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Opinion Roundup: Is pork making a comeback on Capitol Hill?

Posted January 16, 2018 7:21 a.m. EST

Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on federal pork barrel spending, work requirements for Medicaid and Blackbeard's affection for books.


POLICY & POLITICS
MARK WALKER: GOP Maps a Road to Nowhere in November (Wall Street Journal column) -- Officially banned in 2011, earmarks give members of Congress the ability to direct federal spending toward specific projects, usually in their own districts. Conservatives traditionally oppose such giveaways, but Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that the House will look into reviving the practice. He shouldn’t bow to the demands of members who claim earmarking is a legitimate part of Congress’s power of the purse. This bad idea is gaining traction.

Partisan districts must be cast aside (Greensboro News & Record) -- Chief Justice John Roberts should not block last week’s federal court decision to order new congressional districts in North Carolina. The ruling by a three-judge panel was supported by overwhelming evidence.

Advocates: Judges' redistricting order shouldn't be delayed (AP news analysis) -- Advocacy groups and voters who've successfully sued so far in throwing out North Carolina's congressional districts because of partisan gerrymandering say federal judges shouldn't delay their order directing the legislature to draw new lines by next week.

KENNETH JOST: On Partisan Gerrymandering, Time's Up? (Jost on Justice column) -- Politicians have been making mischief out of legislative or congressional district maps for more than two centuries, ever since the early 19th century Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry unwittingly lent his name to the disreputable practice. But only now, two decades into the 21st century, has a federal court found, for the first time ever, an instance of partisan gerrymandering so blatantly political as to violate the Constitution, for that reason and no other.

BRENT KENDALL: Confirming Judges, a Trump Win in 2017, May Get Tougher (Wall Street Journal analysis) — Judicial confirmations can be rocky, high-drama affairs, but for President Donald Trump they were among the smoothest and most far-reaching accomplishments of his first year in office. Now with midterm elections looming, Republicans are preparing for another big push on judges while they have the Senate majority. They will do it, however, with less margin for error. Among the coming nominations that could provoke a battle is Mr. Trump’s selection of North Carolina lawyer Thomas Farr for a judgeship there that has gone unfilled for more than a decade.

STEVE DEVANE: Governor calls for inclusiveness, diversity at MLK breakfast (Fayetteville Observer analysis) -- Gov. Roy Cooper quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in asking people to call attention to injustice. At the 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Fayetteville Cumberland County Ministerial Council, Cooper talked about how King said that only light can drive out darkness.

ANDREW DUNN: 14 to watch in 2018 Charlotte (Charlotte Agenda column) -- You thought 2017 had a lot going on? This year could be even busier. Across the country, politicians are preparing for midterm elections, and we have some contested local races. In Charlotte, we’ll also continue to deal with affordable housing and economic opportunity. Oh, and the Carolina Panthers could be sold. The following will make an impact in 2018. Braxton Winston; Jennifer Roberts; Fred Whitfield; Hugh McColl; Marcus Smith; Pat McCrory; Clayton Wilcox; John Lewis; Colette Forrest; Lynn Wheeler; Kerr Putney; Andrea Smith; Tina Becker and; James Mitchell.

ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY
KIRK ROSS: Stalemate On GenX: Senate Says No Urgency (Coastal Review analysis) -- Despite the House’s unanimous support of a bill with money to address GenX in drinking water supplies in the southeastern part of the state, Senate leaders say they need more time to consider options.

VAUGHN HAGERTY & ADAM WAGNER: GenX update: So where do things stand now? (Wilmington Star-News analysis) -- Much of the talk over the toxic contaminant and other emerging compounds might have moved to Raleigh, but there are still plenty of unresolved issues outside of the General Assembly

TRAVIS FAIN: Duke Energy: Unlined coal ash pits once 'a feature, rather than a flaw' (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Duke Energy has asked for more than $1 billion a year in increased revenues, raised by higher electricity rates, and some of the money would go to clean up coal ash pits.

EDUCATION
JEREMY BAUER-WOLF: Reaching Out to the Right (Inside Higher Ed analysis) -- A few college presidents say that developing relationships with conservative students is an important part of a strategy for a collegial campus.

JAMES E. FORD: It’s time: Launching a statewide study of equity in schools across North Carolina (EdNC column) -- Race and ethnicity are relevant in education. Both continue to show up in meaningful ways throughout our system. From disparities in exclusionary discipline, to segregated composition of schools, diversity and experience of teachers, expectations of our students, even the courses offered to students are influenced by race and ethnicity. A growing body of research in this field helps us understand these issues and identify best practices moving forward.

T. KEUNG HUI: Are black students more likely to be suspended in your child’s NC school district? (Durham Herald-Sun analysis) -- The Racial Equity Report Cards show what organizers say is racially disproportionate treatment of students in North Carolina’s public schools.

HEALTH
TAYLOR KNOPF: What the New Medicaid Work Requirement Could Mean for N.C. (N.C. Health News) -- The Trump Administration announced last week it would allow work requirements for people applying for Medicaid; that aligns with the NCGA's Carolina Cares proposal.

JUDITH GRAHAM: For Elder Health, Trips To The ER Are Often A Tipping Point (N.C. Health News/Kaiser Health News) -- “Just because someone in their 70s or 80s isn’t admitted to a hospital doesn’t mean that everything is fine,” said Dr. Timothy Platt-Mills, co-director of geriatric emergency medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, who recounted the story of his former neighbor in Chapel Hill. Quite the contrary: An older person’s trip to the emergency room often signals a serious health challenge and should serve as a wake-up call for caregivers and relatives.

THE REST
DANIELLE BATTAGLIA: Former trooper ordered to pay $1.2 million for Jamestown woman's death (Greensboro News & Record analysis) -- Robert Harris, deputy commissioner for the North Carolina Industrial Commission — which handles tort claims — ordered Trooper J.D. Goodnight to pay the Allmond family more than $1.2 million for actions that endangered the Honda’s passengers. In particular, Harris found that Sandra Allmond’s family suffered a significant loss by her death. He concluded that Allmond’s three sons should be compensated $1 million for the loss of her life and that Elijah, who has since graduated and turned 18, should be compensated $250,000 for his injuries and the horror he experienced in the wreck.

D.G. MARTIN: The Great Gatsby meets an African-American family story (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- Sometimes fiction is a better teacher than history books or newspaper columns.

MARTHA WAGGONER: Shiver me timbers! New signs pirates liked booty _ and books (AP news analysis) -- Dead men tell no tales, but there's new evidence that somebody aboard the pirate Blackbeard's flagship harbored books among the booty. In an unusual find, researchers have discovered shreds of paper bearing legible printing that somehow survived three centuries underwater on the sunken vessel. And after more than a year of research that ranged as far as Scotland, they managed to identify them as fragments of a book about nautical voyages published in the early 1700s.

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