It’s Friday. You made it. Congrats.
1) Senate completes HB 467 veto override.
It seems state legislators aren’t too concerned about new research that shows the presence of pig feces on and inside the homes of pig farms’ neighbors. Thursday, the Senate completed an override of Governor Cooper’s veto of HB 467, a bill that limits financial liability in agricultural nuisance suits.
From the INDY:
Cooper vetoed the bill last week, shortly after lawyers representing hundreds of plaintiffs involved in twenty-six federal lawsuits against Murphy-Brown LLC, the hog division of Smithfield Foods, submitted new evidence showing that fecal matter from the hog operations has wound up outside of homes and has likely ended up in their homes and even on their food.
Senator Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, the sponsor of the Senate companion bill, who has received more than $130,000 in campaign contributions from the commercial hog farming industry, reacted to the news with a glowing statement: “I am incredibly pleased to that this bill providing legal certainty to family farmers and the thousands of North Carolinians who earn their living in the agricultural industry is now law,” he wrote. “This is a victory for farmworkers and our rural communities.”
2) Critics blast the Senate budget, saying it cuts programs for the elderly.
Meals on Wheels would take a hit. And that’s not the only reason the Senate’s budget is problematic for the state’s elderly population. From the INDY:
The $22.9 billion Senate budget released this week provides continuation funding of just less than $1 million for Home and Community Care Block Grants, the pie of state and federal money that each county government gets to divide up for the benefit of older people. More than ten thousand people across the state are on waiting lists for block-grant funded programs such as Meals on Wheels, in-home aides, refurbishing of houses, adult day care, mental health counseling, and senior center operations.
Advocates for older people including N.C. Coalition on Aging president Mary Bethel say an annual allotment of $4 million to $7 million is needed to fill the increasing need across the state. The block grant services are specifically selected to allow people to age in place instead of moving to assisted living or nursing homes.
The Senate voted early this morning to send the budget to the House. From The News & Observer:
The N.C. Senate voted 32-15 early Friday along party lines to approve Republican leaders’ budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.
Senators held an initial 34-15 vote Thursday evening, then returned at 12:05 a.m. Friday to take a final vote, because the chamber’s rules require that the two mandatory votes to pass the bill can’t be taken on the same day.
The first round of debate on the $22.9 billion spending plan lasted for nearly three hours, with Democrats arguing that Gov. Roy Cooper’s $23.4 billion budget would be better for the state because it spends more on education and other priorities and doesn’t include tax cuts.
3) Former FBI director James Comey reportedly refused to kiss the ring, got sacked for it.
This version of just why former FBI director James Comey got fired is very Don Corleone. From The New York Times:
Only seven days after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president, James B. Comey has told associates, the F.B.I. director was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new commander in chief.
The conversation that night in January, Mr. Comey now believes, was a harbinger of his downfall this week as head of the F.B.I., according to two people who have heard his account of the dinner.
As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.
Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge.
Trump has denied that this conversation took place. And speaking of Trump, now he’s battling with his own White House over the reason Comey was let go.
President Trump offered a new version of his decision to fire James B. Comey, saying on Thursday that he would have dismissed the F.B.I. director regardless of whether the attorney general and his deputy recommended it.
It was just the latest in a series of statements, some of them contradictory, to whiplash Washington over 48 hours that began with Mr. Comey’s firing on Tuesday evening. And it was unusually harsh: Mr. Trump castigated Mr. Comey as “a showboat” and “a grandstander,” suggesting that his issues with the F.B.I. director went beyond any previously stated concerns.
Mr. Trump said on Thursday that he had not relied solely on the advice from the Justice Department’s top two leaders in making his decision. And, for the first time, he explicitly referenced the F.B.I.’s investigation into his administration’s ties to Russia in defending Mr. Comey’s firing.
“And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,’” Mr. Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”
This morning, Trump took to Twitter to air his grievances.
4) The acting FBI director contradicts the White House and says Russia inquiry remains “significant.”
From the Times:
The acting director of the F.B.I. contradicted the White House on two major issues on Thursday: the support of rank-and-file agents for the fired F.B.I. chief James B. Comey and the importance of the agency’s investigation into Russian election interference.
In a striking repudiation of official White House statements, the acting director, Andrew G. McCabe, said the inquiry was “highly significant” and pledged to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the F.B.I. would resist any attempt to influence or hobble the investigation.
“Simply put,” he said, “you cannot stop the men and women of the F.B.I. from doing the right thing.”
Let’s just hope the Senate plays along. We’re talking to you, Richard Burr.
On that note, have a great weekend.