Good morning, Grier

It's been a busy BlueNC week. We closed out February with the first-ever Women on Wednesdays, and a record 13,008 unique visitors for the shortest month of the year. We got the scoop on "new rules" for the NC House, and today we have a second-term representative, Grier Martin, stopping by to answer your questions. He's a primary sponsor on the Renewable Portfolio Standards bill, and is intensely interested in veterans affairs and family issues.

He should be online around 8, so keep your eyes peeled and your questions coming. We'll have him for about an hour.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Comments

New rules

What's the general take on the new rules among House members? Do you see any risks? Does the Speaker still have the authority to stop insane bills dead in their tracks?

We've been worried about so-called Defense of Marriage legislation getting through committee and onto the House floor, where it would no doubt find more than a little support.

rules

Members are still digesting the proposed rules. Some folks on the GOP side claim that the proposed rules do not go far enough. But, no one denies they represent a BIG step forward in reform. My sense is that the rules, if passed, will open up the process and allow a much greater voice for the minority party (the GOP). But, they still recognize that the majority party is the majority because the people of NC voted that way. And, as such, the majority is entitled to have a certain level of control.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

teh ---> the

Already a spelling mistake on my first ever live blog!

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

No worries

Typos are our fiends.

teh=the First blog and he's

teh=the

First blog and he's already using L337 sp33k.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

Hey Grier, It must be hard

Hey Grier,
It must be hard after a national campaign labeled cluture of corruption to have to deal with it here in our own party in our own state. I'm glad to see (and hope to continue to see) with your leadership the cleaning of our own house (figuratiely and literally). - Darron

corruption

Thanks, Darron. It is important to remember as Democrats that the public sees corruption as a non-partisan (or perhaps bi-partisan) issue. And, they are correct. Anywhere you find power you will find corruption to some degree. There is nothing inherent to Dems that makes us immune to it. I hope that what separates us from the GOP is that we do a better job of addressing the problem.

The proposed House rules are a great start and I am certain you will see us do more this session.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

pensions

I expect this issue tocome up. I certainly think it is appropriate to deny pensions to legislators convicted of felonies related to their legislative duties. If you violate your duty to the citizens of NC, they should not be obliged to fund your retirement.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Of course

the "violation of duty" standard would mean denying pensions to Charles Taylor, Robin Hayes and Liddy Dole.

I kind of like that idea.

:)

RPS

I've been spending a lot of time on the RPS bill - and frankly it's hard to understand it all. Plus it looks like there will have to be lots of compromising to get a comprehensive bill - and progressives may not be all that happy with some of the outcomes.

I also think I heard a quote from a Duke Energy spokesperson saying they we convinced something was going to pass, and they wanted to have a big hand in it.

What kind of pressure are you getting from Big Energy on this bill?

RPS

Yeah, the RPS (or REPS) bill is pretty confusing at first glance. And, because of the inevitable compromises that will be made, the "in the weeds" details of the bill will change. The basics that will not change, however, are that the bill will require utilities to get a percentage of their energy from renewable sources.

Because this fundamentally changes the way the energy business is done in NC, the utilities understandably are very involved. They, I think, do see RPS as inevitable and are working to shape it in a way that eases the burden on them.

Here's a link to the bill in its current form:
http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2007&BillID=h77&submitButton=Go

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Is there anything "we the people"

can or should be doing at this point? Or should we be keeping our powder dry for a shoot-out later in the session?

Without a doubt, make sure

Without a doubt, make sure your representative and senator hears from you on this issue now. We need to know you are watching. Whether your elected official is a Dem or Rep, let them hear from you now. While mass emailings to all members can help, the key is to make sure that the one person you have the ability to hire or fire knows what you want them to do.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

I'm hopeful whatever the outcome is that

we will cause the utilities to invest in Geothermal and Solar. These technologies have consumer application and major investments may help the prices come down to where we users can afford to make our own contribution to greening the environment.

Stan Bozarth

I have some constituents

who have started up a company that provides geothermal energy to residences. They tell me NC is a great location for geothermal. My neighbor is an architect who has installed one of these systems in a house already.

Both geothermal and solar are explicitly mentioned in HB77, with a special set aside to emphasize solar.

______________________
Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

How

I guess regarding the RPS bill, it seems like a great idea to name some goals for using renewable energy sources. Even Bush has thron around some big numbers. Grier, could you comment on how this might be implemented. I know NC Green Power is already heavily involved, but will this involve help from the state in adding new (sustainable energy) infrastructure ... or should all that spending come from the private sector?

good question

In the case of RPS, the state sets the goals and gives the utilities flexibility on which renewable sources they want to derive energy from. One small exception to this is a "set aside" for solar energy to give extra emphasis to this source.

No state appropriations of money are involved.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Hi Rep. Martin

I'm in Johnston, so I'm not technically your constituent, but I'm interested in state legislation that would give local governments more revenue raising options ... beyond property taxes and half-cent sales taxes. I think its time to give those options to local governments.

What do you think?

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Local governments are

Local governments are understandably screaming for more funding options. We in the GA need to listen carefully to what they're saying. But we need to tread carefully. Some counties have a solid property tax base from which to draw funding. For many rural counties, however, this is not the case.

When evaluating options, I will carefully look to see if the proposal is fair. For example, we cannot allow counties to meet all their needs from an increase in a regressive tax like the sales tax.

Another potentially big piece of the puzzle is the possibility of easing the burden of Medicaid on counties. NC is the only state where counties bear such a large part of Medicaid costs. If the state assumed part of this burden, counties might be able to afford to construct the schools they need.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Thanks, Rep. Martin

Some of us bedroom community counties need relief on this issue very soon. We're wasting so much tax revenue on bond service debt and it seems we're not looking to the future consequences of that wasted money. We regular citizens of NC are counting on the Lege to wade through the noise from Realtors and Home Builders and do the right thing for us.

Thanks for your care on the matter!

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

great question

HB 77 would require 20%, with around 10% coming from renewable sources and up to 10% from efficiency.

So, why not require 25% in NC? Each state differs in energy needs and in the feasibility of renewable energy sources. Because of geography, some states can hope to get more energy from wind and hydroelectirc,and solar. Also, states differ in their existing energy generation capacity.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Efficiency

"...10% coming from renewable sources and up to 10% from efficiency."

In terms of efficiency - is this referring to the producers or the consumers of power? Wouldn't better efficiency be an achievable goal regardless of the source?

How does the 10% from 'efficency' factor into the goal of 20% from renewable sources?

efficiency

Up to half of the 20% requirement can be met through efficiency measure. You are absolutely correct that efficiency is an achievable goal regardless of any paring with renewable energy.

If you're having trouble sleeping and really want to get into the weeds on this topic, go to the Utilities Commission website and check out A Study of the Feasibility of Energy Efficiency as an Eligible Resource as Part of a Renewable Portfolio Standard for the State of North Carolina

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Oh oh.

He's hooked. And he's learning HTML.

Now we're done for.

seriously

we have him checking back with us multiple times, and we have ed ridpath posting in multiple threads.

the world is falling apart.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

I Will Go Look -

but I've been the the Utilities Commission website before. They talk funny. (er - write funny)
Do any of them write in plain English?

In my short life so far as a blogger

I have seen a number of progressive candidates and legislators blog. Some even say that blogging will change the face of politics. The people that do blog almost always have something positive to say about any and all blogging politicians. My question is how do you see blogging communities? A resource for campaign contributions, a voice to use to get your message out, a sounding board for new ideas....?

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

BlueSouth had a great post on this issue just this AM

I think the blogging community serves as a way for me to build relationships over distances. It lets me get to know people and lets people get to know me.

In my NC House district in Raleigh, I've knocked on thousands and thousands of doors. Nothing beats face to face contact. But, I can't knock on doors every day. And, this kind of face to face contact gets tough to do in areas bigger than a state legislative district.

How else but in a live blog, for example, could I get this kind of input from folks across NC, while simultaneously eating breakfast and getting to kiss my daughter good bye as she leaves for preschool. Talk about multitasking!

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Ah yes.

You've hit the nail on the head. This is an amazing technology for having real interactions with real people - that's convenient, easy and profoundly democratic. I hope you'll encourage your colleagues to consider doing the same when they have an important issue to discuss.

Speaking of which . . .

The situation for veterans care at the federal level seems to be a neverending nightmare. What can we do in North Carolina to help mitigate the disastrous impacts of the Bush administration's mismanagement? Are there specific bills in play that we should be getting familiar with?

Veterans

Yeah, I just don't understand how you can start a war while at the same time proposing cuts to the VA that will have to care for the thousands of new veterans.

Since the Bush Administration has violated its duty to those of us who have served, we at the state level need to take up the slack. A few months ago Governor Easley convened a summit for returning war veterans. One of the results of this summit is a proposal to boost mental health services for returning veterans. I am especially pleased that this program will emphasize reaching out to the thousands of NC veterans who do not live near our active duty installations. We have even less access to these kind of services than the folks on active duty do. This program is in the Governor's proposed budget and I will be fighting hard to make sure it is in our budget.

Military life brings some obvious hardships: physical risk, separation from family, etc. But, anyone who has served knows that military life brings a host of smaller burdens that, collectively, make life tough at times. I'm working this session to do what I can to remove as many of these burdens as possible. Look out for bills, for example, to address military child custody issues and reservist re-employment rights. I'll also be filing a bill to ease the burden on small businesses whose employees are called to active duty. And, I'm working with Attorney General Roy Cooper on a bill that will fund a consumer protection specialist position in his office to protect servicemembers and thier families from falling prey to scams.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Excellent. Thanks.

We have a lot of veterans here at BlueNC - include a surprising number of women veterans. I'm really glad to read about the specific steps you're taking on this front.

One of the toughest soldiers

I've ever served with is a woman. I kept in shape while in Afghanistan, but her PT routine consisted of 8 mile runs with a flak jacket on! I hiked through a few mile of Afghan mountains with her in full combat load, and she didn't break a sweat.

______________________
Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

speaking of which

where the hell is Dan?

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Boy, those would be great

Boy, those would be great issues to challenge Liddy Dole on.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

wow

that is a lot of stuff. some great goals there. please come back to us if you have trouble getting any of them through. we can make quite a lot of noise sometimes.

I know that there have been movements to challenge the federal government over unfunded mandates such as Every Child Left Behind, but is there something similar we can do to demand the Federal government take action? What I mean is that while I applaud what this state has done to help veterans, the funds for those programs shouldnt have to come out of our budget.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

let me add

this link

Discriminating against someone because of their military obligations is illegal, but 51 percent of employers who responded to an informal, online poll by Workforce Management magazine said they would not hire an employee who is a citizen-soldier “if they knew that a military reservist or National Guard member could be called up and taken away from their job for an indeterminate amount of time,” as the question was posed.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

That news piece is exactly what got me started

on the idea for the bill. Discrimination against reservists, as it notes, is already illegal. Businesses don't want to discriminate, but when you've had an employee called up, say 2-3 times since 9/11, your business is going to suffer. So, I hope the bill I'll be introducing soon will ease the burden on small business while also giving them an incentive to hire reservists.

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Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

Grier

I know what you are talking about. My daughter goes to the same preschool. We see you there ocassionaly. Right now I'm not with her but I am in a room with 75 people at a conference in Wilmington discussing school construction.

And I hope you're

advocating for an END to factory schooling. The size of schools has gone far beyond the point of diminishing returns, making it almost impossible to site new schools without clearing enough land to plop down an OLF!

The solution lies somewhere between the

small charter school and the factory school. Oh...kinda like the schools when we grew up.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

What she said

n/t

Local Revenue Options

Local revenue options are an immediate necessary but temporary solution. We need a broader tax base, not necessarily to increase revenue but to provide it when we need it and at a reliable rate without volatility.

Small schools cost more, yet even today reports are that Mike Easley is REDUCING the amount of the already small stream of lottery money going to school construction.

There is more talk about small schools than action. Small academies within larger schools seem to be a workable compromise. I certainly advocate for smaller schools.

Grier has there been any

Grier has there been any ideas passed around the GA regarding pushing non-utility businesses to seek alternative energy sources. I think about all the baren rooftops sitting around NC, collecting sunlight and making it harded to cool our buildings. I've thought a great deal about it as we just had the new Costco go up in our beloved district. A very socially responsibe company, with a huge flat roof. I believe the city of Chicago has put in place some regulations that would pressure businesses into renewable energy.

Solar

I think solar is great for peak shaving when it's hot and for reducing the size of infrastructure needed for distribution.

One of the keys to this

is to make it easier for non-utility businesses and residences to sell power back into the grid. This is something that we need to do in NC.

______________________
Grier Martin
www.griermartin.com

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