BILL WOULD FORCE NC SCHOOLS TO POST TEACHING MATERIALS ONLINE: The state House passed the “Academic Transparency” bill on Wednesday. It would require school districts and charter schools with 400 or more students to list online what instructional materials they used in the past school year. The bill now goes to the Senate. The North Carolina Association of Educators called the legislation “teacher abuse” and urged people to sign a letter asking the Senate not to pass the bill. “How does the NC General Assembly celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week?” NCAE said in its action alert Wednesday. “They pass a bill that undermines academic freedom and punishes creative teaching, of course. Sounds about right to us.” The legislation comes at a time when conservatives have grown increasingly suspicious about what is being taught in public schools. Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson created a task force to collect complaints from parents, students and teachers in public schools across the state about “indoctrination” in the classroom.
NC HOUSE VOTES TO GET RID OF PISTOL PERMIT REQUIREMENT: The move drew condemnation from gun control groups, though the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association says the system is outdated and redundant to gun-store background checks. The bill moved forward on a 69-48 vote, largely party-line but with two Democrats voting yes and one Republican voting no. The measure moves now to the state Senate for more debate, and if it passes there, it could be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Right now, anyone who wants to buy a handgun is supposed to have a concealed carry permit or a pistol purchase permit, both issued by their county sheriff. Both come with a background check and require the sheriff's consent. Some argue the change will open a loophole on gun purchases. Background checks are required at licensed gun stores but not for person-to-person sales. Buyers are required to have a concealed carry license or purchase permit to buy from an individual now, though anecdotal evidence offered in committee discussion of the bill indicated not everyone knows that and it's not always enforced. "North Carolina’s law has kept closed this loophole on handguns bought through private sellers in our state, saving countless lives," North Carolinians Against Gun Violence said in a statement after Wednesday's vote.
WAKE PASSES MECKLENBURG TO BECOME NC'S MOST POPULOUS COUNTY: Mecklenburg County is no longer the state’s most populous county, new U.S. Census Bureau estimates show. After years of creeping up on Mecklenburg, Wake County, which includes Raleigh, finally overtook it — 1.13 million to 1.12 million. The change came after Wake grew by 1.75% from 2019-20 and Mecklenburg grew by 1.41%, according to annual population estimates released Tuesday. The census bureau has yet to release an official population count, which will be detailed in the 2020 Census. The two fastest-growing N.C. counties were on the coast — Brunswick County on the southeast coast grew at 4.2% and Currituck County on the northeast coast grew by 4.1%. 31 of the state’s 100 counties lost population. Several were in the northeast part of the state, including Hertford County, which lost 2.3% of its population — the biggest percentage decrease in the state. North Carolina is now home to an estimated 10.6 million people. The state will pick up one congressional seat.
TRUMP-INSPIRED ARIZONA RECOUNT IS TURNING INTO A CLUSTERFUCK: Ballots have been left unattended on counting tables. Laptop computers sit abandoned, at times — open, unlocked and unmonitored. Procedures are constantly shifting, with untrained workers using different rules to count ballots. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) on Wednesday sent a letter outlining a string of problems that she said observers from her office have witnessed at a Republican-led recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona’s largest county. Former Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett (R), who is acting as a spokesman for the audit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the audit’s Twitter account, @ArizonaAudit, tweeted that Hobbs’s allegations were “baseless claimes [sic].” “The audit continues!” read the tweet. On Wednesday, a top official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division wrote in a letter to the state Senate president that information reviewed by the department “raises concerns,” asking that the Arizona Senate provide information to ensure federal laws were not being violated. She wrote that reports suggested that ballots were “not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed.” Republicans hired a Florida-based private contractor called Cyber Ninjas, whose chief executive has echoed former president Donald Trump’s false allegations of fraud, to handle the recount. People who have interacted with Trump at Mar-a-Lago recently say that he has become fixated on the Arizona count and convinced it could spark other states to reexamine their votes as well. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes,” Trump told a crowd attending a party at Mar-a-Lago last week, according to a video posted online by an attendee. “So we’re going to watch that very closely. And after that, you’ll watch Pennsylvania and you’ll watch Georgia and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin. You’re watching New Hampshire. . . . Because this was a rigged election, everybody knows it.”
FACEBOOK WILL CONTINUE TO BAN TRUMP, SEVERELY LIMITING HIS GRIFTING: The decision by Facebook on Wednesday to keep former President Donald J. Trump off its platform could have significant consequences for his political operation as he tries to remain the leader of the Republican Party, thwarting his ability to amplify his message to tens of millions of followers and hampering his fund-raising ability. Facebook has increasingly become one of the most vital weapons in a political campaign’s arsenal, with its ability to juice small-dollar online-fund-raising numbers into the millions, expand and acquire contact information, help build out data on a campaign’s voter file and provide the most sophisticated advertising platform available. Few campaigns had tapped into Facebook’s potential for advertising and fund-raising as aggressively as Mr. Trump’s. His successful 2016 campaign said its prolific use of Facebook had allowed it to send millions of different, hyper-targeted political ads to small slices of the population. Though Mr. Trump is out of office and living at his resort in Florida, he retains broad influence over the Republican Party. But his platform for reaching Americans has diminished greatly without access to big social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which has permanently suspended the former president. Some Trump aides think that the absence of Facebook, which was crucial to his success in 2016, will hinder him if he decides to run again in 2024, which he has told several advisers is his plan. In recent days, Mr. Trump’s operation has begun to more aggressively solicit supporters for cash via text message — including one reacting to the Facebook decision on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s team announced he would begin posting his thoughts on political developments to his own website, trying to brand it as “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.” But the power of Mr. Trump’s pronouncements on social media had been their ability to ricochet quickly across the web and into the streams of his supporters — something far harder to achieve while being deplatformed.