UPDATE: View the results of the NC municipal elections here!
Frustratingly, the Duke rate hike bill has new life again and has cleared the state Senate. Among other things, it would allow
"the North Carolina Utilities Commission [to] approve electric rate increases up to three years in advance and give utilities more cushion on their allowed earnings, approving a "band" of allowed profit above and below a certain percentage. The newest version of the bill would have the Utilities Commission convene a group of stakeholders before allowing this, essentially building the study into the measure but also authorizing the commission to implement the new rate-making structure without coming back to the legislature first.”
In short, it would let Duke Energy profit beyond what the state deems necessary, at ratepayers' (ours) expense.
An earlier House version of the bill had struck the rate hike piece and replaced it with a proposal for a yearlong study to see if rate hikes would be necessary. Since the Senate couldn't reconcile its version with the altered House bill earlier this summer, it was table. But the rate hike section was reinserted in committee and quickly passed last week. It's up for debate in the House now. Contact your representatives and urge them NOT to vote for SB559!
While you're emailing and calling, leave time to contact your Senators and urge them NOT to vote for SB250, the voter purge bill upon which I reported last week. It's through the House and sits ready for a Senate vote. NC Policy Watch offers the best summary of this bill I've seen to date, and reminds us that what's going on in North Carolina politics is at once a testing ground and microcosm of the national Republican party's strategy for a Trumpian America.
The legislature isn't the only place where state and national politics collide; SCOTUS is set to review two cases brought against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the US Forest Service, who granted the permit which the 4th circuit court revoked. ACP appealed the 4thcircuit court's decision to SCOTUS earlier this year. They agreed to hear the case, but it doesn't mean this is an automatic victory for the pipeline.
SCOTUS has also taken up a case concerning a Louisiana abortion law and three cases concerning LGBTQ rights brought by people in Michigan, New York and Georgia. Though neither case feature North Carolinians, when the gavel falls on these two cases, all of North Carolina will feel it.
The law in Louisiana being challenged “requires any physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which critics warn would severely hamper access to those services.” That's an understatement. It'll take down the number of doctors legally allowed to perform abortions to one.
The defendants in the three LGBTQ cases brought before SCOTUS collectively argue that the Civil Rights Act needs to be amended to explicitly list sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics against which it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace. Read a summary of the cases here.
Bad news isn't the only thing coming out of the courts. As I reported last week, the National Redistricting Foundation and several North Carolina citizens are suing for an end to North Carolina's gerrymandered Congressional districts. And...
Hopefully that good news is fortifying enough, because this piece, published last week in Slate, goes best with a stiff drink. It exposes a leaked audio recording of a panel hosted and chaired by Republican lawyers and “architects and defenders of some of the most notorious gerrymanders and voter suppression plans of this decade”. Its author, Richard Daley, is also the author of Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count, a seminal work on gerrymandering. I've always been a proponent of the phrase “know thine enemy”, and it's not often we dig into the bleak and clammy pit of the Republicans' politics and come up with a vein quite this golden.
In a hearing before both House and Senate legislators, health policy researcher Dr. Leighton Ku, along with several North Carolinians affected by the Medicaid coverage gap, testified last week on the benefits of expanding Medicaid. Watch the whole hearing here.
-9 minute mark: Dr. Leighton Ku testified on the economic employment benefits of Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina.
-24 minute mark: Cassandra Brooks testified on how the lack of access to health insurance impacts children, teachers, and child care providers. She is the owner of two child care facilities in Wake and Johnston counties.
-27 minute mark: Robin Jordan testified as the mom of a daughter who died in the health coverage gap. Her daughter Jessica suffered from depression, anxiety and PTSD who self-medicated with drugs until they took her life in an accidental overdose.
-42 minute mark: Lynne Pierce testified about her experiences as a working, single mother who lives in the Medicaid coverage gap.
North Carolinians ought to watch their members of Congress, one the House and one in the Senate, carefully over the coming weeks and months as impeachment hearings for Trump gain steam. “Congressman Mark Meadows from western North Carolina is one of Trump’s chief defenders. Senator Richard Burr, as chair of the Intelligence Committee, will oversee much of the Senate investigation into the matter.” Meadows used to be the chair of the Freedom Caucus, that odiously right-wing body that has supported Trump since his election.
As one would expect from a man who's been loyal to Trump from the beginning, he's about as sharp as a sack of soggy mice, as my grandfather used to say.
Burr, given his position, is more likely to have an impact on the course of events. Contact him regularly and let him know whether or not he decides to run for office again, it's his job to execute the will of the people. And our will is to im, and I cannot stress this enough, peach the **** out of Trump.
Impeachment stands to affect our other Senator badly-- for him. UVA Center for Politics managing editor Kyle Kondik predicts that as 2020 nears and the country polarizes, Thom Tillis may lose his advantage.
“Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has taken a heavy-handed, top-down approach to selecting Democrats to challenge vulnerable Senate Republicans this cycle, putting his thumb on the scale for candidates willing to shun grassroots outreach in favor of a smile-and-dial, fundraising-first approach, according to an audio recording obtained exclusively by National Review.”
I'll let that quote and the article speak for itself. Whether it sways you one way or another in choosing who to back for the 2020 race against Thom Tillis, it should make blazingly clear, if nothing else, that we're not the only ones taking the spirit behind #onetermthom seriously.
Tags: (ICYMI, NCPol, NCGA, Duke energy, voting rights, gerrymandering, SCOTUS, medicaid expansion)
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