Hat-tip to the NCCapitol team

Over the years, news coverage of the NC General Assembly has been a mixed bag, with some important legislation flying completely under the radar while less important bills would receive an unwarranted amount of attention. A big reason for that comes from allowing lawmakers to dictate what is newsworthy and what isn't; things they would prefer go mostly unnoticed. And then came Tyler, Cullen, Matt, Mark, and Laura. Not only does this team stay on top of pending legislation and efforts by third parties to facilitate, modify, or even stop such policy changes, they're also skilled in research, sometimes incredibly deep, that fills in the gaps in our understanding of these issues. Considering the economic pressures that have ravaged the ranks of journalism over the last decade or so, being able to maintain such a team is an accomplishment in itself.

For putting in all the ungodly hours bouncing between committees and floor actions, and then taking the time to compose a clear and concise narrative for the rest of us, "Thank you" just doesn't seem adequate. But it's a start.

Priority?

I retired six months ago (!) and have been trying to decide how to prioritize my political energy. Forty years ago it was easy - feminist issues were the most important thing for me. Obviously, they are still very important. And I'm a big believer that most of the issues I care about are connected.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Permits? We don't need no stinking permits

Duke Energy's coal ash disposal "experts" are already in trouble with regulators:

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources cited Green Meadow LLC and Moncure Holdings LLC with violating state regulations by starting grading and earth-moving work at the Brickhaven No. 2 mine without first obtaining a construction stormwater permit.

It also issued a notice of deficiency to Green Meadow for failing to meet the conditions of the mining permit at Brickhaven by neglecting to install erosion-control devices at the site before starting the grading work.

Tom Reeder might think this is no big deal, but the implications are sobering. If these two entities are either inept or uncaring when it comes to following required methods of construction, the integrity of the entire project is called into question. And if Duke Energy succeeds in convincing the NCUC to allow them to charge ratepayers for this work, we may be paying a hefty price to move coal ash from one leaking pond to another leaking pond.

Daily dose: Gunning for Sheriffs edition

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New NC gun bill ends sheriff pistol permit system (AP) — A reworked gun bill in the North Carolina House would eliminate the state's longstanding pistol permit application system in six years rather than three and place new limits upon sheriffs who issue or deny those permits in the interim.
http://www.greensboro.com/news/north_carolina_ap/new-nc-gun-bill-still-would-end-sheriff-pistol-perm...

Daily dose: Stupid questions edition

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G.O.P. women in Congress: Why so few? (New York Times) -- The rising number of women in Congress can obscure another trend: The number of Republican women has remained roughly stagnant for more than a decade. Moderate Republican women — think of Olympia Snowe, the former Maine senator, or Connie Morella, the former Maryland congresswoman — were once common in the party, according to research by Danielle Thomsen , a political scientist at Duke.
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/upshot/gop-women-in-congress-why-so-few.html

Dick Burr: Still lazy after all these years

A few things in life are entirely predictable. The sun will rise in the morning. Water is wet. And Senator Richard Burr is a lightweight slacker who never fails to disappoint. Today's New York Times has but the latest example of his toxic blend of laziness and incompetence. As the US faces one of its most complex national security issues ever, there could not be more unqualified individual leading the Senate's intelligence oversight:

Some Senate Republicans fumed privately as well. They said Mr. McConnell and Senator Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee, should have written an alternative to the House bill to give Republicans something to rally around.

We pay our Senators a lot of money and, I at least, expect them to do their damn jobs. Except in the case of Richard Burr. The only thing I expect from him is more of nothing.

Daily dose: Extreme extremism edition

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse.

LEGISLATURE 2015

GOP anti-tax hard-liners willing to keep criticizing NC House Republicans (AP) — It was 2004 when state Rep. David Miner, running for re-election, felt an avalanche of campaign mailers and ads from an outside advocacy group criticizing him for backing a state budget that extended temporary tax increases. Miner was one of several House GOP leaders targeted then during a nasty intraparty feud pitting Republicans who entered a power-sharing arrangement with Democrats and those who believed doing so betrayed party principles. Miner's primary opponent, Nelson Dollar, defeated Miner that year. Eleven years later it's Dollar — senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee — and other Republicans getting rapped by similar conservative advocacy groups.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/groups-willing-keep-criticizing-nc-house-republicans-2894083

Senate plans its final vote on expanding NC abortion rules (AP) — Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature appear comfortable extending the waiting period for an abortion and requiring doctors to expand what they give state regulators about some abortions they perform.
http://www.news-record.com/news/north_carolina_ap/senate-plans-its-final-vote-on-expanding-nc-aborti...

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