Wednesday News: 3rd time's the charm


GERRYMANDERED LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS SENT BACK TO NC SUPREME COURT: A challenge to election maps drawn in 2011 that has twice come before the N.C. Supreme Court will return for a third pass before a court that has shifted since its most recent review from a Republican to a Democratic majority. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an order that sent a lawsuit filed by former Democratic state legislator Margaret Dickson for another review by North Carolina’s highest court. The order tells the North Carolina justices to reconsider its 2015 decision upholding the maps in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that found lawmakers relied too heavily on race when drawing congressional districts in 2011.

30 ARRESTED AT NC LEGISLATURE WHILE HOUSE MULLS BUDGET: Appropriations subcommittees reviewed parts of the House budget proposal last week. The House Finance Committee went over tax proposals in the plan Tuesday. But House budget writers are still playing coy, not releasing information about raises for teachers and state workers or how much they want to sock away in reserves until Wednesday. Outside the budget, "Moral Monday" protests resumed at the Legislative Building for the first time this year. More than 30 people were arrested in demonstrations seeking an expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina.

REPUBLICAN HEALTH PLAN COULD RESULT IN INSURANCE SCAMS WITH LITTLE COVERAGE: If certain parts of the House Republican health care bill become law, states that opt out of Obamacare protections could see an explosion of “junk insurance” in their individual markets – which could leave millions of people with very little coverage. Such plans often can be dirt-cheap, but they offer so few benefits that the recent Congressional Budget Office score on the Republicans’ American Health Care Act said such coverage basically amounted to no coverage at all. The CBO considers people with these policies to be uninsured, “because they do not have financial protection from major medical risks.”

STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS SEEKS NEW RULES TO DISCOURAGE FALSE ALLEGATIONS: One proposed change would give the state elections director emergency authority to change election schedules following a natural disaster or a military conflict involving troop deployment. Some other changes come after the state Republican Party and then-Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign filed various protests in dozens of counties challenging voter eligibility. The moves came as McCrory tried to make up ground on Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, who eventually won the election. The proposals would require people filing protests to certify under penalty of perjury that the facts alleged are true and accurate – most of the protests filed in the gubernatorial race were found to be baseless – and would prohibit county elections boards from certifying their local results unless protests involve large enough vote totals to change the outcome of an election.

MCCRORY BUDGET FLUNKY ANDREW HEATH WANTS COURT OF APPEALS SEAT: Andrew Heath, a budget director under former Gov. Pat McCrory, will run for a seat on the state Court of Appeals next year. Heath, a special Superior Court judge appointed by McCrory after last year’s election, will run for the seat vacated by Judge Douglas McCullough. That seat was expected to be eliminated as part of the Republican-led legislature’s plan to shrink the appeals court – until McCullough, a Republican, retired early last month in a move that kept the court at 15 members for now. Gov. Roy Cooper named Democrat John Arrowood to the seat.