Jeremy Loeb

Ben Graumann, Equality NC

Updated Thursday 4pm 

A highly anticipated judiciary committee meeting was held Thursday afternoon.  For nearly 3 hours, Senate and House lawmakers discussed various merit selection proposals as well as new district maps for judges.  Democrats were skeptical of the GOP plans, especially considering the number of maps drawn for legislative and Congressional members that heavily favored Republicans.

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Friday update:

(Associated Press) The North Carolina House leader predicts redrawn election districts for trial court judges can be finalized with Senate Republicans by the end of January. But he's unsure what his colleagues think about a Senate proposal eliminating head-to-head judicial elections.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger appointed Thursday members of a special bipartisan joint committee tasked with recommending judicial changes to the General Assembly.

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Updated 6:00am 12/21:  The Metropolitan Sewerage District has voted down a proposal to expand its board with 3 seats for Henderson County.  The 10-1 vote reflected the belief of board members that giving Henderson the same number of seats as Asheville would create an imbalance because Asheville customers make up a majority of those served.  There's also lingering mistrust after the state legislature tried to take over the Asheville water system and turn it over to MSD. 

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The Washington Post published an article this week looking at North Carolina's moves on taxes in recent years for clues to how the GOP tax plan making its way through Congress could impact the country.  BPR's Jeremy Loeb was joined by WUNC capitol reporter Jeff Tiberii and Western Carolina Univeristy political scientist Chris Cooper for a discussion of North Carolina's example with regards to taxes.

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Senate Republicans in Congress could vote on their version of tax reform as soon as this week.  If the Senate bill passes, it would need to be reconciled with the House version and then voted on again.  There are still a number of Senate Republicans who have expressed reservations.  They can only lose two votes for the bill to still pass without any Democratic support.  BPR's Jeremy Loeb discusses its impact in Western North Carolina with NC State University economist Dr. Michael Walden.

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North Carolina’s Republican-dominated General Assembly has made a number of changes to the way judges are elected in the state, with many more proposals under current consideration.  They include making races partisan and changes to district lines and term lengths, even eliminating some vacancies and proposals to do away with elections for judges altogether.  Former state Supreme Court justice Robert Orr, a Republican, is no fan of the changes.  He spoke with BPR’s Jeremy Loeb about the proposals and about the state of the Republican party under President Donald Trump.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

A House GOP tax plan working its way through Congress would have a huge impact on Asheville with the elimination of the federal historic tax credit.  Of all North Carolina municipalities, only Durham had more projects benefit from the credit between 2002 and 2016, according to the D.C. based National Trust for Historic Preservation.  

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Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer got a resounding vote of confidence earlier this month, winning re-election with more than 80% of the vote.  She stopped by BPR to speak with Jeremy Loeb about the election results and to look forward to her second four-year term.  She also discussed possible actions the city might take in response to a legislative effort to force districts for council members, something Asheville voters overwhelmingly rejected.

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Gerrymandering, where one party draws political maps that skew in their favor, is an issue that’s playing out in courts across the country.  Few regions have been impacted more heavily than Western North Carolina.  In Asheville, activists staged a creative event Saturday to draw attention to how our Congressional maps are drawn.  BPR's Jeremy Loeb was there.

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Election Day is Tuesday for a number of municipalities across the state.  Polls will be open from 6:30am to 7:30pm.  Smaller races are often decided by much more local, personal issues than state and national races.  That could be true in Mills River, the small town 20 minutes south of Asheville in Henderson County.  BPR’s Jeremy Loeb reports an industrial factory being built across from an elementary school has become an issue in a race there involving the town’s mayor.  

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There’s been a big change atop one of North Carolina’s most prominent civil rights organization.  The influential leader of the North Carolina NAACP is stepping down to lead a national effort focused on the rights of the poor.  BPR’s Jeremy Loeb reports on the man stepping up in his place.

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New York Times political columnist and frequent commentator for NPR's All Things Considered David Brooks sat down with BPR's Jeremy Loeb for a discussion about the state of our country and media during the Trump presidency.  

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The issue of how much partisan gerrymandering is too much is before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The court heard oral arguments Tuesday on a case out of Wisconsin challenging maps there for being too lopsided in favor of Republicans.  That case could have huge implications in North Carolina, which has a nearly identical political situation, and where a similar case is winding its way through the courts.  For the latest, BPR's Jeremy Loeb spoke with Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper. 

State lawmakers are heading back to Raleigh with major items up for consideration.  Republicans are pushing for a redrawing of judicial district lines that critics say would favor their party.  They also want to sweep away Democratic Governor Roy Cooper's vetoes.  Colin Campbell, editor of the Insider Government News Service, spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb about session and about donations from the National Rifle Association to WNC Congressman Patrick McHenry.

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Waynesville Democrat Joe Sam Queen lost the most closely-contested state legislative race in 2016.  Fewer than 300 votes separated him and Bryson City Republican Mike Clampitt.  Now Queen says he'll try to win back his seat from Clampitt in 2018.  It will be the fourth contest between the two in the 118th district, which includes Jackson, Swain, and Haywood Counties.  Queen won the first two before losing in 2018.  He spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb about why he's running again.

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Senate Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act are once again floundering.  The bill currently lacks enough support.  But many times the effort has been called dead, only for it to reemerge.  The bill would need to pass by Friday.  Health groups are scrambling to find out the impact.  The Kaiser Family Foundation found that the original version of the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill would have cost North Carolina more than 8 billion dollars in federal funding.  Rachel Garfield is a senior researcher with Kaiser and one of the authors of the analysis.  She spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

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Recent hurricanes Irma and Harvey were a stark reminder of the catastrophic impacts of climate change.   But the words “climate change” have become so politically polarizing that some even avoid saying them.  In Asheville, that’s not the case. 

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Democratic Representative Brian Turner of Buncombe County stopped by our studios in late July for a chat with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.  They covered his amendment to the Asheville districts bill, the overall redistricting process underway in the General Assembly now, a renewable energy bill signed by Governor Roy Cooper, and much more.  

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"They don't have anywhere else to turn."  Pisgah Legal Services executive director Jim Barrett was referring to the roughly 2,000 people that could lose access to their services due to cuts in the state budget.  Pisgah Legal Services is one of three aid groups across the state that will feel the impacts of the cuts.

This week on the WUNCPolitics Podcast, a conversation with Jeremy Loeb, Morning Edition Host and reporter at Blue Ridge Public Radio.

Jeremy joins Jeff on this politics podcast to discuss redistricting, the powerful U.S. House members from Western North Carolina, craft beer, and what he misses most about WUNC - where he used to work.

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Western North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows met face to face with supporters and detractors during a town hall debate last night near Hendersonville that was largely dominated by health care.  BPR’s Jeremy Loeb was there.

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Legislators are heading back to Raleigh Thursday for a special session, but it's unclear exactly what's on the agenda.  Veto overrides were originally cited as the main reason.  Now those appear to be off the table for the moment as not enough lawmakers are expected to be in attendance.  Instead, they could consider bills not taken up in the long session.  Hanging over it all is a tight deadline for correcting illegal legislative maps, and the potential for surprises.  WUNC capitol reporter Jeff Tiberii spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb about what's in store.  

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Updated Tuesday 7/25 7:23pm:  The Asheville City Council approved Sunday alcohol sales unanimously, meaning restaurants and bars can start serving drinks at 10am rather than the previous noon start time.  The original story is below.

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With lawmakers home from Raleigh, Western Carolina University political scientist Dr. Chris Cooper stopped by for one of our regular chats taking the temperature of politics in Raleigh and Washington.  He spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

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2 1/2 years on the job, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams stopped by for a one-on-one conversaton with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

A new book looking at North Carolina's job market shows that it's growing, but so to is the divide between high and low paying jobs.

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Speaking to BPR a day after the legislature passed a bill forcing districts for Asheville city council members, mayor Esther Manheimer said there is a legal strategy in place to deal with them.  Manheimer said the issue would need to be discussed at the next council meeting on July 25th.

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1.34 million North Carolinians could lose health insurance if the Senate health care bill became law, according to the liberal think-tank the Center for American Progress.  The group evaluated numbers by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that found 22 million Americans could lose health coverage under the Senate plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

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The long-debated Asheville districts bill is now law.  The North Carolina House passed the bill forcing districts for Asheville city council members, and the Senate quickly concurred.  It passed despite the lone Asheville Democrat in favor withdrawing his support after it was amended.

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A bill forcing districts on the city of Asheville needs several more votes before becoming law.  It's on the House schedule for Thursday, possibly the last day of session.  The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville.

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