by Danny Hooley
Good morning, everyone. It's still a little slick on some roads, so please be careful out there. Let’s look at today’s headlines:
1. It’s just not politically scientific: Political science professor Barry Burden from the University of Wisconsin testified Monday as a witness for voters and organizations challenging the state's voter ID law. Burden said that if legislators were truly worried about voter fraud, they should have focused elsewhere:
Burden, on the stand for about two hours on the first day of a trial expected to last through the week, said he thought the elections law overhaul in 2013 and amended in 2015 would place a greater burden on black and Latino voters than whites and would do little to prevent fraud.
"If the rationale were to prevent voter fraud,” Burden said, “it would focus on absentee ballots. …The consensus is fraud is more common among mail ballots."
The cost of obtaining one of the six approved IDs in North Carolina, as well as the efforts that some would have to go through to get one, could also dissuade would-be voters from following through with all the steps.
2.Warming trend: Expect ice to be less of a factor on the road by the end of today, but don't get too cocky:
Temperatures Tuesday morning were 10 to 15 degrees warmer than on Monday, and afternoon highs will climb into the upper 50s during the afternoon, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
"Any ice that is left on the roads will likely be gone by the end of the day thanks to this warming trend," Gardner said. "We've seen a few issues with icy patches this morning, but we're not seeing widespread problems."
3. No respect, no respect at all: Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he'll continue to rev up the team with the ol' Rodney Dangerfield schtick as they head into Super Bowl 50 — because it works:
There were plenty of doubters early in the season calling the Panthers the worst 4-0 team, the worst 5-0 team, and so on. And quarterback Cam Newton remains a polarizing figure whose dabbin’ and Superman celebrations are emulated by young, hip ans but viewed as showboating arrogance by many older, more conservative folks.
But the last time the Panthers opened as underdogs was the Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas, when they started the week as one-point dogs but were favorites by the time they rolled over the Cowboys at Jerry World.
But why let facts get in the way of a good, old-fashioned, us-against-the-world rallying cry?
4 .Listen up, Pat: NC's governor refuses to expand the health insurance "coverage gap" between Medicaid and the ACA. That puts him at odds with voters, both Republicans and Democrats, according to a poll commissioned by NC Child.
Conducted by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling, the survey of more than 2,000 North Carolina voters shows 72 ercent overall would support expansion, including 62 percent of epublicans and 62 percent of unaffiliated voters surveyed.
.. When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it made expanding Medicaid to cover a large swath of uninsured individuals mandatory. A subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling said states should have an option of
whether to expand, and North Carolina opted not to. That decision leaves about =50,000 people in a coverage gap because they don't qualify for Medicaid but aren't helped enough, if at all, by Affordable Care Act subsidies.
5.Cold scam: Attorney General Roy Cooper warns people not to fall for seasonal scams, nor allow elderly loved ones to be preyed upon by false threats of utility cutoffs:
According to a news release from the North Carolina Department of Justice, in the utility cut-off scam, someone claiming to be with your utility company says your bill is past due and must be paid immediately or your power or gas will be shut off. When the scam happens by phone, the scammer is usually convincing and insistent, demanding that you get a prepaid debit card and follow their instructions to pay right away. Sometimes this scam arrives by email rather than by phone, and the message includes a link labeled “Pay bill.”
To protect yourself from these scams, remember: If you are actually in danger of having your service disconnected, a gas or electric utility company is required to give you written notice 10 days before they disconnect.
6.Coal ash ponds? Leave `em, says advisory board: Duke Energy’s advisory board says drying and capping the company’s 32 coal ponds in place is the best option for dealing with groundwater contamination. Environmental groups beg to differ:
The board’s conclusion, says board Chairman John Daniels of UNC Charlotte, is that the evidence shows the state could best serve environmental and safety interests by labeling almost all the ponds “low risk” under N.C. law.
That would give Duke the option of dealing with the ash in place. Then the risks of moving the ash could be properly weighed against those of leaving it in place.
“This is what the science shows,” he says. “This is not a new problem. We have been dealing with waste for decades and the science is well-established.”'
It is a position rejected by environmental groups. And the state and its regulators have already said the ash must be dug up from eight sites. And the state appears on track to recommend excavation and reburial from many more sites.
That’s all for today's Roundup. See you guys tomorrow.