NCGA

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.

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.

NC taxpayers subsidize discrimination

In addition to keeping the salaries of for-profit charter school employees secret, the NCGA's charter school bill allows discrimination against LGBT students.

Back in June, after a two-day battle over amendments that would have banned charter schools from discriminating against students on the basis of sexual orientation, House Republicans advanced a compromise provision that said "charter schools shall not discriminate against any student with respect to any category protected under the United States Constitution or under federal law applicable to the states."

That amendment was added to the bill on a 115-0 vote.

But when the measure went to conference committee for a compromise deal, Senate negotiators successfully pushed to have the clause removed.

Rep. John [sic] Hardister, R-Guilford, the lead House negotiator, said he agreed to the change out of concern that "it could have broad effect." Asked for clarification, he couldn't explain further.

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.

Smart educators

Asked to make a false choice between two unpalatable budget options, an NC educator deftly demonstrated that he is smarter than the NC GOP wing nut idealogues who claimed that they wanted to hear from him.

At a budget meeting earlier this month that House members invited superintendents to attend, Cumberland County Superintendent Frank Till, when asked to choose between higher teacher raises and fewer teacher assistants or smaller raises where the assistants kept their jobs, said he would “do something to raise revenue.”

Bravo Dr. Till! NC citizens prefer option three also. The GOP legislative loons refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

They're off to see ALEC

As the Republican House and Republican Senate and Republican Governor all carp at each other and make no progress on a budget, after weeks of grandstanding, many of the NCGA members will skip town next week to attend the annual ALEC meeting.

Speaker Thom Tillis dismissed the state House on Friday saying that the chamber was not expected to hold any sessions next week, a strong indicator no deal is imminent.

Many of the state's top GOP leaders are scheduled to attend the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council that starts Tuesday in Dallas, Texas, and lasts into the weekend. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is on the agenda to speak at the opening luncheon of the conservative group.

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:

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