LAWSUIT GOES AFTER ANTI-ABORTION LAWS IN NC: The lawsuit targets a number of state laws, including: A 72-hour waiting period, which starts counting down after a woman gets mandatory counseling. A licensing program that the groups say "arbitrarily singles out abortion providers with medically unnecessary" requirements. A ban on physician assistants, nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners providing abortions. A ban on using telehealth for medication abortions. A requirement that providers deliver "biased counseling with no medical benefit to their patients" before performing an abortion. Moore spokesman Joseph Kyzer said in an email that legislative leaders "will vigorously defend" the state's abortion laws "against another attempt by the radical left to use the courts to overcome voters’ rejection of their fringe agenda."
REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE WITHHOLDS ARTS FUNDING FOR WAKE AND MECKLENBURG: Arts advocates in Mecklenburg and Wake counties say their groups are losing out on up to $1 million each on COVID-19 economic relief from the state. On Thursday, the North Carolina House passed the nearly $1 billion Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 that the Senate had approved the day before. It includes $9.4 million for grants for local arts organizations and nonprofits. The bill is now before Gov. Roy Cooper. But the bill excludes from arts funding any county with a population of 1 million or more, and of North Carolina’s 100 counties, only Mecklenburg and Wake meet that criteria. The money is from a federal grant. “It’s unjust, inequitable and an outrage,” Bryant said. “The decision by legislators to deny arts funding to Mecklenburg County will result in further loss of jobs and prolong the crisis for our cultural community.” The money that would have gone to Mecklenburg and Wake counties was redistributed to the other remaining counties.
JUDGES KEEP ONE WITNESS REQUIREMENT FOR ABSENTEE BALLOTS IN PLACE: North Carolina judges refused on Thursday to block a witness requirement for mail-in absentee ballots this fall that's already been scaled down by legislators to address COVID-19 health concerns. The three judges rejected unanimously a request for an injunction by registered voters in a lawsuit filed in July that challenged the state law that one witness sign a person's ballot return envelope. The voters who sued — each with pre-existing health conditions — said the one-witness requirement demanded close contact that would force them to choose between their health and the right to vote. The judges wrote Thursday that the plaintiffs were unlikely to win at trial. Even if it appeared they could succeed, the ruling said, making a change would require replacements for ballot envelopes and voter guides that have already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Such a process will create delays in mailing ballots for all North Carolinians voting by absentee ballot ... and would likely lead to voter confusion,” read the ruling signed by Superior Court Judges Alma Hinton, Robert Bell and Thomas Lock.
BETSY DEVOS IS PUSHING PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT IS HOLDING UP RELIEF BILL: The Cruz-backed provision would use the tax code to reimburse donations to state-level scholarship funds, which help families pay for private school tuition and other educational expenses. Under the proposal, donors would get their money back in the form of a 100 percent tax credit. DeVos says the pandemic has demonstrated the urgency of giving parents who may be frustrated with their public schools more options. Her proposal would “help families who are more vulnerable and don’t have the resources that many better-off families have had,” she told a SiriusXM host last week. Opponents say the tax credits are thinly veiled vouchers that drain resources that should be used to support public schools, which serve the vast majority of children. Trump has proposed this idea in his last two budget proposals, but it was not adopted. Cruz’s attempt to include the provision in the new Senate bill has emerged as a final stumbling block to completing the legislation, according to three people with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them. A Cruz aide said this effort is just his latest to advance the scholarships, which he believes are needed to help families access a quality education for their children. However, there’s scant support even among Senate Republicans for including this in the coronavirus package. Some senators oppose including this tax credit when other tax credits they favor are being left out; some say it’s too expensive; and others oppose the proposal on its merits, according to one person familiar with the talks.
TRUMP THROWS TANTRUM OVER ATLANTIC ARTICLE THAT EXPOSED HIS CONTEMPT FOR SOLDIERS WHO DIED: Marching over to reporters under the wing of Air Force One after returning from a campaign rally, a visibly angry Mr. Trump rebutted a magazine report that he decided against visiting a cemetery for American soldiers in France in 2018 because he feared the rain would mess up his hair and he did not believe it was important to honor the war dead. “If people really exist that would have said that, they’re lowlifes and they’re liars,” Mr. Trump shouted above the noise of the plane’s engines. “And I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more.” He added, “What animal would say such a thing?” The report in The Atlantic magazine by its editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, attributed the episode to “four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day,” but he did not name them. During a conversation with senior officials that day, according to the magazine, Mr. Trump said: “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” On the same trip, the article said, he referred to American Marines slain in combat at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed. People familiar with Mr. Trump’s comments say he has long scorned those who served in Vietnam as being too dumb to have gotten out of it, as he did through a medical diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels. At other times, according to those familiar with the remarks, Mr. Trump would marvel at people choosing military service over making money. The article also said that Mr. Trump’s well-known antipathy for Senator John McCain, the Republican from Arizona and Vietnam War hero, was on display after the senator’s death in August 2018. “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” the article quotes Mr. Trump telling his staff. He became furious at seeing flags lowered to half-staff. “What the fuck are we doing that for? Guy was a fucking loser,” the president told aides, according to the article.