NC GOP

Legislature tosses out EMC river and stream protection rules

A monumental waste of time:

AN ACT to disapprove the mitigation program requirements for protection and maintenance of riparian buffers rule adopted by THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT COMMISSION, DIRECT THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT COMMISSION TO ADOPT A NEW MITIGATION PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS FOR PROTECTION AND MAINTENANCE OF RIPARIAN BUFFERS RULE, and amend wastewater disposal system requirements.

SECTION 1. Pursuant to G.S. 150B‑21.3(b1), 15A NCAC 02B .0295 (Mitigation Program Requirements for Protection and Maintenance of Riparian Buffers), as adopted by the Environmental Management Commission on May 9, 2013, and approved by the Rules Review Commission on July 18, 2013, is disapproved.

Bolding mine. Five years of work, done by a Commission that already had more industry input than it should have, tossed aside because a small yet clever group of people saw an opportunity to take advantage of a failsafe that was put in place to keep a small yet clever group from abusing the rulemaking process. We are impressed by such guile, but many lawmakers are not:

Coal Ash Wednesday: the people have spoken

And they're not happy with the Legislature's half-measures on cleanup:

Three-quarters of North Carolinians -- of all political affiliations -- don't think the state legislature has done enough to address Duke Energy's recent coal ash spill into the Dan River.

* Duke Energy should clean up the coal ash left in the Dan. A solid 80 percent of voters surveyed say Duke Energy should have to clean up the 36,000 tons of toxic ash that remain in the Dan River out of the approximately 39,000 tons spilled. That includes 89 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans, and 72 percent of independents. Only 13 percent of voters surveyed think the spill cleanup has been adequate. The state has lifted a ban on swimming in the river, but environmentalists have raised concerns about potential health threats from the remaining coal ash, which contains potent toxins including arsenic, lead and mercury.

And that 13% are probably Tea Partiers who think this whole thing is a plot by tree-huggers to push us closer to Agenda 21, or some such nonsense. But the rest of us, the ones who live in the real world, are deeply concerned about lawmakers being beholden to Duke Energy:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Never one to miss an opportunity for sour grapes:

If you had read the decision, you'd know that very issue (majority rule) was addressed and discarded, at least as it bears on equality. Which you demagogues should have known from the start.

Duelling narratives on the plight of Pungo Hospital

The difference between "profitable" and "for the public good":

Instead, O’Neal welcomed the North Carolina NAACP to assist him in painting Vidant as a corporate bully more interested in huge profits than providing quick access to emergency care for the rural, mostly poor residents in and around Belhaven. That narrative simply is not supported by the political and economic realities that led to the closing of Pungo Hospital earlier this month.

The hospital has seen $5.7 million in operating losses since 2011. Federal grants designed to sustain health care services in poor, rural areas have been cut back. That, combined with North Carolina’s refusal to accept Medicaid expansion dollars, contributes largely to an unsustainable business model for a traditional hospital in Belhaven.

Proving that even though all your facts may be in order, you can still be wrong. The hospital was originally constructed to make sure low income folks could receive proper health care, regardless of whether or not said care would be profitable for whoever had the keys to the place. Vidant was well aware of the financial challenges when it purchased the hospital, and so were the people behind the sale:

The next wave of charter school idiocy coming from ALEC

Opening the floodgates of taxpayer dollars:

(H) Transportation Funding
390
391 (1) The state department of education shall disburse state transportation funding to an
392 authorizer for each of its public charter school students on the same basis and in the same
393 manner as it is paid to school districts. An authorizer shall disburse state transportation
394 funding to a public charter school in proportion to the amount generated by the school’s
395 students.

396 (2) A public charter school may enter into a contract with a school district or private provider
397 to provide transportation to the school’s students.

Bolding mine. There's nothing in the language of this (or any other) cookie cutter model legislation requiring charters to actually provide transportation in lieu of said transportation funding, and North Carolina currently doesn't require charters to provide transportation for students:

GOP reserving public parks for the "well-heeled"

Taking country club exclusivity on the road:

A group of vintage sports car buffs wants use of the park for a daylong “hill climb” on Sept. 11, a Thursday. State officials appear ready to grant the request, assuming the legislation passes, for a $10,000 fee. Key figures in the Pilot Mountain event were heavy donors to the campaign that got McCrory elected in 2012.

“If we see the opportunity to do something for economic development in a rural part of the state, we’re going to listen to that,” said Brad Ives, an assistant environment secretary who oversees parks. “We’re going to expose some well-heeled people to a beautiful part of North Carolina.”

Here's a thought: repeal the tax breaks for those "well-heeled" citizens so we can once again afford to keep the parks open every day. As it stands right now, tourists better do their research before traveling to North Carolina, or they're liable to run into a "Closed" sign at the entrance to a park. That's bad enough, but if they find out they can't get in because some rich folks have "reserved" the park for themselves that day, those tourists will never come back. Those rich folks might not care about that, but our government should.

Child Fatality Task Force opponent a mystery

Maybe the idea had supernatural origins:

"This just came forth like Aphrodite from the sea foam of the Aegean," Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, told members on the House floor Friday, backing a move to preserve the task force.

On Thursday, when the measure was vetted by the House Rules Committee, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, the committee chairman, said that the task force deletion was requested by the Senate. But House members and others who later investigated said they could not find a Senate member who would claim ownership of the move.

The only "foam" present during this session is what's dripping from the mouths of power-mad Republicans like Stam, who see a technical corrections bill as a handy vehicle to get things done that wouldn't pass muster on their own merits.

Cost of Art Pope's tax cut balloons to $690M

Earlier estimates put the cost of the NC GOP's tax giveaways to millionaires at nearly half a billion dollars.

Turns out those estimates were low -- we're now pushing three-quarters of a billion dollars in revenue shortfall because the NC GOP puts Art Pope's tax cut above every other policy objective.

New figures from legislative analysts confirm the 2013 cut to individual income tax rates is costing the state far more than originally projected.
...
According to a memo Thursday from legislative analyst Brian Slivka and chief economist Barry Boardman, the updated cost of the tax cut is $690 million for the current tax year.

That's $205 million, or 43 percent, higher than the original projection of $475 million.

That's for this year. And like the Energizer bunny, the NC GOP's fiscal irresponsibility just keeps going and going.

Republicans screw up charter school laws even more

Privatization going off the rails:

And when you're doing something really unwise, cutting off the debate is SOP:

Corporate welfare, NC GOP style

When Bev Perdue was governor, the NC GOP said that cash payments to corporations, job creation notwithstanding, were a bad thing. It's wrong for government to pick winners and losers, said the wing nuts.

Now with the GOP in control of all three branches of NC government, coupled with the slow realization that they're positively destroying the jobs climate in the state, the GOP has slightly revised their position on corporate welfare: cash payments to corporations are now a good thing, and they have no problem at all with picking winners and losers.

Now, with a Republican governor at the helm, some GOP lawmakers want to expand state incentives and create a so-called “closing fund” that will allow cash grants to seal a deal with large corporations that promise to add jobs.

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