Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NEW HEALTH CARE BILL SICKENS FAR MORE THAN IT CURES: President Donald Trump and the Republicans who rule the U.S. House of Representatives may be crowing about passage of their prized health-care bill that repeals and replaces Obamacare. But back home in the states they represent, few are celebrating. The unfortunate reality for the nation is that this bill is more likely to be a booby prize. It is particularly astonishing and disheartening that nearly every member of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a bill that they knew almost nothing about. The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t even had time to “score” the bill to determine its impact, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the partisan zealots. Their blind desire to simply check repeal and replacement of Obamacare off the to-do-list for the president is no excuse for the haste and long list of important, but unanswered questions, left on the table.

MEDICAID CUTS WOULD CURTAIL AUTISM TREATMENTS: In North Carolina, the CDC estimates that as many as 1 in 59 children may be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, meaning thousands of families in our state have loved ones with autism who need the supports provided by Medicaid. Proposed changes to Medicaid, including block grants and significant cuts to funding, would likely end access to these therapeutic and health services for people with autism. Our fellow North Carolinians with autism deserve a fulfilling life. Their families deserve our support. Our communities are a better place when everyone is included, when everyone is lifted. Medicaid is an important avenue for that support, and we must keep that in mind as changes to health care are debated.

LEGISLATORS NEED TO GET OUT OF THE COURTROOM AND DOWN TO BUSINESS: The legislature’s efforts to disrupt the institutions of state government – making sure they don’t run smoothly -- are not limited to partisan fights with the governor. The Republican leadership in the legislature has been embroiled in a power struggle between the new Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction and the GOP-led State Board of Education over control of the state’s education bureaucracy. The legislative leadership is even sticking its ever-growing nose where it certainly doesn’t belong – seeking to dictate the operation and policies of county and city governments as well as local school boards. The unfortunate result of all this unnecessary litigation isn’t merely the high costs of the court battles, but rather the way it distracts lawmakers from addressing the fundamental and most pressing needs of the state.

HOUSE BIL 527 LIKELY TO ENDANGER FREE SPEECH, NOT PROTECT IT: Based on a model bill from the Goldwater Institute, it is a pet project of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. The bill starts off with high-sounding declarations about intellectual freedom and free expression. But then it gets down to brass tacks, providing disciplinary sanctions for anyone “who interferes with the free expression of others.” Here’s the rub: A number of conservative gadflies, such as Milo Yiannopoulos (formerly of Breitbart News) and Ann Coulter, have run into abuse when they tried to speak on campus. That’s wrong, of course. All speakers should be able to share their views. And protesters disrupting a speech can quickly cross the line from free speech to illegal act. We already have laws to handle such cases. HB-527, however, seems poised to provide a weapon to strike back against protesters with special “disciplinary sanctions.”

COOPER RIGHTLY VETOES CAPS ON HOG FARM LAWSUITS: It is a classic piece of special interest legislation, more outrageous than most. And Gov. Roy Cooper has thankfully vetoed it. A bill passed by Republicans in the General Assembly would have installed in the legal system some outrageous protections against lawsuits by neighbors of hog and poultry farms. Neighbors of such operations have long complained of the odors being a nuisance that lowers their property values and makes their homes at times uninhabitable. Why shouldn’t they be entitled to recoup damages that are fair and accurately reflect the hardships they suffer? They should be able to sue for such damages.

Letters to the Editor:

SUSAN B. LASSITER: HELP FROM UNC CENTER FOR CIVIL RIGHTS CRUCIAL: Concerned Citizens for Successful Schools was organized in Johnston County in 2012 by residents of Smithfield and Selma. In response to the April 12 Op-Ed article “Julius Chambers warned that conservatives would oppose UNC’s Civil Rights Center,” our members were alarmed that we may lose the services of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. We connected with the center’s staff and law students in the spring of 2014 after our group presented a school comparison study to the Johnston County Board of Education. Our goal was to bring socioeconomic balance to local public schools and we benefited greatly from the center’s help.

DAVID MCCUE: US PUBLIC LANDS SHOULD UNITE ALL AMERICANS: We are living in interesting times. There is a great deal of division about our new president and the gulf between “left and right,” but there is an issue that I hope unifies us: the natural resources of the United States of America. Our parks, our wilderness, the natural places that are our cathedrals and that set us apart. No other western nation has such a staggering array of rock and desert , mountain and tree. This is what put us on the map back in the day and it still should make us proud today. Woody Guthrie was right, this is our land. That legacy is fragile, when there is money to be made, short-term interests will happily do long term damage. That’s not liberal, hippy speak but cold, hard truth.

RICHARD HALKOWICH: TRUMP'S WALL 'RIDICULOUS': Regarding the April 24 news article “Trump and his aides take hard line on border wall”: I believe building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border is about the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard. I see it as a colossal waste of money and do not see that it will serve any useful purpose. I’m sure many of my fellow Americans agree with me. Since this issue will not go away, I propose that the IRS put a”Build the Wall” check box on the 2017 federal tax form. Checking the box will register a vote to build the wall and authorize the IRS to add charges for that purpose. Let’s see how many “wall builders” are willing to put their money where their mouth is.