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Friday Forward News Roundup

North Carolina Board Denies Certification to Three Political Parties

The North Carolina State Board of Elections, with a Democratic majority, denied certification to three political parties aiming to place independent presidential candidates on the November ballot. This decision affects Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West, who sought to run under "We The People" and "Justice for All," respectively, and the right-wing Constitution Party. The board cited concerns about petition processes, including improper addresses and misleading petitioners, but stated that the decision could be revisited with further investigation. Republican board members opposed the decision, suggesting it was influenced by political pressure. (News & Observer)

Debate Over "Fair" Election Maps in North Carolina Lawsuit

A lawsuit filed by former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr on behalf of 11 North Carolinians challenges the fairness of the redistricting process used by Republican lawmakers, claiming it violates voters' constitutional rights. Orr argues for the recognition of a right to "fair elections" under the state constitution, while legislative leaders and their lawyer, Phil Strach, counter that fairness is subjective and should not be decided by the courts. Judges questioned the definition of fairness and the appropriate way to establish such a right, highlighting the complexities and potential ramifications of the case. (Carolina Journal)

NC Lawmakers Propose Three Constitutional Amendments for November Ballot

House lawmakers introduced three constitutional amendments for the November ballot, with one passing with bipartisan support, which would clarify that only citizens can vote. Two other proposals, including a requirement for photo ID for mail-in voting and restrictions on the governor's ability to replace executive officials, were pulled due to insufficient votes. The Senate is also pushing for three amendments, with likely agreements on voter ID and citizen-only voting, but diverging on other proposals like capping the state income tax at 5%. Amendments require a 60% supermajority in the legislature to be placed on the ballot, where they need 50% voter approval to be added to the constitution. (WRAL)

North Carolina Moves to Block Federal Reserve's Central Bank Digital Currency Testing

North Carolina's General Assembly has passed HB 690, prohibiting the use of central bank digital currency (CBDC) for state payments and barring participation in Federal Reserve CBDC testing. The bill, titled “No Central Bank Digital Currency Payments to State,” passed the Senate 39-5 and previously passed the House unanimously. Sen. Brad Overcash, R-Gaston, emphasized that this legislation aims to protect the U.S. dollar's global status and safeguard financial privacy. Critics of CBDCs, like Donald Bryson of the John Locke Foundation, argue they pose privacy risks and could lead to increased government surveillance. The bill reflects North Carolina's stance against compromising financial privacy for technological advancements. (Carolina Journal)

North Carolina Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill Amid Uncertain House Prospects

The North Carolina Senate passed House Bill 563, which legalizes medical marijuana for patients with conditions like cancer and ALS, with bipartisan support and just 10 opposing votes. The bill establishes an 11-member board to oversee the licensing and regulation of marijuana suppliers, including revenue supervision and the issuance of 10 supplier licenses. It also adds kratom, xylazine, and tianeptine to the state's controlled substances list, bans hemp sales to individuals under 21, and enforces stricter regulations on hemp products. However, prospects in the House remain uncertain due to past opposition and current budget stalemates. Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein criticized the bill for not including sufficient protections and failing to decriminalize possession of small amounts. (News & Observer)

Jewish and Muslim Activists Protest Bill Defining Antisemitism in North Carolina

A group of Jewish and Muslim activists protested outside the Governor’s Mansion against House Bill 942, which would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of antisemitism into North Carolina law. Critics argue the bill, named "The Shalom Act," aims to stifle criticism of Israel. The working definition is as follows:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Despite the controversy, the bill passed the Senate 47-2 and the House 105-3, moving it to Governor Roy Cooper's desk. While proponents like House Speaker Tim Moore claim the bill addresses rising antisemitic threats and violence, opponents, including Jewish Voice for Peace and Muslim Women For, contend it misuses antisemitism to suppress free speech and legitimate criticism of Israel. (NC Newsline)

N.C. Legislature Advances Bills Amidst Veto Overrides and Proposed Constitutional Amendments

The N.C. House successfully overrode three vetoes by Gov. Roy Cooper, addressing mask laws, juvenile court age limits, and billboard tree removal. Proposed constitutional amendments include changing vacancy appointments, enforcing citizenship for voting, and adjusting tax and voter ID rules. Additionally, the House is considering re-legalizing takeout cocktails, and the Senate advances an antisemitism bill. Budget negotiations remain stalled, prompting temporary spending measures to avoid losing federal funds and ensure teacher raises. (WUNC)

N.C. Legislators Conclude Short Session with Budget and Policy Approvals

North Carolina legislators wrapped up their short session on Thursday, passing significant measures before adjourning. The House and Senate overcame budget negotiation stalemates, approving over $67 million in childcare stabilization funds (Senate Bill 357) and authorizing planned teacher raises (Senate Bill 332). However, efforts to eliminate the 55,000-family waiting list for the Opportunity Scholarships program were excluded. Lawmakers also passed the non-citizen voting constitutional amendment, Right to Try legislation, and overrode three gubernatorial vetoes. The legislature will reconvene periodically throughout the rest of 2024. (Carolina Journal)

North Carolina Attorney General Race: Key Points from Bishop and Jackson Forum

In the open race for North Carolina attorney general, Republican Dan Bishop and Democrat Jeff Jackson discussed their differing views at a forum moderated by Tim Boyum of Spectrum News 1. Bishop emphasized strict law enforcement and criticized Jackson's record on border security and other legislative measures, while Jackson focused on combating fentanyl distribution, AI-enabled scams, and promoting bipartisan cooperation. Both candidates debated their roles in representing state agencies and their positions on immigration and marijuana legalization. (Spectrum News 1)

First Biden-Trump Debate

In the first presidential debate of the 2024 cycle, Donald Trump exhibited control and vigor, contrasting with Joe Biden's struggle to deliver cohesive answers. Despite his legal troubles, Trump managed to avoid his characteristic over-the-top attacks, while Biden's hoarse voice and mistakes, such as referencing 15,000 jobs instead of 15 million, raised concerns about his age. When addressing the January 6 Capitol riot, Trump redirected the conversation to his record but ultimately refused to denounce the rioters, highlighting the ongoing controversy surrounding the event. (News & Observer)

Fact-Checking Claims During the Biden-Trump Debate

During the first debate of the 2024 election, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump exchanged barbs and made several false or misleading claims. Trump downplayed the severity of the January 6 attack, falsely stating it involved a small number of people escorted by police, while Biden exaggerated the costs of insulin and misrepresented Trump's statements on COVID-19 disinfectant use. Both candidates also misrepresented facts on topics like taxes, climate change, abortion, and the economy, highlighting the contentious nature of their confrontation. (FOX 8)

President and First Lady Host Raleigh Campaign Rally with Special Guests Post-Debate

Following the first presidential debate of the 2024 election in Atlanta, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrived in Raleigh on Friday for a campaign rally. The event at the Jim Graham Building will feature Grammy-nominated artist Fat Joe and multi-platinum artist E-40. Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin expressed excitement over the visit, emphasizing its significance for the city. This marks the President's third visit to Raleigh in five months, following a March visit to promote affordable healthcare. Despite Trump's previous narrow victory in North Carolina, Biden's team aims to gain ground in the state. (CBS 17)

Novo Nordisk to Invest $4.1 Billion in New NC Plant, Creating 1,000 Jobs

Novo Nordisk announced plans to build a new $4.1 billion production facility in Clayton, North Carolina, to expand the manufacturing of its popular weight loss and diabetes medications, Ozempic and Wegovy, as well as other treatments. The new 1.4 million square-foot plant will create 1,000 jobs with an average salary of $70,000, significantly above the Johnston County average. The facility, set for phased completion between 2027 and 2029, will double the company's existing space in the Raleigh-Durham area. This investment marks the largest life sciences investment in North Carolina's history. (WRAL)

Erosion Threatens Outer Banks Homes as Climate Change Intensifies

The Outer Banks of North Carolina face increasing erosion, turning the region into a graveyard for homes built too close to the Atlantic. Stronger storms and rising sea levels have accelerated the loss of sand, with six homes in Rodanthe collapsing in the past four years. In response, the National Park Service initiated a voluntary pilot program to buy and demolish homes at risk, aiming to restore affected beaches. Despite these efforts, some residents remain determined to stay, embracing the risks posed by the changing climate. (ABC 11)

Forsyth County and Duke Energy Partner to Assist Low-Income Families with Home Repairs and Energy Efficiency

Forsyth County's Community Economic Development is aiding low-income families with essential home repairs through its Housing Rehabilitation Program, assisting about 30 houses annually with upgrades like roof replacements and handicap ramps. Partnering with Duke Energy's High Energy Usage Assistance program, the initiative now extends to providing free home improvements for eligible customers to lower energy consumption and reduce bills. This collaboration has addressed gaps where homes needing energy efficiency upgrades also required critical repairs, benefiting 26 families currently in the referral process. (ABC 45)

Alamance County Approves Budget with Increased Funding for Schools and Property Tax Hike

Alamance County commissioners narrowly approved a $225 million budget for the new fiscal year, increasing the allocation to the local school system by nearly $6 million and raising the property tax rate by 3.66 cents, or about 8.47 percent. The budget, which passed in a 3-to-2 vote, includes $59.5 million for the Alamance-Burlington school system and $5.4 million for Alamance Community College. The increased expenditures also allow for a 3-percent cost-of-living adjustment and an average 2-percent merit-based pay raise for county staff. To cover these costs, the budget will also utilize $7.35 million from the county’s fund balance. The decision follows significant financial and political challenges faced by both the county and the school system. (Alamance News)

Historic Water Tower Cleanup Contaminates Bynum's Community Garden

In an attempt to preserve a historic water tower in Bynum, NC, power tool cleaning has led to contamination of the local community garden with lead and hexavalent chromium. Chatham County's contract with Boles Restoration failed to include adequate safety measures, resulting in toxic dust dispersal. This contamination has prompted a shutdown of the garden, which is crucial for the town’s sustainable lifestyle. Despite subsequent testing and efforts to remediate, residents express frustration over insufficient communication and the irreversible damage to their beloved community space. (Indy Week)

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