Capital Tonight July 6: NC Democratic Chairwoman Patsy Keever

ct_keeverOn Capital Tonight: NC Democratic Party Chairwoman Patsy Keever talks about her party’s preparations and plans for the 2016 elections. Ben Brown of NC Insider and Chris Miller of WBT-AM talk the General Assembly’s summer vacation, budget negotiations, and the Charlotte mayoral race in our Reporter Roundtable. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight July 3: State Capitol at 175

state_capitol_tourOn Capital Tonight: The North Carolina State Capitol celebrates its 175th anniversary this year. We get an in-depth tour of the building and grounds and learn more about its history as the physical seat of state government. We get our wraps from Jones Street and the economy. Watch the program here. 

Capital Tonight July 2: State Superintendent June Atkinson

atkinsonOn Capital Tonight: State Superintendent June Atkinson talks about the challenges of budgeting for public schools when the state spending plan is up in the air. Rep. Robert Pittenger, (R) 9th District, talks about the Iran nuclear talks and more with Senior Political Reporter Loretta Boniti. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight July 1: Separation-of-Powers Lawsuit

capital_tonight_01jpgOn Capital Tonight: We take a deeper look into the issues of the separation-of-powers lawsuit with former judges Eddie Greene and Bob Orr. Our Advocates Mitch Kokai and Rob Schofield look at the politics of negotiating a state budget. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight June 30: NC Economic Outlook

ncct_063015NC State economist Michael Walden gives us the economic outlook for North Carolina for the second half of 2015. Our Insiders Chad Adams and Morgan Jackson take on the world of politics this week. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight June 29: Marijuana Legalization Dispute

marijuana_plantsOn Capital Tonight: We get the latest on the budget negotiations from the General Assembly. A Campbell Law professor writes an op-ed, saying states that legalize marijuana are violating federal law, and Rick Henderson of Carolina Journal and Matt Comer of Q Notes join our Reporter Roundtable. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight June 26: Same-Sex Marriage Decision

capital_tonight_show25jpgOn Capital Tonight: We explore the implications of the US Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage with Campbell Law professor Greg Wallace, Equality NC director Chris Sgro, and Catawba College Professor Michael Bitzer. Watch the program here.

Supreme Court Extends Same-Sex Marriage Across U.S.

SCOTUS_Gay_Marriage_Rally_0428WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court’s ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court’s previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.

President Obama Tweeted that gay marriage ruling “is a big step in our march toward equality”.

• Read the court’s full opinion here

Supreme Court Upholds Nationwide Health Care Law Subsidies

ACA_newestWASHINGTON—The Supreme Court saved the Affordable Care Act on Thursday for the second time in three years.

The High Court rejected a challenge to the law, which would have caused thousands of North Carolinians to lose their health coverage.

By a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal tax credits called for in the Affordable Care Act are legal. The income-based subsidies help make health insurance more affordable and are crucial to its success.

Opponents argued that a single phrase in the law prevented the government from providing subsidies in the 34 states that don’t have their own marketplaces. That includes North Carolina.

But Thursday’s ruling means the nearly half-million North Carolinians who currently receive the subsidies will keep them.

“We will not go backwards and more and more people will get the health care they need to protect their families,” said Ron Pollack, Founding Executive Director of Families USA.

Chief Justice John Roberts again sided with the court’s liberal wing in defending the law. He wrote: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”

Justice Antonin Scalia was among the three no votes. His dissent dripped with disdain:

“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” Scalia wrote, suggesting the court partly owns the law now that it’s twice upheld it.

The Affordable Care Act is still unpopular in some quarters, but the law is a survivor. It’s withstood more than 50 repeal efforts in the House, and now two Supreme Court rulings. Shortly after the ruling, President Obama delivered a statement from the White House Rose Garden.

“Today is a victory for hardworking Americans all across this country whose lives will continue to become more secure in a changing economy because of this law,” said President Barack Obama.

It’s also a victory for President Obama, with the High Court reaffirming his legacy issue. And while Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation blasted the court’s ruling and the president’s health care law, President Obama says the matter is settled.

Statement from President Obama:

I applaud the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who came together to give the United States the chance to negotiate strong, high-standard agreements for free and fair trade that protect American workers and give our businesses the opportunity to compete. With bipartisan majorities, Congress also voted to expand vital support for thousands of American workers each year, and to bolster economic relations between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. Of course, we still have more work to do on behalf of our workers, which is why I’ll continue to encourage Congress to pass robust trade enforcement legislation that will help us crack down on countries that break the rules. But this week’s votes represent a much-needed win for hardworking American families.

As President, I’ve spent the last six and half years fighting to grow our economy and strengthen our middle class, and that remains my top priority today. I believe we should make sure that the United States, and not countries like China, write the rules of our global economy. We should support more good jobs that pay good wages. We should level the playing field so that our workers have the chance to compete and win. That’s what this new legislation will help us do, and I look forward to signing these bipartisan bills into law as soon as they reach my desk.

Eyes Focus on Medicaid Expansion Following Supreme Court Ruling

magistrate_vetoRALEIGH—Many people in North Carolina have been watching and waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act subsidies.

The governor had indicated earlier this year, that the ruling could have an impact on whether or not he would recommend expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

However, the ruling may not move that Medicaid issue any closer to resolution.

With the Supreme Court ruling saying all citizens can get subsidies for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, states who were bracing for potential chaos if the ruling had gone the other way can now move on to other issues associated with the law.

President Barack Obama said he wants that effort to be on Medicaid expansion.

“I’m going to work as hard as I can to convince more governors and state legislatures to take advantage of the law, put politics aside and expand Medicaid and cover their citizens,” said President Obama.

North Carolina is one of those states that did not accept federal dollars through the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid. Earlier this year, Gov. Pat McCrory said he was holding making his recommendation on expansion until after this ruling.

“It is a very complex issue. You can’t just say are you for it or against it,” said Gov. McCrory.

On Thursday, he was not ready to make a decision. The governor said he is studying how successful expansion has been in other states, and if he believes it could work in North Carolina.

“We’ve got to make sure that in order to make sure those people falling through the cracks that we don’t break the entire system for those who currently have insurance. And that’s the balance at this point in time,” said Gov. McCrory.

But the final decision for expansion, would need to pass through the legislature. For his part, the leader of the Senate is clear that he is against it.

“We continue to have a Medicaid system that grows at rates far greater than inflation. We cannot contemplate adding more people to the Medicaid rolls at a time when we are having difficulty sustaining the Medicaid system that we currently have. That situation is exactly what it was before this decision,” said Sen. Phil Berger, President Pro-tem.

The House, Senate and governor are all currently working on Medicaid reform for the state which does not include expansion.

Statement from NC Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin:

The case did not rule anything further on Medicaid expansion but it will provide some growing interest in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid to consider to do so. This is a long standing, controversial matter. I do not expect this particular ruling to end the controversy, but it does provide some level of comfort for 450,000 North Carolinians.

Statement from Speaker Tim Moore:

“The Affordable Care Act has forced many North Carolinians to pay higher premiums, has limited personal choice of doctors and coverage, and has cornered businesses of all shapes and sizes. Today’s Supreme Court ruling is disappointing, but does not change the fact that this flawed policy is doing more harm than good for our State.

This week, the House passed the 2015 Medicaid Modernization Act in an effort to transition the government-run program to patient-centered, provider-led healthcare. This reform will allow the State to fully fund enrollment growth and eliminate wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. Medicaid Reform, not expansion, will remain the priority, and today’s Court ruling will not directly impact North Carolina’s final decision.”

– Loretta Boniti