statue known as "Silent Sam." The UNC system's Board of Governors is receiving a legal briefing, according to a public agenda that doesn't offer further details. Trustees of the main Chapel Hill campus are also meeting separately. Both boards are planning to hold at least part of their meetings in sessions closed to the public, according to meeting notices. A UNC spokeswoman declined to provide further information.
No, the law doesn’t require Silent Sam to be returned to his pedestal in 90 days
N&O // Eric Muller // August 27, 2018
Summary: Must Silent Sam be returned to his pedestal within 90 days of his toppling? According to Thom Goolsby, a member of the UNC System Board of Governors who has been vocal on the topic, the answer is “Yes, because North Carolina law requires it.” (The law in question is section 100-2.1 of the N.C. General Statutes.) The law in question requires no such thing. Indeed, the law in question does not even apply to the current situation. If you’ve been following the Silent Sam story over the last year, you’ve no doubt heard about this law, because it’s the one that has kept the statue in place. The law, hastily drafted and passed by the General Assembly in 2015 during national debates about the Confederate flag, says that the only way an “object of remembrance” (like Silent Sam) can be relocated – temporarily or permanently – is on the say-so of the state’s Historical Commission.
‘Non-violent’ neo-Confederate group backs man who punched Silent Sam protester
N&O // Abbie Bennett // August 27, 2018
Summary: Barry Brown had a Confederate flag in his right hand, and a wreath of colorful flowers in his left on Saturday as he approached the place where Silent Sam once stood, several videos show. He tried to make his way through a group of counter-protesters in front of the Confederate monument’s empty pedestal on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus. He was headed toward a smaller group of protesters holding Confederate flags, clustered nearest the fallen statue’s pedestal. But several men blocked Brown’s way. When Brown tried to go around, one person took his flag, and another made a grab at his flower wreath. Police then enter the fray, and hauled Brown away. His flag is seen on the ground. Brown was arrested and charged with simple assault for the punch at a rally on campus Saturday, five days after Silent Sam came crashing to the ground, The News & Observer reported.
He donated land that became the Duke campus. Now historians want his name off building.
N&O // Camila Molina // August 27, 2018
Summary: Duke University’s history department has asked the Board of Trustees to rename Carr Building, a building on East Campus named after industrialist and philanthropist Julian Carr. Carr served on the Board of Trustees of Trinity College, which was later renamed Duke University. The three-story brick building was dedicated to Julian Carr in 1930. The history department is based there. John Martin, history department chairman, told The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, the department wants Carr’s name replaced with Raymond Gavins, the university’s first African-American on faculty. The department made its request just before the first day of classes on Monday, the paper reported. “The department believes that the proposed change, which we have thoughtfully considered, is in keeping with the highest educational ideals and mission of the University,” Martin wrote to The Chronicle in an email.
NCDMV operated secret driver’s license office as residents waited in long lines
Charlotte Observer // Nick Oschner // August 28, 2018
Summary: The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has operated a driver’s license office at its headquarters building in Raleigh since January that is not open to the public and that officials are loathe to acknowledge. WBTV learned about the office earlier this month, as DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup took public steps to address the longer-than-normal wait times at driver’s license offices across the state, which left residents standing in lines outside of offices for hours just to be able to get a number to wait inside. Even as Jessup pledged his agency would take additional steps aimed at reducing wait times at public driver’s license offices, his agency was scheduling 20-minute appointments for certain state personnel to get their ID cards at the agency’s Model Office.