ACTION ALERT: Both chambers have passed SB359, the so-called “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act". It now goes to Governor Cooper. This bill is unnecessary and redundant (laws already exist to criminalize killing a living infant, whether by force or neglect) and only gives Republicans a reason to shame those who voted against it by claiming they are pro-infanticide. It would create a chilling effect on abortions by criminalizing doctors. Contact Governor Cooper and ask him to veto this political stunt by Republicans, because that's all this is.

ACTION ALERT: The House Elections and Ethics Law will meet Thursday morning at 9am to discuss, among others, HB24, which would require local elections boards to receive approval from local school boards before schools could be used as voting sites. This could drastically reduce the number of polling places available to counties with fewer resources. Check to see if your reps are on this committee and if they are, call them and ask them to vote against this attack on our ability to vote.

Early voting in NC-03 is in full swing with almost 4,000 votes cast, and NC-09 is gearing up for the election on May 14th. Early voting in NC-09 starts next Wednesday, April 24th. The shenanigans linked in the Longleaf Politics newsletter above are worth your time to read, if only for humor's sake, and to pass it onto any of your friends in NC-09.

A couple weeks ago we learned that the NC Department of Environmental Quality required Duke Energy to clean out all their coal ash pits: a very necessary move, but one that would likely put undue burden on its customers, whom Duke wants to pay for the cleanup. Last week, however, Duke stated that it planned to appeal the NC DEQ's decision. Then, in a move that illustrates just how tightly woven Duke Energy and North Carolina politics are, Duke placed a bill before the legislature written to seek approval for rate increases five years at a time (instead of yearly) to cover the cost of grid modernization and coal ash cleanup.

“Several experts said this 'multiyear rate plan' structure is indeed in place in other states, but Duke Energy's proposal doesn't have all the protections built in that other states have used. Among other things, opponents question what happens to extra money collected if a project is abandoned or runs under budget. 'Duke is in a win-win situation, where I think this is a loser for rate payers,' Hahn said. 'I think it's important to come back every year and assess the situation.'"

Duke may get what it wants for coal ash cleanup, but it may not get what it wants if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decides to issue a stop work order on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, as it has been asked to do. Finger crossed the FERC does the right thing and halts this damaging and dangerous-- not to mention unnecessary—pipeline.

The transition from Medicaid managed by the government to Medicaidon a "managed care” system isn't exactly the same as Medicaid expansion, but it creates problems that need not exist:

“My Health by Health Providers, a consortium of a dozen hospital systems in the state, elevated its dissatisfaction this week by filing a complaint at the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, accusing DHHS [Department of Health & Human Services] of favoring for-profit managed care companies and discounting the state legislature’s desire to allow homegrown, provider-led plans significant roles in the restructured Medicaid plan. '[T]he Department ignored the legislative directive,' attorneys for My Health by Health Providers wrote in their legal filings. 'Instead, the Department favored commercial insurers with out-of-state experience without regard to whether the experience of these commercial plans in other states was negative, including incidents of widespread mismanagement, patient abuse and even fraud.'”

Medicaid expansion would be simpler, better for patients, providers, and hospitals.

But really, the Rev. Dr. William Barber says it better than I could. One doesn't have to be religious to take value from his message and see that he truly has the peoples' interests at heart.

Speaking of the Rev, he's now allowed back into the legislative building, after 2 years of being banned following his 2017 arrest. He can now attend the teacher's march on May 1, and I hope he draws a hell of a crowd.

The House has approved HB646, the bill that would help fix the issue around student voter ID. It goes to the Senate now.

Dallas Woodhouse will no longer be executive director of the NC GOP as of June this year. May that position go long unfilled.

gif via giphy

As the judiciary moves ever more right nationwide, Governor Cooper is moving North Carolina's courts left. The two new appointees to the State Court of Appeals are both Democrats, and one of them, Chris Brook, is currently the legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina. Welcome aboard, gentlemen. It'll be good to have you both.

The NC DEQ has made new rules to curb pollution from hog waste, which still plagues many North Carolinians. The rules will include a way to monitor waste pits to theoretically ensure they don't contaminate groundwater. The rules would also prohibit farmers from spraying waste on fields “when wind conditions will cause or be reasonably expected to cause the waste to cross property lines.

To leave you with a bit of good news, there is bipartisan support for a bill that would increase the monthly allowance for individuals and married couples in nursing homes for the first time since 1987. Let's keep that momentum rolling; call your legislators and ask them to support HB753.

Tags: ICYMI, medicaid expansion, NC-09, NC-03, Duke Energy, voter ID

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