NCGA

And this week's Buffoon Award goes to Jimmy Dixon

Because protecting children from lead poisoning is such a laughing matter:

Schools and child care centers would be required to test their drinking water for lead under a bill moving forward in the N.C. House. House Majority Leader Mike Hager, a Rutherfordton Republican, sponsored the bill that could be on the House floor for a vote sometime this week.

Rep. Jimmy Dixon, a Duplin County Republican, cautioned against “sensationalizing” the issue of lead in water, and he said anyone who did so “needs a real good spanking and be sent to time out.”

Yeah, somebody needs to check Jimmy Dixon's drinking water, because plainly his little gray cells have shriveled up and died. Sheesh.

GOP attack on teachers crosses the line

Your First Amendment rights mean nothing to the tyrants:

The majority of the crimes listed in the bill make perfect sense if the goal is – as it should be – to keep our students safe.

But the inclusion of Article 36A, which includes the act of remaining “at the scene of ... disorderly conduct by an assemblage of three or more persons, following a command to disperse,” departs from that sincere desire to protect our children. It means that individuals who have been arrested for protesting the lack of textbooks and toilet paper in North Carolina schools could be denied teaching careers, and those already teaching could potentially have their licenses revoked due to such an arrest.

Again, the stifling of school teachers is a signature trait of authoritarian/totalitarian regimes, and the fact Republicans would so casually include something like this in Legislation proves they simply do not grasp the basic concepts of democracy.

Must read: Gene Nichols' comprehensive indictment of GOP governing

Ten charges that encompass hundreds of bad acts:

1. Tragically refused to expand Medicaid. Merely to show disdain for President Obama, they’ve denied health care to a half million poor Tar Heels though the federal government would pay almost all the fare. Hospitals have closed, tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, over $30 billion in federal funds are surrendered and a thousand or more of us die each year as a result of one of the most cruel and indefensible decisions in N.C. history.

Please read the entire article. It is extensive, but these things must not be ignored or forgotten. While #1 above is easily the biggest life-and-death failure on the GOP's part, it's just the tip of the iceberg:

The fog of war in North Carolina

With certainty, North Carolina is in a battle. Not with an occupying force from another country but from within. And at present, “within” is winning. Yesterday was a remarkable day both in world affairs and finances. After citizens of the United Kingdom decided to detach themselves from the European Union (Brexit), reality began to set in. Where objectivity and intelligence took a backseat to ignorance. And while there are legitimate concerns for “independence”, a vote to secede was the end result. In the late 1980’s, I spent two weeks in England.

More local shenanigans via NC Senate Republicans

Wesley Meredith is out of control:

Last September, the state House squelched controversial legislation that would have yanked about $5.5 million of hotel tax money away from the Cumberland County Tourism Development Authority and given it to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Late this week, in the waning days of the 2016 session of the General Assembly, the hotel tax legislation came back to life in the state Senate, much to the surprise and consternation of some officials in Cumberland County.

Now Meredith is trying again to pass the legislation. He refused to discuss the bill late Friday. "I don't have any comment," he said.

Well, there you go. Apparently what Meredith does in his capacity as a public official is nobody's business but his own.

Senate wants tens of millions more for private school vouchers

The exsanguination of public school funding increases:

In their version of the budget, Senate Republicans have a plan to grow a large reserve fund for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The scholarships, or vouchers, are given to low-income parents so they can pay to send their children to private rather than public schools.

Senators plan to increase the amount of money set aside by $10 million annually, enough to accommodate 2,000 additional students each year. By 2028, the state would be setting aside $145 million. But advocates and critics are divided on whether there’s demand for such an expansion.

Even if the demand was there, and it isn't, funneling these levels of taxpayer dollars into private schools is a mistake. And spending public revenues on religious institutions increases that mistake tenfold. We (through our elected state and local governments) have no way to monitor or regulate how those dollars are spent, what quality of education is received, or whether these children are even safe from potential predators in their midst. And this anecdotal account does not impress me one iota:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Real environmental justice, or just another delaying tactic?

coalashhand2.png

We love the Federal government, we hate the Federal government, we love the Federal government:

At a public hearing earlier this year about the Dan River plans, several African-American residents argued against the proposal, saying it placed an unfair burden on the overall community. At the hearing, Assistant DEQ Secretary Tom Reeder pledged that the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory would complete an “environmental justice review of each Duke Energy coal ash landfill application” and seek approval from both EPA’s office of civil rights and the federal civil rights commission.

“The McCrory administration will go beyond federal and state requirements to protect minority communities from negative impacts when evaluating Duke Energy’s applications to store coal ash in a new landfill,” Reeder said at the time.

I will freely admit, I often try to ascribe nefarious motives when McCrory administration officials wax altruistic. Can't help it. When taken in context with other statements and behaviors, the odds they're genuinely concerned seem extremely low. Also, I just spent over an hour scouring DEQ's website searching for references to "environmental justice" and trying to track down the Division/department/agent(s) responsible for doing these reviews. Might as well have been looking for a four-leaf clover. I do welcome Federal oversight on this issue, because there are some serious questions about the appropriateness of this evaluation:

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