CALL TO ACTION: This week the NCGA voted to pass the Death by Distribution bill. This bill aims to punish drug dealers who supply drugs that lead to a death by overdose. What it would actually do is 1) increase overdose deaths by making people afraid to call 911 and 2) cause more people with substance abuse disorders to be jailed. The law states that it only applies to people who "sell or deliver as part of a sale”, but since it's so common for users to trade and sell small amounts of drugs to each other, anyone using substances could be charged. Call Governor Cooper at 919-814-2000 and urge him to veto this harmful bill!

The Republican candidates in NC-09 are scrabbling to gain voters. So far, it looks like the favorite, Sen. Dan Bishop, remains in the lead, with Stony “Boss Hogg” Rushing in second place. He ran a campaign ad highlighting the fact that he, unlike many other candidates, actually lived in the district he's campaigning to represent, thus he's better positioned to lead it well. While I question-- vigorously-- his ability to do much more than pose with a gun in his hand, he was right when he said that half of his competitors didn't even live or vote in NC-09. There's no law that says a candidate must reside in the district they want to represent, but it is nice if they do. Mr. Rushing might do well to note that the Democratic candidate, Dan McCready, also lives in the district.

The NC Senate has cleared SB559, the bill that would allow Duke Energy to have its rates set for five years instead of annually. This bill could make it easier for big energy companies to go without oversight from regulators and input from those who are subject to its rate increases.

Thom Tillis has his first Republican challenger for 2020. A former investment firm CEO, Garland Tucker of Raleigh, filed his paperwork earlier this week. Let's continue to wish the Democrats, NC Senator Erica Smith and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller, well in the primaries.

The DMV has begun issuing photo IDs for voting to those who have had their driver's licenses taken away, free of charge. If you know someone who has had their license suspended or revoked, let them know they can mail their suspended one to the DMV and get a voter ID card that will be valid until their license is reinstated.

While I'm glad to see conservative voters finally coming around to supporting Medicaid expansion, it's important to note what kind of expansion bill is getting attention. “Medicaid expansion” the Republican way would include a work requirement for qualified applicants, possibly adding more stress and vulnerability to their lives, and a requirement to pay premiums. As I said last month, this isn't actually Medicaid expansion. This is just another kind of private insurance plan paid for by Medicaid and managed by providers.

Monday was People’s Lobby Day to End Gerrymandering at the North Carolina legislature. Read about the bills they were advocating for here and call upon your legislators to get them passed!

A 20-foot-by-20-foot Confederate flag, flying on a 60-foot tall pole along Highway 70, must be taken down, thanks to a hearing  at the Orange County Board of Commissioners. It's about time we see that eyesore gone.

It's been illegal to text and drive in North Carolina for a while, but now it's apparently illegal to hold your phone while you're driving...unless you're not being distracted by it. Dashboard-mounted phones are still okay, but I still wonder what the difference is between being distracted by a phone in your hand and a phone mounted on the dashboard. And what the difference is between this and a charge of reckless driving, which has also been against the law for quite some time. Our NCGA hard at work, I guess.

gif via giphy

The politically-aware in North Carolina will have been aware of Republicans' tenacious, decade-long efforts to gain, grow, and lock down power. They will also have known that gerrymandering was-- and is-- one of the greatest tools at their disposal. But Slay the Dragon, the new documentary out of the Tribeca Film Festival this past week, reminds us all that it goes much further back and much deeper than that. The documentary details REDMAP, the Republicans' plan to win legislative seats and then use the 2010 census data to redraw electoral districts in their favor to give the party a permanent advantage. It also exposes “the real-life consequences of the abstract concept, explaining how recent partisan redistricting, particularly a well-funded, organized effort by Republican strategists in the wake of the 2008 elections, connects to everything from the Flint water crisis to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's removal of collective bargaining for public employees to extreme legislation like voter ID laws and North Carolina's bathroom bill to the hyper-polarized current political environment.” Hopefully this film will get a wide release after the festival; it's exactly the kind of thing that needs to be spread widely.

The Durham-Orange Light Rail projectis dead. Long live the Carolina Connector rail hub! It's not a public transportation rail line, but it will, according to its developmental leader Norris Tolson, “enhance the positions for current manufacturers [of rural NC counties of Nash and Edgecombe]... to bring in raw materials and ship out the manufactured products... Additionally, the agriculture economy will find shipping products domestically and overseas more efficient. The connector will not just enable farmers to get their produce more easily distributed around the nation but gain more direct access to the port in Norfolk and more efficient access to major markets in Europe and Asia. It opens opportunities for food processing operations that didn’t exist before.” Let's hope that becomes a rich reality for this struggling region.

Tags: icymi, ncga, nc-09, gerrymandering, voter ID, medicaid expansion

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