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REPORT PREVIEW: 2020 Legislative Races to Watch

With the Republican supermajority broken in both chambers of the North Carolina Legislature following the 2018 election, 2020 will be a crucial election for both Democrats and Republicans. Republicans will be looking to hold onto their majorities, while Democrats will need to work hard to hold onto the gains they’ve made while expanding into new areas. In addition, despite their crucial role in post-census redistricting, legislative races will have to compete with Presidential, Gubernatorial, and US Senate races for attention.

Following is our initial look at the 28 House and 17 Senate districts we think will be crucial to the 2020 legislative elections. These districts were chosen based on analysis of 2018 election results and campaign finance reports, as well as long-term district data.

In the coming weeks, look for a full report with details on incumbents and their district with reports on Council of State and State Supreme Court races to follow.

These Races to Watch are an an initial look at the 2020 landscape. Redistricting litigation is ongoing at the state and federal levels and the Wake County House districts will need to be redrawn before the next election. Due to this and a number of other factors this list is likely to change as the election approaches.

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What did Greg Lindberg want from Dan Forest?

Real Facts NC seeking records from Department of Insurance, Lt. Governor Dan Forest that could provide crucial insight into ties to Greg Lindberg, bribery scandal

Real Facts NC filed requests with the NC Department of Insurance and the Lieutenant Governor’s office Thursday seeking records of contact with Greg Lindberg and other indicted individuals, and public figures with known relationships to Lindberg and his network in the bribery scandal rocking the NCGOP.

The group is specifically seeking all correspondence between both departments and Robin Hayes, Greg Lindberg, John Gray, and John Palermo, the four men indicted on bribery charges, as well as correspondence between both departments and Rep. Mark Walker, mentioned in the indictment as “Public Official A.” Real Facts is also seeking correspondence between the departments and former Sen. Wes Meredith (R-Cumberland) who took nearly $40,000 from Lindberg and immediately filed a bill backed by Lindberg’s Eli Global.

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During a hectic week, NCGA Republicans moved bills that could further cuts to education and continue advancements of unchecked privatization of public schools

A recent study found that just 23 percent of 4-year-olds in North Carolina have access to pre-k, below the national average. Meanwhile teacher pay in N.C. remains $7.8k less than the national average and NC teachers make 35.5 percent less than other 4-year college graduates in the state. Teachers pay out-of-pocket for school supplies to meet classroom needs. However, unchecked growth of charter schools has created a fiscal burden on local school districts of $500 to $700 per student.

A number of education-related bills are moving through the NCGA this session, but some appear to do more harm than good. We’ve highlighted three of those bills below.

H485 seeks to address a problem created by Republicans when they rolled back Smart-Start funding and, since then, continually failed to address the growing pre-k waitlist. Instead of funding pre-k, lawmakers want to send 4-year-olds to school online. Experts have concerns about the virtual learning pilot program because the value of pre-k “is less about the skill-learning in reading and math and more about skill-learning in social-emotional domains.” Virtual pre-k is a short-sighted effort to solve a funding failure with long-term impacts.

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Latest Republican abortion bill is another attempt to control the relationship between patients and their doctors

 

  • S359 is another Republican attack on health care using sensationalist claims not based in science. 
    • S359 seeks to “protect survivors” of abortions by criminalizing doctors
    • This practice does not exist in North Carolina because abortions are banned after 20 weeks.
  • Republicans are using an extreme agenda to intimidate patients and their doctors
    • North Carolina Republicans are trying to threaten doctors with criminal action and shame patients over practice not based in the reality of abortion care.
    • Doctors who fail to follow the law as prescribed in S356 could be subject to felony charges and health care practitioners would be required to report noncompliance.
    • There are already rigorous standards and requirements placed on abortion care.
  • This bill is part of an extreme agenda that seeks to ban abortion outright. 
    • This bill models a similar national bill that seeks to criminalize doctors
    • North Carolina House Republicans filed several abortion restrictions in 2019, including a 13-week abortion ban that would make North Carolina the state with the earliest abortion ban in the US outside bans that have been blocked by courts.
    • Since the Republican supermajority was elected in 2010, North Carolina has passed some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation.

Read the full report here.

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MEDICAID REPORT PART II: Republican plan won’t close the gap and will cost more

Republican health care plan could result in thousands losing coverage and is more costly and complex to implement than Medicaid expansion. Read the full report here.
  • The 2019 Republican health care planfails to cover thousands of North Carolina families.
    • Most people who lose coverage under work requirement plans are complying with requirements and are dropped due to reporting issues.
    • After Indiana implemented a plan cited as the model for the Republican plan 91,000 people were dropped from coverage
    • 17,000 Arkansans lost coverage under the state’s work requirements that were struck down by a federal judge
  • Implementation of the Republican plan would be more costly and complex than Medicaid Expansion.
    • Work requirements and premiums increase uncompensated care costs for hospitals which treat people regardless of whether or not they are insured. A system that forces more people to use the hospital to get care costs more.
    • States did not save tax dollars when they implemented work requirements and premiums.
    • Work requirements in other states have cost between $70 million and $170 million to implement, the federal government will not pay for much of the cost of implementation.

Read the full report here.

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GenX: Where are we now?

Gen X: Where are we now?As is the unfortunate trend in politics, crises often receive major press coverage only to recede from the public consciousness before the root problem is solved. The GenX crisis in NC is a perfect example. Since major news coverage lapsed over the course of 2018, the…

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Does money bail actually keep us safe or is the entire system flawed?

Ending money bail has emerged as an urgent rallying cry in many cities across the U.S.; organizers in Durham, North Carolina have pushed this issue to the forefront of municipal and state political conversations. Right now, people who have not been convicted of a crime are incarcerated becau…

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NCGA Republicans are again forcing their extreme agenda on local governments, this time at the expense of families and on taxpayers’ dime

NC Republicans led by House Speaker Tim Moore want to force North Carolina sheriffs to work with the Trump administration’s immigration agents.House Bill 370 would require sheriffs to “comply with, honor, and fulfill” any requests made by Trump’s immigration agents, including requests to detain people without evidence, and would require sheriffs to allow immigration officers access to local jails or detention facilities. In addition, H370 empowers any individual who believes law enforcement is violating these rules to file legal action in Superior Court. If the court agrees, law enforcement officers could incur increasing fines up to $25k per day. With this bill lawmakers are again trying to supersede the will of the voters in N.C. counties who elected sheriffs on their promises to protect all county residents.

Following a significant organized push from concerned citizens, Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead, and Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, all Black men, promised to stop complying with Trump’s immigration agents under the 287(g) program. This program allows local law enforcement to act as immigration agents—giving them power to surveil and detain people without evidence. Baker, Birkhead, Rogers, and McFadden were all elected for the first time in 2018, defeating opposition who wanted to sign on or expand the program under the Trump administration. Voters in Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford, and Durham counties said loud and clearly that they wanted all of their neighbors to feel safe and have held these sheriffs accountable to that promise. Since the election, Forsyth County’s new sheriff Bobby Kimbrough also denounced the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

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BOG gets even murkier with House (re)appointments

Today, the NCGA will move forward with a vote on six nominees to the University of North Carolina System’s Board of Governors. Five of the six names are re-appointments. Hilton Hutchens, the new white Republican nominee, would replace the lone Black Democrat on the Board. The process includes and up-or-down vote on a resolution that would name members to the board. This process differs from an election from a larger number of candidates. The up-or-down vote gives Republican leadership closer control of the nominees.

 The list below includes two Republican lobbyists, a former disgraced sheriff-turned-charter school activist, a lawyer that defends big banks in foreclosure suits, a major Republican donor and former employer of a House leader, and a controversial developer who had his project saved by the speaker of the house despite objections from the city of Durham.

 

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Republicans in NCGA show contempt for rape survivors, again.

Last week, Republican Representative Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba) along with co-sponsors Representatives Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) introduced H305, a bill designed to bolster protections for UNC students accused of sexual misconduct. Specifically, the bill would “standardize protections” for students enrolled across all 16 campuses of the UNC system and add due process guarantees.

In a moment of public reckoning and conversation about survivors of sexual violence catalyzed by #metoo and the Kavanaugh hearings, conservative leaders have centered the rights of the accused. North Carolina Republicans’ legislative impulses align nationally with controversial U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’. Devos changed Title IX application into an almost unrecognizable form and rescinded the 2011 “Dear Colleague” guidance from the Obama Administration regarding sexual misconduct. The Devos guidelines narrow the definition of sexual harassment, allow colleges to use stricter standards of proof, limit the cases a college is required to investigate, and allow accusers to be cross-examined. In sum, the new rules favor the accused, as well as colleges and universities, a major departure from Obama-era guidelines that took strides to center survivors in a process mired in bureaucratic ambiguity.

However, despite conservative outcry, the concern over false allegations of sexual misconduct, like fears of in-person voter fraud, are more specter than substance. As study after study affirms that false rape allegations (like voter fraud) are incredibly rare, legislators still spend their time and valuable taxpayer dollars fighting both.

To add insult to injury, all three representatives co-sponsoring H305 voted against additional protections for survivors in North Carolina.
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