On Monday State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, a Republican, criticized fellow Republicans in the NCGA for including a provision in the budget that creates a separate fire marshal role, removing fire safety responsibilities from the role of insurance commissioner. The provision, which surprised Causey and was added without debate, specifies that the insurance commissioner would pick the new fire marshal, with the NCGA empowered to block an appointment. Per WRAL, this change is in keeping with a broader trend at the Republican-controlled NCGA of stripping power from the executive branch and giving it to the legislature instead.
The redistricting process is underway at the North Carolina General Assembly. The NCGA held three public hearings, with the last taking place on Wednesday in Raleigh. No draft maps were available for the public to comment on in these hearings, but many voters spoke up about their fears for democracy and opposition to gerrymandering and asked for maps that would keep communities together and give everyone an equal vote. Because of a provision in the new budget that exempts lawmakers from most public records requests, it is unclear how much access the public will have to draft maps or materials the NCGA uses to draw districts. On Monday a group of advocacy groups sent a letter to lawmakers pushing for a more transparent process and fair maps.
Need a quick refresher about why maps are being redrawn and what can we expect next? Read Redistricting redux: North Carolina lawmakers to draw again new maps for Congress and themselves.
On Thursday Governor Cooper vetoed a Republican-backed elections bill that would change how state and local boards of elections are appointed in North Carolina. SB 479 would remove the governor’s appointment power to the state board and expand the board so that four members each are appointed by Republican and Democratic legislative leaders. Critics say this new structure will lead to gridlock and ultimately to greater Republican control over elections processes, as ties will be broken by leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature.
The new budget includes $2 million in funding for each of the next two years for the Board of Trustees-mandated new School of Civic Life and Leadership at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as directives about how the school should be developed. Faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill were alarmed early this year when the Board of Trustees announced plans to form this new school, given that it is unprecedented for a new school to be proposed by the NCGA and its political appointees rather than by the faculty or administration. In the ensuing months, faculty had made an effort to begin planning for the new school, but the budget sets a new timeline and hiring guidelines for the school that faculty leadership say is unreasonable. The budget states that a dean for the new school must be named by the end of this year, and that 10-20 outside faculty must be hired in tenured or tenure-track positions.
Governor Cooper said Thursday that he plans to sue the state legislature over a budget provision that removes his appointment power to state and local boards that oversee the state’s community colleges. Cooper said the provision violates the state constitution, representing a power grab by the legislature.
Health Care Policy
Medicaid expansion for North Carolina will go into effect on Dec. 1 – Jaymie Baxley, NC Health News
A federal judge has issued an injunction against two provisions of North Carolina’s 12-week abortion ban. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Dr. Beverly Gray (an OB-GYN at Duke) challenged two parts of the law: a provision banning the prescription of abortion pills before an embryo is visible via ultrasound and a provision that requires abortions after 12 weeks (which under the law would only be exceptions in the case of rape or incest) to be performed in a hospital. US District Court Judge Catherine Eagles declined to issue an injunction against most of the law in June, but on Saturday she issued a decision blocking the two provisions from going into effect the next day.