NCGA

GOP assault on HBCUs moves forward

A higher education wolf in sheep's clothing:

The measure has been greeted with suspicion from some advocates for the schools. At the committee meetings on Wednesday, several questioned whether this is an effort to cut the schools’ funding or put them at a lower tier than the state’s 11 other public universities.

These cuts would drastically cut the schools’ incomes. The legislation allocates $70 million of taxpayer money to replace it, Apodaca said, which he said is $9 million more than estimates project will be needed.

As they say, the devil is in the details. And the definitions. Allocate: 1. To set apart for a special purpose; designate. It's only the secondary part of the definition where the word is expanded to denote the movement/transfer of resources. And in the latest iteration of this particular bill, that second thing is not a foregone conclusion:

Coal Ash Wednesday: To Commission or not to Commission

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Another battle between McCrory and the Legislature seems imminent:

Senate Bill 71 gives the governor the five of the seven appointments to the Coal Ash Management Commission and creates new quorum rules to ensure that legislative members can't work without cooperating with the governor's appointees. "The governor's appointments will always be in charge," McGrady said.

But the bill also requires the lawmakers to confirm gubernatorial appointments and limits the reasons for which members of the commission can be removed. "Let's don't relive history here," Stephens told Rules Committee members, saying that the bill would not give McCrory adequate control of the commission. "My message to you is that all three of those commissions are unconstitutional and will be challenged."

It's plain to anybody with half a brain the Executive Branch (including DEQ) is riddled with conflicts of interest associated with Duke Energy, and needs to be under some form of oversight. That being said, I'm not sure the Legislature or the NCUC is any better. I fear Duke Energy may have an entire stable full of stalking horses of different government breeds, and putting faith in any one of them is naive at best. But Chuck McGrady's work with the Sierra Club was exemplary, and I do believe he is a genuine environmentalist, regardless of his other conservative traits. If he's going to be directly involved in the (new) Commission's creation and operation, go ahead and bring it.

UNC Board of Governors vows to listen, do nothing

Or at least some of them will listen:

A handful of the 32-member governing board's members will listen to up to an hour of public comments following each regular meeting, starting Friday. Speakers will be required to sign in.

"I think it would be an outlet for those people who have been protesting and want to come and have a reasoned comment for us," UNC Board of Governors Chairman Louis Bissette said in a conference call with reporters. "The session is for us to hear from the public, not to respond to demands or engage in any sort of debate. So you will see we will be in full listening mode."

Bolding mine, pretty much all you need to know. It appears logic and reasoning aren't included in Chairman Bissette's repertoire of rhetoric. If they were, he would realize "full listening mode" would require the attendance of all voting members of the Board. Being the top dog in an academic setting is hard work, especially if you'd rather be cooking up ways to entice investors into turning over their cash. Also, isn't he supposed to be skilled at dispute resolution? Apparently those are hidden skills, only to be brought out when profit$ are available.

The battle to continue NC's renewable energy success

Progress is a four-letter word to some people:

It’s hard to see what’s not to like about North Carolina’s growing renewable energy industry. It’s clean. It creates jobs. It puts idle farm land to profitable use. It’s part of what must be an urgent, global response to climate change.

Yet there are some in the General Assembly determined to halt and even reverse the state’s booming solar power industry and to lower its prospects as a leader in wind power.

Some ideological positions are simply too absurd to understand. Even in the absence of the millions spent by the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel astroturfers, there will always be a handful of science-fearing individuals tilting at windmills. The industry propaganda just fuels their delusions, and makes it much more likely they'll be able to do actual damage instead of just fuming about it.

DHHS proposes cuts to special needs funding

Adding insult to tragedy:

Robin and Dan Marx of Cary are in a similar situation. Their 13-year-old son, Aidan, has a form of muscular dystrophy, and they receive $72,000 a year to pay for nursing aides for him as well as a modified van and alterations to their home to accommodate his wheelchair.

"This is a 350-pound wheelchair. You can’t just put in a car and drive around with it," Robin Marx said. Changing CAP-C would cut the family's Medicaid benefits by $40,000 a year.

Although it appears DHHS is re-evaluating this move after the negative feedback from families who would suffer from it, why is such feedback necessary? I'm sure somebody at DHHS could have made these calculations and predicted these horrific outcomes; if they couldn't or didn't they have no business managing these resources. What if nobody had spoken up? Is that now the way to gauge the effects of policy changes? The term "mismanagement" comes to mind, but I have a feeling they (DHHS) knew good and well the suffering that would result, and were merely gauging the public relations damage they'd have to deal with.

Coal Ash Wednesday: More lawsuits on the way

Playing the game of risk:

Spokespeople from basin owner Duke Energy and the Southern Environmental Law Center talked with Carolina Public Press earlier this month about their desired outcomes. Both indicated an expectation that their employers would consider legal action if DEQ doesn’t give them what they want. Since what each side wants is the opposite of what the other side seeks, litigation seems unavoidable.

EITC is not about campaigns, it's about people

Masking your disregard for the poor in political rhetoric:

Luebke ran an amendment to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and lower-middle-income workers, proposing to pay for it by reinstituting a 7.75 percent tax rate on income over $1 million. The amendment failed, but not before spurring a heated partisan debate in the usually congenial committee.

"I appreciate the effort to demagogue and to penalize those that are able to raise the level of income that they make," Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, said to Luebke. "It’s certainly easy to attack those who make over $1 million. Those make for good talking points."

No, what's easy is to slash programs and benefits that help the poor keep their families fed and clothed. The GOP has proved that countless times already over the last 4-6 years. What's not easy is to face the inequities in our Capitalist system and make adjustments that keep those inequities from endangering the health and welfare of those on the bottom rung. That takes courage and compassion, traits that are lacking in many of our current leaders:

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