News, Trump Administration

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Republicans target non-surgical abortions in latest move to restrict reproductive rights

North Carolina Republican legislators appear to have found a new way to interfere with women’s reproductive rights – this time potentially eliminating the option of a non-invasive abortion for women during the first trimester of pregnancy.

House Bill 62 would require doctors to tell women seeking a non-invasive medical abortion that they could reverse the process halfway through – advice that is medically unproven.

The bill is even more restrictive than legislation in other states by requiring medical proof of fetal death before a woman can continue the second step of a non-surgical abortion. [Read more…]

2. Bills seek to end permits for concealed handguns

Two new North Carolina House bills aim to do away with permits for carrying concealed handguns and eliminate the state’s ability to regulate concealed weapons.

The moves, which have failed to get traction in previous sessions, have been denounced as dangerous by leaders in law enforcement and gun control advocates. But groups and lawmakers supporting the bill say it’s the next step in North Carolina’s recent history of gun deregulation.

Under House Bill 69 – the “Constitutional Carry Act” – any U.S. citizen 18 years or older would be able to carry a concealed handgun, unless otherwise disallowed by state or federal law. [Read more…]

3. Unofficial DPI spokesman raises questions of accountability, transparency

When Jonathan Felts speaks for North Carolina’s superintendent of public instruction, he insists it’s a labor of love.

Felts, a former George W. Bush White House staffer, professional GOP consultant and senior advisor to former Gov. Pat McCrory, says he’s taking no pay for his work in the office of new Superintendent Mark Johnson.

That includes providing updates and statements to the press on behalf of Johnson’s state office and offering scheduling details for the superintendent as he embarks on a statewide listening tour. Felts emphasizes his official title is transition chairman for Johnson, nearly two months into the new superintendent’s tenure in Raleigh.

“I’m just a parent of a young child who’s been blessed with a lot of unique opportunities,” says Felts.[Read more…]

4. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will forever change forests, wetlands and rivers in North Carolina

It’s nearly spring and the Neuse River Waterdogs are on the prowl, searching for mates. About 6 to 9 inches long, slimy and the color of mud, the salamanders are homely, yet lovable. They have dark spots, like a Dalmatian, and their neck sports two frilly gills the shade of magenta, which, when waterdogs want attention, rise like an Elizabethan collar.

In all of the world, Neuse River Waterdogs are found only in North Carolina, in the bio-diverse Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins, where they spend their life under water. Sensitive to pollution and habitat disruption from development, they have been listed as a species of concern since 1990. Because of that designation, they can’t be captured or killed without a special permit from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

But almost certainly some Neuse River Waterdogs would be caught or die as a consequence of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. [Read more…]

5. About that economic “mess” Trump claims to have inherited
The data show that the President’s alternative facts about the economy are flat wrong

One month into the presidency of Donald Trump, it’s already common, even global, knowledge that the American commander-in-chief is a man who maintains only a passing familiarity with the truth. Hour after hour and day after day, the “alternative facts” emanating from the White House are so blatant and plentiful that it’s become difficult to keep track.

Here’s Trump, for example, speaking at a press conference last week on the state of the economy:

“To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country; you see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas, no matter where you look.”

The truth of the matter, of course, is that such a blanket characterization is utter nonsense. [Read more…]

*** This week’s bonus video clips:

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