REPUBLICANS SLASH CHIEF JUSTICE CHERI BEASLEY'S STAFF IN HALF: “I think it’s a dastardly thing,” Lowe said. “We’ve got our first African-American female chief justice. And we haven’t taken resources away from others that served this position and served this state. To take them away now, it just seems morally wrong.” Lowe briefly continued his criticisms but then cut himself off, saying “the last thing I want to do is cuss in this chamber.” McKissick said that “when we make decisions like this, it should be blind.” The budget isn’t official yet, since the House and Senate have different suggestions that they will need to reconcile. The cuts to Beasley’s staff are just one example of differences in the two chambers, since the House did not recommend similar cuts. But if the proposed cuts to Beasley’s staff are approved in the end, McKissick said that she would be the only appellate judge in the state with just one law clerk. “I have to ask what the justification for this is,” McKissick said.
BERGER CUTS OFF SEN TERRY VAN DUYN'S MICROPHONE DURING DEBATE: Four hours into the sometimes contentious budget debate, Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican, cut off the microphone of Sen. Terry Van Duyn, a Buncombe County Democrat, after she continued speaking after he said she was out of order. She asked to suspend the rules, which was not granted. Berger said in 10 years presiding, he had not done that before. Van Duyn later tweeted that she “was just ruled out of order while introducing my amendment to the Senate Budget to expand Medicaid in North Carolina. Some things are worth fighting for and insurance for the 500,000 North Carolinians without health care is one of them.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Wake County Democrat, tried to drop the Senate budget’s call to relocate the Department of Health and Human Services — about 2,000 state employees — from Dix Park in Raleigh to Granville County. That amendment failed, but he called out the move for the kind of commutes it would bring for residents who work further from Granville than Raleigh.
NC'S GERRYMANDERING GURU WAS ALSO BEHIND RACIST CENSUS "CITIZENSHIP" QUESTION: Lawyers for opponents of adding the question said the files, found on Hofeller’s computer drives after he died last year, also showed that he contributed vital language to a Justice Department letter used to justify the question on the grounds that it was needed to protect minority voting rights. In reality, the lawyers argued, the documents show the census change is part of a wider Republican effort to restrict the political power of Democrats and Latino communities. “The new evidence reveals that Dr. Thomas Hofeller, the longtime Republican redistricting specialist, played a significant role in orchestrating the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Decennial Census in order to create a structural electoral advantage for, in his own words, ‘Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,’ and that defendants obscured his role through affirmative misrepresentations,” the filing said. The change, announced in spring 2018, seems poised for approval by the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments in April and is likely to rule by July.
LOUISIANA'S DEM GOVERNOR SIGNS "FETAL HEARTBEAT" ABORTION LAW: Louisiana's Democratic governor signed a ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy Thursday, a move that puts him squarely in line with the leaders of other conservative Southern states while provoking anger from members of his own party. With his signature, Gov. John Bel Edwards made Louisiana the fifth state to enact a law prohibiting abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, joining Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia. Alabama's gone further, outlawing virtually all abortions. Louisiana's law doesn't contain exceptions for pregnancies from rape or incest. Edwards, a Catholic running for reelection this year, didn't hold a public bill signing or issue a statement about it, instead announcing his action through his office. He had repeatedly said he intended to sign the measure, citing his faith and saying his views match those of the people in his conservative, religious state.
WITH TRADE AGREEMENT IN THE BALANCE, TRUMP DECIDES TO LEVY TARIFFS ON MEXICO OVER IMMIGRANTS: President Trump’s surprise announcement of an escalating series of new tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico is likely to upend hopes for early congressional action on his proposed North American trade deal and trigger economic upheaval on both sides of the border, according to trade analysts and business executives. Business leaders reacted with dismay to Trump’s statement Thursday that he would impose a new 5 percent tariff on all goods from Mexico beginning June 10 to force the Mexican government to take more aggressive actions to prevent Central American migrants from crossing its territory en route to the United States. And a prominent member of the president’s party, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, blasted Trump’s move as “a misuse of presidential tariff authority and contrary to congressional intent.” Implementing the tariffs, he said, would “seriously jeopardize passage” of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Mexico is on track to become the United States’ largest trading partner, ahead of China and Canada, according to census data through March.