Thursday News: Sweet little lies


IN TEXT MESSAGE TO REPORTER, DAVID LEWIS SAYS "NO VOTES AT 8:30": Lewis, R-Harnett, said he never told Jackson there would be no votes on Wednesday morning, saying that he told him the House wouldn't vote on two "mini-budget" bills added to the floor calendar that would provide money for disaster relief and for prison safety upgrades until after House Democrats caucused Wednesday morning. Lewis did acknowledge telling a WRAL News reporter via text Tuesday night that there would be no votes at the 8:30 a.m. session. But he said that's because he didn't think there would be any. He wasn't on the floor during the override vote. Several House Republicans coming out of a caucus shortly after 10:15 a.m. said they felt the surprise vote was fair game, noting that Moore has made it clear for weeks that he would call the override vote whenever the opportunity arose. "The speaker said at any given opportunity he would call it," longtime Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, said. "The opportunity was there, and he called it."

WAKE PARENT BEING SUED OVER HIS OPPOSITION TO MATH PROGRAM: A parent being sued over his opposition to Wake County’s high school math curriculum charges in new legal documents that the defamation lawsuit is an attempt to chill free speech rights. The Mathematics Vision Project filed a lawsuit in July in a Utah state court accusing Blain Dillard of making false and defamatory statements about the MVP Math program that the company says have harmed its business. In a motion filed Monday asking for the lawsuit’s dismissal, Dillard’s attorney, Jeffrey Hunt, accuses MVP of seeking retribution against his client and trying to silence critics. “It is alarming that a parent would be sued for defamation for expressing opinions and making truthful statements about his son’s high school math curriculum,” Hunt said in a statement. “The lawsuit appears to be an attempt to silence Mr. Dillard and other critics of MVP, and to chill their First Amendment rights to speak about MVP’s services.

AH, WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE WHAT PHIL BERGER TELLS US NOW: The Senate won't turn its attention back to the state budget this week despite the House's surprise vote Wednesday to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said. Instead, the chamber will keep its "laser focus" on an ongoing, court-ordered redistricting, Berger, R-Rockingham, said. "We are on a very tight schedule as far as redistricting," he said late Wednesday afternoon. "I really don't have anything to say about the budget or a veto override." Republicans need just one Democratic vote to complete the override in the Senate and make the $24 billion budget law. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue said he's confident his side will hold together to block that. Berger wouldn't get into whether the Senate will use the similar tactics as the House and wait to spring an override vote when enough Democrats are absent to swing numbers the majority party's way. Asked if every Democrat needs to make sure they attend session going forward to avoid that, Berger would say only "each member has a responsibility to their constituents."

TRUMP'S EPA SET TO SCRAP "WATERS OF THE U.S." RULE, ENDANGERING WETLANDS AGAIN: On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986. Wheeler, who said the administration will finalize a new definition for which water bodies deserve federal protection within a matter of months, said the agency is seeking to end any lingering uncertainty and return more oversight to individual states. “We want to make sure that we have a definition that once and for all will be the law of the land in all 50 states,” Wheeler said. But critics say the rollback will speed the conversion of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking water supply. Americans drained about half of the 220 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States between the 1780s and 1980s, most of it to expand farmland. That rate began to slow after George H.W. Bush took office, pledging to stem the tide of wetlands loss.

BUSINESS LEADERS PEN LETTER TO SENATE TO TAKE ACTION ON GUN VIOLENCE: In a direct and urgent call to address gun violence in America, the chief executives of some of the nation’s best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger “red flag” laws. “Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the heads of 145 companies, including Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, say in the letter, which was shared with The New York Times. The letter — which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives — is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits. The movement has gained momentum since last month, when a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso killed 22 people. A day later, nine people were shot and killed in Dayton, Ohio. “Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable,” the business leaders wrote. “We need our lawmakers to support common-sense gun laws that could prevent tragedies like these.”



Another piece of evidence

could be forthcoming, if it can be tracked down. Yesterday I saw an image of what appeared to be an e-mail from Tuesday night updating the General Assembly calendar for Wednesday, and it said, "8:30: No vote session."

It was dropped into a Facebook thread without a link, and I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else, so it could be a jackalope. But I'm looking...