Join Flip NC for the December 8th SUPER Canvass! On December 8, 2019, FLIP NC is coordinating with grassroots volunteers across North Carolina for a statewide SUPER CANVASS. The message is simple: When we knock, we win!
View the results of the election yesterday here! Did you vote?
Don't have a lot of time this week? Check out Neighbors On Call's short and very sweet recap of the week in policy!
The NCGA has finally adjourned one of the longest sessions in its history– except not really. As Michelle noted on Monday, they plan to return next Wednesday Nov. 13th to continue work on both the state and congressional redistricting efforts as well as filling appointments to some empty positions, according to a joint resolution. Obviously this doesn't provide for an end date on the Nov. 13thmini-session, so there's no telling what they'll do or how much of it they'll get done. And despite this being a punishingly long session, there's still quite a lot to do.
It's not clear why they suddenly paused such a long session, will return for an indeterminate length of time, then leave again, only to reconvene shortly into 2020 for the start of another full legislative session. Rob Schofield, writing for NC Policy Watch, posits a few reasons: to allow lawmakers to skirt a state campaign finance law that prevents them from taking money from lobbyists while the NCGA is in session, or to attend conferences. It could just be as simple as lawmakers wanting to go on family vacations, or simply just needing a break.
Given how Republicans have been acting this year, I'm less magnanimous. Moore managed to slide a budget veto override past Democrats in the House, absent because they were attending matters outside the Legislative Building. Looking at this whiplashy in-and-out-of session game, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Berger is aiming to find a day (or an hour) when some Democrats are absent during this mini-session and call a vote.
Michelle also reported on the new teacher raise bill (SB354) yesterday, for which Berger does not deserve all the patting on the back he's giving himself. Not only do teachers with less than 16 years (years!) experience get no raises at all, Republicans are forcing Gov. Cooper into an impossible choice: continue to fight the budget (with its business tax cuts and lack of Medicaid expansion), or allow teachers and other state employees working in vital capacities to get the raises they need.
To his credit, Gov. Cooper was not daunted.
We'll continue to scrutinize the Republicans in the NCGA closely.
I'll go ahead and put the redistricting TL;DR at the top: though it's a little out of date, The Brennan Center's recap of redistricting legislation in North Carolina (and other states) is a worthy summary.
In Common Cause v Lewis, the case for the state maps, last week we learned that those maps were approved without a special master, including the county groupings which were still very much gerrymandered. This week, Common Cause did exactly as we hoped they would: petitioned the State Supreme Court to review those county groupings. I want this to be over and done with as much as you do, but I also believe this is a necessary step. The Republicans show us, over and over again, that they rely on duplicity and their own dogged tenacity to outlast us (looking at you, budget veto battle). We have to be just as unwilling to let go of the bone, and Common Cause is showing us that strategy can pay off.
“a different set of plaintiffs filed a new case in the U.S. District Court for Eastern North Carolina, asking that court to intervene in the state court’s order against the congressional maps. Those plaintiffs claim their rights are violated by having to wait for the congressional filing and elections process at this stage, as if that’s more important than voters finally choosing their representatives in competitive elections under fair maps after years of delay under unconstitutional districts. There is no indication yet whether the federal court will take up this new challenge, or if so, how it will rule.”
Read NC Policy Watch's summary of this new case here.
Yesterday, lawmakers did as the court suggested and got to work redrawing the Congressional districts. Nobody from either party wants the 2020 primaries delayed, so it's in everyone's best interests to get this done as quickly as possible. What's baffling me, though, is why it's baffling to Sen. Ralph Hise, chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, that finding a starting point is “the biggest challenge” (just kidding it's not baffling at all). As with Common Cause v Lewis,I expect we'll get a marginally fairer map, but not a great one.
More good news about the Duke Energy rate hike bill: the Senate passed the modified SB559 without the 3-year rate hikes, so now it's on to Gov. Cooper for signing.
I'm not sure if this is funny or sad or suspicious (maybe all three), but Rep. Dan Bishop-- yes, the same Dan Bishop who spent so much money and went to so much effort to gain his seat in NC-09-- has been MIA on several very important votes. He missed more votes than any other member this past October alone. This after a promise to "...roll up my sleeves and get to work on behalf of the families and the taxpayers of the 9th district.” Since his record on the NCGA's website hasn't been updated yet (no surprise there either), here is his contact page. If you're in his district, give him a scold. NC-09 has been underrepresented for too long.
Voting rights advocates, start your engines: “Digital files related to [Tom] Hofeller’s redistricting work in North Carolina, Arizona, Virginia, Missouri, Nassau County (New York), Nueces County (Texas) and Galveston County (Texas) are no longer subject to a protective order which was issued during the partisan gerrymandering case Common Cause v. Lewis.” Several thousand files remain protected pending the results of lawsuits in other states. Hopefully the newly freed ones enter the public eye soon. I would very much like to get my paws on them!
This coming Friday is the day investigators hired by Republicans will meet with Department of Environmental Quality officials to discuss issues surrounding the permit his office granted to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Republicans are convinced that Gov. Cooper forced the ACP to put money into an environmental mitigation fund or do without the permit. But according to transcripts released earlier last week, no DEQ officials seemed to be aware of this fund. Hey Republicans, ever heard of the false consensus effect?
Finally, finally, North Carolina can catch up with the rest of the country: “Until [last] Thursday, North Carolina had been the only state in the country where it’s not considered a crime to continue sex with someone after that person revokes consent.” Before the NCGA adjourned last week, they passed a package of bills that closed several legal loopholes in the process of prosecuting cases related to rape, sex with a person incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, and child sex abuse. It's about time.
Tags: (ICYMI, NCGA, redistricting, gerrymandering, Duke Energy, voting rights, Hofeller files, 2020 elections)
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