Real Facts North Carolina today released a new analysis of judicial maps proposed on Monday. Using the gubernatorial election results from 2016 as a benchmark, the Real Facts report finds that under the proposed maps the number of Republican-held Superior Court seats could double, from 31 to 62 judgeships.
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. In Superior Court, judges have ruled against the GOP majority on judicial retention elections, local control, and the NCGA’s authority over the coal ash commission.
Now, in the last week of session, and without consulting either the Administrative Office of the Courts or the Conference of District Attorneys, Republicans seek the first statewide redraw of these districts in decades.
Statewide results in the gubernatorial race were nearly even between Democrats and Republicans, 48% to 48%. But in their judicial gerrymander, the GOP picks their voters to turn an even slate into a nearly 2 to 1 advantage.
You can find the report here (PDF).
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.
In addition to education, the GOP budget fails to provide for critical areas of need for rural North Carolina - including broadband and economic development..
The GOP budget also wastes money on projects of the extreme right:
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the span of 3 days in March of 2016 McCrory has taken two unilateral actions to assert greater control over coal ash cleanup and then declare coal ash a non-issue. On March 8, 2016 his administration rescinded “do not drink” orders that were in place for hundreds of residents…Read More
Yesterday, Speaker Tim Moore announced that a budget compromise may be on the horizon and it could feature block grants to local school districts. Instead of choosing the Senate’s plan to layoff teacher assistants and hire more teachers or the House’s version that protects TA&rsq…Read More