NCGA

Signed, sealed and delivered: Mike Hager, representative for ALEC

Having only one or two constituents must make things less complicated:

North Carolina legislators involved in ALEC have introduced HB 681, the latest attack on the state renewable portfolio standard. Sponsors of HB 681 include at least two ALEC member politicians: state Representatives Harry Warren and Mike Hager.

Hager led the clumsy attack on RPS in 2013, amid opposition from his own party. Hager was a longtime employee of Duke Energy, which is itself a corporate supporter of ALEC's distributed lobbying operations, and required to comply with RPS laws in states where it generates energy.

Honestly, I'm getting tired of writing about Mike Hager. But the only way I'm going to stop is if he stops trying to push an out-of-state billionaire's agenda in NC to the detriment of our renewable energy policy. Of course, one way to stop him from doing that is to vote his butt out of office, but that's not likely to happen in his District, unless another Republican takes him down.

Greensboro/High Point tops list of hungriest cities in US

And there doesn't appear to be a solution in the works:

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are Census Bureau‐defined areas that include central cities plus the surrounding counties with strong economic and social ties to the central cities. In looking at MSA food hardship rates, FRAC aggregated 2013 and 2014 data to produce more accurate estimates and smaller margins of error.

The worst MSAs may be Greensboro‐High Point, North Carolina, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Fresno, California, but 98 of 100 MSAs have at least one in eight (12.5 percent or more) households reporting food hardship. While there was variation around the country, the inability to purchase adequate food was a serious problem in every MSA.

While hunger may be an extremely complex problem that doesn't lend itself to easy fixes, it is very easy to make it worse. You can cut back severely on unemployment benefits, you can cut back on funding for food stamps and/or make it difficult to administer properly, you can get rid of the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or take away certain tax deductions that particularly affect children or the elderly, and several other unwise and inhumane policy steps. But when you do all of those things without a care for the consequences, you have graduated from being conservative to being a genuine threat to the health and welfare of the society you're sworn to protect.

NC's wildly successful REPS law under attack

And big surprise, Mike Hager is leading the charge:

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, called REPS, was the first in the Southeast when lawmakers adopted it in 2007. The law says utilities have to generate increasing amounts of energy from the sun, wind and organic wastes, or from energy efficiency. It set an ultimate green-energy target of 12.5 percent of retail sales by 2021.

A bill sponsored by two chairs of the House Public Utilities committee and Majority Leader Mike Hager cuts that target by half. It makes the final target 6 percent, this year’s benchmark, and ends the mandate in 2018.

Most of you are probably aware of what our Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is and what it does, but for those who aren't, I talked about this on our radio program five years ago (about the 18 minute mark). The program was already working well back then, but I wouldn't have dreamed it could be where it is today. In a time when most government programs fall well short of their original goals, to tear down one of the few that actually works the way it's supposed to is just plain stupid. And so is smothering this kind of needed rural revenue:

More proof that charters are resegregating NC classrooms

And more embarrassing national media exposure:

The most recent cautionary tale comes from North Carolina, where professors at Duke have traced a troubling trend of resegregation since the first charters opened in 1997. They contend that North Carolina’s charter schools have become a way for white parents to secede from the public school system, as they once did to escape racial integration orders.

“They appear pretty clearly to be a way for white students to get out of more racially integrated schools,” said economics professor Helen Ladd, one of the authors of the draft report released Monday.

The sad and frustrating thing is, Republicans in the General Assembly probably think that's a legitimate desire for white parents to have, and the government should actually help them to achieve it.

Tax filing deadline stress-relief thread

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With friends like this, citizens don't need enemies:

The more the Republicans in Raleigh talk about “tax reform,” the clearer it becomes that what they’re pushing isn’t reform at all.

What it amounts to is a haphazard, poorly planned, rather chaotic series of steps designed for one overriding purpose: to win favor with the corporations and wealthy individuals who bankroll legislators campaigns — while at the same time repeatedly undercutting poor and middle-class North Carolinians who can least afford it.

Yeah, if I was really concerned about easing your stress, I probably wouldn't have posted a picture of a lady pulling her hair out by the roots. Most of you are smart enough to have already taken care of this, but for those who haven't: What the hell were you thinking? You're almost out of time, for God's sake! ;)

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke plays "no power for military bases" card

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"You can't convict us of a crime, because the world will end if you do.":

If Duke Energy pleads guilty to federal criminal violations of the Clean Water Act, will the lights go out at Ft. Bragg, N.C.?. The nation’s largest electric utility raised that possibility in federal court Tuesday, suggesting that a federal law could prevent a guilty Duke Energy from supplying power to military bases and federal facilities in North Carolina.

The issue arose in court Tuesday when the judge referred to earlier motions filed by Duke regarding possible threat to electric power at federal facilities in the state.

They always have an angle, don't they? If Duke Energy put a fraction of the energy they expend to avoid responsibility into operating cleanly and safely, they wouldn't need to be in the courtroom to make this argument.

Faux Twitter accounts to be a Felony offense?

And you thought I was using hyperbole in describing NC's government as a third-world dictatorship:

AN ACT making impersonation of an actual person over the internet for certain unlawful purposes a class h felony.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts: SECTION 1. Article 20 of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:
"§ 14‑118.8. Online impersonation.
(a) The following definitions apply in this section:
(1) Credible impersonation. – If another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe, that the defendant was or is the person who was impersonated.
(2) Electronic means. – Includes an electronic mail account, text or instant messaging account, or an account or profile on a social networking Internet Web site in another person's name.

(b) Any person who knowingly and without consent engages in a credible impersonation of another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a Class H Felony. A violation of this subsection is punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment, or by both the fine and imprisonment.

Republicans have cooked up a lot of crazy in the last few years, but this one sets a new standard.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Good leadership means recognizing an opportunity for what it is:

And not what national political campaign advisors tell you that it is. Expanding Medicaid is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do as well.

Public hearings on Lee and Chatham coal ash dumps

The first is tonight and the second Thursday evening:

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources will hold two public hearings this week on a plan to allow Duke Energy to move up to 20 million tons of coal ash to two landfills in Lee and Chatham counties. The projects require multiple environmental permits. The hearings will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with sign-up for speakers beginning at 5 p.m.

▪ Monday, Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, 1801 Nash St., Sanford.

▪ Thursday, Chatham County Historic Courthouse, 9 Hillsboro St., Pittsboro.

It appears there is some conflict within the environmental community over this plan:

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