scharrison's blog

NC Senate passes CBD oil bill to treat specific diseases

Hopefully this is the beginning of a movement:

What Senate Bill 168 would do is allow CBD oil treatments for all individuals experiencing autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and mitochondrial disease. The bipartisan bill has two key Senate leaders as primary sponsors in Sens. Ralph Hise, R-McDowell, and Floyd McKissick Jr., D-Durham. State Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, is a co-sponsor. The same bill was not acted upon by the Senate Health Committee in 2017.

Both bills say the legislature has determined that current available treatment options “have been ineffective” for autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and mitochondrial disease. “Hemp extract shows promise in treating these chronic conditions,” the legislation says.

I'm glad to see this, but we really need to pursue medical marijuana and higher THC content CBD products if we truly want to combat NC's opioid problem.

Gator in a toxic chemical soup: GenX levels dangerously high in wildlife

The indications of long-term exposure should be very concerning:

Belcher’s team compared alligators from Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County and Greenfield Lake in Wilmington with the latter showing levels of total PFAS more than 10 times higher. They also compared striped bass from the Pamlico Aquaculture Field Laboratory and Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Cape Fear River, with the latter showing levels more than 33 times higher.

Researchers are now, Belcher said, looking at whether the PFAS are affecting the immune systems or liver functions of the animals sampled -- endpoints that have also been identified in humans. Partners in the team’s research include Cape Fear River Watch, N.C. Sea Grant and the N.C. PFAST Network.

Studies like this are extremely important, because right now there haven't been enough to meet the "statistically relevant" watermark for Federal agencies like the CDC to come to any conclusions. No doubt industry has played a role in that dearth of information, something leaders in our state need to get through their thick skulls. Self-regulating doesn't work, no matter how much money it saves from your budgeting. Back to the gators and fish(es):

Early voting begins today in 3rd District Congressional Primary

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And there's enough candidates to field 3 baseball teams:

Early voting begins today in a special primary election to fill the 3rd Congressional District seat left vacant by the death of Walter Jones. The actual primary is April 30.

Twenty-six candidates — 17 Republicans, six Democrats, two Libertarians and one member of the Constitution Party — filed to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat. Because only one Constitution Party candidate filed, there is no primary for that party.

The General Election could get very interesting. With a Libertarian and a Constitution...arian? on the ballot, the Republican is going to have to do a complicated ideological dance to keep from losing votes. Or maybe not. But first said Republican will have to survive this Primary, and the (very likely) 2nd Primary that will follow:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

What Dan said:

Even better headline: "Andrew Dunn at Longleaf Politics has shed whatever cloak he was wearing on neutrality, and has gone full-on right-wing nutter."

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Oil & gas lobbyist set to run Interior

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And NC's fight against offshore drilling takes a punch in the gut:

The Senate vote set this week on the confirmation of David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary is making waves in North Carolina. Bernhardt took the helm at Interior after the resignation of Ryan Zinke, but faced tough questions about his past as an oil and gas lobbyist before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 14-6 to send the nomination to the floor for a vote.

Groups in North Carolina have asked the state's U.S. senators to probe the Trump administration's recent support of seismic drilling. They say under Bernhardt's leadership, the agency charged with protecting national resources could permit harm to North Carolina's coastlines.

Republicans in general, and Senate Republicans in particular, no longer even attempt to avoid conflicts of interest in who runs government agencies. Between Wheeler at the EPA and Bernhardt at Interior, the private sector foxes are literally running the Federal Government henhouse from their Boardrooms. And it's also plain (as day) that Bernhardt has no grasp on ethics whatsoever, since he continued lobbying right up to the minute he was ushered into the Interior Department:

Mark Johnson's "ClassWallet" program is a costly boondoggle

Somebody should design an app to detect idiots:

Several influential Republican lawmakers and GOP State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Wednesday the creation of the N.C. Teacher Classroom Supply Program that would be funded by new legislation requiring school districts to transfer $400 to each teacher. If passed, educators would use the ClassWallet app to spend the money and to submit reimbursements for supplies they purchase.

“Giving teachers the maximum control over classroom supply funds is the ultimate local control,” Johnson said at a news conference. “Teachers can be nimble and they can use these funds to buy what they need, when they need it.”

This is even worse than we initially thought. If that money was given directly to teachers, they could pool their resources and make larger (bulk) purchases, and/or contribute to local businesses. But being forced to use an app restricts their choices, and allows for the (huge) inflation of prices. Don't just take my word for it, listen to the teacher:

Teaching supplies "shell game" criticized by education leaders

Robbing from Peter to pay Paul could make matters worse:

After Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson backed a bill Wednesday that would shift money from school districts to give teachers $400 each for classroom supply needs, several State Board of Education members expressed issues Thursday with the bill’s potential consequences for districts.

Both teacher advisors on the board, 2017 Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin and 2018 Teacher of the Year Freebird McKinney, were vocal Wednesday about their opposition to Senate Bill 580, saying the reallocation of the money would take away resources districts need to buy supplies and equipment in bulk. Thursday, board member Jill Camnitz said she agrees with the advisors’ sentiments.

Not only is Mark Johnson not qualified to be NC's SuperNintendo, he apparently has a damn short memory. Just last Summer, he took money that was supposed to be disbursed to individual teachers and bought a bunch of IPads with it:

NRA defends abusers and stalkers in fight against VAWA

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Talk about misplaced priorities:

House Republicans broadly object to at least four new policies added to the bill to reauthorize VAWA — which expired back in February when Democrats objected to GOP efforts to include a short-term extension of the law in a spending deal. But the most controversial are new provisions to lower the criminal threshold to bar someone from buying a gun to include misdemeanor convictions of domestic abuse or stalking charges. Current law applies to felony convictions.

In order to understand why these changes need to be made, you need to understand how our legal system (usually) works. An extremely high percentage of those Domestic Violence "misdemeanors" started out as felonies, only to be plea bargained down. More than any other crime, Domestic Violence is a nightmare for prosecutors, and getting any conviction at all is considered a "win." So when you see that word (misdemeanor), don't assume it was just a casual push during an argument. The abuser most likely took a plea deal to avoid a jury hearing what really happened. I'm not just making that up, by the way:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke hints at massive rate increases over excavation order

This song is getting painfully old:

In its statement, Duke Energy said excavating the final nine pits would add about “$4 billion to $5 billion to the current estimate of $5.6 billion for the Carolinas.” The company warned that excavation at some sites could take decades, stretching well beyond current state and federal deadlines. It also said excavation would cost significantly more than it would to cap the coal ash under a heavy cover and soil.

Holleman said the company “greatly exaggerates” its cost estimates without taking into account the damage it has caused to the environment and to people’s health. He said the company also underestimates the cost it would incur if it simply drained and capped coal ash in the unlined pits.

Had a conversation (that turned into an argument) recently with a man trying to defend Duke Energy's history of coal ash storage. "Science has come a long way since then" was the major thrust of his argument, trying to give the utility an "out" for not using liners in their coal ash pits. Of course that's not true, because solid waste engineers have known since the late 1960's that toxins can leach into the groundwater from unlined landfills. And of course Duke Energy knew this too, but they were more concerned with returning healthy quarterly dividends than being good stewards of the environment. But hopefully they will soon find out that having us pay for their mistakes won't be as easy as it has been:

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