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Opinion Roundup: Reckless concealed carry bill shouldn't go forward

Posted June 12

Monday, June 12, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion and commentary on the General Assembly's plan to roll back N.C.'s concealed carry permit law, the latest local and national redistricting developments, continued uncertainty surrounding Hurricane Matthew funding and more.

It's reckless to kill safety training for concealed carry permits (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The state House has narrowly passed a wrongheaded bill that would allow handgun owners to carry their weapons concealed in many public places without a special permit. The Senate should kill the bill. People who privately pack guns need special training to ensure they don’t shoot innocent bystanders or themselves.

Redistricting rears its ugly head — again (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- The ongoing squabbling between North Carolina’s Democratic governor and Republican-controlled General Assembly ratcheted up another notch last week over the most contentious of all partisan wranglings.

ROBERT BARNES: Supreme Court could tackle partisan gerrymandering in watershed case (Washington Post column) -- The Supreme Court is being asked to uphold a lower court’s finding that the Wisconsin redistricting effort was more than just extraordinary — it was unconstitutional. Such a conclusion would mark a watershed moment for the way American elections are conducted. The Supreme Court has regularly — and increasingly — tossed out state electoral maps because they have been gerrymandered to reduce the influence of racial minorities by depressing the impact of their votes.

LIZ BELL: Hurricane Matthew recovery funding sources remain in question (EdNC column) -- More than seven months after Hurricane Matthew devastated individuals across eastern North Carolina, the state is still searching for funding to meet the needs of families and communities.

CATHERINE CLABBY: Reinvesting in Lead Poisoning Prevention (Carolina Public Press column) -- With a nudge from child advocates, legislators may bump up North Carolina’s ability to protect young kids from toxic lead exposure.

ALEX GRANADOS: House, Senate and Governor’s Plans: Top 10 education budget items compared (EdNC column) -- The passage of the House budget last week was the third of three possible budgets for the state: one by Governor Roy Cooper, one by the Senate, and the House version. Leaders in the House and Senate are conferencing to hash out their differences and devise a compromise budget that will be debated in both chambers. Once lawmakers have reached a resolution, the final budget will go to the Governor for his possible signature. All three proposals contain important education provisions.

MICHAEL GEBELEIN: State Targets Linville Hospital for Expanded Mental Health Services in WNC (Carolina Public Press column) -- State public health officials have announced that the Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital in Linville is the recipient of a $6.5-million grant to expand mental health and substance abuse services at the Avery County facility.

JEFF LEWIS: Birding on the Banks: Brown Pelicans (Coastal Review column) -- Nearly wiped out during the 1960s and ’70s, brown pelicans are now common on the N.C. coast, thanks mainly to conservation efforts and a ban on DDT insecticides.

STEPHANIE CARSON: NC Churches Step Up to Provide Sanctuary to Immigrants (Public News Service column) -- At least two churches in North Carolina have publicly declared that they will offer sanctuary to immigrants at risk of deportation from recent directives by the Trump administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And others in the state are preparing to offer a safe haven as well.

Rylan’s Law a start, but state must go further (Fayetteville Observer) -- In a state General Assembly that has been defined by bitter contention, it has been encouraging to see bipartisan support for the bill nicknamed Rylan’s Law. It passed the House unanimously last month and passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It has been merged with legislation with other revisions to the state’s foster care system and will be voted on in the senate soon, likely next week.

Safe child care is not a luxury (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Safe and affordable child care will remain out of reach for many until we consider such care to be an entitlement and support it on that basis. The vacancy rate at licensed care centers in Buncombe County hovers around 1 percent and the wait for infants can be three months to a year. That leaves many mothers the options of quitting work and using an unregulated care center.

End of a Beginning On School Funding (Southern Pines Pilot) -- The state went from funding 720 teachers in 2008 to 630 last year. Those positions didn’t go away; their salaries got picked up by local dollars out of the savings account. Other operating costs increased. The school board’s state-mandated allocations to charter schools — unfunded by the state and county commissioners — doubled.

LAURIE GOODSTEIN: Religious Liberals Sat Out Politics for 40 Years. Now They Want in (New York Times column) -- Late on a Friday three weeks into the Trump administration, the Rev. William J. Barber II was in a Raleigh, N.C., hotel room, talking through his speech for the next day with advisers, including fellow ministers, a Muslim activist and a couple who had marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All confessed they remained demoralized since the election. But they also marveled at the surge in political protests, fueled in part by Christian, Jewish and Muslim activists working together. Dr. Barber, fighting a flu, smiled broadly. “Rosa Parks didn’t just decide to sit down one day,” he said. “We can’t choose the moment that the flame bursts out, but we can be the kindling.”

JULIA MANCHANSTER: Poll shows Americans find Comey more trustworthy than Trump (The Hill column) -- Americans find former FBI Director James Comey to be more trustworthy than President Trump, according to a new poll.

NICHOLAS CARNES & NOAM LUPU: It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class (Washington Post column) -- Media coverage of the 2016 election often emphasized Donald Trump’s appeal to the working class. The Atlantic said that “the billionaire developer is building a blue-collar foundation.” The Associated Press wondered what “Trump’s success in attracting white, working-class voters” would mean for his general election strategy. On Nov. 9, the New York Times front-page article about Trump’s victory characterized it as “a decisive demonstration of power by a largely overlooked coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters.” There’s just one problem: this account is wrong. Trump voters were not mostly working-class people.

STEPHEN KOTKIN: Is Putin Getting What He Wanted With Trump? (New York Times column) -- In the Senate last week, Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, asked the fired F.B.I. director James Comey if he had “any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections.” Mr. Comey responded with a single word: “None.”

CELIA RIVENBARK: Trump testing the faithful (Wilmington Star-News column) -- One of the most curious revelations of the Trump presidency so far has been the not-so-subtle shift in how his supporters defend him. Five months and an avalanche of inappropriate Tweets later, we’re seeing less passion and more “meh” from the Trump faithful. There’s no denying this honeymoon, while far from over, is cooling off like the mother in law has started sleeping in the next room. And she snores.

No asphalt plant for Glendale Springs (Winston-Salem Journal) -- For residents of Glendale Springs, the issue of clean air vs. industrial development isn’t academic, but practical. With plans for an asphalt plant threatening a pristine setting and artistic treasures, we hope the presiding judge will side with Ashe County’s clean-air contingency and quash the proposal for the plant.

JEFF HAMPTON: History of Outer Banks surfing goes back nearly 100 years (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot column) -- Curators at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort wrote a history of surfing in the state.

Climate change work goes local (Greensboro News & Record) -- The green revolution is growing. Naturally, Greensboro should be part of it.

State Moves In to Breach Woodlake Dam (Southern Pines Pilot column) -- North Carolina environmental officials have stepped in and plan to breach the dam at Woodlake Country Club beginning next week after the country club's owners failed to meet the state-ordered action.

RICK SMITH: Trump intends to appoint UNC Lineberger's Norman Sharpless as National Cancer Institute director (WRAL-TechWire column) -- President Donald Trump intents to appoint Norman E. Sharpless director of the National Cancer Institute. Sharpless, director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research at UNC, would succeed Douglas Lowy who has served as acting director of the NCI since April 2015.

SUSAN LADD: Study says there is no one "best-practice" model for police oversight (Greensboro News & Record column) -- The Human Relations Commission committee is looking at long-term and short-term improvements to the police review board's process.

New dress code fits student body (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- A chief objection to Pitt County Schools’ new dress and appearance code is that it steps away from the previous policy’s attempt to erase class divisions by requiring students to be strictly uniform in their clothing.

CHERIE BERRY: Legislative one-two punch (Greenville Daily Reflector column) -- June 1 marked the start of hurricane season – a date North Carolinians know well. But as meteorologists keep a watchful eye on the Atlantic this summer, my attention will be focused on Washington where a powerful storm of legislation is brewing that would make it more difficult to obtain and afford the insurance we need to stay protected against natural disasters.

PAUL WOOLVERTON: Democrats get seats at the Republicans’ budget table (Fayetteville Observer column) -- House Democrats are serving on the Republican-controlled budget committee, but do they have any sway?

PAM SANDER, FROM THE EDITOR: We will stick with toxic water investigation (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Having been in this business more than 30 years, I know the stamina of corporations and governments for waiting us out. Some believe ignoring requests for interviews and not answering important questions will stop the story. I’ve seen that happen, even back when newsrooms employed at least one full-time investigative journalist with years of experience in digging, determination and passion -- because reporters hit walls and lose interest, and editors want content. Sometimes, they move on because patience is not a journalist’s strong suit. Publisher Mike Distelhorst and I, as well as our parent company, GateHouse Media, are committed to this project. It will get the resources it needs.

JASON DEBRUYN: Urban NC Counties Grow, Rural Counties Shrink (WUNC-FM column) -- Wake County's population grew by 68 people per day last year. That's according to the latest U.S. Census figures. Taken as a whole, North Carolina showed robust population growth in 2016, but once again, that growth was concentrated in only a few counties. Population growth in Wake and Mecklenburg accounted for 40 percent of overall growth.

Comey and Trump (Greensboro News & Record) -- Donald Trump or James Comey: Who’s telling the truth?


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