Saturday News: We've heard this before...


NC REPUBLICAN LEADERS SAY THEY MAY NOT TAKE UP JUDICIAL REFORMS IN JANUARY: Lawmakers may not find enough consensus on judiciary reforms to pass anything when they gather again for a special legislative session next month, House Rules Chairman David Lewis said Friday. Lewis, R-Harnett, a key leader in the House, said legislators haven't coalesced behind proposals to redraw election districts for judges or to move instead to an appointments system. There has been a divide between the House and the Senate on this, but there also are indications House Republicans aren't all on board with proposed new districts for judges, which could prove important given the possibility of veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. "If we can't get agreement, and that was one of the main things we were going to do, it may be a very short session," Lewis said. He also said there's no plan, at the moment, to approve potential constitutional amendments during the coming session. That would include a voter ID proposal.

INDICTED EMBEZZLER LAURA RIDDICK GAVE THOUSANDS TO FELLOW REPUBLICANS: Campaign finance reports show that Laura Riddick, the former Wake register of deeds charged with embezzling $900,000 from the office, donated at least $23,589 to Republican candidates and organizations since she was first elected 20 years ago. Of those donations since 1996, $9,680 went to the Wake County Republican Party, $2,361 went to Wake County Republican Women, $2,000 went to the Republican National Committee and about $8,718 went to 19 candidates. Charles Hellwig, chairman of the Wake GOP, said the group’s board members will likely decide what to do with the money at their meeting in January. “We’ll figure out a way to do the right thing,” Hellwig said Friday. “We definitely don’t want dirty money,” Hellwig said a day earlier, after state GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse announced his group would give away money from Riddick.

DAVID PRICE JOINS MADELEINE ALBRIGHT IN CRITICISM OF TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY: U.S. Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, co-authored an opinion column with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright outlining steps Congress could take to “respond and compensate” for Trump’s foreign policy agenda. “If America’s role as a global economic leader, a guarantor of security for our allies and a defender of human rights and democracy is to survive, Congress must do more,” Price and Albright wrote. In the opinion piece, they cited Trump’s words and actions on NATO, North Korea and the Paris climate agreement and cuts to diplomats in the State Department budget as examples of policies and statements that “have unsettled our allies, encouraged our adversaries and undermine our moral authority.”

CHURCH POLITICAL ACTIVITIES REMOVED FROM TAX BILL, JOHNSON AMENDMENT PRESERVED FOR NOW: Advocacy groups on opposing sides said Friday they expect lawmakers to keep trying to loosen rules over partisanship in the pulpit, even as this latest effort has reached a dead end. Conservative groups such as the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom have for years sought to abolish IRS rules that bar electioneering by houses of worship and other charitable groups. President Donald Trump pressed the fight on the campaign trail and in the White House. Still, only Congress has the authority to repeal the restriction known as the Johnson Amendment. It was named for President Lyndon Johnson, who introduced the measure in 1954 when he was a Democratic senator from Texas upset about a few nonprofit groups that had attacked him as a communist during a Senate race.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BANS THE CDC FROM USING CERTAIN WORDS LIKE "TRANSGENDER": Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation's top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year's budget. Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are: "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based." Other CDC officials confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words. It's likely that other parts of HHS are operating under the same guidelines regarding the use of these words, the analyst said.