Our friends at Neighbors on Call are sponsoring a series of "NCGA 101" events with local legislators in Durham, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and Pittsboro. Register and share! 2020 will be here before we know it, so why not get some GOTV training with You Can Vote? Once you're trained, check the calendar of events here.

Apologies for being the one to miss something on our weekly ICYMI! It ended up being for the best, because I wouldn't have had the pleasure to tell you the results of the NC-09 hearings on Wednesday: in the middle of Thursday's hearing, Mark Harris called for a new election in NC-09, and the Board of Elections promptly voted on it and agreed.

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We're paying close attention to national and local conversations about postcard campaigns for this special election. If our expertise is needed, we'll certainly rally our troops. But in the meantime, we'll pass along any other opportunities we learn about. Keep an eye on your email. If you aren't subscribed to us, shoot us an email at info@stampncblue.org!

If you haven't already, check out yesterday's post for an excellent summary of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Check NC Policy Watch, WRAL, and the New York Times for summaries of this four-day installment of the Fast and the Furious: NCGA.

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In a whiplash-inducing turn of events, a Republican representative has come up with a plan to end gerrymandering in North Carolina. Until now, the party in power have been responsible for drawing or redrawing the political maps. But this new bill would create an 11-member citizens' commission to tackle the issue of redistricting outside of the political sphere. According to the official press release, many Republican lawmakers have long been in favor of fair redistricting, but, not surprisingly at this point, the facts tell a different story. Check to see if your lawmakers have actually supported fair maps here, and if they haven't, contact them and tell them to support HB69, or you'll remember how they voted come 2020.

In another victory against gerrymandering, the GOP have withdrawn their appeal of an NC Supreme Court decision that ruled 4 districts in Wake County unconstitutionally gerrymandered. These districts will return to their less-gerrymandered state by this summer.

For the third time in a week, the NC GOP have reversed themselves: they have introduced legislation to undo their previous decision to shrink the NC Court of Appeals from 15 to 12.

That the GOP is changing tack isn't surprising. Back-and-forth like this is business the GOP way; celebrate the good and be wary of another nasty turn beneath it. There's a chance they're bending their sails back in a sensible direction because they see an opportunity to win or to gain something; we'll see. Keep a weather eye out.

Now that Democrats have taken back the US House, they're taking back the Voting Rights Act, and they're turning to North Carolina to help them do it. We welcome them to Halifax County, and we wish them luck.

North Carolina is growing its own efforts to help voters as well; Spread The Vote launched a chapter of its national organization in Greenville not too long ago to coincide with the release of Project ID, a program designed to help voters obtain DMV photo ID s free of charge.

On the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, the NCGA is considering a revived bill that would allow North Carolinians to carry concealed handguns without a permit. Along with the "constitutional carry" bill, HB61 is also on the list. One of its provisions does away with permits that allow concealed carry. Which one do you prefer? Let your legislators know.

Chemours-- the company that has been leaking the carcinogen GenX into North Carolina's water supply for decades-- hasn't been cooperating with the EPA's requirements to release various documents related to its handling of GenX. And that's Trump's EPA, so that's saying something. The EPA's plan to fix the problem doesn't go far or fast enough, according to Governor Cooper and NC environmental groups. That sounds more like Trump's EPA.

If you're a North Carolina state employee, you might want to key into the discussion surrounding changes to the employee health plan. The switch to value-based healthcare has been a topic of discussion for some time, but it's getting refreshed as rising healthcare costs threaten the NC state treasury. In a value-based care system, providers are reimbursed in part on their ability to keep patients healthy. What would happen to patients who will never be healthy– that is, chronically ill patients, those with pre-existing conditions, for example: those who need healthcare the most– isn't exactly clear. Watch this carefully.

You can't walk through Durham without tripping over a brewery. So for people out walking their dogs, tripping over breweries that disallow their furry family members is troublesome. Rep. John Hardister (R Guilford), wants to change that. It's superfluous, but I can't disagree with him. I mean... come on, look at this face!

Molly B is up for adoption at animalrescue.net!

Wander outside of the Triangle, Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, or any of the other relatively urban areas of North Carolina, and it's like you've wandered into a different country. We've all experienced this, and we all have a general idea of why there's such a vast economic disparity between urban and rural North Carolina: because the industries that once sustained our state– textiles and tobacco, among others– have fled and taken their money with them. So how to fix the huge economic gap? There is no one magic bullet, but broadband internet access is as close as you can get, according to the Fayetteville Observer. What do you think?

Sarah Dohl, a former Congressional communications director, wrote a very insightful thread on Twitter about the real impact your letters to the editor have. In this digital age, writing a letter to your local print newspaper may not be the first thing you think about when you want to contact your lawmakers, but keep in mind that a healthy majority of them grew up before the internet became the world-shaping force it is today. Print still carries a lot of weight! If you need some help writing your letter, scroll down to the bottom of the Durham Democratic Women's Speak Out! page and you'll find some resources as well as links to submit your letters to the News & Observer and the Herald-Sun.

Have a great weekend, everyone; we will return to your regularly-scheduled Wednesday weekly round up next week!

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