On Tuesday February 19th, the League of Women Voters of Orange-Durham-Chatham and the Chapel Hill Library will host the February meeting of the Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools. It will focus on youth as agents of change. Find out more here.

Last week I mentioned Upstate, a new way to track the bills that move through the NCGA. If you'd rather not do that, Longleaf Politics has picked a few bills you might want to keep up with, including a bill to restrict abortions, a bill to expand Medicaid, and a bill to privatize liquor sales in North Carolina. My favorite though? HB46, or the Economic Security Act of 2019, which would raise the minimum wage in North Carolina to $15 over 5 years, and repeal the state’s ban on collective bargaining by public employees, among other things. And since Republicans did not introduce it, you know the title of the bill is actually truthful instead of doublespeak for "This Bill Actually Does The Opposite Of What The Title Says It Does".

As we edge closer to the NCBoE's February 18th hearing on NC-09, more questions are emerging about the miscounted– or uncounted– absentee ballots in Bladen County. It is difficult to build a case for absentee ballot fraud when you're relying on  people's memories, which can be faulty or manipulated. However, that's why the elections boards keep records, and why we need to fix this issue, no matter what the results of the hearing are.

Democrats in the US House have, as they'd promised, taken the first steps toward doing that and more. HR1, or the For the People Act, is a sweeping and uplifting response to the threats facing our democracy nationwide, but its provisions– "to insure access to paper ballots, in order to verify the accuracy of voting results; to establish early voting in all states for federal elections; and to launch independent redistricting commissions, to address the problem of partisan gerrymandering", among others– will have profound impacts on North Carolina's democratic future.

Starting May 1st, those who do not have a photo ID to vote may get one for free from their local Boards of Elections. That's definitely better than having to make the arduous journey to and through the DMV, and having to pay for an ID, but it still doesn't help all those who don't have transportation to their BoEs (or those whose commutes have been affected by, say, a hurricane). It also doesn't explain how absentee ballots will be counted under the new law, since there is no way to correctly enforce a photo ID requirement with a mail-in ballot. Back to square one: requiring a photo ID to vote just isn't what North Carolinians need.

Rest in Peace, Rep. Walter Jones. He was one of the few Republican politicians left who had not lost sight of his mission: to serve his constituents and truly represent their interests. He made some calls I don't agree with, but he did what few other politicians of any stripe have done recently: learned from his mistakes and listened to his people. This Twitter thread in his memory is worth your time.

Governor Cooper named a new NC Supreme Court chief justice on Tuesday: Cheri Beasley.

Image (c) law.utk.edu

She is the first black woman to hold the position. Congratulations, Cheri!

Our own Rev. Dr. William Barber, of the Poor People's Campaign and the Moral Monday marches, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post that has both gravity and energy. It offers his perspective on Virginia governor Ralph Northam's racism, but more importantly, it offers a way forward and out from under the systemic racism that is written into the foundations (and into the NC constitution, as a matter of fact) of this entire country.

Though Speaker Moore was officially cleared of suspicions of wrongdoing, as I noted last week, he's still working as a lawyer and handling some high-profile cases, which have made him lots of money. "Moore's home county [Cleveland] decided it would be smarter to pay one of the most powerful people in the state to attend every commission meeting. Moore also serves as attorney for his county's public utility." While this is, apparently, still legal (???), I don't quite understand how this is not evidence of Moore using his political influence– and position– for personal gain. But then again, I'm not a lawyer.

Kelsey Henson has sought a domestic violence order of protection against her husband, NC Rep. Cody Henson (R-Transylvania). #believewomen.

North Carolina, which has had a reputation for being a purple state for a long time now, may be changing to another color altogether. Unaffiliated voters are making up an increasing percentage of the electorate, and have already surpassed the number of Democrats and Republicans in 7– soon to be 8– counties. This could mean that voters are tiring of the two-party system (can't say I blame them, honestly). The burden now falls on the parties to decide how to– or if they even should– turn the rainbow back to blue and/or red.

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