NC House passes bill to kill the I-77 toll road

At least some level of sanity has prevailed in the NCGA:

Lawmakers approved the bill 81-27 with strong bipartisan support. Though Senate passage is far from assured, supporters were encouraged by the 3-1 margin.
State Rep. Charles Jeter sponsored the bill to cancel the Interstate 77 toll project contract.

“That should send a loud message to Gov. Pat McCrory that this is a bad project for our communities, for our commerce and for our citizens,” said Bill Russell, president of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

It will be interesting to see if the puffed chests in the Senate follow suit, or decide to smother this effort.

Thursday News: "I have many black friends"

BRANDED A RACIST, LAWMAKER SCALES BACK TUITION-CUT PROPOSAL (AP) -- A North Carolina lawmaker who proposed to slash tuition to just $500 a semester at five public universities that serve mostly blacks, American Indians and the poor announced Wednesday that he is scaling back on the bill after running into mistrust so fierce he was branded a racist.
http://www.wral.com/branded-a-racist-lawmaker-scales-back-tuition-cut-proposal/15745614/

SPONSOR SAYS HE WILL PULL HBCUS CONTROVERSIAL TUITION PROVISION (WRAL-TV) -- Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, says he will pull three historically black colleges from a list of UNC system schools where Senate budget writers want to charge $500 per semester.
http://www.wral.com/-sponsor-says-he-will-pull-hbcus-controversial-tuition-provision/15745474/

The next GOP Jordan Lake boondoggle: Freshwater mussels

And you thought the SolarBees were a stupid idea:

A provision in the Senate budget unveiled yesterday earmarks $500 thousand from the state's Clean Water Management Trust to study whether freshwater mussels can be used to clean up the Jordan and Falls reservoirs and other polluted water bodies. An interim report on the study would be due in March 2017, and a final report due in May 2018.

The North Carolina Conservation Network says this new proposal and other budget provisions "largely eschew science-based management strategies in favor of unproven tactics."

Okay, we really do need to (re)introduce native bivalves like the Carolina Heelsplitter (Ow!) into rivers and lakes where they've died out. But as usual, Republicans have their science (if you can call it that) ass-backwards. The main reason those native mussels became endangered is the same reason we were forced to develop the Jordan Lake Rules in the first place:

McCrory ditches Shriners in fear of HB2 protest

mccrorypuppet.jpeg

Those mean old protestors might harm his delicate sensibilities:

While Graham Wilson, the governor’s press secretary, confirmed that Prosser will be attending the event as a representative of McCrory, Wilson was adamant that McCrory was never scheduled to attend the event in the first place. “He was never scheduled to be there. It was never on his schedule,” Wilson said.

During the parade, the Watauga County chapter of the NAACP has planned a “McCrory HB2 Protest” on Main Street in Blowing Rock, where the parade meanders.

Well, it's not on his schedule now, anyway. McCrory has become the Imelda Marcos of North Carolina, a fading figurehead who will likely drown his sorrow by collecting hundreds of pairs of expensive shoes. Which he won't get to wear in public, but at least he can pace around the Governor's mansion in style.

Wednesday News: Tax-loving GOP strikes again

HB2 RETALIATION? TAXES COULD GO UP FOR TV, FILM COMPANIES (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Senate Republicans are considering a change that would significantly increase the taxes owed to by the country's most prominent broadcasters, including the Walt Disney Co., NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article80...

'CLARIFICATION' WOULD RAISE $140M FROM SERVICE TAXES (WRAL-TV) -- Early drafts of a bill that would "clarify" a 2015 law that imposes sales taxes on certain services would end up raising $140 million more every year than the current law, according to documents and staff comments made during a Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.
http://www.wral.com/-clarification-would-raise-140-million-from-service-taxes/15741810/

It's a TRAP: The GOP's devious war on womens' choice

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The epitome of paternalistic prevarication:

Nonetheless, the narrative that abortion is a risky medical procedure frames abortion restrictions as a compassionate effort to improve women’s health and serves a larger strategic purpose.

TRAP laws are designed to force clinics to shutter. By requiring abortion providers to meet impossible standards, like widening their hallways, expanding their closets, installing new air filtration systems and applying for unnecessary licenses, clinics are left with no choice but to close. Last year, the N.C. General Assembly passed the “Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015” even though there is no evidence that it protects anyone. What it does do is require doctors who perform abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy to perform ultrasounds and supply the ultrasound images to state officials.

It's not only TRAP laws which use deception and misinformation to forward the anti-abortion movement, the education of pregnancy-prone young people is also fair game:

Tuesday News: Crazy old white man rants about Welfare

STATE GOP LEADER HAYES PROMISES TOTAL OVERHAUL OF WELFARE SYSTEM (Shelby Star) - Robin Hayes, a former U.S. congressman and the current chairman of the N.C. Republican Party, wants to apply a similar principle toward appealing to prospective GOP voters. Hayes envisions polling precincts as fertile territories for potential Republican registrations and precinct volunteers as foot soldiers that help get the job done. The vision uses the political party system to redefine the welfare system. Hayes wants to promote community stewards that ultimately enable, empower and help people become self-sustaining and self-reliant. As a result, otherwise dependent people become self-reliant so they, too, can help others as well as themselves. The concept of community stewards starts with precinct chairs, who share the responsibility of assessing the needs and resources in their respective precinct. Plans call for the involvement of churches and other nonprofit agencies, including private foundations, as resources for assistance.
http://www.thesnaponline.com/news/local_news/hayes-presents-new-gop-vision/article_35b7af0c-26b2-11e...

The war on residential Solar goes national

Big utilities are afraid of distributed generation:

“Across the country state legislatures and/or utility regulatory commissions in more than 30 states are evaluating current net metering policies and are taking steps to update them to eliminate the shift in costs from customers with private solar systems to customers without these systems,” said Jeff Ostermayer, a spokesman at Edison Electric Institute (an association representing investor-owned electric companies in the United States) by email.

But the Brookings review suggests that these types of policy changes may not be warranted after all — that, rather, the benefits provided by rooftop solar actually outweigh their costs. The review points to state-commissioned studies from Vermont, Mississippi, Minnesota, Maine and even Nevada that suggest net metering results in net benefits for all energy customers.

EEI is likely the largest and most prolific industry-funded group opposing rooftop Solar, but other groups have been springing up like weeds in the last few years. Which gives you an idea of the huge amount of money being spent by utilities to undermine this (much needed) trend in energy production and use. Their argument is almost completely without merit, because they only focus on Solar net-metered customers not "paying" for grid use and maintenance. But in reality, the surplus power generated from rooftop Solar is bought and used by another customer within a few blocks of the point of generation. As opposed to power generated 50 miles away, traveling a grid that loses up to 17% of that power along the way. Get it? The utility actually saved money (profits) from that transaction, because it's more efficient and reduces the long-distance demand:

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