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Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


FIND WAYS TO EASE VOTING, NOT RESTRICT IT: This needless “Elections Integrity Act” bill demands mail-in ballots not only be cast by Election Day, but if mailed, must be RECEIVED no later than Election Day. It is a change that is not necessary, won’t make elections any more secure and simply erects another unnecessary impediment to casting a fair ballot and getting it counted. There was no problem to be fixed. Things worked better than ever! The quest should be for ways to get MORE people to vote and get MORE properly cast ballots counted. A legal vote legally cast on or before Election Day (including placed in the mail) should be counted. The current practice for receipt of mail-in ballots is basic common sense. To seek a political advantage, regardless of whether done to help Democrats or Republicans, under the guise that appointed elections officials or staff professionals acted improperly is disingenuous at best.

Saturday News: Privatization push


LOUISIANA INVESTMENT COMPANY TARGETS NC MUNICIPAL UTILITIES FOR TAKEOVER: A private-equity management company has been quietly reaching out to communities across North Carolina offering tens of millions of dollars to manage their utilities for as long as 30 years. Bernhard Capital Partners and a local subsidiary formed in August 2019, North Carolina Municipal Utility Services, have pitched “concession agreements” to more than 10 cities over the past two years. But what Bernhard is proposing in each case is somewhat of a mystery. The company required some community leaders to sign nondisclosure agreements and would not disclose key details in an interview. “Obviously they are in business to make money,” she said. “That is what their goal is and so they are going to have to find ways to do that. Whether it’s raising rates or cutting expenses, there’s going to have to be a way they can make money."

Friday News: Common sense


"RED FLAG" BILL WOULD TEMPORARILY REMOVE FIREARM FROM DANGEROUS INDIVIDUALS: A North Carolina bill allowing courts to temporarily seize firearms from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others was filed Thursday, hours after President Joe Biden recommended states adopt laws to reduce gun violence. But if history is any guide, Democrats will have a hard time passing such “red flag” bills in North Carolina. Three of them, Reps. Marcia Morey of Durham, John Autry, of Charlotte, and Grier Martin, of Wake County, filed House Bill 525 Thursday just before 4 p.m. The 10-page proposal outlines a process for “an extreme risk protection order” that a family member, a current or former spouse or partner, law enforcement or a health-care provider could pursue to have guns temporarily removed from someone who courts deemed a danger. Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have adopted similar legislation, Biden said.

Thursday News: Doubling down

BILL WOULD LEGALIZE SPORTS GAMBLING VIA NC EDUCATION LOTTERY: On Wednesday morning, Sens. Jim Perry, a Kinston Republican, and Paul Lowe, a Winston-Salem Democrat, filed Senate Bill 688. If passed, it would authorize sports gambling on professional, college, electronic and amateur sports or any other events approved by the NC Education Lottery Commission. Perry said instead of ignoring illegal gambling legislators should open up conversations about how the state can benefit from legal gambling. He said this bill allows adults to freely choose to gamble, and collects money for schools without forcing taxes on other people. Gambling on youth sports would continue to be illegal, as would gambling on injuries, penalties, the outcome of sports disciplinary proceedings or the outcome of replay reviews.

Wednesday News: Take your shot

AS VACCINE SUPPLY INCREASES, EVERYBODY 16 AND OLDER NOW ELIGIBLE: More than 391,000 doses arrived in the state this week, up from 326,780 the week before and 223,120 at this time last month, The News & Observer reported Tuesday. The latest uptick was mostly due to a rise in shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires one shot. Since December, the state has been offering the vaccine to people in certain groups most at risk from getting seriously sick from COVID-19. But vaccine eligibility is expanding to everyone ages 16 and older on Wednesday. “Because of the hard work of providers and commitment of North Carolinians to take their shot, we’re getting people vaccinated more quickly than we predicted,” Gov. Roy Cooper told reporters Tuesday. “This will help us turn the corner on the pandemic even sooner.”

Tuesday News: Tarheel Taliban


RALPH HISE WANTS TO BAN TRANSGENDER TREATMENT FOR 21 AND UNDER: The legislation follows a nationwide trend of GOP-controlled state legislatures looking to limit treatments for transgender adolescents. Unlike other states, however, North Carolina would classify adults between the ages of 18 and 21 as minors under the “Youth Health Protection Act.” Medical professionals who facilitate a transgender person's desire to present themselves or appear in a way that is inconsistent with their biological sex could have their license revoked and face civil fines of up to $1,000 per occurrence. The measure bars doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery. Senate Bill 514 would also compel state employees to immediately notify parents in writing if their child displays “gender nonconformity” or expresses a desire to be treated in a way that is incompatible with the gender they were assigned at birth. LGBTQ advocates fear the bill would out people under 21 who tell state workers that they may be transgender.

Monday News: Twelve thousand, one hundred thirty six


POSITIVE TEST RATE FOR CORONAVIRUS IN NC STILL UNDER 5%: At least 916,159 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,136 have died since last March, according to state health officials. At least 985 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Thursday, an increase from 957 on Wednesday. As of Tuesday, the latest day for which data are available, 4.4% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. More than 1.9 million people in the state have been fully vaccinated. For the first time since North Carolina introduced its COVID-19 county alert system, no counties were red. Parents who haven’t received a $335 COVID-19 relief check from the government to offset the cost of remote learning have until May 31 to apply.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


BIDEN'S OFFSHORE WIND PLAN A BOOST FOR NC: President Joseph Biden announced a plan to generate 30-gigawatts of east coast offshore wind power by the end of the decade. That would be enough to power more than 10 million homes. He will speed up permitting, provide low-interest loans, fund improvements to ports and pump more money into research and development resulting in the creation of “thousands of jobs.” This announcement comes a month after the state Department of Commerce released details of a study that showed the state was in a strong position to capture a good bit of the more than $100 billion that is expected to be invested in developing offshore wind over the next 15 years. Not only is there the potential from developing prime wind energy resources off the state’s coast, but North Carolina hosts researchers, manufacturers, equipment installers and others poised to address supply chain to developers throughout the east coast.

Saturday News: Every five minutes


MASS SHOOTING AT WILMINGTON HOUSE PARTY LEAVES 3 DEAD: Seven people have been shot in a mass shooting at 7th and Kidder Streets in Wilmington. N.C, according to Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams. The shootings happened around midnight. “There was a house party that was taking place inside of a house,” Williams said. “At least seven people inside were shot and three are deceased. They are not being identified until the next of kin has been notified.” Williams says they do not have a motive for the shooting. “We do not feel the general public is in any danger at this time and we are working to get suspects identified,” Williams said. Until we get better background checks in place and red flag laws passed, of course the general public is in danger. Which is good for gun sales, ironically.

Friday News: Erosion of choice


GOP BILL WOULD BAN WOMEN FROM TERMINATING PREGNANCY OVER DOWN SYNDROME: “It’s time to face the issue head-on and ensure that every little North Carolinian is protected from discrimination before and after birth,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret. Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union, said he sees the issue as one of discrimination — foreshadowing what’s likely to be an emotional and bitter floor debate. “Abortion bans based on the reason behind a person’s decision have never been about promoting equality or ending discrimination,” said Tara Romano, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. “Instead, these types of arbitrary bans are part of a larger campaign to stigmatize abortion care, and make it more difficult for people to access the care they need.”


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