Daily dose: Maximum Moral Monday edition

We'll be back at Moral Monday today. Hope you'll turn out to join us and a few thousand other concerned citizens who are protesting the insanity below. And just in case you're having trouble getting a meeting with elected officials, all you really need to do, it seems, is become a Realtor!

Fort Bragg's Womack hospital announces weekly closings as a result of budget cuts (Fayetteville Observer) -- Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center announced its plans Friday for closings and furloughs this summer to meet budget-cutting requirements in the federal sequestration process.

Federal budget cuts hit Fort Bragg Army hospital (AP) -- The Army medical center at Fort Bragg is cutting services and telling workers to take unpaid time off as a result of federal budget cuts ripple through the Defense Department.

State GOP rolls back era of Democratic laws (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Numerous programs, laws and initiatives started by Democratic governors and Democratic legislatures are now on political life support as the first unified Republican government in Raleigh in more than a century gives new scrutiny

Sales tax holiday on NC Senate's budget chopping block (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The Senate tax plan, which is expected to get its final vote Tuesday, eliminates NC's popular back-to-school tax holiday and its Energy Star tax holiday next year. The move could save the state millions but hurt retailers and energy advocates in the process.

Are Moral Monday protests working? ( Hickory Record) – Hickory residents who have participated in several weeks of civil disobedience in Raleigh to protest legislation by the General Assembly are fearful the state is headed back to Jim Crow days, according to Hickory pastor Rev. T. Anthony Spearman. Dr. Joseph Mancos, Lenoir-Rhyne University professor of political science, calls those protest actions in Raleigh classic civil disobedience. He questions whether the arrests in Raleigh were legal. “I would raise the question whether their arrest is constitutional,” he said. “Something seems funny in the way this is being applied. You think of disorderly conduct as referring to someone who is publicly drunk.” Mancos said the US Constitution guarantees the freedom of expression and the right of assembly.

2007 law discouraging non-NC trash getting review (AP) -- In 2007, the General Assembly passed tougher rules for new landfills, giving eastern North Carolina community activists worried about out-of-state trash getting shipped to their counties a victory over the waste industry.

Local leaders may feel sting in tax reform (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Municipal leaders say the tax overhaul tentatively approved in the Senate last week would cut so much local government revenue that, to balance their budgets, they would ultimately have to raise property taxes.

Steinburg: Schools have image issue (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- A meeting between a state legislator and concerned members of the N.C. Association of Educators turned into a bit of a spirited talk about whether Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Public Schools is the reason the area is having trouble attracting companies and doctors.

Area Realtors seek information about N.C.’s proposed tax reform (New Bern Sun Journal) -- Area Realtors who are concerned about the effects that North Carolina’s proposed tax reform might have on buying, selling and owning houses are hoping to get answers during a meeting Monday with state Sen. Norman Sanderson.

New North Carolina law to expand penalties for synthetic marijuana (Fayetteville Observer) -- A bill that expands on legislation passed two years ago regulating synthetic marijuana has been signed into law.

Teacher salary freeze taking toll (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Forsyth County teachers will not be getting a raise this year. Though a final budget has yet to be negotiated between the differing proposals from the N.C. Senate and House, neither budget included pay raises for teachers or state employees.

Moffitt, Ramsey engage in shameless bullying (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- A recent proposal to force district elections on Asheville is clearly just intimidation.


Poll: NC Voters Back Bipartisan Senate Immigration Bill (Public News Service) -- More than half of North Carolina voters support the bipartisan immigration reform bill making some progress in the U.S. Senate, according to a survey of almost 800 people in the state. The poll said both Democrats and Republicans favor the legislation.

State photo-ID databases are troves for police (Washington Post) -- The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable databases that were compiled to prevent driver’s license fraud but increasingly are used by police in investigations, a Post analysis finds.

Choice of Health Plans to Vary Sharply From State to State (New York Times) -- Only months before Americans start buying coverage through new state insurance exchanges, it is becoming clear that choices will vary sharply depending on where people live.

Highway Patrol recruiting in WNC (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- After several years with a hiring freeze in place, the patrol is 203 officers short.

Could you eat on $4.15 a day? These Pender Co. employees did (Wilmington Star-News) -- Some may not think much about what it would be like to get hungry during the day and not have the option of satisfying that hunger.

States Ease Use of Life Policies for Elder Care (Wall Street Journal) -- State lawmakers are encouraging elderly residents to use life insurance as a way to pay for long-term care—and lower the Medicaid tab in the process.


Yadkinville plant makes polyester yarn from recycled plastic bottles (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Unifi Manufacturing Inc. turns ground-up plastic bottles into polyester yarn that is used in fleece jackets, car seats, men's slacks, socks, and other products.


Climate Change: Threat to National Security Says Pentagon (Public News Service) -- Global warming is turning up the heat on national security, according to the Pentagon. Factors that military strategists now must consider include global food and water scarcity. These can lead to populations migrating, with all the potential conflicts that could create.
- See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/state/NC#sthash.g3fr4kGp.dpuf

New tool compares fuel costs for electric and non-electric cars (WUNC-FM) -- A new tool on the US Department of Energy’s website allows users in each state to compare the price of power for an electric car to the cost of driving the same distance using gasoline. In North Carolina, a gallon of regular, unleaded fuel costs an average of $3.41. The equivalent amount of electricity costs about a third of that- an average of $1.02. That’s 12 cents less than the national average. Patrick Davis with the Energy Department says the tool is designed to inform people about the actual costs of driving an electric vehicle. "Consumers are very used to and comfortable with understanding what the price of gasoline means to them, we felt that they were less comfortable and knew less about what it costs to run an electric drive vehicle and this tool helps them do that," Davis says. Davis says the cost of electricity is more stable than gasoline prices, which can be affected by international events.

Fracking fuels water battles (AP) -- The process requires a lot of water - something that doesn't play well in drought-stricken areas.

A big start to season for N.C. fishing center (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Just returned from the Gulf Stream, charter boat captain Jim Rickman lined up on the dock a mess of dolphin and tuna, their silvery backs glistening in the sun.

Kayaking Calico Creek (Coastal Review) -- Urban Calico Creek might not be considered a worthy destination by some, but a local paddler makes its case.

Reviving a bad idea: big N.C. landfill (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Lawmakers in Raleigh apparently think so little of northeastern North Carolina that they view a giant landfill as the region's best hope for economic development. And it seems they have even less regard for their neighbors in southeastern Virginia.

Food Tax: A bad idea, then and now (Winston-Salem Journal) -- State tax reform remains a muddy issue today, just two or three weeks before the targeted legislative adjournment date of early July. The House has a plan that Gov. Pat McCrory likes, and the Senate has a leadership-backed plan that the original voice of tax reform in the Senate, Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, does not like. Amid this confusion, however, one encouraging prospect has emerged. It now appears unlikely that the legislature will re-apply the state sales tax to groceries. … There’s no telling what will result from House-Senate tax reform negotiations, but we surely hope that a reinstated food tax is dead. It is unacceptably regressive to tax groceries.

No good reason to get rid of NC Child Fatality Task Force (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Given that North Carolina still ranks in the mid-20s when it comes to child death rates across the nation and that more than 1,600 Tar Heel children still die each year, we should keep the NC Child Fatality Task Force.

Kicking jobless to the curb (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Amid its efforts to return cursive writing instruction to public school classrooms and allow gun owners to carry weapons on university campuses, the N.C. General Assembly made time to kick the long-term unemployed squarely in the teeth.

Teacher supplement must be kept (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Eliminating the salary supplement for North Carolina teachers who earn a master's degree in their area of teaching is a bad idea. The enactment of the bill could harm education in this state for a long time to come.

All Out - New law opens campus crime information (Fayetteville Observer) -- The General Assembly has passed a bill that brings some clarity to the issue of how much arrest information campus police may withhold from the public. Short version: Some, but not much.

N.C. poverty is real, grim and deserves attention (Charlotte Observer column) -- Not everyone will agree that the Moral Monday protests that have brought thousands to the state Capitol recently, and resulted in more than 350 arrests, are the right course to air grievances against policies of the N.C. legislature. Yet the protests are shining a light on something shameful in this state – a problem this legislature, and previous ones, have largely ignored: the dire condition of the state’s poor.

Time to forge comprehensive N.C. poverty plan (Charlotte Observer column) -- Few in North Carolina may remember or know of the North Carolina Fund. In 1963, it formed the centerpiece of the state’s comprehensive assault on poverty.