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House Republicans pander on transparency: they have the power to livestream business but refuse.

During the 2019 legislative redistricting process there was a continuous livestream available on YouTube without any legislative maneuvering. Republicans used this court-mandated livestream to tout their commitment to transparency. Sadly, this supposed commitment disappeared as soon as the maps passed both chambers.

Republicans clearly don’t want North Carolinians to have unfiltered access to their government, because then they couldn’t continue their unchecked attacks on democracy.

North Carolinians deserve to know what lawmakers are doing. Currently the public can only access audio streams for the House and Senate floors, six committee rooms, and the press room. They shouldn’t have to rely on a private company, WRAL, to livestream important meetings. All House and Senate sessions and committee meetings can and should be livestreamed.

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David Lewis and Tim Moore have a long history of using lies and trickery to get their way

The havoc they’ve wreaked on democracy isn’t surprising given their history.

Last week’s surprise budget vote rattled even the most seasoned political insiders. Generally, bipartisan consensus was that House Speaker Tim Moore’s maneuver was a “new low” for North Carolina politics, which was no small feat considering the number of lows that have drawn national attention over the past few years.

Looking further into Moore’s background reveals the origin and precedent for his contempt for the democratic process. Those who follow #ncpol closely know Moore and his “top lieutenant,” Rep. David Lewis, the powerful House Rules Chair and Senior Chair of the current redistricting process, have used lies and secret maneuvers to railroad a conservative agenda since 2010. Yet few know Moore’s penchant for trickery extends as far back as student government at UNC-Chapel Hill. Probably even fewer know that Moore and Lewis’ friendship extends back to their time together as College Republicans at Campbell University. 

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NCGA Republicans refuse to even consider commonsense gun laws

Two more mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend brought into sharp relief the failure of North Carolina Republicans to make commonsense changes to gun laws. Democrats filed two such bills this session, but Republicans refuse to allow votes on both. Instead of working to guarantee all North Carolinians can shop, worship, or simply exist without fear of being shot, Republicans have prioritized staying in the pocket of the NRA. The NRA is notorious for working hard to stifle gun violence research and has a rich history of supporting NC Republicans in order to influence policy.

Republicans refused to even hold a vote on commonsense gun safety measures. 
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Did House Republican Leader Rep. John Bell let slip long-time House member’s retirement plans?

Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne), who’s been a bellwether before on changes to House Republican’s electoral plans, may have let more secrets slip from the witness stand on Wednesday. 

Bell was questioned during the eighth day of testimony in the Common Cause v Lewisgerrymandering trial and said Rep. David Lewis’s (R-Harnett) traditionally strong Republican district might get more competitive in 2020. When pressed, Bell refused to confirm or deny Lewis’s electoral plans.

Lauren Horsch of the NC Insider tweeted that Lewis had no plans to retire at the moment, but Lewis has been known to "obfuscate." 

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Reps. Pittman, Presnell and Speciale’s votes betray survivors of sexual abuse

On Wednesday the NC House overwhelmingly voted to lengthen the time period during which survivors of child sexual abuse can sue perpetrators for damages. Only 10 House members did not back the measure, which would extend the statute of limitations from 21 to 38 years of age. Those 10 members included Representatives Larry Pittman, Michele Presnell, and Mike Speciale, who have a demonstrated track record of failing to stand with survivors of sexual abuse.

For example, Presnell and Speciale also attempted to block an amendment that clarified legal ambiguities for survivors of what the law defines as “date rape.” Pittman did not vote either way on the amendment, despite being present in the chamber. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Chaz Beasley, “better protect[s] victims that have been drugged without their knowledge.” No Republicans gave a substantive reason for their attempt to block protections for survivors of rape. Fortunately, Beasley’s amendment, which was inspired by a rape survivor who found the legal ambiguity an impediment to justice, passed despite Republican efforts.

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If Sen. Don Davis stood up to Republicans, Rep. Sydney Batch wouldn’t have to cut her recovery short

Since Governor Cooper vetoed S359, a bill that would criminalize doctors, shame patients, and disproportionately impact Black women, legislative dramatics have reached new heights. The bill is up for another vote in the House today.

The fight over the veto override began with Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene, Pitt) casting the deciding vote to override Gov. Cooper's veto of S359 in the Senate. He also voted for the original bill. Davis was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against Gov. Cooper and in line with Republicans on this restrictive bill that addresses a “problem” that does not exist and places further restrictions on safe reproductive health care.

For those unfamiliar with legislative procedure, Sen. Davis’s vote in favor of overriding the veto resulted in the bill ending up in the House’s infamous “veto garage.” Republican House Speaker Tim Moore placed the vote to override the veto of S359 on the calendar and withdrew it on nine separate occasions between May 2 and May 29, likely because Republicans didn’t have the votes they needed to override the Governor’s veto. However, Democrats like Rep. Sydney Batch (D-Wake), kept showing up, thus preventing an override. 

Rep. Batch, however, is recovering from cancer. Her seatmate, Rep. Ashton Clemmons (D- Guilford), said Batch is too weak to drive herself to the General Assembly so she has been driving Batch to and from sessions. She had to cut her recovery from a recent mastectomy short to make sure her vote to sustain the Governor’s veto is counted. While Sen. Davis chose to fall in line with Republican leadership that is supposedly “pro-life” yet refuses to expand Medicaid, Rep. Batch returned to the General Assembly soon after surgery to prevent her Republican colleagues from capitalizing on her absence.

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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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Abortion Method Ban Filed by NC Republicans, Includes Provisions Targeting Doctors

H54, “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment,” is an abortion method ban that would make dilation & evacuation prodcedures, referred to in the bill as “dismemberment abortion” illegal except in the case of “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” The bill intentionally uses the term of “dismemberment abortion” instead of dilation and evacuation, reflecting anti-abortion rhetoric. The bill makes exceptions for “serious heath risk to the unborn child’s mother” but does not include “psychological or emotional conditions.” Throughout, the bill refers to the patient as “the unborn child’s mother.”

H54 intentionally targets physicians who provide abortion. The bill text specifically offers civil immunity to patients, nurses, technicians, secretaries, receptionists, pharmacists, or “other employee or agent who is not a physician.” Moreover, the bill would make any physician who provides the procedure guilty of a civil offense and liable for sanction from the NC Medical Board.

Rep. Debra Conrad of Forsyth is a primary sponsor of the bill, which emerged amidst a flurry of anti-abortion legislation in early February 2019.

Read more on H54 here

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Republicans block transparency moves to start the 2019 session

TL;DR: Despite analysis things would be different, late night shenanigans and surprise conference reports are in the cards for 2019.

Pull out your parliamentary procedure handbooks, NC House members voted Wednesday on their official rules for the 2019-20 Session. Despite some analysis claiming they’d be more collaborative, Republicans blocked a number of changes to the rules that would have increased transparency in the legislative building.

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Another term for Speaker Moore and corporate interests, with the help of two Democrats

Wednesday, at the opening of the 2019-20 session of the North Carolina House, there was a contested race for House Speaker. Democrat Rep. Robert Reives nominated fellow Democrat Rep. Darren Jackson against Republican Rep. Tim Moore, seeking another term as Speaker. Moore succeeded, though, …

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