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Knock on wood, this week will continue to be calm. The NCGA is on break until the end of the month. Tomorrow, Patti will take us on a deep dive of the revived Medicaid expansion effort currently making its way through the House. Don't miss it!

As I noted last week, the new legislative maps, which have been approved by the NCGA, head back to the judges that ruled the old ones unconstitutional. They, along with law professor Nathan Persily, will judge whether they are appropriately lacking partisanship. According to some experts, that answer is still no. Sam Wang, a gerrymandering expert at Princeton University and the leader of the Princeton Election Consortium, indicates that “the median district in both chambers of the legislature will be more Republican-leaning than North Carolina as a whole. That means if voters around the state are perfectly split in the 2020 elections — with half of people voting for Republican candidates and half voting for Democrats — then Republicans would be expected to win majorities in both legislative chambers.”

Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer has taken one for the team (thank you Mr. Bitzer!) and has analyzed the new maps. “Both sets of new maps saw a decrease in the efficiency gap, partisan bias, and mean-median differences from the 2018 maps, according to Bitzer.” Find the whole review on his blog here.

We're all still salty over how the NC GOP acted on September 11th when they overrode Gov. Cooper's budget veto in the House, but Democratic Rep. Darren Jackson has taken salt to the next level. He has called for Republican House leaders to take a lie detector test to prove they were not lying to Democrats about the surprise vote. "'I do not see any path forward to reconciliation so long as the leadership and their offices continue to lie about what happened,' Jackson said. 'If the majority cannot be trusted, then the public deserves to know it.'”

Listen, I'm all for accountability, but the Republicans have had almost 10 years to get really good at lying. They might well pass.

Billy Ball at NC Policy Watch put it best, though: “And, of course, House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson’s polygraph challenge to Moore Monday is a sideshow, but it’s a sideshow to the circus Moore oversaw on Sept. 11. In that circus, Moore is the carnival barker.” Please read Mr. Ball's piece; it's the only piece that could turn something so demoralizing into something so funny.

Governor Cooper has vetoed another bill: SB533, which, among other unsavory things, would “allow septic systems to circumvent state rules, 'which can hurt public health and threaten clean water.'” Let's hope the NCGA doesn't override this veto.

Thomas Hofeller may have passed on, but the drama surrounding his trove of files still has not. The late Hofeller's company Geographic Strategies has asked a court to investigate how the files ended up in David Daley's possession. Daley authored a New Yorker article published earlier this month that dug deep into the contents of the files. Clearly Geographic Strategies didn't like what it read, because it “'requested an order from the Court that all copies of the Hofeller files be destroyed,' except those already used as evidence in trial.” It also asked that “Stephanie Hofeller and her lawyer be held in contempt of court, and asked for the New Yorker to be banned from publishing anything else about the Hofeller files until a hearing takes place, according to the court order.”

Most telling of all, the national Republican party is involved. “Campaign finance reports show that the Republican National Committee had been paying Hofeller’s company more than $22,000 a month before his death. And Monday’s court filing says that last month, the RNC asked the court 'to protect certain files' from being seen by the public." This is only making me more curious.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest health insurer in North Carolina, has made the news twice, and not in particularly good ways. In June, its CEO Patrick Conway was charged with driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse after he was involved in an accident with his two young daughters. A court date is set for next month. According to BCBS, Conway will keep his job.

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According to Aetna, another insurer, BCBS “had an unfair advantage to gain a multibillion-dollar state contract to handle Medicaid under a new managed care system”. Who won the contract was based on a DHHS scoring system. Aetna and others who are appealing said that system was rigged against them. They ask that a judge throw out the process and start over.

UNC leadership hasn't really had a good time in the spotlight either. In one report by NC Policy Watch, “Thom Goolsby, a former North Carolina state Senator now serving on the UNC Board of Governors, is running an “online financial education” company that might run afoul of a state order barring him from the financial services industry”. In another posted just a few hours ago, we learn that UNC Board of Governors chairman Harry Smith is resigning his position. He says he wants to “step down from a job that he has found exhaustingly political.” Which is amusingly hypocritical coming from one of the most political BoG chairs in recent memory.

Did you #climatestrike last week? If you did, you joined hundreds of people in Raleigh and millions across the world in rallying for a stable climate future. If not, no worries. As long as people like Greta Thunberg keep calling it like it is, there will be plenty more opportunities to speak out for a better world.

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I leave y'all with my favorite quote from this opinion piece in the Charlotte Observer, about the NC GOP's compulsive lying problem: “It’s fair to say the Republicans have had an odd relationship with truth since they took over in 2010. I’m not arguing they’re Trumpian – lying when they breathe. But a great deal of the lusted for NC Republican agenda is actually unconstitutional, so adjustments have had to be made. Apparently habits have formed.”

Habits that are, when you take the NC GOP's behavior in context of the RNC as a whole, actually quite Trumpian.

Remember: 2020 is coming.

Tags: (ICYMI, redistricting, Hofeller files, budget, BCBS, UNC, voter issue: environment)

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