Wednesday News: A key part of the puzzle


GOVERNOR COOPER SAYS EXPANDING MEDICAID CRITICAL IN FIGHTING OPIOID ABUSE: More than half the people who are hospitalized for opioid addiction are uninsured, and they often can't afford to pay for treatment, Cooper said. In some areas, there aren't even any treatment programs available. Expanding the Medicaid program to tens of thousands of low-income working adults would change the landscape in fighting opioid addiction, the governor said. "You hear law enforcement say [addicts] need to be in treatment, they need help. Law enforcement, they know where they need to be, but often, there's no place for them to go, particularly in the rural areas," he said. "This, again, is why Medicaid expansion is key to this issue." Studies show states with Medicaid expansion have made more progress in fighting opioids than states without it.

BANNING CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING BACK ON THE MENU: Three state senators say they hope to restore a bill that would make it illegal in North Carolina to use a hand-held cellphone while driving. The Hands-Free North Carolina Act originated in the state House, but the version that was approved and sent to the Senate last month was greatly watered down. It would ban the use of a hand-held phone or electronic device only if it causes “distracted behavior that impairs or otherwise restricts” the driver and results in driving that is “careless, reckless or heedless.” The three senators, all Republicans, said they plan to offer an amendment in the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee that would restore language to simply ban the use of a hand-held phone while driving. At a news conference Tuesday, all three described themselves as conservatives and spoke of their inclination not to intrude in people’s lives.

BILL FORCING NC SHERIFFS TO WORK WITH ICE UP FOR COMMITTEE DEBATE TODAY: North Carolina legislation designed to address recent decisions by some new North Carolina sheriffs to stop assisting federal immigration agents is resurfacing in a committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled debate Wednesday on a House bill that passed that chamber in April. The House legislation required sheriffs in all 100 counties to fulfill detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A few sheriffs elected late last year have said they wouldn't. The bill authors say it would only put into law the cooperative approach that sheriffs have had with federal law enforcement for decades. Critics are worried that directive would undermine community safety because immigrants in the country unlawfully would fear reporting crimes. Advocates for immigrants have held several rallies opposing the bill.

JON STEWART BLASTS CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE FOR FAILING 9/11 RESPONDERS: He berated the lawmakers for what he called their “callous indifference” and “rank hypocrisy,” campaigning on first responders’ issues and commending their heroism, yet not acting in Congress to support them. “There is not a person here — there is not an empty chair on that stage that didn’t tweet out, ‘never forget the heroes of 9/11; never forget their bravery; never forget what they did, what they gave to this country,’” Stewart said, then motioned to the crowd of first responders behind him. “Well, here they are.” The fund was most recently reactivated in 2015 as part of the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides health care and financial assistance to first responders, volunteers and survivors. The Victim Compensation Fund is allowing people to submit claims until Dec. 18, 2020, but the fund’s leadership said in February it would reduce awards because of “funding insufficiency.”

BIDEN AND TRUMP TRADE INSULTS WHILE CAMPAIGNING IN IOWA: In the most ferocious day of attacks in the six-month-old presidential campaign, Mr. Trump resorted to taunts and name-calling over several hours, saying Mr. Biden was “a loser,” “a sleepy guy” and “the weakest mentally,” and claiming that “people don’t respect him.” Mr. Biden took a different tack, laying out ways Mr. Trump was “an existential threat” to the country, its international standing and its values. Mr. Biden, who leads in early polls for the Democratic presidential nomination, also brought up subjects he had previously avoided with reporters, such as Mr. Trump siding with the North Korean state media’s insults on Mr. Biden’s I.Q. ”He embraces dictators like Kim Jong-un, who’s a damn murderer and a thug?” Mr. Biden said at his second event of the day, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. “The one thing they agree on: Joe Biden, he shouldn’t be president.”



Just to clarify that Jon Stewart story...

This was a Sub-Committee meeting, and not the full Committee. That Sub-Committee has about 1/3 the members of the full Judiciary, so naturally there were going to be a bunch of empty chairs.