1. The GOP’s tax plan.House Republicans unveiled their tax reform plan on Thursday.
  • The broad overhaul touches “virtually all Americans and the economy’s every corner” and is the “most extensive” tax code rewrite in three decades. GOP leaders and Pres. Trump tout the plan as a “sparkplug for the economy” as well as a job creator, naming the plan the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • In addition to providing relief to the middle class, the $1.5 trillion plan includes a permanent tax cut for corporations. This bill is scheduled to face its “first official ‘markup'” on Monday.
  1. Free speech.Both the North Carolina legislature and Congress are taking action on the issue of free speech.
  • A proposed free speech policy, mandated by the N.C. legislature and initially approved by the UNC Board of Governors, could result in consequences for campus protestors who “disrupt others at the state’s public universities.” Similar policies have been implemented elsewhere, generally intended to “protect conservative speakers” that have been barred from speaking at many universities. This measure will go before the full UNC board for a vote next month.
  • A free speech provision also appears in the GOP tax package and would allow “ministers and other religious leaders to endorse candidates from the pulpit.” The provision modifies the 63-year-old Johnson Amendment, but “stops short” of allowing further “political participation such as financial contributions” to campaigns.
  1. Tax credits, coal ash & sexual assault. It’s never a dull moment in the energy sector.
  • The Republican tax plan ends tax credits for wind projects and electric vehicles, but keeps credits for solar development intact. While the solar industry is relieved, wind advocates say the plan puts “$50 billion in planned investment at risk.” The wind and solar credits, extended less than two years ago, had previously received bipartisan support and were intended to even the playing field between renewables and traditional energy sources.
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been vocal in his support for traditional energy sources and reviving the coal industry, most recently making the case that fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault.
  • Meanwhile, in North Carolina more witnesses are being deposed for the upcoming coal ash rate case hearing later this month. While depositions are “not unheard of in cases before the N.C. Utilities Commission… they are rare.” The hearing is expected to take place before the NCUC on Nov. 20.
  1. Silicon Valley visits D.C. Facebook, Twitter and Google appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Over the course of three hearings early this week representatives from the three big tech firms discussed steps they will take to increase transparency in ad-buying practices. Unfortunately, however, “no decisive action appears to be in store to stop a foreign power from harnessing digital platforms to try to shape the information environment” in the United States.
  1. Public education & school choice.A North Carolina task force seeks to reform public education spending while the GOP tax bill seeks to further school choice goals.
  • State legislators are working to reform the way billions of dollars are allocated to local schools in light of a 2016 report that described the current system as “outdated, overly complicated and often out of whack with what schools and students need.” The current funding formula has not been overhauled in decades.
  • Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, a tax bill provision would allow parents to redirect their money from tax-free college savings plans to pay for private school tuition. This proposed provision would further Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ goal of expanding school choice “to allow public dollars to follow children to private schools.”