NC GOP tries to become immune from judicial checks and balances

The NC GOP, stung by a series of judicial rulings that their unconstitutional laws, isn't about to put up with that.

When judges get in their way of passing unconstitutional laws, Tillisberger just passes a new unconstitutional law.

After passing laws imposing new conditions on abortions and elections, taking away teacher tenure and providing vouchers for private school tuition, Republican state legislators have seen those policies stymied in state and federal courtrooms.

So they have passed another law, this one making those kinds of lawsuits less likely to succeed when filed in state court. Beginning in September, all constitutional challenges to laws will be heard by three-judge trial court panels appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Tillis has a meltdown

The NC House and Senate were expected to adjourn today.

But that was before Thom Tillis decided to throw a big wrench in the works -- and his GOP colleagues revolted!

The House rejected the [business incentives] bill earlier this month, but now the proposal is tied to an unrelated measure aimed at sparing teacher assistant jobs. Many districts have said that, despite legislative promises, the state budget will force them to cut teaching assistant positions.

Tillis linked a third bill on Friday, a measure that would give Wake County the option to hold a referendum in 2016 on a .25 percent sales tax increase.

The maneuvering uses one piece of legislation to undo provisions in the incentives bill, which otherwise would kill Wake County’s option to levy a quarter-cent sales tax to raise teacher salaries.

Short-changing NC's environment in the Short Session

From the good folks at NC Policywatch:

[Updated: The Senate adopted the conference committee report as its first act this morning]. As state lawmakers prepare to gather this morning for what could be the final day of the 2013-14 General Assembly, it should come as no surprise that one of the final acts is likely to be the enactment of a polluter “wish list” that was crafted mostly out of public view.

According to environmental protection advocates who finally got a chance to begin reviewing the last minute conference committee report that emerged to Senate Bill 734 last night, the legislation contains at least a dozen gifts to industry. Many of the changes are technical, wonky and even minor on their own, but make no mistake, the cumulative effect will be to weaken environmental protection, hasten the development of more open land and wetlands and further imperil our increasingly fragile environment.

You're right, I'm not surprised. Republicans are no longer even attempting to appear as if they're acting in the public's interest, they're just going for broke. That's not confidence in the legislation they're cramming down our throats, it's confidence in their gerrymandered safety.

Dallas Woodhouse's stealth Tillis US Senate campaign ad

Which is really not that stealthy:

The question you should be asking, Tim, is where did Dallas get the $1.5 million to run this commercial?

NCGA Republicans subverting judiciary to suit their desires

If it won't bend to your will, break it:

Without a doubt, these rulings have irked conservative lawmakers. But instead of examining the constitutionality of their policies, or allowing more amendments and debate, Republicans in the General Assembly have now fundamentally altered the court system to protect themselves.

This year's state budget contained a provision, added just the week before Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law on Aug. 7, requiring a three-judge panel to rule on any constitutional challenge to state law. North Carolina is now the only state with such a judicial system. The new system not only helps shield state law from challenges, but also puts more power in the hand of an increasingly partisan and politicized judiciary.

You better believe, if it was Democrats pulling this tyrannical stunt, JLF and Civitas would be stirring up the snake-flag-waving peasantry into a frothing-at-the-mouth display of outrage and barely-contained violence. But since it's Republicans doing it? Crickets.

Coal Ash Wednesday: hide your wallets

NC Senate Republicans want you to pay for the cleanup:

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) says the General Assembly may be ready to act as early as next week on coal ash legislation that stalled last week over differences between Senate and House versions of the bill. He says negotiators are working on consensus language to iron out differences over a House provision in the legislation. And he believes a solution can be found by Aug. 14, when the House and Senate expect to be in session, “or thereabouts.”

House conferees had agreed to accept a Senate provision that allows Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) to seek permission starting in January to charge customers for the cost of cleaning up its 33 ash ponds across the state. But, in return, they wanted to change some of the Senate’s language on treatment of ponds that were considered low-risk.

Unless I'm mistaken, Duke Energy already has the ability to seek rate increases from the North Carolina Utilities Commission for costs they incur. Any legislative language added now won't just give them the permission to do this, it will tilt that decision-making process heavily in their favor. Something a super-majority of NC citizens don't believe should happen. This is not a compromise, it's a betrayal of ratepayers, and it will be a serious campaign issue for those who support it.

Keeping it simple

Great post by Thomas Mills today.

... budgets are about choices and priorities. And at the same time the GOP is screwing our public schools, they are handing huge payouts to their wealthy benefactors. The tax cuts they passed in 2013 disproportionately benefited the rich. Revenues are continuing to fall and our schools, universities and community colleges are paying the price.

More dismissals in Moral Monday trespassing cases

The fairness agenda might just be taking off:

"The evidence is that the General Assembly was able to do business without interruption. So, it clearly didn't disturb them," Salisbury said in dismissing the charges against the protesters.

Rulings by District Court judges aren't considered precedent in legal cases and don't have to be taken into account by other judges. Still, protester Evelyn White said she hopes the fact that two different judges have ruled the same way on cases will lead to more dismissals as the scores of pending cases go to trial.

In the interest of both fairness and government efficiency, the DA needs to go ahead and drop all the remaining charges. If I'm not mistaken, this can be accomplished relatively easily, without waiting for the defendants' individual court dates or their appearance. Make it so.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

We'll start today's entry with some meme-busting:

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