There May Be a Hopeful Light at the End of Our Political Tunnel

I urge you to read this article from NC Policy Watch including Nancy MacLean’s excellent presentation at last week’s luncheon. The recent Federal Court decision and the State Board of Elections efforts to rein in false voter fraud claims as we saw last year certainly suggest we have an avenue for reclaiming truly representational election.

June 23rd Legislative Update from Rep. Joe John

North Carolina General Assembly
Representative Joe John
House District 40: Wake

1013 Legislative Building, Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 733-5530
Joe.John@ncleg.net
ncleg.net

 

June 23rd Legislative Update

 After two relatively slow weeks when most of the action was behind the scenes, the legislative pace is becoming hurried as leadership pushes languishing bills forward in hopes we will adjourn this year’s session next Friday or Saturday.

Of course, the biggest news this week was the final passage of the state budget for the next two years. I voted “no” on the final product, knowing full well that the next election (2017 or 2018 or whenever) will bring fake attacks about how I voted “against” teacher raises, state employee COLAs, the “largest tax cut in state history,” etc., etc. In truth, I voted against incomprehensible cuts and omissions and a tendency to take half strides or less, such as reducing the Pre-K wait list by 75% instead of the full 100%, when complete steps were possible without raising taxes.

In a NC Policy Watch article, Chris Fitzsimon points to perhaps the most egregious provision in the budget—a recurring $10 million cut each fiscal year to the Department of Justice (the Attorney General’s Office) budget which will result in 123 attorneys being sent home permanently next Friday—an extraordinarily heartless move implicating families on a personal, human level even without mentioning the implications for our state’s criminal justice system.

The affected attorneys primarily represent the State in the appeal of criminal cases, numbering approximately 650 each year. That responsibility will now be shifted to local District Attorney’s offices, neither trained nor staffed to handle hundreds of appeals which, ironically, are pursued in many instances by State-paid appointed counsel. The inability of DAs to handle the appeals will result in plea bargains and dismissals of cases involving convicted criminals.

This thoughtless, spiteful provision will be devastating to public safety and to the cause of justice in our courts.

Also, I have received literally thousands of e-mails pleading that the General Assembly “fully fund specials.” This refers to the conflict between legislatively mandated reduced class sizes and those art, music, and PE teachers whose positions have temporarily been preserved by HB 13. Sadly, the budget does not speak to this issue. Consequently, these teachers will have to “twist slowly, slowly in the wind,” waiting to see if the General Assembly majority leadership allows this issue to be addressed when we reconvene next May! Again, personal family financial issues are disregarded, as is the necessity for local school administrators to effectuate planning for the next school year well before May 2018.

Further, funding for legal aid services has been wiped out, defying the Biblical admonition in the Book of Exodus, “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.” Continuing the funding of free legal services in civil matters, such as foreclosure or domestic abuse, would not even have required a new appropriation, but simply resumption of the existing practice of applying $1.50 from the courts costs assessed in each criminal case.

I could go on and on: the mind-boggling “pork” appropriations—over 100 specific earmarks totaling more than $70 million primarily to Republican districts but also to some represented by Democrats; the failure to invest in critically needed broadband expansion to rural and economically struggling areas of North Carolina; the reduction of the UNC law school budget by $500,000 (many believe due to legislative hostility towards a particularly vocal liberal law professor); the number of emergency judges slashed to 10 Superior Court and 25 District Court Judges; ignoring a meritorious proposal for need-based community college scholarships (NC Grow); and, yes, even turning a blind eye to modest proposals to assist our teachers with out-of-pocket expenses.

In short, you will read about some “good” things in this budget; to be fair, like all budgets, this one has both good and bad. For me, items like those above weighed far too heavily on the “bad” side, and this budget did not earn my “yes” vote.

This week, I sponsored a page from my district, Margaret Deng. When I asked her what her impressions were of the work we do here, she said she thought we didn’t spend enough time debating the budget. Given the result, she may well have a point!

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

I enjoy hearing from constituents.  You help me do my job well and make sure I keep in touch with the needs of the people I was elected to serve.  I am always available to help you address concerns with state government.  Here are several ways to contact me and keep tabs on legislative activity:

  1. Call me or my legislative assistant Dustin Ingalls at 919-733-5530, or email me at joe.john@ncleg.net.
  2. Track the bills I have sponsored, committees on which I serve, and votes I have taken here.
  3. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @JoeJohnNC40.
  4. Visit ncleg.net, where you can read bills, listen to session and some committee hearings live, and see daily calendars.
  5. Help me spread the word on social media or by forwarding this newsletter to friends.

 

House Bill 374 and its restrictions on the citizens’ right to contest environmental permits, advances in Senate

If you thought it couldn’t get any worse with the debacle of the placement of the “whirley birds” in Lake Jordan to eliminate pollution, take a look at the legislatures latest gift to Duke energy:

The legislation would forbid those who didn’t submit a public comment on a environment permit from later challenging it in court.

Read the full article on NC Policy Watch’s website.

Join the Poor People’s Campaign!

As all of you know I (David Bland) am totally committed to addressing the harm and disrespect which the leadership of our state and country are doing to the poor and marginalized of our nation. As a member of Board of Directors of Repairers of the Breach we are committed to the renewal of the poor People’s campaign which is the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. I would hope that all of you would consider becoming members of our information sharing group and as opportunities arise join us in demonstrating to the nation our concern for the displaced. Repairers is a 501(c)(3) corporation and if any of you would care to support our efforts financially please contact me and I will provide you all of the necessary banking information.
This was received from Laurel Ashton:

Dear Friends,

You are receiving this message because we have worked together in some capacity over the past four years during my time with the North Carolina NAACP. 
I have recently joined the organizing team at Repairers of the Breach, an organization that formed last year under Rev. Barber’s leadership. As he transitions out of his role as the NC NAACP State Conference president, he will be directing his focus to help build a new Poor People’s Campaign through his role with Repairers of the Breach and alongside a number of other organizations across the country. 
I am thrilled to continue to work with him in this effort to fundamentally change our nation and address systemic poverty, racism and the war economy.
This campaign will necessarily be a multi-year undertaking. During this first phase, we are building towards massive direct action across the nation in the Spring of 2018. 
I’ll keep you informed if an event is happening in your area and as we get closer to next spring, you’ll receive information on how to get more involved. You can expect no more than a few emails a month by signing up here.
If you are interested in keeping informed about all of the work of Repairers of the Breach, please **also** click here to join our official listserv. You’ll be able to learn more about what Rev. Barber is up to and the work of the organization.
I hope that we will continue to stay in touch. You can always reach me at my number 828-713-3864 or by email at laurelaashton@gmail.com // lashton@breachrepairers.org
Forward together!
Laurel

WAKE DEMS WEEKLY UPDATE, Vol. 1, No. 10

WAKE DEMS WEEKLY UPDATE, Vol. 1, No. 10

June 18, 2017
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!

Not much happened at the General Assembly this week, at least in terms of floor action in either chamber. The pace of committee hearings is starting to pick up up as lawmakers attempt to get out of Raleigh by the end of the month.

But as with last week, most of the action was behind closed doors, as budget conferees continued to haggle out a final budget agreement between the House and Senate. A conference report was expected Friday afternoon, but both chambers gaveled in and quickly gaveled out without one. Now the expectation is Monday night, with final votes next Thursday and Friday.

There was some more action in the courts, however. Gov. Cooper got two temporary setbacks this week: one in his lawsuit over the legislature’s December changes to the Board of Elections which would leave Republicans in power and lead to gridlock in enforcing election law, and another in his attempt to expedite the drawing of new legislative lines. The likelihood of 2017 special elections diminishes with each passing day, but there still may be an election before next November.

COMING NEXT WEEK

We will (hopefully) have information on the budget and its final vote. We will also review additional bills as the NCGA winds down this session.

 

Paid for by the Wake County Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
Wake County Democratic Party
PO Box 25548
Raleigh NC 27611 United States

2017 NC Budget Toolkit

This Week

Download: 2017 NC Budget Toolkit

A lot has happened with the 2017 North Carolina State Budget in the last few weeks. We’ve got a new toolkit to help you through these last few steps known as reconciliation. Please make time to call on 1-3 of these important funding needs this week!

This Toolkit Will Help You:

  • Learn about the differences between the three versions of the budget.
  • Get more details about specific topics that are important to our state.
  • Find out what some of these budget terms really mean so you can more easily discuss the budget with the officials charged with final negotiation.

Download The Toolkit Now.


This Is What Democracy Looks Like: Gerrymandering

Thanks to everyone who joined Stronger NC and Senator Jeff Jackson for our “This Is What Democracy Looks Like” discussion on gerrymandering. We appreciate Senator Jackson taking the time to speak with us and share his insight into gerrymandering and what we can do to end it in North Carolina.

If you missed the episode, you can catch it here.

If you’d like to learn more about gerrymandering, what the recent SCOTUS ruling means, and how we can push the NCGA for fair redistricting please consider doing one or more of the CTAs listed on this page, below the video.


The Threat Of Election Integrity In North Carolina

In four recent decisions, the Supreme Court of the United States has confirmed that the NCGOP-controlled legislature has repeatedly violated the Constitution in disenfranchising North Carolina voters.  Voting is the embodiment of our most cherished freedoms – this systematic and deliberate attack on fair elections is an attack on America itself.

Read More: NC Legislators want you to think our election process is under attack, and it is – but they are the ones attacking it.

This Week’s Must Click Links

There are a lot of great resources, uplifting stories, and share-worthy pieces  (and #fakenews) around the web that we think you might be interested in. Here are our share-worthy articles of the week.

Separate But Unequal
This piece from the Washington Post is eye opening – on voting rights, we’re becoming two separate but unequal countries.

Governor Cooper’s Message to Republican Leaders in NC
From NC Policy Watch: Either they draw new legislative maps soon or the courts will do it for them.

Video Of The Week
Check out this clip of Rev. Barber on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.

North Carolina & The Paris Agreement (Update)
Gov. Cooper announces North Carolina plans to support the Paris climate accord.

A Good Cause
Consider donating to Our Shot NC to help elect progressive state representatives willing to fight for a more democratic North Carolina.

Caffeinated Rage
Sen. Ralph Hise’s Huge, Humongous, Heaping Hummock of Hypocrisy and Hubris.

Upcoming Events: June 14 – 21

View all upcoming events here.

June 16 @ 7PM: Turning Friends Into Allies With The LGBT Center Of Raleigh (Raleigh)
June 17 @ 8AM: Feminist 5K To Support The Women’s Center Of Wake County (Raleigh)
June 17 @ 10AM: Voter Registration And Canvassing With You Can Vote (Wake Forest)
June 17 @ 10AM: Voter Registration And Canvassing With You Can Vote (Cary)
June 20 @ 12PM: Conversation With Prof. Neil Siegel On The Trump Crises (Durham)

 

The most shameful thing in the NC Senate’s budget

We could give you volumes of very shortsighted decisions made by the Senate when they adopted their budget plan. This commentary by Cris Fitzsimon highlights just one of them: the over 5004-year-olds eligible for the state’s pre-K program.

Read the full article on the NC Policy Watch website.  http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/05/26/shameful-thing-nc-senates-budget/

North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (NCGV) need you to call your representative

Last week North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (NCGV) was able to spread the good news that the dangerous gun bills were not passed before the crossover deadline because of your calls and emails. 

We also warned of parliamentary procedures that could revive the bills. Based on Speaker Moore’s press statement after crossover, it appears that he is considering using some of those procedures to pass reckless gun bills that could:

  • Allow guns on campus, even in areas with children such as daycares, early learning colleges, and hospitals
  • Eliminate our life saving background check on private sales of handguns (the pistol purchase permitting system)
  • Eliminate our concealed weapons permitting system

We can not stand for any of these provisions to be passed!

This is where you come in. Call your representative today to demonstrate that North Carolinians want to protect children and the public. Find out who represents you here.

Here is a sample message to use: “I am a constituent and I oppose carrying guns on campuses, eliminating the pistol purchase permitting system and eliminating the concealed carry weapons permitting system.  I hope that the representative will oppose these dangerous measures and advocate for common sense gun reform.  Thank you.”

After you make this important call, please pass this alert on to 5 friends and let us know how your call went – ncgv@ncgv.org.

Together we can stand up for common sense gun reform,
Becky and the rest of the NCGV team

NCGV
http://www.ncgv.org/

Assessing the Supreme Court’s gerrymandering decision

The following is an excellent summary of the Supreme Court ruling regarding gerrymandered congressional districts 1 and 2.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the North Carolina GOP drew unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered congressional districts, but what does it mean and where do lawmakers go from here?
You can find the full article on the NC Policy Watch website.

NC Senator Jeff Jackson: “Two Minute Town Halls”

Last week I (David Bland) had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Jackson, a senator from Mecklenburg County. He is one of the most impressive individuals I have had the pleasure of getting to know. I can guarantee you that you will continue seeing him as a major force in Democratic politics in the years to come. The following video is an excellent synopsis of what gerrymandering really means. I urge you to watch it and get on his mailing list to see his upcoming videos.

 

100 Words from Jeff

At 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning I’m posting a video on social media, but I want to give you the first look.

We’re starting a series called “Two Minute Town Halls” that give short, fact-intensive summaries about specific issues affecting our state in a way that is (hopefully) easy and enjoyable to watch.

The first one is on gerrymandering (of course…).

How’d we do? And what should our next topic be?

Best,

 

Here’s Our Video

 

 

Big News on Gerrymandering

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina’s 2011 congressional map was unlawfully racially gerrymandered.  The effect of the ruling is to uphold the new congressional districts that were drawn last year as a result of a similar ruling by a lower court, so this won’t produce new districts.  However, it’s a positive sign for the direction the court is headed on gerrymandering.  We’re still waiting to hear from them about if/when our General Assembly will get new districts.

As Always

Please be in touch anytime just by hitting Reply.  I try to answer all emails within 24 hours.

P.O. Box 18515, Charlotte, NC, 28218
Paid for by Jeff Jackson for NC Senate