Opinion Roundup: NC farmers under pressure, legalized sports betting, Medicaid expansion, solar energy and more

Saturday, April 7, 2018 — A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: NC farmers nervous under looming threat of trade war, legalized sports betting could help states with job creation, conservatives attack Raleigh school over ‘white privilege’ handouts, Medicaid expansion, local governments move towards solar energy and more.

HANNAH SMOOT: Congressman pulls out loaded gun at South Carolina voter meet-and-greet (Charlotte Observer reports) – U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, pulled out his own loaded handgun during a meeting with constituents to make a point that guns are dangerous only in the hands of criminals. Norman placed the .38-caliber gun on a table during the “coffee with constituents” meeting at a Rock Hill restaurant near Charlotte. Norman said a group of Mothers Demand Action attended his meeting and they pressed him to support gun control legislation. School teacher Lori Carter of Charlotte, North Carolina, said she thought the move was contradictory because Norman didn’t know if someone there had mental health issues.

LAURA LESLIE: Judges to decide which map to use for Wake House districts (WRAL-TV reports) — Although absentee ballots are already in the mail and early voting for the May primary starts in less than two weeks, a three-judge panel is weighing whether four House districts in Wake County are legal.

JAY GLADIEUX: Gerrymandering attacks democracy (Greenville Daily Reflector column) — Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election was an egregious attack on our democratic institutions and should be fully investigated, with perpetrators held to account for their deceptive actions. Also profoundly damaging to our democracy are gerrymandered voting maps created by legislatures around the nation, including in North Carolina.

CAMERON MCHIRTER: Would Legalized Sports Betting Help States Get Out of the Hole? (Wall Street Journal analysis) — The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether to allow legalized sports betting across the country, and many states are lining up at the gate to cash in on the possible tax revenue and job creation.

LAURA LESLIE: Security lines coming to Legislative Building (WRAL-TV reports) — After decades of open access, tighter security measures will be put in place at the Legislative Building next week.

KASEY CUNNINGHAM & HANNAH WEBSTER: Raleigh mayor talks growth, affordable housing in State of the City Address (WRAL-TV reports) — Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane highlighted the city’s accomplishments and shortcomings in her annual State of the City address.

JASON DEBRUYN: Trade War Would Be ‘Stomach Punch’ To NC Farmers (WUNC-FM reports) — North Carolina’s farmers are nervous. As an all-out trade war with China looms on the horizon, it’s North Carolina’s agriculture industry that could bear the brunt.

Wilson tobacco on front lines of China trade war (Wilson Times) — A high-stakes game of one-upmanship between President Donald Trump’s administration and the Chinese government should give Wilson County farmers cause for concern. China recently announced plans to hike tariffs on 106 American imports by 25 percent — and tobacco, the cash crop that put Wilson on the map — has a target on its back.

GREG BARNES & MONICA VENDITUOLI: Secret tape reveals Fayetteville councilman asks for $15K (Fayetteville Observer reports) — A secret recording released Friday revealed that Fayetteville City Councilman Tyrone Williams told the project manager for the Prince Charles redevelopment that an apparent issue over the property’s title would go away for $15,000.

DANIELLE BATTAGLIA: Outside agency to review 16 Rockingham County criminal cases for legal and ethical problems (Greensboro News & Record reports) — An outside agency agreed to adopt 16 criminal cases from Rockingham County — including some of the county’s most notorious — for review after attorneys found a number of legal and ethical problems in eight cases prosecuted by a former administration. Jason Ramey, interim district attorney for Rockingham County, confirmed hat the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys agreed to review 16 cases handled from start to finish by former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer. The group is governed by the state’s district attorneys and maintains a staff of attorneys in Raleigh to support prosecutors around the state.

TAYLOR BATTEN: In Pittenger-McCready race, who would dish out the stress? (Charlotte Observer column) — Robert Pittenger represents a 9th Congressional District seat that Republicans have held since 1963. Dan McCready thinks he can change that.

ALFRED CHARLES & HANNAG WEBSTER: Rush Limbaugh, other conservatives trolls attack Raleigh elementary school over ‘white privilege’ handout (WRAL-TV reports) — A Wake County elementary school has found itself at the center of a local and national debate about race after an elementary school PTA sent a letter home recently to some students’ homes that attempted to explain “white privilege”

Expand Medicaid now (Winston-Salem Journal) – -“Claims are not well founded that Medicaid expansion will cost states considerably more than what objective analysts project,” Mark Hall, a law and public health professor at Wake Forest University, said in a recently completed study.

LENA TILLETT & HANNAH WEBSTER: UNC surgeon-scientist leads national fight against sex bias in drug development (WRAL-TV reports) — As the first female chair of the department of surgery at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, Dr. Melina Kibbe is leading the national fight against sex bias in drug research and development.

KEITH HUMPHREYS: There’s no such thing as an ‘opioid-addicted’ newborn (Greensboro News & Record column) — Heartbreaking media reports abound regarding how pregnant women who use opioids allegedly “pass down addiction to unborn children.” But news stories that describe any baby as “born addicted” not only misunderstand addiction but also foster hysteria that can have unintended negative consequences.

TROY WILLIAMS: New frontiers in the battle against HIV infections (Fayetteville Observer column) — AIDS, first reported by an obscure medical journal as a mysterious illness that had killed five young gay men in Los Angeles in 1981, is finally dead. Well, the terminology ceases to exist anymore. Back in the 1980s, an AIDS diagnosis was an automatic death sentence. But now, thanks to new drugs and treatment protocols, it is considered a chronic illness. The new name is HIV disease, and its image recently received a massive facelift in North Carolina.

MATTHEW BURNS: Duke University shuts down plans for campus power plant (WRAL-TV reports) — Duke University has put plans for a power plant on campus on hold indefinitely and will focus on using methane from hog waste to power the school’s growing energy needs.

JOHANNA FEREBEE: Climate shifting toward solar industry in N. C. More solar farms to come (Port City Daily) — Local governments are catching on to the solar revolution. With the state’s bill last year and Brunswick County’s updated Unified Development Ordinance, the coast may soon be looking cleaner.

MATTHEW BURNS: GenX in air has DEQ threatening changes to company’s permit (WRAL-TV reports) — State environmental regulators have given Chemours three weeks to put a plan in place to limit releases of GenX into the air from its plant in Bladen County or face stricter limits on the plant’s air quality permit.

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