Fitzsimon File

Fitzsimon File

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A new low in the dismantling of democracy

The folks running the General Assembly reached a new low this week in their efforts to dismantle our democracy----and that is no small feat given their actions in the last few years. Senate Rules Chair Bill Rabon filed legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to shorten the terms of all judges in the state to two years and end every current judge’s term at the end of 2018. They would all have to run for reelection this fall and every two years after that. That would literally turn judges into partisan politicians spending as much time much raising money and campaigning as they do hearing cases. There are currently 403 judges serving, when you add up district court, superior court, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

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Monday numbers

4---number of days since The Trump administration announced its decision to halt cost-sharing subsidies that help millions of lower-income Americans afford coverage under the Affordable Care Act (“White House’s decision to stop ACA cost-sharing subsidies triggers strong opposition, Washington Post, October 13, 2017)

25---percentage increase projected by the Congressional Budget Office...

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Lawmakers want increased competition in elections, except their own

Hypocrisy in politics is hardly a new phenomenon but rarely is it as boldly on display as it was last week from Republican legislative leaders during the latest of the now monthly special sessions of the General Assembly.

The House and Senate passed legislation called the “Electoral Freedom Act,” first introduced by Senator Andrew Brock in this year’s regular legislative session that sought to make it easier for unaffiliated candidates and new political parties to appear on the general election ballot.

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Monday numbers

4.4---percentage of the world’s population that lives in the United States (“Gun violence in America, explained in 17 maps and chart, Vox, October 2, 2017)

42---percentage of the civilian-owned guns in the world in the United States (Ibid)

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The Follies (of the latest absurd special session)

Wednesday evening as a House committee met on the first day of yet another special session to consider a so-called budget technical corrections bill filled with policy and funding provisions that very few people had seen, House Budget Chair Nelson Dollar told Rep. David Lewis to present the bill to the committee “if you're finished being apprised of what's in the bill.”

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Drinking water safety at stake in the latest absurd special session

Here we go again. Another special session of the General Assembly begins Wednesday at noon and no one other than a handful of legislative leaders is exactly sure what lawmakers will be discussing. That’s the way the legislature ...
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Monday numbers

5---number of days since the White House and Republican Congressional leadership released the outline of their major tax reform proposal (“GOP tax plan would provide major gains for richest 1%, uneven benefits for the middle class, report says, Washington Post, September 29. 2017)

30---percentage of taxpayers with annual incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 who would see a tax increase under the plan (Ibid)

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Monday numbers

5---number of years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was created by President Obama to provide work permits and deportation relief for young undocumented immigrants (“DACA has shielded nearly 790,000 young unauthorized immigrants from deportation,” Pew Research Center, September 1, 2017)

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New health care bill is a now familiar old pernicious plot

The latest effort in Washington to repeal and not actually replace the Affordable Care Act has a different name, the Cassidy-Graham plan, but it should look familiar.

It is essentially a proposal like the ones that came before it this year to make massive cuts in Medicaid, end subsidies that make it possible for low-income families to afford coverage and give insurance companies the ability to both charge people with pre-existing conditions more and offer sketchy policies that don’t cover essential benefits.

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Monday numbers

5---number of days since Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham unveiled a new proposal to repeal and allegedly replace the Affordable Care Act that would dramatically cut federal funding for health care over the next ten years (Louisiana Advocate, September 15, 2017)

12---number of days until the September 30 deadline to pass ACA repeal and replace legislation on a simple-majority vote under the Senate procedure known as reconciliation (Ibid)

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Monday numbers

165---number of public schools that received a grade of A or A+ng on the A-F grading system for the 2016-2017 school year (2016–17 Performance and Growth of North Carolina Public Schools, N.C. Department of Public Instruction, September 7, 2017)

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Monday redistricting numbers

83—number of days since the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed with a lower court ruling that General Assembly districts drawn in 2011 were illegally gerrymandered based on race (“U.S. Supreme Court agrees NC legislative districts were illegally gerrymandered based on race,” Progressive Pulse, June 6, 2017)

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Charlottesville presents lawmakers with clear choice between right and wrong

Every so often in our political discourse comes a moment that presents elected officials with a crystal clear choice between right and wrong, something that rises far above the usual partisan differences on education, taxes, or health care.

North Carolina now faces one of those moments in the wake of the march in Charlottesville by torch-carrying neo-Nazis and white supremacists chanting racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic slogans and the troubling reaction to the protest by the president of the United States.

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Monday numbers

900 million---amount in dollars of the cost of the tax cuts passed this year when they are fully in place (“Costly Tax Cuts in New State Budget Continue Precarious Road Ahead for North Carolina, N.C. Budget & Tax Center, August 2017)

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The Follies

Mixed and confusing signals from NC GOPers on confederate monuments

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger finally weighed in Thursday on the horrible events in Charlottesville last weekend with a Facebook post titled, “Reflecting on Charlottesville, Durham and North Carolina Monuments.”

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Americans want the Affordable Care Act improved not undermined

Here is something you probably haven’t heard much lately, if at all, given the shocking news from Charlottesville and the disturbing reaction by President Trump.

Roughly 80 percent of Americans believe that Trump and his administration should do all they can to make the Affordable Care Act work while only 17 percent believe they should try to make the law fail so they can replace it.

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