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.

Monday News: Tough love, GOP-style edition


Legislature cuts $110 million from regional mental health (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The state’s eight regional mental health agencies must absorb a financial hit in the form of a $110 million budget reduction that state legislators told them to fill with money from their savings.

Shrouded in secrecy: NC's move away from transparency

You only need to know what we tell you:

As the General Assembly concludes its business for the year, it is time to take stock of changes made to North Carolina’s sunshine laws. So far, lawmakers have approved and Gov. Pat McCrory has signed seven new exemptions to the Public Records Law. Three more lurk in the recently finalized budget bill.

The largest new exemption came at the very end of the session. During the budget process, the Senate tacked an expansion of the terrorism exemption into the bill. It would exclude “plans, schedules, or other documents” used with “executive protection and security,” which could exclude the governor’s calendar from public record. It would apply to every government executive with a security detail.

I'm sure Governor McTravel will find that one helpful, since his excursions to RGA conventions and subsequent misfiling of legally-required reports has gotten him into hot water several times. If nobody knows where and when you've gone, they can't ask any pesky questions, right? But if you're patient enough to wait for a century, all will be revealed:


Subscribe to BlueNC RSS