Wednesday News: Power to punish


REPUBLICAN MAJORITY COUNCIL OF STATE REFUSES TO EXTEND EVICTION MORATORIUM: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended a national moratorium on evictions through the end of July, keeping many protections for tenants in North Carolina in place for another month. The Republican majority on the Council of State, a 10-member board made up of statewide elected officials, rejected a similar extension in North Carolina. The council split along party lines, six Republican against and four Democrats for, on the question of extending the state moratorium. “It’s disappointing to see Council of State members revoke eviction protections for people still struggling to stay in their homes,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Many North Carolinians still need help, and we will work to make sure landlords abide by the CDC evictions moratorium and that tenants can access rent and utility assistance from counties and the state HOPE program."

UNC BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETS AT 3:00 TODAY IN CLOSED SESSION ON HANNAH-JONES TENURE: The Board of Trustees has not offered Hannah-Jones tenure for that position, which previous Knight chairs at UNC-CH have received. The board could vote to do so at Wednesday’s meeting, which was triggered by UNC-CH Student Body President Lamar Richards making an official petition for a special meeting on this issue. The meeting starts at 3 p.m. and is expected to be in closed session, so there likely won’t be a public discussion or vote on the matter. The open portion will be streamed live online with instructions for viewing on the board’s website. Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist for The New York Times, where she focuses on racial injustice. She earned her master’s degree from UNC-CH and has spent nearly two decades as a reporter, including at The News & Observer. Hannah-Jones has earned several professional accolades, including a MacArthur “Genius Grant,” a Peabody Award and George Polk Award.

NC FARM BILL GOES TO GOVERNOR WITH CONTROVERSIAL BIOGAS PROVISION: Environmental groups and some residents in hog-intensive areas oppose the provision. Some groups on Tuesday called on Cooper to veto the bill. They say general permits would discourage public input and the transition away from lagoon and spray-field methods for dealing with waste, instead of toward improved technologies otherwise now considered too expensive. The House voted for the measure last week. Eight Senate Democrats and 14 House Democrats joined all Republicans present in voting for the final piece of legislation. The margins suggest there could be enough votes to override a Cooper veto. The North Carolina Farm Act of 2021 also would increase punishments for stealing timber and clarify overtime compensation rules for state Forest Service firefighters. Currently digester operators must seek individual permits, but interest is growing in the collection of natural gas from covered hog waste lagoons. Bill supporters contend the streamlined permit change makes sense because most biogas systems are similarly situated.

REPUBLICAN BILLIONAIRE FUNDS SOUTH DAKOTA NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYMENT TO TEXAS BORDER: South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) will deploy up to 50 National Guard troops to the southern U.S. border, her office said Tuesday, with a highly unusual caveat — the mission will be funded by a “private donation” from an out-of-state GOP megadonor billionaire. The Guard members will deploy in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s plea to augment border security with law enforcement resources from other states, Noem’s office said in a statement. Like Abbott (R), Noem is a close ally of former president Donald Trump, whose focus on illegal immigration spurred his controversial deployment of military personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border and remains a pillar of the Republican Party’s political platform. In a statement, she blasted the Biden administration over its immigration policies, which Trump and fellow conservatives have denounced as weak and ineffective. Privately funding a military mission is an affront to civilian oversight of the armed forces, said military and oversight experts, describing the move — a Republican governor sending troops to a Republican-led state, paid for by a Republican donor — as likely unprecedented and unethical. “You certainly don’t want our national security priorities up to the highest bidder,” said Mandy Smithberger, a defense accountability expert at the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit government watchdog.

US HOUSE VOTES TO REMOVE CONFEDERATE MEMORIALS FROM CAPITOL: The House voted on Tuesday to remove statues honoring Confederate and other white supremacist leaders from public display at the United States Capitol, renewing an effort to rid the seat of American democracy of symbols of rebellion and racism. The chamber voted 285 to 120 to approve the legislation, which aims to banish the likenesses of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, Jefferson Davis and roughly a dozen other figures associated with the Confederacy or white supremacist causes. Sixty-seven Republicans, including the party’s top leader, joined with every Democrat who voted to support the changes, but a majority of the party stood against it. “We can’t change history, but we can certainly make it clear that which we honor and that which we do not honor,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, who helped write the bill. “Symbols of hate and division have no place in the halls of Congress.” The vote marked the latest round in a yearslong debate on Capitol Hill and across the country over the role of Confederate statuary and symbols in public spaces, and the implications of removing them. Proponents of removing or relocating Confederate monuments and erecting new ones to commemorate the national struggle for equal rights have notched steady progress. The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly this month to make Juneteenth a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. In January, Congress overrode a veto by President Donald J. Trump to enact legislation that would, among other things, direct the military to strip the names of Confederate leaders from bases in the coming years. And inside the Capitol, Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered portraits of four speakers who served the Confederacy be taken down from the gilded lounge adjacent to the House chamber, where she has control of what artwork is displayed.