Thursday News: Buying voters


BERGERMOORE WILL SEND OUT TAX REFUNDS TO SPITE COOPER: Their plan would give roughly $680 million in tax refunds of $125 to taxpayers who filed singly or $250 to couples who filed jointly. That is 3.6 million tax returns for 5.1 million taxpayers. The taxpayers would only get the $125 or $250 if they paid at least that much in taxes, and the refunds would be capped at those amounts. “The people sent more money than the government budgeted for, and the governor will not work with us to appropriate that surplus,” House Speaker Tim Moore, a Kings Mountain Republican, said at a news conference Wednesday at the General Assembly. Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said tax revenues don’t belong to the government, and they should send that money back to the people who earned it. The bill would be called the Taxpayer Refund Act. It will work its way through committees starting Thursday and be up for a vote on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Berger said.

GOP BILL WOULD USE JURY DATA TO PURGE VOTERS: Local election boards would compare jury duty excuses to North Carolina's voting rolls and look for non-citizens to remove under legislation that got tentative approval in the House on Wednesday. Senate Bill 250 wouldn't require election officials to remove people in bulk, only to take lists of people disqualified from jury duty because they're not a U.S. citizen and use that "to conduct efforts to remove names." This would become part of routine voter registration maintenance, and the bill tells local boards to use jury excuses "in conducting systematic efforts to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters." Just what that would look like isn't detailed in the bill and would be worked up later by election officials, "but it will involve some sort of verification prior to removing anyone from the voter rolls," Kelly Tornow, associate general counsel at the State Board of Elections, said in an email.

DURHAM LEADERS WILL ANNOUNCE PLAN TODAY TO CURB GUN VIOLENCE: At 3 p.m., Steve Schewel, Durham's mayor, and Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis, Durham's chief of police, are expected to discuss crime at Durham Police Headquarters. Residents are also planning to bring up the issue during a city council meeting. On Sunday, a woman witnessed the moment two boys were injured in a drive-by shooting in front of her home. Zion Person, age 9, died at the hospital later. Police said the boy was in the car on the way to get ice cream with his aunt. A funeral for him is set for Tuesday. On Monday, an 18-year-old was fatally shot an apartment complex in the 2900 block of Chapel Hill Road shortly before 8:30 p.m. "As long as we have the guns that we have on our streets in the United States, as long as we are doing nothing as a nation and a state to stop the proliferation of guns, we are going to have this gun violence," Schewel said.

TRUMP ADMIN SET TO IGNORE COURT-ORDERED CAP ON LENGTH OF CHILD DETENTIONS: Ending the so-called Flores agreement is a top priority for the Trump administration. It requires the government to keep children in the least restrictive setting and to release them as quickly as possible, generally after 20 days in detention. Homeland Security officials say they are adopting regulations that reflect the agreement and there is no longer a need for court involvement, which was only meant to be temporary. The move is the latest effort by the administration to restrict immigration, President Donald Trump’s signature issue, and is aimed at restricting the movement of asylum seekers in the country and deterring more migrants from crossing the border. It is bound to generate fresh outrage, following reports of dire conditions in detention facilities, and it is questionable whether courts will let the administration move forward with the policy. Peter Schey, a lawyer for the immigrant children in the Flores case and president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, said if the regulations don’t match the settlement, “they would be in immediate material breach, if not contempt of court.” “I think all these things are now part of the 2020 campaign,” Schey said.

TRUMP WANTS TO BRING BACK MENTAL INSTITUTIONS TO SOLVE MASS SHOOTINGS: In the immediate aftermath of Dayton and El Paso, Trump said he might support background checks for all gun purchases and “red flag” laws to deny guns to those deemed a hazard to themselves or others. But Trump on Tuesday called universal background checks off the table in a conversation with the head of the National Rifle Association, though he later denied saying that. The president has said he thinks mentally ill people are primarily responsible for the spate of mass shootings in the United States. And this proposal is likely to be welcomed by Republicans and gun rights activists who have argued the same thing. “We’re looking at the whole gun situation,” Trump said last week. “I do want people to remember the words ‘mental illness.’ These people are mentally ill. . . . I think we have to start building institutions again because, you know, if you look at the ’60s and ’70s, so many of these institutions were closed.” The attempt to use volunteer data to identify “neurobehavioral signs" of “someone headed toward a violent explosive act” would be a four-year project costing an estimated $40 to $60 million, according to Dr. Geoffrey Ling, the lead scientific adviser on HARPA and a founding director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office.