GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEWS
Weaver, Bennett & Bland Attorneys Bo Caudill and Dave Bland Prevail Against North Carolina Legislature's Attempt to Stifle Constitutional Freedoms
ABC-7 // PR Newswire // September 5, 2018
Summary:On Tuesday, Bo Caudill and Dave Bland, attorneys with Weaver Bennett & Bland, P.A., won an important victory in an ongoing lawsuit brought against the North Carolina legislature, ensuring state Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin will appear on the ballot as a Republican in November. Over the summer, the Republican legislature called a special session and hastily passed a new law that would have prevented Anglin from being able to have his party affiliation listed on the ballot. The law was specifically aimed at affecting Anglin's ability to appear on the upcoming ballot. Caudill and Bland, along with co-counsel John Burns, challenged the law, arguing that it was unconstitutional because it retroactively stripped Anglin of his constitutional rights to freedom of association and due process, among others. After prevailing before both the trial court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the legislative defendants ultimately withdrew their appeal, abandoning their arguments. Due to the arguments prepared by Burns, Caudill, and Bland, Anglin is assured a spot on the November ballot. Caudill and Bland practice in the areas of civil litigation and constitutional law, among others.
GOV. COOPER NEWS
Preparation encouraged as peak hurricane season begins
Jacksonville Daily News // Janette Pippin // September 5, 2018
Summary: There is no hurricane activity threatening North Carolina at the moment, but now is a good time to be keeping watch on tropical storm activity in the Atlantic ocean. “It’s that time of year. Mid-September is the peak of the (hurricane season),” said Erik Heden, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport, which includes 15 Eastern North Carolina counties in its forecast area, including Onslow, Craven, Lenoir, Duplin, Lenoir and Carteret counties. Two storms churned in the Atlantic on Tuesday afternoon, one near landfall along the Gulf Coast and the other still too far offshore to know whether it will impact the United States.The National Hurricane Center was issuing advisories for the Atlantic for Tropical Storm Gordon and Hurricane Florence and was watching a third disturbance that had a 30 percent chance of cyclone formation within 48 hours. In a news release issued Tuesday from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office, September has been declared as North Carolina Preparedness Month to encourage residents and businesses to review their emergency plans and update their emergency supply kits. “North Carolinians are resilient and have endured hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, mudslides, wildfires, winter storms and more,” Cooper said. “We know that planning and preparation pay off when a disaster strikes. Having simple emergency plans and basic supplies in place will help you survive storms and recover faster.”
Cooper surveys storm recovery efforts
Rocky Mount Telegram // Corey Davis // September 5, 2018
Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper made his way back home on Tuesday to the Twin Counties as he toured some sites in Edgecombe County that were impacted by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Cooper first visited Dail’s Transmission & Exhaust in Princeville, which was a business damaged by Matthew. He later visited Roosevelt and Bernice Noble, whose home in Tarboro was rebuilt after being damaged by Matthew. Cooper said he is pleased to see the Nobles return to their home and be an example of a family that was able to receive funds from the state to help in their recovery. “They were great people and he (Roosevelt) and I are about the same age,” Cooper said. “They talked about how difficult it was for them when they lost all of their personal items. I think what struck me about them was how family was so important. When they were waiting for their house to be rebuilt, they stayed with their daughter. They now have a wonderful place to live. It was an honor to meet them. It showed some of the money we’ve put in to rebuild and we hope to continue to see more families like them helped by our efforts.”
Gov. Cooper visits Brunswick Community College to promote student assistance program
State Port Pilot // Michael Paul // September 5, 2018
Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper visited Brunswick Community College last Thursday and spoke about the Finish Line Grants program. Cooper announced the program in July and has been visiting community colleges to make students aware of it. “Imagine if some extraordinary financial obligation comes upon a student right before the very end,” Cooper said in an auditorium in Building B. “I have heard stories about students for financial reasons having to drop out just before they finished their credential or degree. ... “We should be able to step in and help these students finish their goal. ... One of the things that I want to do is to continue to support our community colleges. We were able to put together this effort using some federal dollars. It’s called the Finish Line Grants.” The Finish Line Grants program helps community college students who face unforeseen financial emergencies complete their training. The program will leverage up to $7-million in federal funds to help students pay for course materials, housing, medical needs, dependent care or other financial emergencies that students may face through no fault of their own.
Legislative committee will probe concerns about pipeline fund
Laurinburg Exchange // Dan Way // September 5, 2018
Summary: Republican legislative leaders fear more lawsuits and constitutional showdowns with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will occur if, in their view, he keeps stepping on their control over state revenues. The concerns surfaced during a Wednesday, Aug. 29, meeting of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations. Lawmakers created an investigative subcommittee to probe Cooper’s involvement with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, named to the panel Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, co-chairman; Sens. Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth; Ben Clark, D-Hoke; Floyd McKissick, D-Durham; and Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus. The governor has been dogged by questions whether his creation of a $57.8 million discretionary fund was a pay-to-play scheme for Atlantic Coast Pipeline partners to get a required permit from the state Department of Environmental Quality.
NCDP NEWS & MENTIONS
WAPO // Sam Wang, Rick Ober // September 4, 2018
Summary: North Carolina is one of the most gerrymandered states in the union — its district lines artfully drawn in such a way that even though Democrats and Republicans are roughly split in the state, Ten out of its 13 representatives to Congress are Republican. The map provides a soundly built levee against wave elections. Last week, a panel of three federal judges ruled once again that the partisan gerrymander was unconstitutional, having been ordered in June by the Supreme Court to look at the case again. (The lower-court judges had ruled similarly in January.) The possibility remains that the districts could be redrawn. But it is not at all clear that the Supreme Court will allow that to occur, or that the high court, which has avoided giving a decisive answer so far on this issue, will ever constrain partisan gerrymandering nationally. With all the uncertainty over gerrymandering in federal courts, opponents of partisan gerrymandering might be wise to pursue an alternative route: They could use state law, not federal law, to attack gerrymandering.
ICE demands ‘exhaustive’ voting records from North Carolina
N&O // Brian Murphy // September 5, 2018
Summary: Immigration authorities want North Carolina elections officials to turn over nearly a decade’s worth of voting records by the end of the month. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina subpoenaed records Friday from the state board of elections and 44 county elections boards in the eastern part of the state. A meeting notice from the board says the subpoena came at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Among the state records from Jan. 1, 2010 through Aug. 30, 2018 that were requested: all voter registration applications, federal write-in absentee ballots, federal postcard applications, early-voting application forms, provisional voting forms, absentee ballot request forms, all “admission or denial of non-citizen return forms,” and all voter registration cancellation or revocation forms.
Is Trump’s DOJ Making North Carolina His New Front in the Voting Wars? Subpoenas Sent to Get Voting Records Throughout State
Election Law Blog // Rick Hasen // September 4, 2018
Summary: A few weeks back, the DOJ brought charges in North Carolina against 19 people the government said were non-citizens voting in the election. The NYT reported: The Justice Department said the violations were uncovered by a newly created federal task force on document and benefit fraud in North Carolina’s Eastern Judicial District, led by the Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. But now something bigger is up, according to Democratic lawyer Marc Elias.
NC governors will still fight two proposed constitutional amendments, ex-Gov. Martin says
N&O // Jim Morrill // September 5, 2018
Summary: North Carolina’s five living former governors will continue to oppose a pair of constitutional amendments, former Republican Gov. Jim Martin said Wednesday. His comments came a day after the state Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Gov. Roy Cooper that the two amendments — involving appointment powers — can go on the ballot. “We’re fully committed to opposing these,” Martin told the Observer. In an unprecedented show of unity, Martin and former GOP Gov. Pat McCrory joined former Democratic Govs. Jim Hunt, Mike Easley and Bev Perdue last month in opposing the two amendments. So did six former Supreme Court chief justices.
Supreme Court OKs amendments, but they still smell
Charlotte Observer // Editorial Board // September 4, 2018
Summary: The Supreme Court wouldn’t block constitutional amendments, so now it’s up to voters to do so. The NC Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for two contested amendments to appear on November’s ballot. That leaves voters as the last line of defense against power-hungry legislators who want to throw out a separation of powers that has served this state well for generations. These can seem like arcane, complicated matters, so the question is whether most voters will take the time to consider the full implications of approving each amendment. Amendment opponents, including all five living former NC governors of both parties, will have to campaign vigorously for there to be any chance that they do.
A new poll has good news for Democrat hoping to unseat Raleigh congressman
N&O // Brian Murphy // September 5, 2018
Summary: Republican Rep. George Holding’s campaign said last month that polling showed he was narrowly trailing in his re-election bid. Now Democratic challenger Linda Coleman has a poll of her own with a similar finding. A new poll, paid for by the Coleman campaign, shows Coleman leading Holding by a single percentage point, 45 percent to 44 percent. Libertarian candidate Jeff Matemu is polling at 5 percent and 6 percent of voters are undecided, according to the poll, which the campaign provided first to The News & Observer. The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, was conducted between Aug. 23 and Aug. 27 and covered 401 likely voters in the 2nd Congressional District. The district covers parts or all of Wake, Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Nash, and Wilson counties.
California offers NC a model for elections without gerrymandering
N&O // Ned Barnett // September 5, 2018
Summary: Three Californians have come to North Carolina this week like characters in a Jules Verne novel. They’re journeying into the past to rescue the people of a lost world still ruled by a shape-shifting creature called the gerrymander. The three members of California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission are touring what may be the nation’s most extremely gerrymandered state with a message of how to regain democracy: Adopt an independent redistricting system where voters — not political mapmakers — decide elections. The visitors here at the invitation of Common Cause of North Carolina and Blueprint North Carolina, a network of social justice organizations. One of them, Cynthia Dai, a Democrat, said North Carolina, like much of the nation, has lost its democracy to gerrymandering, but “in California, we grabbed it back.”
GenX: Local Resident Addressing Congress On Water Contamination
Smithfield Foods closing Clayton facility, laying off all workers there
WHQR // Vince Winkel // September 5, 2018
Summary: Emily Donovan, the co-founder of Clean Cape Fear, is en route to Washington DC. A House subcommittee invited her speak during a hearing looking into PFAS and GenX contamination in the water supply. The issue is now receiving more national attention. The Subcommittee on Environment is chaired by Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois. It’s part of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which is charged with matters that include consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health and research, and the environment. On her trip up I-95 toward Washington, Emily Donovan of Brunswick County telss WHQR this may be a turning point. “Especially for these types of chemicals. PFAS as a class of chemicals been largely unstudied, and to have this type of national exposure and what we're seeing is that it really does sound like at the national level there's bipartisan support for this, which was surprising because here in North Carolina the landscape that we learned early on is that the issue for some reason was very divisive.”
Test scores are down in NC public schools. What needs to change?
N&O // T. Keung Hui // September 5, 2018
Summary: Fewer North Carolina public school students passed state exams this year, with the decline increasing over time for students in third grade despite a state push to get young children reading at grade level. New state results from the 2017-18 school year released Wednesday also show that the state’s 12-year streak of rising high school graduation rates has ended. But state leaders say the graduation results can’t be compared to previous years because of changes in how the rates are now calculated. State education leaders pointed to positives Wednesday about how the majority of schools are meeting growth expectations on state exams and that the number of low-performing schools has dropped. But the new test results also showed several areas of decline.
Why North Carolina’s youngest students will get some relief from testing this year
Charlotte Observer // T. Keung Hui // September 1, 2018
Summary: At a time when there are concerns that students are being tested too much, new statewide changes this school year should reduce how much time North Carolina’s youngest students spend taking tests. The state Department of Public Instruction is no longer requiring that kindergarten through third-grade teachers give certain tests designed to assess how well students are doing in the Read to Achieve program. In a memo announcing the changes last week, State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson cited how 76 percent of educators who responded to a May survey said students are tested too much. “We hope these changes help reduce the amount of time you must assess students as well as how much your students feel like they are being tested,” Johnson said in the memo sent to elementary school educators shortly before the start of the new school year.
School lunch programs increasingly more important for NC students
Charlotte Post // Nick Haseloff // September 1, 2018
Summary: A majority of North Carolina parents lack the financial resources to provide school lunches for their children without assistance, according to federal data, a situation that has worsened in recent years. Most children in North Carolina participate in the National School Lunch Program, which provides free and reduced-price school lunches to families facing financial hardship. In the 2016-17 school year, 59.8 percent of public school students in the state received lunches through this program, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. That’s 10 percentage points higher than the level of participation a decade earlier. Projections from North Carolina public school administrators for the 2018-19 school year show that a high percentage of students will continue to benefit from the program, provided they apply, which they must do each year.
Streaming series arrive on the Wilmington film scene
Star News // Hunter Ingram // September 5, 2018
Summary: A new era is dawning for the local film industry. This fall, area film crews will begin shooting two new television projects that will be broadcast exclusively on digital streaming platforms. Hulu’s drama series pilot “Reprisal” will begin shooting next week, and Warner Bros. and DC Universe’s “Swamp Thing” is expected to gear up by month’s end. The two projects -- only the second and third to shoot locally this year after the feature film “Words on Bathroom Walls” -- represent a new type of business for the area and, more importantly, offer experience for luring more series of their kind. “It is not just another TV series,” said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. “It is another type of TV series for another company. The people that do traditional network have seen plenty of TV done here. They know it can be (done here), but with streaming projects coming here, that allows us to speak to their counterparts in Los Angeles. It starts to show the depths of what you can do here.”
N&O // Charlie McGee // September 5, 2018
Summary: More than 100 employees will be laid off at a Smithfield Foods distribution center in Clayton as the company plans to permanently close the facility at the end of October. This is the first mass layoff reported in 2018 for Johnston County. According to a notice sent by Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. to the N.C. Department of Commerce, the first wave of layoffs will come Oct. 7. About 18 warehouse operators will lose their jobs at the Smithfield facility on that day. An additional 83 employees will be laid off there on Oct. 21. That wave of layoffs will affect positions ranging from billing clerks to shift operations managers to warehouse supervisors.
GlaxoSmithKline cuts 650 jobs nationwide, including 100 in Research Triangle Park
N&O // John Murawski // September 5, 2018
Summary: Global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, one of the Triangle’s largest employers, said Wednesday it plans to eliminate 100 jobs in Research Triangle Park as part of a cost-cutting strategy that will eliminate 650 jobs in the United States. The UK-based drug maker notified the N.C. Department of Commerce on Wednesday that it plans to cut 100 positions at its RTP site and 450 in its field sales force in all 50 states. The 450 sales jobs are being reported to the state commerce agency because they report to RTP-based executive Jack Bailey.
Internal NC DMV reports conflict with commissioner's explanation for long wait times
CBS-17 // Nick Oschner // September 5, 2018
Summary: Internal DMV reports obtained by WBTV suggest explanations offered for long wait times at driver’s license offices across the state are inaccurate. Residents across North Carolina have reported waiting as much a seven hours to get a new driver’s license. The long wait times were the subject of a press conference held by DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup in early August. “We have something going on in the state that you’ve heard about and it’s called REAL ID,” Jessup said in offering up reasons for the long wait times. “As I’m talking to our driver’s license examiners,” he said, “They’re telling me people are coming in wanting to get their REAL ID.” But internal DMV data obtained by WBTV suggests the number of REAL ID’s issued by the agency has remained virtually flat for the entirety of 2018, both as a percentage of total licenses issued and in raw numbers.
The DMV doesn’t know how long you’ve been in line. Agency’s head says that will change.
N&O // Richard Stradling // September 5, 2018
Summary: The state Division of Motor Vehicles doesn’t really know how long people have been waiting in line at its driver’s license offices, and the head of the agency said Wednesday it will try to fix that. The amount of time a customer has waited in line for service is an important measure of how the DMV is doing, said Commissioner Torre Jessup. The department measures average wait times at all 113 of its driver’s license offices every week, and aggregates that data to produce monthly and annual totals. The goal, Jessup said, is a statewide average of no more than 30 minutes. But under its current system, the clock doesn’t start running until the customer reaches a representative inside the door, receives a number and takes a seat. What’s not counted is the amount of time customers spend in line before receiving a number.
I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration
NY Times // Opinion // September 5, 2018
Summary: President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader. It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall. The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.I would know. I am one of them. To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous. But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.