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House Democrats counter flurry of gun bills with ambitious if ill-fated legislation

Repealing the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law, requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance, conducting universal background checks for all private firearm transfers, limiting the size of ammunition magazines.

Those are some of the provisions in a bill filed Wednesday by four House Democrats in a comprehensive gun-control bill that, they acknowledge, has no chance of passing. But, co-sponsor Rep. Paul Luebke of Durham said, it carries a message.

“We worked hard to put together a bill that covers about every issue we feel ought to be involved to have a safer North Carolina,” Luebke said Wednesday afternoon.

Rep. Harrison testifies in D.C. for federal protections in pursuit of fracking

State Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat, was grilled by U.S. Rep. David McKinley, a Republican from West Virginia, while testifying at a congressional hearing on fracking and coal ash in Washington on Friday. The two clashed over whether there were any legitimate environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing, and who should regulate it, states or the feds.

McKinely was so aggressive – “He was actually pretty rude about it,” Harrison told Dome – that the committee chairman apologized to her.

According to a blog on The Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee was the venue for Republicans to go on the offensive against federal regulation of fracking. Harrison was invited to present the contrary view.

“Our state agencies may be ill-equipped to do the work needed to properly regulate and enforce natural gas drilling,” Harrison told the committee. “Strong federal oversight is needed to ensure that the state regulatory programs have standards that will protect our citizens from harm.”

Survey shows 100% hate redistricting

The every-10-years process known as congressional redistricting is always an exercise in creative map-making followed by lawsuits. It was no different this time around, as Republicans in the General Assembly carved up the state in new ways.

But it’s a highly unpopular way to govern, according to a new survey by the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform. The group is surveying candidates for N.C. House and Senate, and so far, of the more than 60 responses received, every single one of them would like to see a new process for redistricting.

Two House Republicans call for delay in fracking

Two state Republican lawmakers said Wednesday they will lead an effort to delay legalizing fracking in this state. The move casts doubt on plans by some in the state legislature who have been pushing to quickly legalize the controversial natural gas extraction technique.

Rep. Mitch Gillespie, chairman of the House appropriations committee, spent an hour outlining for reporters reasons why the state should take several years to make sure fracking is done safely and responsibly. Gillespie, representing Burke and McDowell counties, said that conducting more research and crafting laws would delay legalized fracking here by at least two to three years.

Gillespie was flanked on one side by Rep. Michael Stone of Harnett and Lee counties, areas where natural gas deposits are thought to be held underground in shale rock formations. On Gillespie’s other side stood Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Guilford County Democrat sympathetic to environmental causes who said she remained concerned that fracking contaminates drinking water and endangers public safety. More here.

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