Thursday News: Striving for equity


AFRICAN-AMERICAN LAWMAKERS PUSH MORE FUNDING FOR HBCU'S: Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, noted that each UNC campus that has a doctoral-level research program is supposed to get an extra $10 million a year for faculty and equipment, but N.C. A&T gets only $2.5 million – and even that has been a recent improvement. Republican leadership has promised to include another $7.5 million in this year's state budget, she said, but the inequity shouldn't have existed for so long. "This is not about HBCUs versus non-HBCUs. This is about equity, and this is about parity," said Rep. Raymond Smith Jr., D-Wayne. Smith fought during the debate over the House budget to shift some of the $100 million earmarked for agricultural research and cooperative extension at North Carolina State University to N.C. A&T, which he said got nothing, even though the two land-grant universities have a similar focus.

NC'S ANTI-ABORTION "BORN ALIVE" BILL IN NC HOUSE'S VETO GARAGE: The NC Values Coalition, a conservative anti-abortion advocacy group, has had conversations with “several Democratic lawmakers who are conflicted over voting to override Governor Cooper’s veto,” Tami Fitzgerald, the group’s executive director, told McClatchy in an email. It will likely be an uphill battle if House members fear the type of political backlash Davis now faces. After the Senate’s vote, Lillian’s List, Planned Parenthood and several other groups announced their intentions to recruit a Democrat to challenge Davis in his primary. Republicans could also wait until several Democrats are absent to call for a vote. This practice is known as putting a bill in the “veto garage.” A veto override may appear on a chamber’s agenda for weeks or months — but go unaddressed. Then, when several legislators from the minority party are absent, chamber leaders will call for a vote.

GOVERNOR COOPER CONTINUES TO ADVOCATE FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION: Gov. Roy Cooper keeps trying to build pressure upon state legislators to approve Medicaid expansion in North Carolina through another public meeting with those in the health care profession supporting it. Cooper held a round-table discussion on Wednesday at the Executive Mansion with obstetricians and pediatricians who later visited lawmakers. He said in a news release that providing more coverage to women in their child-bearing years can reduce infant mortality and improve the health of babies. Cooper's office says North Carolina ranks low among states in women's access to health insurance. The governor held a similar meeting pushing expansion at the Mansion last month with rural hospital executives. He's also visited hospitals on recent travels to discuss expansion. Wednesday's public event marked Cooper's first since undergoing back surgery last week.

TRUMP'S NEW IMMIGRATION POLICY CALLS FOR WORK SKILLS AND ENGLISH PROFICIENCY: The proposal, senior administration officials said on Wednesday, would vastly scale back the system of family-based immigration that for decades has allowed immigrants to bring their spouses and children to live with them, the officials said. In its place, the new plan would provide opportunities for immigrants who have specific skills or job offers to work in the United States, provided they can demonstrate English proficiency and educational attainment, and pass a civics exam. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, spent months working on the plan, which will serve as a central part of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign message. Working with him was Stephen Miller, the president’s top immigration adviser, but the plan falls short of the more extreme measures that Mr. Miller has long pressed the president to adopt and that have long been opposed by Democrats in Congress.

ALABAMA ABORTION CLINICS WILL DEFY NEW LAW WHILE LAWSUITS MOVE FORWARD: Alabama’s three abortion clinics insist they’re not planning to close their doors, even as a new state law threatens to criminalize the procedures they provide. “We’ve been through this fight over and over again,” Dalton Johnson, owner of the Alabama’s Women’s Center, told me yesterday. “Our main goal is to keep the women apprised that we will be challenging it in court.” The law doesn't go into effect for six months. But the American Civil Liberties Union has said it will petition the courts for an injunction halting the law from taking effect at all. And it is likely to be successful, considering the Alabama law is more drastic than “heartbeat” restrictions courts have already blocked in several states. But to antiabortion advocates, getting the law enacted in Alabama isn’t really the point. Their strategy is to get the Supreme Court — now tilted 5 to 4 in favor of conservatives — to consider overturning its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion by passing a slew of abortion restrictions that clearly violate that standard.