Though the NC-09 primary is over, the election is still months away. Plenty enough time for both candidates to work up a good froth. According to political analyst Chris Cooper, quoted in the Charlotte Observer, the win might come down to how radical (thus undesirable) one can paint the other. Good tactic, especially since the number of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina has been on the rise and is now the majority in several counties (though not in the 9thDistrict). I might be biased, but the things Dan McCready is advocating, including “lowering health care costs, protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, investing in our public schools, defending Medicare, and creating good jobs,” don't really seem all that radical to me. Hopefully everyone but the rabid Trumpian Republicans will agree.

Recently the House approved HB 667, which would expand the ways counties can use tax money, approved by voters. Sales taxes in North Carolina are capped at 7 percent, but voters can elect to add a quarter-cent onto their own tax bills for transit projects. Under HB 667, voters could choose how to direct that quarter-cent. “Coastal counties might need funding for beach renourishment, for example, while mountain counties might need it for teacher supplements.” Granted, counties-- especially rural ones who wouldn't be pulling in as much profit from the tax-- shouldn't have to choose between, say, road improvement and teacher raises, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms...

… which is related to this can: SB622, upon which I reported in April. Unfortunately it passed the Senate, but Governor Cooper has signaled that he's against the bill. So even if the House approves it, the Republicans have lost their veto-proof supermajority. Unless, of course, they find help from Democrats. Let's hope they don't.

Republicans' repeated promises of a booming economy and jobs growing with wild abandon-- thanks to repeated tax cuts-- have not borne out. A report released by the Board of Labor Statistics indicates that North Carolina's rate of job growth lags behind the national average,and has NOT received the turbo boost from tax cuts that the Republicans promised since 2013.

If the definition of idiocy is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, what does that make the Republicans, who are trying the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result that never happens?

gif via giphy

Republicans have lamented that the replacement of State Board of Elections director Kim Strach was purely politically motivated on the Democrats' part, a rich thing coming from the party who is now in court for being politically motivated to draw voting districts designed to keep themselves in power for as long as possible, including Kim Strach. They passed laws protecting her job and extending her role as director. That law, included in the bill that restructured the Board of Elections last year, led to a long legal fight that ended the way it should have: with the governor in control of appointing the director. Thanks to Travis Fain of WRAL for putting together a summary of the issue.

In this week's roundup by NC Policy Watch, we learn that Thomas Farr, the recent Trump pick for a federal court position in North Carolina, will be appearing in court on behalf of the Republican defendants in Common Cause v Lewis, one of the gerrymandering cases. Yuck.

North Carolina has the most Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the country. We should be proud of this legacy, and we should also fund it like we're proud of it. That was several black lawmakers' point when they argued earlier this week for equal funding for HBCUs in North Carolina. HBCUs aren't just a point of pride; they represent a massive economic impact: over a billion dollars. They also “employ 15,500 people and educate 32,800 students, producing about one-third of the science, technology and math degrees among blacks nationwide.” SB677 (not HB677, discussed above), would issue each of the 5 black colleges and universities in the UNC system an extra $10 million a year to bridge this gap. You know what to do: contact your Senators and urge them to vote for this bill.

The White House isn't the only entity limiting press access. Through a combination of outdated rules and decisions that shrouded the chamber further, journalists and reporters-- even members of the North Carolina Press Association including NC Policy Watch and the conservative Carolina Journal-- find themselves barred from proceedings in Legislative Building rooms.

Recovery from Hurricane Florence has been complicated by an additional factor: GenX. Federal funding covers as much of the cleanup and rehab of damaged home as it can, but it doesn't cover the costs of cleaning up water contaminated with unregulated chemicals. Congress is still debating on whether to direct the EPA to classify GenX and other PFAs as hazardous. In the meantime, North Carolinians are suffering.

Time for some good news! Despite all the attacks against it, clean energy in North Carolina is still a rapidly growing industry, worth billions in economic impact over the last decade, including hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs. The bill that would have banned wind energy around military bases did not pass the senate in time for the crossover deadline! This is great news, but as we've seen before, lawmakers might sneak sections of it into other bills that did make it through. Keep an eye out.

All over the country yesterday, people got out and stood up and said Stop The Bans! in response to the wave of anti-woman legislation rolling through states like Georgia, Ohio, and Alabama. Scrolling through the photos and videos of the crowds on Twitter did me a lot of good; may it bring you comfort as well. If you were there, thank you!

Tags: ICYMI, NCGA, NC-09, State Board of Elections, voter issue: environment

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