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Unconstitutional GOP majority proposes budget—our first take

This unconstitutionally elected Republican majority continues to legislate, not on behalf of the people of North Carolina, but on behalf of their billionaire backers. Instead of protecting the middle class and building world-class public schools, this budget gives tax breaks to billionaires. Under this budget, North Carolina will keep falling behind when it doesn’t have to.

  • The Republican budget fails our schools, middle class families, and the future of our economy at a time when we do not have to.
  • Cooper found a way to raise teacher pay more than 5% next year. Republicans only offer 3.3%. Instead of investing in classrooms, Republicans are giving millions in tax breaks to billionaires.
  • Cooper offered free community college for high school graduates, money to help teachers pay for out-of-pocket expenses, and eliminated the waitlist for pre-K. Republicans did none of those things.
  • Under this budget, we are still spending less that we did before the recession per student, teachers are still underpaid, and we have seven thousand fewer teaching assistants than we did in 2008.
  • Instead of prioritizing education, Republicans are undercutting our kids and it’s our economy that will suffer as North Carolina falls farther and farther behind other states and competitors like China and India. 

In addition to education, the GOP budget fails to provide for critical areas of need for rural North Carolina - including broadband and economic development..

  • Governor Cooper's budget invests $20 million to expand access to broadband and improve the economy of rural North Carolina, while the Republican budget would spend $250,000 on state IT bureaucrats.
  • Cooper proposed $30 million for a ready-sites program to attract new jobs to rural areas. The Republican budget leaves rural areas behind, choosing to spend only $2 million on ready-sites.

The GOP budget also wastes money on projects of the extreme right:

  • The Republican budget spends $1.3 million on an anti-abortion advocacy group that masquerades as a provider of health services to women, pushing dangerous and misleading propaganda on vulnerable women.
  • The GOP spends $40 million on private school vouchers which send tax dollars to unaccountable private and religious schools.

 

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14 unconstitutional laws passed under the cloud of a racial gerrymander

For five years now, Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature have been elected under maps that have been found to violate the Constitutional rights of North Carolinians. The nation’s highest court – including a Justice appointed by President Donald Trump - found these legislators’ actions discriminatory yet they treat this news like another round of a child’s game. We have seen why fair and nondiscriminatory representation is important time and again. 

Fourteen times, laws enacted by this unconstitutional General Assembly have been found unconstitutional. Laws that have rigged the system and earned North Carolina headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Whether it’s restricting women’s access to health care or the worst voter suppression law in the country, these unconscionable actions by the Republican led General Assembly have hurt every citizen of this state. In their decision striking down the voter suppression law, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called out North Carolina Republicans for targeting black voters “with almost surgical precision.” When will it end? 

From the State Supreme Court to the Fourth Circuit and all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, courts have not been fooled by the actions of North Carolina Republicans who have enacted laws under the dark cloud of a racial gerrymander. The cases range from the drawing of district maps to coal ash to defunding Planned Parenthood to Elections and Ethics Reform, taking power away from the Governor. In each instance, the rulings have been clear that the partisan power grabs are wrong and they must end. 

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NCGOP making it rain garbage juice and money

While North Carolina residents are facing the possibility of being sprayed with garbage juice, the NC GOP is lining their pockets with money from the waste industry, which has donated at least $34,200 to GOP legislators overseeing debate on the bill.

House Bill 576 would allow for the aerosolization of leachate, an untested and unsafe method for landfills to dispose of their waste. Picture it as “garbage juice in a snow blower.”

And who would be most impacted by this legislation? Communities of color and poor, who are more likely to live near landfills.

The waste industry is in favor of the aerosolization of leachate because it is cheaper than other methods of removing waste and they have been donating big money to legislators who could advance the bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jimmy Dixon, has received $6,100 from the waste industry, the majority of which came from Ven Poole, the CEO of Waste Industries. Dixon is also the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, which received House Bill 576 on referral.

Speaker Tim Moore has received $8,600 from the waste industry, including contributions from Ven Poole and the Waste Management Pac. Moore voted in favor of House Bill 576.

Sen. Trudy Wade has received $19,100 from the waste industry, including donations from Ven Poole and the inventor of aerosolization, Kelly Houston. The contribution from Houston came when Wade was the chairwoman of a Senate conference committee charged with compromising on a bill containing language about leachate. Wade is also a member of the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee, which reported favorably on the bill.

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Could Duke Energy be planning to spray coal ash waste?

The fluid that collects beneath landfills, referred to as leachate, could soon be sprayed into the air, thanks to House Bill 576 sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Dixon.

The aerosolization of leachate, or “garbage juice in a snow blower”, is an unproven and untested technology.

Via NC Policy Watch


Since the bill’s introduction, an amendment has been added to bar landfills accepting coal ash from using this “technology,” which brings up an obvious question: Why wasn’t this ban in the bill in the first place?

Is it possible that it wasn’t in the original bill because Duke Energy is interested in using the technology at landfills as they excavate their coal ash ponds?

Maybe.

Duke Energy did just receive a permit allowing the construction of a landfill with a system for collecting leachate.

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North Carolina would be one of 11 other states that don’t require concealed carry permits because - jackets

North Carolina would join just 11 other states in doing away with concealed weapons permits under House Bill 746.  Under current law, concealed carry weapons permits are issued by law enforcement after individuals pass a minimal background check. North Carolina would become one of 12 states that do not require any type of permit for concealed handguns and would treat concealed handguns the same way as visible handguns. 

Rep. Chris Millis (R-Onslow, Pender) argued in committee that people could violate concealed carry laws when they wear jackets in the wintertime. Apparently this bill is more about fashion than doing the bidding of the NRA.

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Lawmakers-turned-lobbyists find family on Jones Street

The revolving door between lawmakers and lobbyists is nothing new, but what’s with the rash of Republicans claiming to resign to spend time with their families, only to end up back in Raleigh a few months later?

Former Majority Leader Mike Hager resigned in August, announcing “after much prayer and consideration, it is time to spend more time with my family and pursue other opportunities.” So much for returning home to his family in Rutherford County. Weeks after the required six-month cooling off period, Hager cashed in, registering with the state and starting a lobbying firm focused on deregulation and public utility issues.

In 2014, Senator Thom Goolsby of New Hanover County chose not to seek a third term. At the time he said, “I’m just ready to come home. It’s been a long four years.” However, Goolsby could not wait to get back to Raleigh, and according to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website, registered as a lobbyist in March of 2015. Some of Goolsby’s clients have included the Education Freedom Alliance, NC Small Business Coalition, NC Clean Energy Business Alliance, and the NC Friends of Midwives.

Republicans who came into power saying they would change the culture in Raleigh, have turned the lobbying revolving door into an art form. By resigning early a lawmaker can start the clock on the six-month cooling off period sooner rather than later. Cashing in has proven to be the culture at the General Assembly under Republican leadership.

At least former Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca was honest. When he resigned in mid-2016 he admitted he was considering becoming a lobbyist. "I've got a lot of options, and government relations is one of those options,” he told WRAL. Apodaca registered as a lobbyist in January of 2017 and started a new firm. His new clients included Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Altria, and the NC Wine and Beer Wholesalers Association.

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Don't Pack the NC Supreme Court

Summary

Following the election of Judge Mike Morgan to the North Carolina Supreme Court by an overwhelming margin on Nov. 8 2016, the balance of the court shifted from a 4-3 Republican majority to a 4-3 Democratic majority. Media began reporting days after the election that Republican leaders were rumored to be considering a scheme to add two Justices to the NC Supreme Court, during a “special session” called ostensibly to discuss recovery efforts from the flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew. Gov. McCrory would appoint two new justices before leaving office to fill the new seats until the next election of the General Assembly.Gov. McCrory has said he will call an extra session on Dec. 13th to discuss recovery efforts, but legislators can, by simple majority vote, suspend the rules and take up any matter they wish.

Republican leaders have repeatedly refused to denounce or deny rumors that they will use the special session to add Supreme Court Justices, saying it has not been “formally” discussed and they won’t comment on “rumors.” While legislative leaders deny a Supreme Court packing scheme is under consideration, Senate Leadership put forward a similar proposal in 2013.

Key Points

  • After a bitter and negative campaign, we need to come together and try to seek common ground, but Governor McCrory and the Republicans would instead try to force through controversial legislation that, like HB2, would only further divide North Carolina.
  • Adding two new justices to the Supreme Court is disrespectful to the will of the voters, who recently elected a new justice to the Supreme Court AND voted to replace Governor McCrory.
 
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Competing lawsuits on HB2

There were three competing federal lawsuits filed over HB2 on May 9. Here are the full documents for each suit. U.S. Department of Justice v NC McCrory v US DOJ NCGA v USDOJ

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