Tillis Says He's Cracking Down on Coal Pollution, Green Groups Say That’s BS (Mother Jones) – N.C. Senate candidate Thom Tillis is making an unusual argument—for a Republican. In recent weeks, he's accused his Democratic opponent, Sen. Kay Hagan, of sabotaging critical environmental regulations because of her "cozy relationship" with a powerful energy company. At the same time, Tillis has trumpeted his own role in fighting for what he claims are tough new rules that will clean up the coal industry. But North Carolina environmentalists say he's full of it. "That's pretty bold, as a line of attack, considering the environmental record he's got," says D.J. Gerken, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. The back-and-forth is the latest skirmish in the political war over one of the worst environmental disasters in the state's history. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/thom-tillis-kay-hagan-duk...
TAX-FREE WEEKEND DEMISE MEANS DIGGING DEEPER FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL NEEDS : Have you been waiting for the first weekend in August to go out and outfit the kid you’re sending off to college? Looking to upgrade your computer, add a printer or get a tablet? Thanks to the tax overhaul enacted last year by the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory you’ll be paying an additional 7 percent more than you’d have paid a year ago. Remember back a year ago, there was the sales tax holiday in North Carolina. But that’s been abolished. However, depending on where you are, or if you’re willing to travel a bit, our neighbor states – South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia -- still have their sales tax holiday. You can go online to: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/sales_holiday.html, to get more details for each state.
Here’s some typical items and how much more you’ll pay this year (based on 7 percent state and local sales taxes).
N.C. voters want stronger actions from lawmakers on coal (Weekly Independent) -- A poll taken last week found that most North Carolina voters want lawmakers to do more to get Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash. Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh surveying group, found in a poll of 519 voters that more than 75 percent of North Carolinians don’t think the Legislature has made Duke Energy do enough to clean up coal ash pollution at the state’s 14 coal ash power plants. The view was consistent across party lines and the poll found that weak leadership on environmental issues was tied to low favorability numbers for Governor Pat McCrory and House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis. 31 percent and 39 percent of respondents said their impressions of McCrory and Tillis were “very unfavorable,” respectively, and 63 percent said Tillis's handling of remaining coal ash threats to the state's waterways make them view him less favorably. http://www.indyweek.com/triangulator/archives/2014/07/28/nc-voters-want-...
Environmentalists: coal ash bill badly flawed (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- While proposed legislation would require Duke Energy to close ash ponds at its Asheville plant and three other facilities within five years, environmentalists contend the bill has serious flaws. The Southern Environmental Law Center and other groups outlined their concerns with the legislation pending in a conference committee in a letter to Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tom Tillis. The letter states that following the Feb. 2 spill from a Duke ash pond that coated 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge, lawmakers promised a “robust solution” to coal ash pollution. “Instead, the current legislation inexplicably attempts to weaken our state’s existing groundwater protection laws in favor of Duke Energy while allowing Duke to continue polluting state waters and putting our communities at risk,” according to the letter. http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/07/27/environmentalis...
· Friday July 25: McCrory Says He Could Veto State Budget (WUNC-FM) -- "I’ve clearly communicated my issues and concerns and I will stand by those issues and concerns. If the budget doesn’t address my issues and concerns, I’ll definitely consider vetoing the budget like I would consider vetoing any other bill," said McCrory. http://wunc.org/post/governor-mccrory-says-he-could-veto-state-budget
Senate Tentatively Passes Medicaid Overhaul Bill (WUNC-FM) -- Lawmakers in the state Senate have tentatively approved a bill that would overhaul North Carolina's Medicaid system. The measure would create an independent agency to oversee the state's health care system for low-income residents. The bill would also contract out Medicaid to managed care and provider-led organizations. They would receive a set amount of money per patient to provide care. Republican Senator Ralph Hise is a sponsor of the bill. He says it's necessary to help control ballooning Medicaid costs. "We go through this budget over and over again, it looks like a spaghetti plate, budget is so intertwined with everything else in health care, in public health, that it's very difficult to get a handle on what it costs to run a Medicaid department," said Hise. http://wunc.org/post/senate-tentatively-passes-medicaid-overhaul-bill
GERRY COHEN: Celebrated as the Legislature’s ‘Consummate Professional' (WUNC-FM) -- One of the most respected and beloved figures at the General Assembly is about to retire. Gerry Cohen will soon finish his current job as the special counsel for the state legislature, where he was first hired as a staff attorney back in 1977. Later, he became head of the bill drafting division, where his encyclopedic memory and reputation for fairness made him a favorite among Democrats and Republicans alike. … "We have a non-partisan central staff, which is the model in like 40-plus states, where central staff works for both parties and both houses," said Cohen. "That was a really good experience, I liked doing that. Some states have separate House and Senate staffs, some states have separate Democratic and Republican staffs." http://wunc.org/post/consummate-professional-lawmakers-celebrate-retirin...
94 percent of Duke Energy coal ash still in Dan River (Danville Register & Bee) -- A Charlottesville-based environmental group has criticized Duke Energy following its clean-up of a 2,500-ton coal ash deposit at Schoolfield Dam, saying the company has not accounted for the remainder of its 39,000-ton coal ash spill into the Dan River. "Where are the other 37,000 tons?" said Kathleen Sullivan, senior communications manager for the Southern Environmental Law Center, in an email to the Danville Register & Bee last week. "They have not accounted for 94 percent of the coal-ash waste spilled into the Dan River. Duke has removed about 6 percent of the coal-ash waste it spilled and at just two places: at the spill site itself and the Danville dam. It is hard to believe that the coal ash hasn’t collected elsewhere in places in the river where it could be removed."
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