REPUBLICAN LEADERS COURT FREEDOM CAUCUS EXTREMISTS ON HEALTH CARE BILL: House Republican leadership released a slew of amendments to the Obamacare replacement bill on Monday evening, an attempt to wrangle conservative votes for the party’s biggest campaign promise which is set to go in front of the full House for a vote on Thursday. The amendments include overtures to conservatives such as immediately halting the ability for new states to expand Medicaid and allowing states to implement “reasonable” work requirements for Medicaid recipients. But some conservative members were undeterred by the proposed changes, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C, said he thinks the legislation won’t have enough votes to pass. If 21 Republicans vote against the bill, it will fail.
TRUMP'S FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER IN HOT WATER OVER RUSSIA/UKRAINE TIES: The new documents may revive questions about the ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protestors in 2014. He is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges. Manafort, who worked for Yanukovych's Party of Regions for close to a decade, resigned as Trump's campaign manager in August after his name surfaced next to payments totaling $12.7 million in a registry of secret payments from the Party of Regions called the "black ledger." Manafort has denied receiving those payments. Manafort was involved in crafting the political strategy that brought Yanukovych to power after a crushing defeat in the 2004 elections. Yanukovych's party has been accused of ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, particularly through wealthy oligarchs from the country's east with interests in both Russia and Ukraine.
RUCHO AND FETZER AMONG NC SENATE NOMINEES FOR UNC BOARD OF GOVERNORS: Nominees include Nigel Alston, executive director of the N.C. Black Repertory Company in Winston-Salem; Tom Fetzer, a Raleigh lobbyist, former state Republican Party chairman and former Raleigh mayor; Frankie Jones, Sr., CEO of a farming operation in Alamance County; Randall Ramsey, president of a boatbuilding company in Beaufort; Bob Rucho, a retired dentist from Matthews and former state senator who left office last year after 16 years; and Dr. Laura Staton, a retired medical consultant from Chocowinity. Last week, House members put forward 14 nominees. Also last week, the Senate elected school choice advocate and N.C. Central University trustee Darrell Allison to the Board of Governors. He will fill the remainder of an unexpired term created when former board chair John Fennebresque stepped down in 2015.
NC NAACP AND ALLIES HOLD LOBBYING DAY AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Long-time critics of Republican policies at the North Carolina General Assembly are returning to the Legislative Building to press their agenda for expanded health care, the protection of voting and LGBT rights, and a higher minimum wage. Members of the state NAACP and many allied groups associated with the "Forward Together" movement planned their annual lobbying day for Tuesday. The "People's Legislative Advocacy Day" includes participant training and advocacy by knocking on doors of House and Senate members. There's also an early-morning news conference by clergy members and an afternoon rally.
STEPHEN HAWKING CUTS LOOSE ON DONALD TRUMP: The renowned scientist and theoretical physicist spoke Monday on ITV's "Good Morning Britain" about his views on artificial intelligence, climate change and Trump - whom he once called a demagogue. "The reaction to the election of Donald Trump may have been overdone, but it represents a definite swing to a right-wing, more authoritarian approach," Hawking said about the negative response to Trump's election. "Trump was elected by people who felt disenfranchised by the governing elite in a revolt against globalization," Hawking said Monday. "His priority will be to satisfy his electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well-informed. We have already seen this in the promise to build a wall along the Mexican border and the sanctioning of two oil pipelines and the appointment to the Environmental Protection Agency of Scott Pruitt, a man who does not believe carbon dioxide causes climate change."