North Carolina Justices Take Another Look at 2011 Redistricting

redistrictingRALEIGH—The State Supreme Court is once again considering the state’s Republican drawn Legislative and Congressional districts.

The Federal justices want the state court to review the racial composition of North Carolina’s maps, in light of a case from Alabama.

Attorneys made oral arguments during Monday’s hearing, and the plaintiffs’ objection to the North Carolina districts was based on the claim that the maps are drawn to reduce the impact of minority voters.

“What we are fighting for is the right to define our political identity in terms of the interest that voters care about, the common interests that they share and not to be dividing it by race,” said plaintiff Anita Earls.

However, attorneys representing the state said the court should rule that race was not a motive when redistricting the map.

“Because of all the other factors that this court has already recognized that went into the drawing of these districts,” said Tom Farr.

Some lawmakers who were at the hearing had mixed reactions after.

“Anytime race becomes a predominant factor, in doing anything, not just electoral districts, anytime race is a predominant factor, the 14th Amendment requires that there be a compelling state interest for it and that you strictly restrict whatever the remedy is,” Sen. Dan Blue (D) Wake Co.

“We followed it to the letter of the law, which is what this Supreme Court set forward and also the fact that the court has validated on the U.S. level, so in essence, if you follow the law, you basically have a cookbook, and that’s exactly what we did to achieve the results,” said Sen. Bob Rucho (R) Mecklenburg Co.

The state’s current district maps were drawn in 2011 and were used in two elections, but it is unknown where they will stay for 2016.

Now it is up for the State Supreme Court to do next and Earls said there is no timeline for when that decision has to be released.

- Carly Swanson

Capital Tonight Aug. 28: Bow Tie Caucus

CapitalTonight828On Capital Tonight: The Bow Tie Caucus convenes to look at the political implications of Attorney General Roy Cooper’s decision not to re-try the manslaughter case against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick. Political science professors Scott Huffmon and Michael Bitzer join Tim Boyum. We get our weekly updates from Jones Street and the economy. Watch the program here.

Democrats Choose Former House Member to Replace Glazier

glazier_repalceCUMBERLAND COUNTY—Fayetteville lawyer Billy Richardson is the choice of Cumberland County Democrats to finish the term of retiring state representative, Rick Glazier.

Richardson was selected during a gathering of party officials on Saturday. Glazier’s final day as the representative for District 44 was Friday. Richardson is  a former member of the General Assembly himself and he had plenty of praise for his predecessor.

“You cannot replace Rick Glazier. You can only fill the seat and do the best you can. But Rick Glazier IS irreplaceable,” said Richardson.

By law, the governor must appoint the selection of the county party. Richardson hopes to be sworn in by early next week.

Attorney General Cooper on Kerrick Trial: We as a State Need to Learn From This Tragedy

cooperRALEIGH—State Attorney General Roy Cooper held a press conference about the decision to not retry CMPD Officer Randall ‘Wes’ Kerrick and dismiss his voluntary manslaughter charge.

A judge declared a mistrial in Kerrick’s case last Friday after jurors said they were deadlocked in an 8-4 vote, with the majority believing Kerrick was not guilty.

The CMPD officer shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell, who was unarmed, in 2013 while responding to a breaking and entering call.

“it was the right thing to bring this case before the jury and seek a conviction. But now we need to listen to what the jury said. We as a state need to learn from this tragedy. More consistent and better training for our law enforcement agents can save lives,” said Cooper.

Cooper said his office reached out to Ferrell’s family and spoke to them about the decision.


Capital Tonight Aug. 27: Teacher and State Employee Pay Raises

Cap_Tonight_082715_FullOn Capital Tonight: Lawmakers have agreed to a $750 bonus for teachers and state employees in the first year of the new state budget. We get reaction from Ardis Watkins of the State Employees Association of North Carolina and Mark Jewell of the NC Association of Educators. Rep. Dean Arp talks about the House bond proposal in our Lawmakers segment. Watch the program here.

Third Stopgap Spending Bill Approved by NC Lawmakers

magistrate_vetoRALEIGH—The state House and Senate have given themselves another extension to complete their work on the state spending plan.

In several quick votes on Thursday morning, both chambers approved the measure, which now says they must have a new budget in place by Sept. 18.

This is an extension of the budget that was supposed to expire on June 30. Head budget writers say they are they believe this new reprieve will allow to finish their work, because significant progress has been made in the last few days on the final product.

However, some legislators say they don’t believe this extension is necessary.

“Then folk can roll up their sleeves and work this evening, tomorrow and Saturday and get this thing resolved so that these counties and school systems and various others can have absolute predictability on what their budget is going to look like this year,” said Sen. Dan Blue, a Wake County Democrat.

The continuing resolution now goes to the governor for approval. Budget writers say they will now be working through the weekend to complete their work on the final spending plan for the state.

- Loretta Boniti

Ride-Sharing Service Regulations Gets Final Legislative OK

uber-1RALEIGH—The North Carolina legislature has given its final OK to putting state regulations upon mobile phone-based ride-sharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of rules hammered out in committees and negotiations over the past several months.

The legislation already received Senate approval and now goes to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory. He has said nothing publicly opposing the measure. Uber has publicly endorsed the regulations.

The bill sets minimum standards for background checks of potential drivers and company liability coverage on private cars as they transport customers or wait for jobs. The services would have to pay $5,000 annual state permit fees. There are also rules for companies who want to use local airports.

-Loretta Boniti

Capital Tonight Aug. 26: ClearPath Founder Jay Faison

CapitalTonight825On Capital Tonight: We talk with ClearPath Foundation Jay Faison about his decision to invest $175 million to lobby the Republican Party to change its position on climate change. Our Advocates Doug Raymond and Thomas Mills take on the politics of climate change. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight Aug. 25: Taxpayer Bill of Rights

CAP_TONIGHTOn Capital Tonight: The State Senate approved a provision that would add a Taxpayer Bill of Rights to the state Constitution. We talk with Sarah Curry of the John Locke Foundation and Cedric Johnson of the NC Budget & Tax Center. Our Insiders Andy Yates and Brad Crone take on the budget process, and if Donald trump should be on the ballot in North Carolina. Watch the program here.

Former Texas Senator Keynote Speaker at NC Abortion-Rights Events

abortion rallyDURHAM—The Texas state senator whose 2013 floor filibuster against an abortion bill vaulted her to national prominence is in North Carolina raising money for a political group affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

Former Sen. Wendy Davis is delivering the keynote address at three fundraisers this week, with two slated Wednesday in Greensboro and Charlotte. The group called “Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic” said 180 people attended Tuesday evening’s event in Durham.

The abortion-rights organization says $150,000 raised so far from the events will help with things such as voter education and independent political expenditures approaching the 2016 elections. The Republican-led North Carolina legislature has passed bills since 2011 that restricts abortion or eliminated state funding for Planned Parenthood.

Davis is a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year.

- Associated Press