Thursday News: Hunger Games, Chapter 7

HISE PROVISION IN BUDGET CUTS FOOD ASSISTANCE TO 51,236 CHILDREN: According to numbers released this week by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 132,902 people across the state would lose food assistance if the change is in the final budget. Of those, 51,236 are age 18 or younger – and could therefore lose access to free and reduced-price school meals. Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement Wednesday criticizing the provision. “Senate Republicans quietly slipped a provision in their budget to cut 100 percent federally-funded food-stamps for 133,000 North Carolinians,” the Democrat said. “This food makes a real difference for families who need it and doesn’t cost North Carolina any state tax money. Lining the pockets of millionaires while going out of the way to make it harder for children to eat is just wrong.”

KOCH BROTHERS GEARING UP TO SPEND MILLIONS WARPING THE TAX CODE: The Koch Brothers' political network is preparing to spend millions of dollars to ensure their vision for tax reform isn't lost in the increasing chaos consuming President Donald Trump's administration. The network's leading organizations, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, on Thursday released a set of general preferences for major changes to the tax code. Beyond Thursday's release, Davis said the network backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign through the summer to ensure their conservative tax plan is not forgotten. The campaign will include digital ads and town hall meetings across the country, along with phone banks and direct mail.

ROBERT MUELLER WILL SPEARHEAD TRUMP/RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was given sweeping power Wednesday to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, with a broad mandate that could encompass any questionable actions of President Donald Trump's associates and possibly even the circumstances of last week's abrupt firing of James Comey. As special counsel, Mueller will direct an FBI counterintelligence investigation examining whether Russia coordinated with Trump campaign associates to influence the election in his behalf. He is entitled to a budget, can request new or additional staff and will have the same authority as high-ranking Justice Department lawyers, including the ability to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.

PRO-CONFEDERACY GROUP AND COUNTER-PROTESTERS WILL FACE OFF SATURDAY IN ALAMANCE COUNTY: Two opposing activist groups plan to come head-to-head Saturday during a Confederate heritage event set for Graham’s Court Square. The event, called “Confederate Memorial Day Celebration,” is being held by Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County at noon at the county’s Historic Courthouse, outside of which a Confederate soldier statue stands. Local IWW members, according to the Triangle IWW’s Facebook event for Saturday, take credit for securing ACTBAC’s designation as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center earlier this year, which declared ACTBAC a “neo-Confederate” organization. ACTBAC founder Gary Williamson denies the accuracy of such a label, telling the Times-News in February that his organization “has no reason to be on there,” referring to the SPLC’s list of hate groups.

NC GOP BOOSTS FUNDING FOR ANTI-ABORTION "CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS": Senate Republicans have once again increased the amount of money in their budget to fund anti-abortion counseling clinics. The General Assembly has budgeted that money over the past several years. This year’s proposed budget would increase the funding from $300,000 to $400,000. The money goes to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, which is an umbrella group for “crisis counseling centers.” The centers say they provide information to women and teenagers who are conflicted about their pregnancies.