It’s Wednesday, a historically average day of the week. News for you:
1. Federal appeals court upholds ruling in favor of transgender teen. In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals found that Title IX protects the rights of individuals like Gavin Grimm, a sixteen-year-old transgender student who sued the Gloucester County School Board over its discriminatory bathroom policy. Grimm’s suit argued that the school board’s requirement that transgender students use “alternative, private” facilities is unconstitutional. Yesterday, the same court denied a request for an en banc review, which would have meant that all active judges in the Fourth Circuit would review the case, rather than the three-judge panel that ruled on it back in April.
“This decision further backs up what we and others have said about HB2 from the moment it was introduced: it is illegal, discriminatory, and threatens the wellbeing and safety of transgender students,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “It’s time for Governor McCrory and the legislature to end their harmful and mean-spirited campaign to bully transgender students, acknowledge that HB2 violates federal law, and repeal this discriminatory measure once and for all.”
The case is likely headed for the Supreme Court.
2. Some Durham County voters will be allowed to cast ballot for primary election again. A very long State Board of Elections meeting yesterday yielded a decision that 892 people who cast provisional ballots in the Durham County primary in March will be sent new ballots and allowed to re-vote.
After it was announced that some of the county’s ballots had been mishandled, three losing candidates in the Durham County Commission race—Elaine Hyman, Fred Foster, Jr., and Michael Page—protested the results and have called for a re-do of the entire primary election. State and county officials have noted that the margin of loss exceeds the number of mishandled ballots. The decision by the SBOE appears to be an attempt to placate those who feel their votes might not have been counted without taking the costly step of holding another election, where turnout would be drastically lower.
Rather than throw out the other 892 provisional ballots that officials agreed should count, the state board decided to contact those voters by mail to offer them another chance to cast their primary ballot.
The logistics of the new vote haven’t been set, but the State Board of Elections would be in charge of counting the ballots, officials said.
The mishandling of the provisional ballots is being investigated by state officials and the Durham County DA’s office. It is possible there may be criminal charges filed against BOE workers for tampering with an election, but there is no word on that yet.
3. N.C. Senate releases its budget. It’s $22.2 billion and will lower tuition at four HBCUs, a tax cut for the middle class, and changes to teacher pay. The N&O has more details. NC Policy Watch calls it “the most extreme approach to the state budget yet,” noting:
While we have yet to see the full details, it is very likely that the Senate has once again cut core public services in order to facilitate a new round of income tax cuts that cost $200 million—nearly half the cost of their teacher pay plan. These cuts are just one more blow in the year after year onslaught on public institutions as the Senate continues their commitment to flawed economic theories that aren’t helping our communities or our economy.
The Senate’s plan would also eliminate the sneaky $500,000 cap on light-rail projects that somebody slipped into last year’s budget.
4. Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna want to hike N.C. Obamacare premiums. More than half of the roughly 600,000 North Carolinians covered under Obamacare have plans with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. The insurer wants to raise its premiums in 2017 by about 19 percent. From Time Warner Cable News:
The company says it has no choice. The increases will affect Affordable Care Act customers who pay their own individual health insurances.
“In 2015, we saw rising prices for many drugs, both generic and name brand drugs, that a large number of ACA customers use,” said Brian Tajlili, director of actuarial and pricing services for BCBSNC.
Company leaders attribute the rate hike to the rising costs of medical care and the fact that more ACA customers are going to the emergency rooms more frequently.
The N&Onotes that Aetna is seeking to raise Obamacare premiums 24.5 percent. The hikes will have to be approved by the N.C. Department of Insurance.
5. Dead body found in Goldsboro freezer. Woman buys used freezer, does not find old ice cream sandwiches in it. News of the weird from WNCN:
The woman says she bought the freezer from her neighbor, but that she didn’t immediately open it because that neighbor told her it was being used as a “time capsule.”
The seller of the freezer said it was part of a class project she was doing with her church Sunday School class.
“A church was supposed to come, pick up the items inside the freezer. I was supposed to get the freezer back. The church never came. I decided to open it,” the freezer buyer said.
Police confirmed the human remains were found Friday inside 1723 B Holly Street in Goldsboro.
The woman who discovered it says she believes it was the body of the neighbor’s elderly mother inside the freezer.
“She sold me her frozen mother for $30. How do you do something like that??” the woman said.
Hoo doggie. Happy Wednesday.