Wednesday News: Another Special Session?


GOP BILL WOULD ADD 6 WEEKS OF SUMMER SCHOOL TO THE CALENDAR: Students in kindergarten through third grade would focus on reading and math, and Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, said the summer reading camps held in recent years to get students up to grade level by the end of third grade would be incorporated into the classes. Third-graders also would have a science class each day. Students in grades four through eight would focus on reading, math and science, while those in high school would focus on any subjects needed for graduation. Enrichment classes in art, music or sports also would be provided for all students, said Torbett, who chairs the House K-12 Education committee and is also a bill sponsor. Schools would be required to provide the classes, but parents wouldn't be required to send their children.

WAKE COUNTY STUDENTS ARE HEADING BACK TO THE CLASSROOM TODAY: Wednesday is a big day for thousands of Wake County students, because after months of remote learning, it's finally time to go back to the classroom. As some students on the traditional calendar make their way back to class on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a year, some high schoolers are expressing both excitement and hesitation about returning. Broughton High School student Jordon Adams says things will definitely have a different feel. Adams says he prefers learning in-person, but also worries about contracting COVID being around other people. "I might be protecting myself, but some way I still might get it," he said. The night before their return, the Wake County School Board approved changing this semester’s schedule by adding three additional asynchronous days. The vote was 8-1 in favor. The learning day is when students don’t have in-person classes or live online classes.

TRUMP'S (DOJ) DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ARE RESIGNING, BIDEN WILL CHOOSE REPLACEMENTS: Murray’s prosecutors also helped reach an antitrust settlement with Atrium Health in 2018. On the criminal side, Murray went after members of his own political party by successfully convicting billionaire businessman Greg Lindberg and others in the attempted bribery of State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. Political and legal observers say U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a Charlotte Democrat, will play a key role in finding Murray’s replacement. Asked for information on the selection process late last month, Adams spokesman Sam Spencer declined comment about the ongoing discussions with the White House, adding that Adams “is advocating for a strong group of qualified candidates for these and other positions within the administration.” Robert Higdon, the top prosecutor in the Eastern District, announced his departure last week. Matthew Martin, who became U.S. Attorney for the Middle District in January 2018, has not yet announced his departure plans.

CHARLES GRAHAM PLANS TO RUN AGAINST DAN BISHOP IN 9TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Democratic state Rep. Charles Graham recently announced that he's running for Congress next year, with a likely goal of working to unseat Republican 9th District incumbent Dan Bishop. Graham, of Robeson County, is currently in his sixth House term at the General Assembly. He's considered among the more conservative Democrats in the chamber, someone who has been willing to vote with Republicans on certain legislation. Graham told The Robesonian of Lumberton that he had thought about running for Congress for several years, and "I just feel like this is the right time," he said. Graham said he wants to offer voters a candidate who understands rural issues and has worked in a bipartisan manner. Graham said he'd run for the seat in the 9th Congressional District, which currently includes Robeson and several south-central counties, moving west all the way to Mecklenburg County.

DEREGULATION AND PROFIT-TAKING, NOT WIND TURBINES, ARE BEHIND TEXAS ELECTRICITY CRISIS: What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans. It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service. It’s a “Wild West market design based only on short-run prices,” said Matt Breidert, a portfolio manager at a firm called TortoiseEcofin. And yet the temporary train wreck of that market Monday and Tuesday has seen the wholesale price of electricity in Houston go from $22 a megawatt-hour to about $9,000. Meanwhile, 4 million Texas households have been without power. As the cold hit, demand for electricity soared past the mark that ERCOT had figured would be the maximum needed. But at a moment when the world is awash in surplus natural gas, much of it from Texas wells, the state’s power-generating operators were unable to turn that gas into electricity to meet that demand. In the single-digit temperatures, pipelines froze up because there was some moisture in the gas. Pumps slowed. Diesel engines to power the pumps refused to start. One power plant after another went offline. Even a reactor at one of the state’s two nuclear plants went dark, hobbled by frozen equipment. Although temporary, one factor that may have hurt was that the sudden high wholesale price of electricity may have caused ERCOT’s computers to order companies to “shed load” — that is, cut off customers — rather than deal with the spike in costs.



I've got family right in the middle of that.

My niece, her husband, and three small children, to be exact. They have a fireplace, but no safe firewood to burn in it. The last time we got word (late Monday) it was just above 40 degrees inside their house. The power was only coming on for 2-3 hours per day. Time enough to cook some food and charge their phones & such, but not enough to heat up the house properly. Very worried.