TEXTING WHILE DRIVING BILL QUASHED BY CONSERVATIVES: Corbin said when he introduced the proposed ban this winter he expected it would be difficult to persuade conservatives like himself that it was worth impinging on people’s personal freedom. He said he understands the hesitation among legislators. “I’m very aware that this bill would affect 7 million drivers in North Carolina. It’s a big deal,” he said. “When you have a bill that affects the public so widely, it should be scrutinized.” Corbin and his allies in the Senate sought to have the blanket ban restored, and hoped to do it in the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee. Instead, Corbin said he learned secondhand that the committee’s leaders had decided not to bring it up for consideration. The committee’s three chairmen — John Alexander Jr., Chuck Edwards and Rick Gunn — did not respond to a request for comment.
FOLWELL'S FOLLY REACHES DEADLINE, WITH MOST HOSPITALS NOT PLAYING: Monday's deadline to bring North Carolina health providers on board with a major shift in the state's largest health insurance plan came and went with just three of the roughly 100 hospitals in the state signing on. So what now? "Stay tuned," said State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who is pushing the change to save taxpayers and state employees hundreds of millions of dollars on health care. “We’re still a long way off from a panic-button scenario," said Robert Broome, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, which backed Folwell's play and joined him in a standoff against hospitals across the state. If nothing changes, hospitals and doctor groups that didn't sign on would be out-of-network for state employees and others on the State Health Plan come next year, either increasing out-of-pocket costs for plan members or reducing their access to care.
NC MAN ARRESTED FOR THREATENING MUSLIM CANDIDATE ONLINE: A North Carolina man charged with anonymously threatening to lynch a Muslim-American political candidate in Virginia also is accused of posting an anti-Semitic threat on a Florida synagogue's Facebook page. An FBI agent outlined those allegations against Joseph Cecil Vandevere, 52, in an affidavit unsealed before Vandevere's initial court appearance Wednesday in Asheville, North Carolina. Investigators linked Vandevere to a threatening comment posted in February 2018 on the website of a synagogue in Plantation, Florida, the affidavit said. A rabbi at Ramat Shalom Synagogue contacted the FBI after somebody using the name Bob Smith posted a "disturbing" comment in response to the rabbi's post showing support for the Parkland, Florida, high school where a gunman killed 17 people earlier that month, the agent wrote.
TRUMP DETERMINED TO DEFY SUPREME COURT OVER CITIZENSHIP QUESTION: The Justice Department said Wednesday that it was still looking for a way to include a controversial citizenship question on the 2020 census, even though the government has started the process of printing the questionnaire without it. The abrupt shift from the Justice Department came hours after President Donald Trump insisted he was not dropping his efforts to ask about citizenship in next year’s nationwide survey. On Twitter he declared, “We are absolutely moving forward.” The administration has faced numerous roadblocks to adding the citizenship question, including last week’s Supreme Court ruling that blocked its inclusion, at least temporarily. The Justice Department had insisted to the Supreme Court that it needed the matter resolved by the end of June because it faced a deadline to begin printing census forms and other materials. But on Wednesday, officials told a Maryland judge they believed there may still be a way to meet Trump’s demands.
TRUMP'S JULY 4TH CELEBRATION IS A DEEP DIVE INTO NARCISSISM: As President Trump’s appointees have worked doggedly to assemble the most ambitious and costly Fourth of July ceremony the nation’s capital has ever seen, they have been guided by one overriding principle: It cannot be a repeat of his 2017 inauguration. The transformation of the Lincoln Memorial’s grounds into a made-for-TV setting, complete with a VIP seating section for donors and other political supporters, represents the culmination of a four-month-long effort to produce the military celebration the president has envisioned for nearly two years. For a public gathering that is ostensibly targeting an audience of hundreds of millions of Americans, the display of weaponry, aircraft and pyrotechnics has been scripted primarily to satisfy an audience of one. By having Trump speak to a select audience, flanked by armored tactical vehicles, organizers hope he will avoid the prospect of facing a smaller crowd of the sort that gathered on the Mall for his swearing-in.