JUDGE FORMALLY STRIKES DOWN NC'S 20-WEEK ABORTION BAN: A federal judge has formally issued his decision striking down North Carolina's ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, except in a medical emergency. U.S. District Judge William Osteen signed his judgment dated Friday — 60 days after issuing a memorandum explaining why he declared the law unconstitutional. He wrote in March the 20-week limit prohibited some abortions before a fetus could live outside the womb. The judgment means some women could now obtain abortions later but prior to viability. Osteen wrote the 60-day delay was designed in part to give legislators time to replace the law. That hasn't occurred.
NC SENATE BUDGET SHORTCHANGES TEACHERS: The Senate budget proposal set for release early next week will have higher raises for state employees than its House counterpart or Gov. Roy Cooper's budget, but less for teachers, a source familiar with the plan said Friday. Most state employees would get a 2.5 percent pay bump in each of the next two fiscal years under the plan, the source said, "substantially more than the average raise for teachers." Exact figures for teachers were still being calculated Friday, the source said. The House budget called for a 4.6 percent raise for teachers next year – although raises would be limited to teachers with at least 16 years of experience – while Cooper included a 9.1 percent average increase over the next two years. The Senate plans to roll out details of its budget proposal Tuesday and vote it through by the end of the week. Then, negotiations between House and Senate leaders will produce a compromise budget the General Assembly will send to Gov. Roy Cooper.
BATTLE OVER SWEEPSTAKES PARLORS IN NC CONTINUES: Owners of a sweepstakes system lost a second try at stopping Haw River Police and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office from shutting down local gaming parlors when Superior Court Rebecca Holt denied its request for a restraining order this week. Casual Escapes, a sweepstakes parlor in a shopping center at 1003 W. Main St., Haw River, closed voluntarily earlier this month when the Sheriff’s Office, Mebane and Haw River police announced they would be enforcing state gambling laws against eight business including Casual Escapes. Casual Escapes and the provider of its gaming software, Crazie Overstock Promotions, filed for a temporary restraining order Friday, May 17, against Haw River Police Chief Toby Harrison and Sheriff Terry Johnson in Alamance County Superior Court to stop that enforcement. It was similar — nearly identical — to a motion made in Wake County earlier this month where Judge Bryan Collins denied a motion by River Reels LLC, a sweepstakes business at 2653 N. Church St., Haw River, to stop the enforcement before it started.
TRUMP'S EXECUTIVE ORDER ALLOWING BARR TO DECLASSIFY INTEL UNPRECEDENTED: Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director, called it “potentially dangerous” to let Barr decide what to declassify, because “the DNI is in the best position to judge the damage to intelligence sources and methods.” “This is yet another destruction of norms that weakens our intelligence community,” said Morell, now the host of the Intelligence Matters podcast. “It is yet another step that will raise questions among our allies and partners about whether to share sensitive intelligence with us.” Trump told reporters Friday that the Russia probe was “an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the president of the United States.” He said he hoped Barr would investigate several foreign countries, including two of the United States’ closest allies. “I hope he looks at the U.K. and I hope he looks at Australia and I hope he looks at Ukraine,” Trump said. “I hope he looks at everything, because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country.”
TRUMP'S HUAWEI BAN WILL BE A GUT-PUNCH TO RURAL WIRELESS SYSTEMS: The Trump administration’s ban, its latest move against the company, rippled through the telecommunications industry. But perhaps nowhere will the changes be felt more acutely than in rural America, where wireless service is spotty despite yearslong government efforts to improve coverage. Huawei is essential for many wireless carriers that serve sprawling, sparsely populated regions because its gear for transmitting cell signals often costs far less than other options. The Rural Wireless Association, a trade group that represents 55 small carriers, estimates that it would cost its members $800 million to $1 billion to replace equipment from Huawei and ZTE, China’s other maker of networking gear. Nemont, based near Opheim, is one of those companies. Its footprint is 14,000 square miles, bigger than Maryland, and requires huge amounts of wires, towers and other costly infrastructure. But the company has only 11,000 paying customers.