REPUBLICANS PASS BILL TO CUT CORPORATE FRANCHISE TAX: The North Carolina Senate voted Wednesday to reduce the franchise tax, a step toward eliminating it entirely. The franchise tax is levied on corporations that do business in North Carolina. Republicans in the General Assembly want to eliminate the franchise tax, which they describe as a double property tax on businesses in North Carolina. While Republicans touted their latest tax cut as being good for business and jobs, Democrats worried about the loss of tax revenue, which would be about $1 billion over five years. The Republican-written state budget that was vetoed by the governor included reducing the franchise tax, but progress on the budget is stalled four months into the new fiscal year. However, some of the tax cuts in the vetoed spending plan are moving through the legislature as “mini budgets,” including the franchise tax reduction.
REPUBLICANS ALSO HOLD BACK ON TEACHER RAISES BECAUSE "NOT ENOUGH MONEY.": The bill does not include across-the-board pay raises for teachers. When Democrats on the the Senate Appropriations committee asked why not, Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, the bill's sponsor, said there had been no discussions on that topic with Gov. Roy Cooper. "Our budget funded teacher pay increases around 3.8 percent over the two years, and the governor asked for 8.5 two years," added Sen Rick Horner, R-Nash. "This just doesn’t address where we’re disagreeing." Sen. Jerry Tillman. R-Randolph, said Cooper's push for bigger teacher raises and a Medicaid expansion is unrealistic. "Ask him to show where we’re going to be able to afford Medicaid expansion and teacher pay raises of 8.5 percent. There’s not enough money in this state unless you take it out of the taxpayer’s pocket," Tillman said.
ANITA EARLS MAKES LIST OF POTENTIAL U.S. SUPREME COURT NOMINEES UNDER DEM PRESIDENT: Anita Earls has been on the North Carolina Supreme Court less than a year, but some political insiders are already eyeing a bigger role for her: A seat on the United States Supreme Court. A group called Demand Justice recently published a “shortlist” of 32 progressive lawyers who it says would be good nominees for a Supreme Court seat after the 2020 elections, if a Democrat defeats Republican President Donald Trump and if a seat opens up on the nation’s highest court. On its website, Demand Justice says Trump did a good job of rallying conservative voters in 2016 with a Supreme Court shortlist of his own. The group — which is led by 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign press secretary — said whichever Democrat wins the 2020 primary to face Trump should copy that strategy, and should consider “unabashedly progressive lawyers and legal thinkers, who have all too often been pushed aside.”
NC CONGRESSIONAL MAPS ON TRIAL AGAIN, PLAINTIFFS WANT ACTION BEFORE 2020 PRIMARY: North Carolina judges are listening to a request to order a new state congressional map for next year's elections even before a trial is held on whether district lines were drawn by Republicans with extreme intent to favor the GOP. A three-judge panel set a hearing for Thursday to consider the legal motion by Democratic and independent voters who sued to overturn the map. Their lawyers say evidence is overwhelming that partisan gerrymandering occurred when boundaries for 13 U.S. House districts were drawn in 2016. Republican legislators say ordering a remap would create electoral disorder for races set to begin with candidate filing in December and primaries in March. The plaintiffs are emboldened by a September ruling from the same three judges ordering changes to dozens of state legislative districts.
GROUP OF REPUBLICAN THUGS STORM INTO CLASSIFIED HEARING IN DEFENSE OF TRUMP: Several lawmakers leaving the facility said that some of the Republicans brought their cellphones, even though electronics are not allowed. All members of Congress are familiar with the protocol of the SCIF, since they are often invited to classified briefings, and there are several such rooms around the Capitol. Lawmakers described a chaotic scene. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said she had just walked into the room when the Republican lawmakers blew past Capitol police officers and Democratic staffers. The staff member who was checking identification at the entrance was “basically overcome” by the Republicans, she said. “Literally some of them were just screaming about the president and what we’re doing to him and that we have nothing and just all things that were supportive of the president,” Wasserman Schultz said. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., criticized his Republican colleagues for the tactic, calling them “nuts” to make a “run on the SCIF.” “That’s not the way to do it,” he said. The Republicans decried that the deposition was happening behind closed doors and said Americans should be able to read the transcripts of any interviews being conducted as part of impeachment.