North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger Facebook page has come under scrutiny since he and his staff got caught adjusting actual news headlines. In one example, he changed the News & Observer’s headline, “In HB2 repeal effort, Gov. Cooper is silent on proposed nondiscrimination law” to his own headline, “Has Roy Cooper flip-flopped on HB 2?”
After further review, Facebook found this practice in violation of its site’s policies. Berger took to Facebook shortly after some posts and comments were taken down from his page and accused Facebook and the N&O of censorship.
Other local reporters, including Alex Rose of WGHP Fox 8, shared the N&O’s story, and said modifying headlines “is misleading and erodes an independent free press.”
Gov. Roy Cooper released his 2017-19 budget proposal on Wednesday. The budget would increase state government spending by $1.1 billion next year, according to ABC 11. The Raleigh News & Observer reports the budget includes a heavy investment in education with 10 percent raises for public school teachers over two years. Cooper’s budget would also expand Medicaid coverage by more than 600,000 people and allow law enforcement officers to retire five years earlier. WRAL outlined some of the other budget highlights.
The lengthy process for approving the budget is underway, and the Republican-controlled legislature will review and pass appropriations bills.
Republican leaders have signaled Cooper will face an uphill battle. A WRAL article quotes Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger calling the budget a “reckless $1 billion spending spree” that would return the state “to the days of high taxes and multi-billion dollar deficits.” WRAL also notes North Carolina is expected to finish the 2016-17 fiscal year with a $522 million surplus, but Cooper’s budget increases state spending by more than twice that amount. In a statement, Cooper said he is prepared to work with lawmakers and that his goals are “universal and bipartisan.”
North Carolina lawmakers filed House Bill 251 on Thursday, which would allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry their handguns on UNC-system universities and state community college, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
The bill’s proponents say it will make campuses safer, but gun control proponents have concerns about guns in colleges. Becky Ceartas, executive director of the Durham-based North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, told the News & Observer he felt the legislation was “very dangerous.”
Earlier this session, 10 Republican legislators introduced House Bill 69. WNCN reports people the bill would enable people to put their pistols in pockets or purses without a permit.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2 last year, a bill that among many things, requires people to use restrooms of the sex on their birth certificate. Past efforts to repeal HB2 and find a compromise between Democrats and Republicans have been unsuccessful, leading some lawmakers to take it upon themselves to search for solutions. On Wednesday, two Democrats and two Republicans introduced House Bill 186 in an effort to protect transgender rights and create tougher penalties for bathroom crimes. Colin Campbell of the Raleigh News & Observer broke the story Wednesday evening in a tweet and wrote an article shortly thereafter.
The bill has generated bipartisan support with several co-sponsors, but many LGBT advocacy groups oppose it. Chris Sgro, director of Equality North Carolina, fears the compromise will not “bring back business or sporting events, and only serves to reinforce the damage,” according to an article from WRAL.
The biggest question right now seems to be whether HB186 will have enough votes to pass through the House and Senate. If it does pass through both chambers, there is still a possibility Gov. Roy Cooper would not sign it into law. Cooper has expressed his concerns with the proposed repeal, saying in a tweet that the bill “fails the basic test of restoring our reputation.” Those who introduced the bill, including Republican co-sponsor Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville, are defending the bill as “a bipartisan fix to solve this contentious issue.”