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Opinion Roundup: Judicial redistricting on hiatus

Posted October 6

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Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on an array of bills addressed during the legislature's special session, a tense exchange at a State Board of Education meeting, one N.C. family's hope for a federal CHIP  funding solution and more.

POLITICS & POLICY
TRAVIS FAIN: Judicial redistricting clears House; GOP wants to cancel 2018 judicial primaries (WRAL-TV analysis) -- House Bill 717 passed the chamber 69-43, but it will be likely be months before it moves any further.

LAURA LESLIE: AG's Office contests GOP budget claims (WRAL-TV analysis) -- GOP legislative leaders are planning to require the state Attorney General to continue to handle all criminal appeals despite cutting $10 million from its budget in June. They say the agency can handle the work despite the personnel cuts. But the Attorney General's office says that's not the case.

SUSAN LADD: Dear Trudy Wade: Was it something we said? (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Despite state Sen. Trudy Wade's attack on newspaper revenue, we will continue to do our job, which is making sure she does hers.

LAURA LESLIE: GOP lawmakers send not-so-'technical' changes to Cooper (WRAL-TV analysis) -- House and Senate lawmakers approved a laundry list of legal changes - some technical, some substantive and some that critics are calling "monkey business."

We’re (happily) wrong about body-cam law (Charlotte Observer) -- NC lawmakers passed a 2016 law saying police bodycam footage wasn’t public. We’ve asked for footage four times since.

As gas tax dries up, how do we fund highways? (Fayetteville Observer) -- We don’t get to report as often as we’d like about government leaders who can see beyond the next election. But fortunately, we have some. State Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon is one of them. His position is appointed by the governor, but Trogdon is looking out beyond Roy Cooper’s 2020 campaign (if he chooses to run). The secretary is looking at the future of transportation and he’s seeing big problems with maintaining our existing roads and building new ones.

JONATHAN MARTIN & ALEXANDER BURNS: For GOP Leaders in Congress, Headaches Keep Mounting (New York Times analysis) -- Republican leaders in Congress are under attack from all sides of their own party, battered by voters from the right and left, spurned by frustrated donors and even threatened by the Trump White House for ineffective leadership and insufficient loyalty. Art Pope, an influential Republican donor in North Carolina, said he and other financial benefactors were growing impatient, a frustration borne out in the party’s dwindling fund-raising. The pressure is mounting for Republicans to secure real victories, he said, with tax reform now the overwhelming goal.

KAREN COX: The Confederacy’s ‘Living Monuments’ (New York Times column) -- In helping create the myth of the “Lost Cause,” the United Daughters did a lot more than just build statues.

‘Simulated’ murder (Greensboro News & Record) -- A new absurdist expression barged into American conversations this week: simulated automatic weapons fire.

Immigration reform (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Minerva Cisneros Garcia went to a place where many seek refuge: a church.

AMES ALEXANDER: Observer reporter who covers Panthers apologizes for tweets (Charlotte Observer analysis) -- Jourdan Rodrigue, a Charlotte Observer reporter who covers the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, apologized Thursday for tweets that she sent in 2012 and 2013. “I apologize for the offensive tweets from my Twitter account 4/5 years ago,” Rodrigue said in a Twitter statement. “There is no excuse for these tweets and the sentiment behind them. I am deeply sorry and apologize.” In Rodrigue’s old tweets, which she made while in college, she made light of racist remarks made by others and retweeted a racial slur.

EDUCATION
KELLY HINCHCLIFFE: State board member asks NC superintendent to address 'the elephant in the room' (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Since becoming state superintendent in January, Mark Johnson has remained quiet at times about major issues facing the state Department of Public Instruction. But state board members said Thursday they would like him to speak out more publicly.

KELLY HINCHCLIFFE & ALEX GRANADOS: General Assembly, State Board of Education tackle principal pay (WRAL-TV/EdNC) -- Both the House and the Senate voted in favor of a budget technical corrections report Thursday that includes a principal pay fix that will prevent some principals from losing pay this year.

LISA MILLER: Moore, Spellings Talk $500 Tuition, Targeted Financial Aid (WUNC-FM analysis) -- UNC System President Margaret Spellings and her community college counterpart shared a stage in Charlotte with House Speaker Tim Moore. They fielded questions about how to make higher education more affordable and accessible. One way state lawmakers are trying to do that is by reducing in-state tuition to $500 per semester at three universities – Western Carolina, UNC-Pembroke and Elizabeth City State. Out-of-State tuition will be $2500 per semester.

HEALTH
ALEXANDRA OLGIN: Legislation Moves Forward To Save Children's Health Insurance Program (WUNC-FM) -- Two measures to extend federal funding for CHIP - the Children’s Health Insurance Program - moved forward Wednesday. That’s encouraging news for the families of more than 300,000 kids in the Carolinas who get their health insurance through the program. Congress let funding for it expire last week.

MARK TOSCZAK: Potential buyers walk halls, review financials at Rockingham County hospital (N.C. Health News analysis) -- After years of losing money and trying unsuccessfully to become part of a larger health system, the hospital is hoping Chapter 11 reorganization will attract a buyer.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
JEFF HAMPTON: A year later, N.C. still recovering from Hurricane Matthew (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot analysis) -- Hurricane Matthew killed 31 in the state and caused an estimated $4.8 billion in damages. Among the hardest hit was Windsor in Bertie County, southwest of Elizabeth City.

ALLISON BALLARD: Wood Pellet Demand, Opposition Growing (Coastal Review analysis) -- Opponents of the growing wood pellet industry in the Southeast say the product, which is subsidized when burned as a renewable energy source in the U.K., is harming the environment globally and wiping out forests here.

STEPHANIE CARSON: NC a "Pitstop" for Pollinators in the Fall (Public News Service) -- Cooler temperatures and changing leaves in North Carolina can make it easy to forget that there's still some wildlife depending on the plants in yards and gardens. You might say some pollinators - like hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies - are getting by on "a wing and a prayer" as they use North Carolina as a pitstop on their migration south to warmer temperatures for the winter. Park ranger Jamie Cameron, at Lake James State Park, says he looks for plants that bloom in the fall to ensure there's pollen available.

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