Wednesday News: Now they're just breaking stuff

SENATE REPUBLICANS MOVING DHHS TO GRANVILLE COUNTY: The Senate proposes $250 million to construct a new administrative facility in Granville County for DHHS employees currently working at the Dix location in Raleigh. The State Employees Association of North Carolina compared the proposal to move DHHS to the DMV move. “Much like the DMV move, this would cause the state to lose many well-trained career employees. But unlike the DMV move, this would add significant traffic to already congested roads. And we cannot imagine that citizens traveling those roads on a daily basis now would appreciate this,” SEANC Government Relations Director Ardis Watkins said in a written statement. The move could affect up to 2,000 employees, according to SEANC.

DUELING BUDGETS PIT TEACHERS AGAINST STATE EMPLOYEES: The Senate's budget was unveiled Tuesday, and it sets up a fight with the House over who gets the bigger raises next year, teachers or state employees. Teachers have been the winners in recent years and continue to be so under the House budget. But Senate leaders say it's time to give other state workers some love, and their budget would give them more than teachers for a change. Other wrinkles in the Senate plan include tweaks to the franchise tax rollback and the slight increase in the standard deduction to eliminate any notion of an overall tax increase as they levy more against the operators of the new Medicaid managed care contracts. Speaking of Medicaid, like the House version, the Senate doesn't include any expansion in its budget, setting up a battle with Gov. Roy Cooper, who has made expansion a top priority this year.

THE DROUGHT BEFORE THE FLOOD: PENDER COUNTY ISSUES WARNINGS ABOUT CONSERVING WATER: A water shortage emergency was declared this weekend for Pender County Utilities water customers in the Hampstead and Scotts Hill areas. In a release late Sunday, the Pender utility said the announcement was due to the recent lack of rain in the Cape Fear region. According to the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office, the Port City has seen 0.29 inches of rain this month -- nearly 2.7 inches below normal levels. “This impacts Pender County Utilities (PCU) customers in Hampstead, Scotts Hill, and areas south of 7390 N.C. 210 in the far eastern and southern portions of Rocky Point, east of the Northeast Cape Fear River,” said Kenny Keel, Pender County Utilities director. Customers are strongly urged to conserve water. Do not wash cars, water lawns, and only use appliances such as clothes washers when filled.

MISSOURI POISED TO BECOME FIRST STATE WITH NO ABORTION CLINIC OPERATING: Missouri’s last abortion clinic might have to stop providing the procedure by the end of the week because of a standoff with state officials over an audit, according to Planned Parenthood, which operates the clinic. Lawyers for the clinic say that the audit, which began this spring, has become wide-ranging and includes demands they consider to be unreasonable. They say the clinic’s license is due to expire at midnight on June 1, and if the disagreement over the audit is not sorted out by then, the clinic will be forced to stop providing abortions. Helene Krasnoff, head of litigation at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the group filed suit on Tuesday in court in St. Louis, where the clinic is, to try to prevent that outcome. A hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Central time on Wednesday. “This is harassment and attempted intimidation of doctors at the highest levels of government,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, a physician at the clinic.

UAE RECRUITS CHINESE DOCTOR FOR GENE-EDITING OF BABIES RESEARCH: Six months after a Chinese scientist was widely scorned for helping to make the world’s first gene-edited babies, he remains out of public view, and new information suggests that others may be interested in pursuing the same kind of work outside the United States. A fertility clinic in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai emailed scientist He Jiankui to seek training in gene editing, Stanford University bioethicist Dr. William Hurlbut said ahead of a speech Tuesday at the World Science Festival in New York. Hurlbut, whose advice He often sought, said He told him that scientists from multiple countries and families with inherited health problems had messaged support and interest in altering the genes of embryos to prevent or treat disease. Hurlbut gave The Associated Press an email he said the Dubai clinic sent to He in December, altered to hide the clinic’s name. “It reveals what eagerness there is out there to use this technology” and the need “for some sort of enforceable governance” of it, Hurlbut said.