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Wednesday News: Power to punish


REPUBLICAN MAJORITY COUNCIL OF STATE REFUSES TO EXTEND EVICTION MORATORIUM: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended a national moratorium on evictions through the end of July, keeping many protections for tenants in North Carolina in place for another month. The Republican majority on the Council of State, a 10-member board made up of statewide elected officials, rejected a similar extension in North Carolina. The council split along party lines, six Republican against and four Democrats for, on the question of extending the state moratorium. “It’s disappointing to see Council of State members revoke eviction protections for people still struggling to stay in their homes,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Many North Carolinians still need help, and we will work to make sure landlords abide by the CDC evictions moratorium and that tenants can access rent and utility assistance from counties and the state HOPE program."

Tuesday News: Oh, the hypocrisy


NC REPUBLICANS GO WHOLE HOG WITH PORK BARREL SPENDING: The Senate budget includes at least $765 million in earmarks for local projects and nonprofits — almost all of it in counties represented by Republican senators. The earmarks, sometimes known as “pork barrel spending” or even “member money,” are a common practice in the legislature’s budget process. But the amounts sent to GOP districts are high this year, in part because the budget would spend billions of dollars in federal American Rescue Plan Act money. Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson and a top Senate budget writer, argued that the discrepancies between districts is because of “all the needs there are in rural North Carolina,” such as water and sewer infrastructure projects. The budget funds at least $66.6 million worth of projects in Jackson’s three-county district. Projects in Hise’s six-county district in the mountains received at least $73 million.

Monday News: Blame Trump


BILL DELAYING SOME MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS UNTIL 2022 BECOMES LAW: A state bill pushing back some municipal elections, including Raleigh’s, will become law without the governor’s signature. The election delay is caused by delays in getting U.S. Census Bureau data. Now some local elections will occur at the same time as the March 2022 primary instead of this fall. The deadline for N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper to take action on SB 722 was Saturday. An amendment added to the bill, at the request of the Raleigh City Council, pushes back Raleigh’s municipal election even further, to fall 2022, That permanently moves the election to even years and changes the election from a run-off method to a plurality method.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


CURRENT UNC TRUSTEES MUST ACT ON HANNAH-JONES TENURE: The current trustees should act on Hannah-Jones’ tenure before the end of June. This board should not avoid its responsibility. Hannah-Jones deserves a vote, up or down, on the tenure request. North Carolinians and those committed to academic freedom should demand it. Failure to act on, much less grant, the request for tenure has sparked a controversy that has become both the preeminent debate in the nation over academic and intellectual freedom as well as more fodder for the mis-informed partisan outrage over critical race theory. Current trustees chair Richard Stevens, whose appointment expires June 30, has a demonstrable life-long commitment to the university. There’s hardly a top UNC campus committee on which he hasn’t played a key role. He should not leave this important task unresolved.

Saturday News: No justice, no peace


HUNDREDS GATHER TO PROTEST UNC'S LACK OF RACIAL EQUITY: Saying “this fight is not new,” more than 200 UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty, alumni and others gathered Friday to protest the university’s failure to grant tenure to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, as well as what they say is a larger lack of support for Black faculty and students. Taliajah Vann, president of the campus Black Student Movement, said racial issues on campus are bigger than the tenure of Hannah-Jones. Vann cited too few Black faculty and a lack of support for Black students on campus. The BSM, which organized Friday’s “solidarity demonstration,” outlined a list of 13 demands for UNC-CH Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, including the removal of police from the residence hall move-in process and increased funding for student mental healthcare.

Friday News: Supporting mediocrity


A HANDFUL OF DEM SENATORS VOTE FOR BERGER'S BLAND BUDGET: The budget, Senate Bill 105, would give an average of 3% raises to teachers and most other state employees over the next two years. It also doles out $5.4 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for coronavirus relief. The budget’s tax cuts include cutting the personal income tax rate to 3.99% by 2026, down from 5.25%, and phasing out the corporate income tax rate to zero. Also, the tax bracket for paying zero taxes, called the standard deduction, would be raised to $25,500. The child tax deduction would increase to $500. It was the first of two votes required to move the bill to the House. The other will be held Friday morning. The four Democrats who voted for the budget are Sen. Paul Lowe, Sen. Kirk deViere, Sen. Don Davis and Sen. Ben Clark.

Thursday News: V is for Veto


REPUBLICAN BILL WOULD STRIP $300 PAYMENTS FROM THE UNEMPLOYED: More than 200,000 North Carolinians receiving $300-per-week federal unemployment benefits will lose that money earlier than planned if Gov. Roy Cooper signs a bill passed Wednesday evening. Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a new version of a bill that they say will help understaffed businesses find more workers. It’s a state-level version of a national discussion over the status of the restaurant and tourism industries and the labor market for those low-paying jobs. “With a severe labor shortage, now is no time to pay people extra money not to work,” said Sen. Chuck Edwards, a Republican from Hendersonville. Edwards, who has several McDonald’s restaurants in western North Carolina, is the Senate’s point person on unemployment issues.

Wednesday News: Tit for tat


GOP BUDGET LEAVES OUT FUNDING FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN MONUMENT: “Really? That’s an insult,” Sen. Gladys Robinson, a Guilford County Democrat told The News & Observer on Tuesday. The Senate’s lead budget writer, Autryville Republican Sen. Brent Jackson, said the Senate decided not to put it in the budget this time, even though it had proposed funding the project in a previous year’s proposal and in a different bill last year. “That was discussed, and the decision was since the monuments were being taken down, or they got vandalized during all the protests and they were being taken down on the Capitol square, we just felt like this was not the time to put something back up there of any type,” Jackson told The N&O on Tuesday. It's exactly the time for it.

Tuesday News: Miserly and negligent


NC SENATE'S BUDGET IS A TAX-CUT EXTRAVAGANZA: There would also be bonuses of $1,500 for law enforcement, correctional officers and staff and employees of 24-hour residential and treatment facilities. Additional bonuses across the board, using state funds, would go to teachers, who would get $300, and principals, who would get $1,800, respectively. The budget’s tax cuts include cutting the personal income tax rate to 3.99% by 2026. The current tax rate is 5.25%, and the budget would reduce it to 4.99% in 2022. The budget also includes parts of the same tax-cuts plan the Senate already passed, including phasing out the corporate income tax entirely. There is no cost of living adjustment for retired state employees in the Senate budget.

Monday News: Take your shot


PRESIDENT BIDEN TO PROMOTE VACCINES IN NC: It’s Biden’s first visit to North Carolina since taking office. The visit comes as part of Biden’s “National Month of Action,” a nationwide sprint in June to get 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4. But two weeks out from that date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that roughly 65% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And in North Carolina, that figure is significantly lower. As of June 18, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports that just 55% of adults in the state have received a dose of the vaccine. Earlier this month, The News & Observer reported that at its current pace, the state will not reach Biden’s vaccine target until November.


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