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Wednesday News: Power play


REPUBLICANS IN LEGISLATURE PUSH TO CURB GOVERNOR'S EMERGENCY AUTHORITY: This isn’t the first time Republican lawmakers have tried to use legislation to force Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to get agreement from the rest of the Council of State, which is majority Republican, for some executive orders. House Majority Leader Rep. John Bell, a Wayne County Republican, told reporters last week that this bill “is not about reopening, or anything dealing with masks.” Rather, he said, it is about how one person should not have unilateral control. Rep. Keith Kidwell, a Chocowinity Republican and deputy majority whip, is the primary sponsor of the House bill. In the summer of 2020, Kidwell made clear what he though of Cooper’s orders, saying on the House floor that he wouldn’t follow the statewide mask mandate no matter what the governor said.

Tuesday News: That was quick...


CORONAVIRUS DETECTED ON FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL IN DURHAM: Durham Public Schools will close three classrooms at Southwest Elementary School after two students tested positive for COVID-19, the district reported. The students in the classrooms, as well as students who rode Bus 185 Monday afternoon, will need to stay home for remote learning for 10 days. DPS is working with the Durham County Department of Public Health and will reach out to any individuals who may have come in close contact with the students, according to a district news release. DPS is offering four days of in-person instruction to elementary students, and will soon offer four days of in-person classes to middle and high school students under new legislation.

Monday News: Eleven thousand, six hundred ninety one


1.2 MILLION NORTH CAROLINIANS HAVE BEEN FULLY VACCINATED FOR CORONAVIRUS: At least 882,715 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 11,691 have died since last March, according to state health officials. At least 1,028 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Saturday, down from 1,037 reported the day before. As of Thursday, the latest date for which data are available, 5.4% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials have said 5% or lower is the target rate to control the spread of the virus. More than 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in North Carolina, and 1.2 million people in the state have been fully vaccinated as of Saturday.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


TAKE THE MONEY. IT'S OURS. EXPAND MEDICAID: There are no good reasons for North Carolina not to expand Medicaid coverage to as many as 650,000 North Carolinians who now lack affordable access to health care. It remains irrational that the General Assembly continues the ban on such expansion – particularly in the midst of the worst health pandemic the state and nation has seen in a century. How many of the 11,552 heart-breaking COVID-19 deaths might have been avoided? North Carolina’s eight-year failure to expand Medicaid has cost the state about $15 billion in lost federal funds. That is money that North Carolina taxpayers are not getting brought back into the state that would have provided nearly 84,000 annual mammograms, helped support struggling rural hospitals and created more than 100,000 jobs. The federal COVID-19 relief legislation that appears to be headed to the president offers North Carolina between $1.7 billion and $2.4 billion in ADDITIONAL federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) funds over two years – that would be on top of the cost of covering Medicaid expansion.

Saturday News: Unwanted


DARRELL ALLISON STUBBORNLY HOLDS ONTO CHANCELLOR APPOINTMENT AT FSU: FSU students protested the chancellor search process, saying their voices were excluded. Members of the FSU Faculty Senate passed a resolution calling it “a failed search” that puts the school’s accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at risk. Allison also has been criticized for his support of the secret deal that gave the Silent Sam Confederate statue and $2.5 million to a confederate group. That deal was later overturned. An online petition to remove Allison from the FSU job has collected more than 2,500 signatures as of Friday. “We all know that the perceptions can be distorted,” Allison said. “The reality is they’ll get a chance to see the real Darrell, not what someone else said or alleged.” Referring to yourself in the 3rd person (Illeism) is not a good sign, pal.

Friday News: God helps me aim my gun?

DEBATE ON GUNS IN CHURCH DETERIORATES QUICKLY: Rep. Terry Garrison, D-Vance, questioned the need for weapons. "If your faith is greater in a gun than in God, then so be it," said Garrison. "If you’re not willing to go into the house of the Lord and have faith that he will protect you, well OK, fine, you have that right. But that is not where I stand as a Christian." "My faith in God? Unshakable. But God gives me the right – as a matter of fact, God gives me the responsibility – to protect my family and my loved ones," Kidwell told Garrison. "God created man," Kidwell added. "Colt made him equal." Several others also took Garrison's dig personally. "For me, that’s not a bellwether of your Christian faith. That’s personal," responded Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union. "Please don’t accuse me of not being a Christian because I see evil in the world and can do something to stop it." "I don’t believe being armed means you don’t trust in the Lord," said Rep Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus. "You can trust him to guide your aim if need be."

Thursday News: Goodbye, Kakistocracy


NC'S MICHAEL REGAN BECOMES FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN TO LEAD EPA: Regan, 44, was confirmed Wednesday by the U.S. Senate to lead the agency, becoming the first Black man to be EPA Administrator. Regan was confirmed on a 66-34 vote, earning the backing of 16 Republicans, North Carolina Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis among them. Regan previously worked at the EPA from 1998 to 2008 under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He then worked at the Environmental Defense Fund, leading climate efforts in the Southeast, before joining Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration in 2017. During his tenure in his home state, DEQ reached a settlement agreement with Duke Energy to clean up 80 millions tons of coal ash. He also established the state’s first Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board. “He will take all the good work that he’s been doing in North Carolina to Washington,” Cooper said Wednesday.

Wednesday News: Time to pay the piper


RICK GUNN SETTLES LAWSUIT OVER MARITAL AFFAIR: Former state Sen. Rick Gunn has settled a lawsuit filed by a man who accused him of a long-running affair with his wife, who was also the senator's legislative assistant. Arthur Johns says the affair destroyed his marriage and that he lost half his property in a divorce. He sued Gunn, an Alamance County Republican, for as much as $3 million. It was not immediately clear how much Johns would get in the settlement. His attorney confirmed the settlement to WRAL News but wouldn't provide details. In the lawsuit filed last summer, Johns alleges that his wife, Karen Johns, had an affair with Gunn for up to four years. General Assembly insiders told WRAL that their affair was a poorly kept secret. Arthur Johns said his wife began spending more and more time with Gunn over the years, going out for things that didn't sound like work. Eventually, the lawsuit states, she began treating Gunn more like a husband.

Tuesday News: More of the same

JOSH DOBSON'S LABOR DEPARTMENT GROSSLY UNDERCOUNTS WORK-RELATED COVID FATALITIES: Worker advocates say 26 COVID-19 deaths — out of a total of 91 reported workplace deaths — strikes them as low. “Twenty-six sounds like it’s a gross underestimate, just given how prevalent COVID has been, especially among essential workers,” said MaryBe McMillan, president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO. Hunter Ogletree, director of the Western North Carolina Workers Center, said the number appears especially low considering the labor department received 4,842 complaints from workers regarding COVID-19 in 2020. Labor advocates say that a system that relies on voluntary reporting from employers is inevitably going to result in under-reporting. “The good employers are going to cooperate, and there are plenty of others who either because they’re lazy or because of oversight or actually because of malicious reasons, are not going to show that information,” said Ripley.

Monday News: Eleven thousand, five hundred two


NC'S POSITIVE TEST RATE FOR CORONAVIRUS DOWN TO 4.2%: At least 872,176 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 11,502 have died since last March, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,027 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, down from 2,093 new cases reported the day before. At least 1,179 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Saturday, down from 1,226 reported the day before. As of Thursday, the latest day for which data are available, 4.2% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. More than 1 million people in North Carolina have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine as of Thursday. A total of 2.7 million doses have been administered statewide.


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