1. Maps.

Exactly one week after hearing arguments in North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering case the federal three-judge panel has outlined a next step forward.

  • Federal judges want an independent expert to help craft new maps in the ongoing redistricting process. On Thursday the panel charged Stanford law professor Nathaniel Persily with the task of reviewing and drawing new districts, hopefully in time for 2018 elections.
  • Persily has served in a similar capacity drawing legislatives maps for Georgia, Maryland and New York. The federal panel says his experience is “critical” as the filing deadline to run in 2018 is in February and the next decision issued by the panel will “likely be appealed.”

2. JFK, the CIA & NC

Yesterday marked the deadline for the release of the entirety of the classified files on former Pres. John F. Kennedy’s assassination unless otherwise stated by the president.

  • Pres. Trump decided not to release all the files after national security agencies urged him to keep some documents secret. Trump has directed agencies to provide reasons as to why they wanted approximately 300 files to remain classified within 180 days.
  • This all comes about thanks to a 1992 law mandating that all remaining classified files had to be released on Oct. 26, 2017. Some legal analysts have slammed the CIA and other agencies, calling them “shameful” for not having “their act together” and releasing all of the documents at the prescribed time.
  • Among the files that were released Thursday were three North Carolinians who were flagged as “potential threats to presidents and other public figures.”

3. Ratepayers vs. shareholders.

Duke Energy’s proposed rate hike would pass along the cost of coal ash clean up to ratepayers, but its shareholders might end up footing the bill instead.

  • The Public Staff of the N.C. Utilities Commission recommended that regulators allow a rate increase of less than one-tenth of a percent instead of Duke’s proposed 14 percent. This would result in a annual revenue requirement increase of $2.8 million compared to Duke’s proposed $419 million.
  • Meanwhile experts have been testifying before the Utilities Commission, alleging that Duke “ignored clear warnings of poor coal-ash management practices for years.” As a result Duke’s shareholders could end up paying the price, something that will likely be decided early next year following a Nov. 20 rate case hearing.

4. The opioid crisis.

On Thursday Pres. Trump declared the national opioid crisis a public health emergency.

  • Trump did not release any funds to accompany the declaration, but the order does allow some grant money to be used in combatting opioid addiction. Confronting the national issue of drug addiction was a campaign promise that “strongly resonated” with Trump’s “working-class” supporters.
  • The President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, a six-member commission formed by Trump in March, recently urged the president to issue the declaration after he failed to do so in August.
  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a member of the President’s Commission, recently spoke about the issue, stressing the need for “tangible ideas that the state opioid action plan can turn into results.”

5. Federal spending & tax cuts.

Support for the spendig plan passed out of the House could pave the way for tax reform by Thanksgiving.

  • The passage of its spending plan indicated that the GOP’s ambitious tax reform package can likely pass without relying on Democratic support. However, the partisan spending bill passed on a narrow 212-216 House vote with several Republicans defecting, suggesting that support for tax reform may be difficult to secure.
  • The House is set to release its tax reform package next week and plans to mark it up in committee Nov. 6. The hope is to pass tax bills through each chamber by Thanksgiving and conference on both versions by the New Year.