Join us for a Day of Action May 1, 2019. 700 S. Salisbury St. Raleigh. 9am - 5pm.

No Republican can claim anymore that their party is fiscally or economically conservative. Thanks in large part to the NCGOP's chicanery, the new election in NC-09, while necessary, could cost North Carolina taxpayers upward of $1.2 million if no one candidate gets more than 30% of the vote in the primary next month. Given that there are 10 Republican candidates, this is definitely a possibility.

On the subject of North Carolinians likely having to pay for things they shouldn't have to pay for, Duke Energy is now required to empty all of their coal-ash pits: a move that will drastically reduce the risk to people and the environment, but will lead to billions more added to the cleanup efforts already totalling around $5.6 billion. Instead of doing the right thing and paying for this cleanup themselves (after all, we're taught in elementary school that if we make messes, we clean them up), Duke wants its customers to pay for it. The NC Utilities Commission will make the final call on who'll pay for the cleanup. Contact them here and urge them not to put yet more undue burdens on North Carolina citizens.

Last week the Supreme Court heard the case Common Cause v. Rucho and a case out of Maryland in what could possibly be the first time a federal court will rule in a case of partisan gerrymandering. Amy Howe, co-founder of SCOTUSBlog, offers some key takeaways from last week's hearings. She also recommends David Savage's coverage of the arguments and the justices' responses. Find it here.

It's clear from the GOP's own words on the national level that on the subject of gerrymandering, they're not actually fighting for fair districts or fair maps. What they want is clear: enduring control of as many districts as possible.

While both groups claim to be fighting for “fair maps,” the NDRC (National Democratic Redistricting Committee) has come out against unfairly rigged districts in blue and red states alike and backed the creation of independent commissions to take control of  the map-drawing process out of state lawmakers’ hands. The NRRT (National Republican Redistricting Trust) has not."

The NRRT says that "redistricting in most states and in most situations is best left to the body that’s closest to the people, and that’s the state legislature". I struggle to see how the state legislature– artificially distanced from the will of the people by gerrymandering– can be any closer to the people's wishes than a body of independent citizens which form a redistricting commission, something the NRRT's affiliated nonprofit Lines America, paid $50,000 to fight in Michigan (it lost).

Though redistricting has so far been a state issue, it's clear that the democratic processes currently in place have either been warped or neutered past the point of fixing gerrymandering by themselves. It's time for an intervention.

Tired of hyperpartisanship yet? Earlier in the session, HB294 was introduced, which would make every election in the state a partisan one. State Sen. Michael Garrett then introduced his bill, SB 132, which would end partisanship in school board elections in his home district in Guilford County. Republicans argue that forcing partisanship on these elections will allow voters to make more educated choices about which candidates they're voting for. Candidates running for local offices don't always have enough resources to make themselves household names, and so voters would need an easy, quick way to learn about these candidates before they voted. I'm not sure if they've heard about this thing that's been around for about 3 decades now called the internet, but then again there are some voters who don't have regular or reliable access. Others, including both Democratic and unaffiliated candidates and ex-school board members, don't want elections to become partisan, citing not wanting to become embroiled in dysfunctional politics, not wanting to oversimplify candidates' platforms to a single letter, and, in the case of independents, having to petition to be on the ballot. Evan Crawford of San Diego University has linked nonpartisan school board elections with increased partisan feeling among the candidates. Take a look at the brief of his research here. What do you think?

Rep. Lee Zachary has introduced HB 24, which would would let school districts prevent their buildings from being used for voting. Nobody is outright saying it, but we all know the reason why this bill was introduced: to reduce the number of voting sites and put up barriers between people and the ability to vote.

Good news: North Carolina should have paper ballots for the 2020 elections. Less than good news: it's a race against time and money. Several counties still haven't updated their equipment from the touchscreen voting machines that leave too much room for error and hacking.  

The Medicaid expansion debate rolls on. The NCGOP has proposed 5 (technically 6) ways to manage healthcare in North Carolina– you can read about them here– none of which would do as much for as many people as expanding Medicaid. But if it means charging the newly-eligible people premiums, which would be the easiest way to recoup the costs, then it's a nonstarter, according to this report. So what do we do? North Carolina Health News spent several weeks examining Medicaid expansion reports in several Republican-led states to see what happens when states do expand Medicaid. The upshot: while it may be a bit stressful on the front end, the benefits to every sector of the state's health, especially ailing and failing rural hospitals, are large and enduring.

Last week, "Sen. Harry Brown, who last year received $4,000 in campaign contributions from anti-wind energy billionaires, the Koch Brothers, has filed a bill that would cripple the wind energy along the North Carolina coast." In typical Republican fashion, he couched the real reason for opposing clean energy (because he's opposed to anything that would jeopardize his donors' income) in language that seems superficially inarguable: "Brown and other coastal wind energy opponents say wind turbines present an unacceptable risk to the military and could jeopardize the state’s bases in the next round of base closings." Except we can argue it: a military base in Cape Cod installed its own wind-powered energy system last year. So much for that.

Fortunately, the NC Department of Environmental Quality is developing a clean energy plan for North Carolina by collecting input from businesses, citizens, and organizations and put a plan together this winter. There isn't any public comment area on their website yet, but keep checking back for updates.

Even if you're not active on Twitter, the hashtag #WorstNCPols is worth your time to peruse. NCAA-style, Twitter is ranking NC politicians, including NCGA members, from worst to... worst.

The Final Four are doozies. There's still time to jump in and vote on the championships!

Tags: ICYMI, NC-09, gerrymandering, voting rights

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