Governor Cooper appointed attorney Jessica Holmes to take over the rest of State Auditor Beth Wood’s term when she steps down on December 15. Holmes, who is the former chair of the Wake County Commissioners and currently serves as Deputy Industrial Commissioner, will be the first Black woman on the NC Council of State. Wood is stepping down after being indicted on a misdemeanor charge of misusing a state vehicle; she was also involved in a hit-and-run with a parked car last December.
On Thursday a three-judge panel unanimously ruled to block a law stripping Governor Cooper of appointment power to the State Board of Elections from going into effect. In October, Cooper sued over SB 749, which expands the State Board of Elections and assigns appointment power to the state legislature rather than the governor. The judges – two Republicans and one Democrat – found that the law is likely unconstitutional. The ruling is a preliminary injunction, and there will be a full trial in early 2024.
On Tuesday a federal judge ruled the ethics investigation of NC Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls could move ahead. Earls is under investigation by the Judicial Standards Commission for comments she made about racial, gender, and political biases on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Earls is suing to stop the investigation on First Amendment grounds. She appealed Tuesday’s decision and asked that the investigation be blocked at least until an appeal can be heard, but Judge William Osteen denied that request on Thursday.
Dozens of new laws in North Carolina started Dec. 1. Here’s what they do – Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan, The News & Observer
On Monday a federal judge denied a request by plaintiffs challenging new NC Senate maps to speed up their case given approaching filing deadlines for the 2024 election. U.S. District Court Judge James C. Dever, a conservative Republican, called the emergency motion for an expedited review “meritless,” questioning why plaintiffs took 26 days to file their action if they thought it was urgent. The decision is a victory for Republicans, as every delay on this case and others challenging Republican gerrymanders makes it more likely the new maps will stay in place for the 2024 elections.
Health Care Policy
After 14 years, billions to flow as 600,000 qualify for Medicaid insurance in NC: Medicaid expansion means North Carolina's working poor can go to the doctor for free. It also means billions in new federal funding for hospitals. – Travis Fain, WRAL News
The Department of Health and Human Services has a new website that shares Medicaid program eligibility requirements and how to apply.