IT'S TIME!! Absentee voting by mail is underway, ballot request deadline is Feb 25. Details here. Early voting is underway and ends on Feb 29. VOTER ID IS NOT REQUIRED FOR THE MARCH 2020 ELECTION! Make your plan to vote NOW!
As you head to the polls and encourage your friends and family to do the same, be aware that you might be a target for election scammers. I’m not talking about folks trying to vote fraudulently or talk you into doing so; they’re mostly trying to get your money by impersonating campaigns or candidates. Read about them and how to avoid them here.
It’s common knowledge by now that the US has pretty dismal rates of youth voter turnout. Pundits’ lament is that younger cohorts are too jaded and distracted by social media to vote, but I speak for the vast majority of my cohort (millennials; born roughly between 1980 and 1995) and probably those younger than me when I say that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not that we are disinterested; it is that we are disenfranchised at a greater rate than our elders. Remove some of the barriers to registration and voting (including a photo ID requirement), educate young voters-to-be more thoroughly, and youth turnout goes up.
Guilford county is taking this seriously: the county’s school system is busing kids to polling places so they can register and vote if they’re old enough or observe if they’re not. County leadership has mixed feelings, but I think the following quote speaks for itself:
“[Student] Helena Franca said she didn't think she would have had a ride to the polls otherwise. And knowing she was going to vote prompted her to do research. ‘I think everybody gets focused on presidential (races), but this made us get focused on local races, which is what affects us the most, I think,’ she said.”
Par for the course with Republicans, they continue to force us to chase our tails: conservative thinktank Civitas has filed an ethics complaint against 2 of the judges who upheld the photo ID injunction last week. Civitas argues that the judges, both Democrats, should have recused themselves from the ruling based on public statements they’d made against a photo ID requirement.
What is Sen. Thom Tillis up to these days, you ask? It’s a case of Same S***, Different Day: earlier this month, he introduced legislation in Congress to allow US citizens to sue sanctuary cities if a loved one is hurt or killed by an immigrant protected by sanctuary state laws. Then he voted against a rare bipartisan resolution curtailing Trump’s ability to send American troops to Iran after General Qassim Suleimani was killed in a drone strike. Good thing he won’t be in his seat much longer.
The pressure on Republican lawmakers—sometimes by other Republican leaders—to expand Medicaid keeps increasing. Rural areas, mostly led by Republicans, are seeing spiraling healthcare costs and are simply unable to function without the additional funds from the federal government that would flow in if Medicaid were expanded. And, thanks to a federal appeals court, a Republican version of “Medicaid expansion” is all but dead in the water. The court struck down a work requirement in Arkansas’ Medicaid program, thereby tanking the NC GOP's dream of “expanding” Medicaid only to low-income working adults.
We’ll have to wait until spring, when the NCGA starts its new session, before we’ll know if the “madness of North Carolina’s rejection of Medicaid expansion” will come to an end.
While we wait, this report (~20-minute read) is worth your time. It details how one damaging result of partisan gerrymandering is, you guessed it, lack of affordable access to healthcare. Read a summary of it at NC Policy Watch.
Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo (paywall after 5 free articles/month) was in town last week to urge North Carolina leaders to rid our water of "forever chemicals", including PFAS and GenX. He, along with Democratic state lawmakers and dozens of clean-water activists stressed how little we know about this family of chemicals and what effects it has on our bodies and the environment.
“'We are the richest country in the world, and we can’t rely on this,' Ruffalo said, holding up a jug of water. 'This is poisoning us. It’s colorless, it’s odorless, and we don’t know what the effects are on our bodies and our families for decades to come, and it’s been going on and on and now it’s time to stop.'”
Last week we learned the Silent Sam deal had been overturned– hooray! So far, no actual decisions have been made about the permanent fate of the statue itself, other than it must be returned to UNC within 45 days of the ruling. "Leadership at the state's university system put "Silent Sam" on the back burner... hoping to focus on other issues while the controversial Confederate monument sits in storage." Read: thwarted, they're either going to pout or stuff this under the rug until people forget about it. Maybe both. UNC students and faculty have made their preferences quite clear: they want the $74,999 paid to the Sons of Confederate Veterans in a side-agreement to be paid back to UNC.
If you're looking for an opportunity to protest the SCV and raise your voice against the racism and hate for which they stand, look no further than Raleigh this weekend. Details here; the Facebook page for the protest is here.
So if the UNC Board of Governors wasn't meeting last week about Silent Sam, what were they meeting about? Among other things, NC House Speaker Tim Moore's pursuit of the chancellorship of ECU. "Members of both the ECU Board of Trustees and the UNC Board of Governors have raised questions about the ethics of politically-appointed boards deciding whether to give a highly coveted job to one of the powerful political figures responsible for appointing them." Good. They should.
Linda Johnson, a Republican state lawmaker from Cabarrus County, passed away last week. “Johnson served in the House for 19 years and was among the chamber's most powerful members, serving as a senior appropriations chair and co-chair of the joint education oversight committee.”
This week's edition of the Eyeroll Express is a double-headed Hydra of What The Heck: Justin LaNasa, a Republican candidate running for District 20 in New Hanover County, posted a video of two of his female employees wrestling in a tub of grits.
Lt. Gov. Dan “I'm So Racist I Have To Make A Website That Says I'm Not” Forest has created a website to help North Carolinians combat “fake news” related to his campaign for governor. You don't have to spend long there to realize that there is no real fact-checking to be found, only hollow platitudes and reactions against his critics.
Civitas is doing something related: they have launched a policy website called "A Better Carolina" that claims to provide a roadmap out of the past and into a better future for North Carolinians. It's very flashy, but scant on truth and substance. Check out the “Then, Now, & Tomorrow” tab at the top. It's clear the folks at Civitas don't actually want a betterNorth Carolina; they just want more of the same kind of leadership we've had since the Republicans took the majority in 2010. They want a racist, conservative North Carolina that makes its rich richer and its poor poorer.
A critical permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which has encountered setback after setback in North Carolina amounting to doubt whether it would get built at all, is before the Supreme Court this week.
“Backed by the Trump administration (paywall after 5 free articles/month), the project developers — Dominion Energy and Duke Energy — will ask the high court to reverse a federal appeals court ruling that threw out a permit needed for the pipeline to cross two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, the historic footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine.”
A decision is still months in the future, but unfortunately, things look favorable for Duke and the ACP. “All five justices in the court’s dominant conservative wing and one in the more liberal minority appeared to question an appeals court's ruling that voided a permit to allow the pipeline to cross under the Appalachian Trail.”
The good news with which I leave you this week may seem small, but it heartened me: North Carolinians are generally backing Governor Cooper's play on the budget fight. They, even a good number of conservatives, would rather see school funding increased than taxes cut, more raises for teachers, and Medicaid expanded.
There's only one thing standing in our way now, and y'all know how to beat it...
Tags: (ICYMI, 2020 elections, gerrymandering, voter ID, voter suppression, medicaid expansion, silent sam, ECU, UNC BOG, Dan Forest, Roy Cooper, voter issue: environment, Atlantic Coast Pipeline)
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