Wednesday News: Hard-hearted, hard-headed

NC REPUBLICANS' OPPOSITION TO MEDICAID EXPANSION RUNS DEEP: The task force report referenced a study published in 2018 that concluded that the infant mortality rate dropped more quickly in states that expanded Medicaid, with the biggest declines among African Americans. The study did not convince Senate Republicans who oppose Medicaid expansion. Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Kernersville Republican, noted that the steepest drops in death rates in the years referenced in the study were between 2010 and 2014, before states started implementing Medicaid expansion. “It’s misleading to tie it to Medicaid expansion,” she said. Sen. Ralph Hise, a Spruce Pine Republican, asked if “putting someone on Medicaid would make them more healthy.” Zolotor said it’s important for women to be healthy before they get pregnant, but did not have information to show people who have Medicaid are healthier than people who don’t have it.

VAN DUYN CONCEDES LG PRIMARY RACE TO HOLLEY: State Rep. Yvonne Holley, D-Wake, will be the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor after her nearest competitor decided not to call for a runoff. That sets up a race between Holley and Republican Mark Robinson, essentially guaranteeing that North Carolina will elect its first black lieutenant governor. Holley got just under 27 percent of the vote in the March 3 Democratic primary, short of the 30 percent threshold needed to automatically avoid a runoff. State Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, got about 20 percent of the vote in a field of six Democratic candidates but decided Tuesday not to seek a runoff. Holley said she spoke with Van Duyn Tuesday evening. North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement that Holley, "has been a fierce advocate for our public schools and has a proven record of working across the aisle to get things done."

DUKE UNIVERSITY TELLS STUDENTS NOT TO COME BACK AFTER SPRING BREAK, REMOTE CLASSES WILL BE HELD: Duke University announced Tuesday night that all on-campus classes will be indefinitely suspended and remote instruction will begin, according to a message from the president. Undergraduate spring break was extended until Sunday, March 22. Classes will then resume remotely on Monday, March 23 to give time for students and faculty to adjust to the new plans, the statement from President Vincent E. Price said. Students should not return to campus “if at all possible,” Price said. “The goal is to minimize situations in which members of our community might be exposed to those who have COVID-19, and to protect our students, faculty and staff who might be at elevated risk. This approach is consistent with recommendations from public health officials, and also mirrors the actions taken by many universities across the country.” UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Robert Blouin sent a letter to students and faculty Monday saying the university is preparing for remote classes if they are needed. “We are developing the capacity to continue course delivery remotely, should that be necessary,” the letter said.

BIDEN EXTENDS HIS LEAD OVER SANDERS AFTER WINNING FOUR MORE STATES: Former vice president Joe Biden seized control of the Democratic presidential contest Tuesday with four victories, including a decisive win in Michigan that struck a devastating blow to Bernie Sanders's ambitions after the senator from Vermont committed his campaign to winning the key Midwestern swing state. Biden also scored resounding wins Tuesday in Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho while two other states — North Dakota and Washington — continued to count ballots. “It’s more than a comeback. . . . It’s a comeback for the soul of this nation,” Biden said at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia as he made explicit efforts to reach out to all parts of the party. “This campaign is taking off, and I believe that we are going to do well from this point on.” The results showed further evidence of the powerful coalition that Biden has assembled to fuel his remarkable turnaround in the past few weeks, particularly black voters who form the backbone of the Democratic Party and the suburban women who helped drive record turnout for Democrats in the 2018 elections. Biden has also been winning white Democratic voters without a college degree, an important constituency that Donald Trump successfully courted in 2016. The former vice president even outperformed Sanders in some of the state’s college communities.

TRUMP IS PUSHING CITIES TO EMINENT DOMAIN HOMES IN FLOOD ZONES: The federal government is giving local officials nationwide a painful choice: Agree to use eminent domain to force people out of flood-prone homes, or forfeit a shot at federal money they need to combat climate change. That choice, part of an effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect people from disasters, is facing officials from the Florida Keys to the New Jersey coast, including Miami, Charleston, S.C., and Selma, Ala. Local governments seeking federal money to help people leave flood zones must first commit to push out people who refuse to move. Eminent domain — the government’s authority to take private property, with compensation, for public use — has long been viewed as too blunt a tool for getting people out of disaster-prone areas. It has a controversial history: Local governments have used it to tear down African-American neighborhoods, as well as to build freeways and other projects over residents’ objections. Even when the purpose of eminent domain is seen as legitimate, elected officials are generally loathe to evict people. Still, in a sign of how serious the threat of climate change has become, some local governments have told the Corps they will do so if necessary, according to documents obtained through public records requests and interviews with officials. Other cities have yet to decide, saying they feel torn between two bad options.