DisConnect NC: Transportation infrastructure missing from revised bond

"I'm sure it's a nice building, I just can't get there from here."

But the cornerstone of his proposal was "a transportation bond of $1.2 billion that will allow for the quicker construction of projects in the 25 year plan." In fact new money for roads, bridges, ports and other transportation projects were so key to the initiative that McCrory dubbed it ‘Connect NC.’

That name remains but all money for connections has been stripped out of the Connect NC bill. There is money for an academic building boom...But the Senate’s plan cuts roughly a billion dollars from McCrory’s proposal by eliminating all road, bridge and transportation projects from the plan.

Another embarrassment for Governor McTravel, who will no doubt be shaking his fists in frustration. But it's also going to be frustrating for the rest of the state, which is in dire need of some road repair and (yikes!) bridge replacements. And for sure the Highway Patrol will really love this:

NC GOP attacks immigrants and home rule in one bill

Which they probably view as "efficient" lawmaking:

Language added to the measure Wednesday would prohibit cities and counties from adopting "sanctuary" rules for undocumented immigrants, either by local law or policy. Such rules limit when police and sheriffs' deputies can enforce federal immigration law. They also tend to curb the collection of information about a person's immigration status and limit when information about an undocumented person can be transmitted to the federal government.

Cities such as Asheville have adopted such rules because proponents there say it frees up police to concentrate on more troublesome, violent crimes. Advocates say it also helps law enforcement to establish better ties in immigrant communities.

Take it from somebody who lives in Alamance County, the home of rabid anti-immigrant Sheriff Terry Johnson: Going after undocumented workers *does not* make your area safer, it simply allows real criminals the breathing room they need to operate. Taking a brief break from their racial profiling, deputies are periodically forced to do their real jobs:

Thursday News: Voter ID case proceeds edition

N.C. judge allows voter ID lawsuit to continue (AP) — A judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's photo identification requirement to vote that starts next year, even though lawmakers recently eased the mandate for some without IDs wishing to cast ballots.

Republicans trying to legalize sweepstakes cafes

Because squeezing money out of the poor is good business:


Department–Department of Commerce

License Required. – No electronic sweepstakes establishment may operate without a valid license issued by the Department in accordance with this Part. Electronic sweepstakes devices may only be operated in a licensed electronic sweepstakes establishment.

Read the bill. The NCGA has set its sights on taxing the crap out of this (currently illegal) enterprise, and is even requiring machines to have the industry's own lie "This Is Not Gambling" displayed prominently on the screen. The GOP is beyond "out-of-control," they've gone bat-shit crazy.

The GOP's misleading rhetoric about Medicaid

Using old data to justify reworking an already efficient system:

Years of cost overruns by North Carolina’s Medicaid program, a government health insurance program that serves the poor, elderly and disabled, have long frustrated state lawmakers. Lambeth said some years the $14 billion program ran $2 billion short, forcing lawmakers to scramble to pull together extra funding. Interest in reforming the program emerged about five years ago from a desire to achieve better budget predictability.

“I think this is one of those legacy bills that will save the state money for years and years down the line,” Lambeth told the group. “If it doesn’t save us 10 percent I would be very, very surprised. It’s possible that it could save us 20 to 25 percent.”

And before you say it, you're right: He's talking about budgeting problems encountered before the Community Care system was put in place. And it took a pointed question, unfortunately asked *after* his presentation, for Lambeth to admit the current system works very well:

Wednesday News: Van der Nuke edition

Van der Vaart wants N.C. to build nuclear power plants (Argus) — North Carolina plans to look at building new nuclear generation to comply with federal CO2 standards even as it intends to file a lawsuit to overturn the regulations, the state's top environmental regulator said yesterday. "The real discussion we need to be having in North Carolina is about nuclear power, and it is a discussion we are having," Donald van der Vaart, head of the N.C. Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources, said. "[Nuclear] is really the dual plan to put in place in case we lose the litigation, because we need to leapfrog natural gas."

Tuesday News: Invisible college under construction

Budget supports ‘Western Governors University’ (WRAL-TV) -- It's not a campus, no matter what the state budget says. North Carolina's recently enacted $21.7 billion spending plan sets aside a $2 million challenge grant for Western Governors University to "to establish a North Carolina campus." That money will be turned over if the institution raises $5 million, but don't think ivy-covered brick buildings, a quad and a dining hall. Founded in 1997, Western Governors University is the brainchild of a bipartisan group of chief executives. At one time considered controversial, the university's competency-based education has grown more widely accepted. Students don't take a course based on a calendar cycle. Rather, they study the material until they know it well enough to take a final exam. That allows students with some experience to test out of lower-level subjects and tackle more challenging work more quickly.

Giving polluters a confidentiality clause

You don't need to know what's killing you:

With the passage of a long-sought budget agreement behind them, state legislators are expected to wrap up several major pieces of legislation this week, including at least one bill that will roll back environmental regulations.

Diggins said one provision likely to stay in the bill is an environmental self-audit provision that would allow polluters to self report violation to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Those violations would in turn, be kept confidential.

You know, it's one thing to keep meetings discussing personnel issues confidential; strong arguments could be made either way. But when an individual or business releases toxic pollution into the air or groundwater, that is *everybody's* concern, especially those families in close proximity to the danger. You'd think we would have learned that by now, after the cancer clusters associated with Camp Lejeune and the CTS Asheville site came to light. But when you care more about industry profits than you do the health and safety of the citizenry, I guess "learning" is something to be avoided.


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