GOP tax reform: Lose your home to foreclosure, and then pay taxes on it

They have absolutely no shame:

One of the other provisions in the legislation would startlingly hurt homeowners struggling with foreclosure by counting as income any portion of their mortgage debt forgiven by a lender.

Sen. Tamara Barringer, a Republican, bucked her leadership and voted against the bill because of the change, telling the News & Observer, “these are people that have lost their homes. Are we going to tax them when they’re trying to get back on their feet?” Apparently the answer from Senate leaders is yes. There were no hearings on that part of the gas tax bill, no discussion with mortgage lenders or people who work with struggling homeowners.

I hope my friends who support the gas tax will join me in calling for a Veto for this bill. And I also hope AG Roy Cooper speaks out, and quickly, since he has been a champion for those suffering from the unethical practices of those lenders who propagated the mortgage fiasco that has ruined so many lives. This provision will put families thousands of dollars in debt to the state, money they don't have and can't get, quashing any hopes they might have of recovering. And all because Republicans wanted to give people with three homes and two boats a tax cut. Disgusting doesn't even cover it.

Triple-murderer had a concealed carry permit

So much for the law-abiding, even-tempered, 2nd Amendment hero fantasy:

Hicks, a Second Amendment rights advocate with a concealed weapons permit, often complained about both Christians and Muslims on his Facebook page. "Some call me a gun toting Liberal, others call me an open-minded Conservative," Hicks wrote.

Imad Ahmad, who lived in the condo where his friends were killed until Barakat and Mohammed were married in December, said Hicks complained about once a month that the two men were parking in a visitor's space as well as their assigned spot. "He would come over to the door. Knock on the door and then have a gun on his hip saying 'you guys need to not park here,'" said Ahmad, a graduate student in chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. "He did it again after they got married."

Bolding mine, since the media has apparently determined the fact he was licensed by the state to carry a concealed weapon is only worth a casual mention. We'll give the nut-jobs over at Grass Roots NC a few more hours to concoct their tortured reasoning to show how this doesn't call into question the crime-fighting superhero image they've created of CCW Man.

The crazy haze of passing on North Carolina's roads

House Bill 60 is a complete waste of time. No, seriously.

February 10, 2015
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO ALLOW THE DRIVER OF A VEHICLE TO OVERTAKE AND PASS SLOWER MOVING VEHICLES ON PORTIONS OF THE HIGHWAY WHICH ARE MARKED BY SIGNS, MARKERS, OR MARKINGS PLACED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION STATING OR CLEARLY INDICATING THAT PASSING SHOULD NOT BE ATTEMPTED.

I mean, why didn't I think of this? A novel idea decades in the making that for whatever reason, has just now surfaced.

Daily dose: Money in state politics edition

Tar Heel Power Brokers: Special interests spend big to get their way (Facing South) – A first study of its kind looks at the top special interests in North Carolina politics and measures their influence in the state. The Facing South/ISS report looks at two key ways special interests wield their influence: * Election Spending: Money that special interests have spent directly and indirectly to elect state-level politicians in the 2012 and 2014 elections, based on analyzing thousands of state and federal campaign finance reports. Lobbying Clout: Special interests with the strongest lobbying presence in North Carolina government, drawing on the latest rankings produced by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research .
http://www.southernstudies.org/2015/02/tar-heel-power-brokers-special-interests-spend-big.html

Which NC elected officials will listen to Netanyahu on March 3rd?

It's a safe bet that Senator Tillisburr will be on hand to lick the warmonger's boots, along with the full contingent of Republicans in the House, but I'm hoping all of our Democratic representatives will boycott the speech. David Price? Alma Adams? GK Butterfield? That's right. Thanks to extreme gerrymandering, our state has only three Democrats in the House. How sickening is that?

Exploring NC's gas tax conundrum

It's not as cut-and-dried as you might think:

The gas tax is a major revenue source for transportation projects such as repairing bridges, repaving roadways, and building highways. The failure of the current gas tax (and other transportation funding sources) to support these important public services means that backlogs for both maintenance and repairs projects persist. The state Department of Transportation estimates that North Carolina faces a $60 billion shortfall for transportation improvements through 2040, and that the state needs to come up with $32 billion just to keep the status quo.

I am genuinely conflicted on this issue, and it's doubtful I will be able to find a comfortable position on either side. I also find little comfort in the fact that infrastructure is crumbling all across the country, and not just in North Carolina. In response to a comment I made on Facebook about the regressive nature of the gas tax, Mark Turner made a good point:

Coal Ash Wednesday: The deadly ingredients

Thanks to Physicians for Social Responsibility for outlining the harms:

Arsenic: It has long been known that arsenic, if ingested in very high levels, is deadly. However, lower levels of exposure are also harmful and can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; anemia and decreased production of the white, infection-fighting blood cells; abnormal heart rhythms; blood vessel damage; numbness in the hands and feet; partial paralysis; and decreased vision, even blindness. Repeated low levels of exposure over an extended period of time can produce effects similar to a one-time high level of exposure, and chronic exposure to low levels can cause skin cancer. Arsenic has also been linked to cancers of the lung, bladder, kidney, liver and prostate.

Contaminated drinking water is a primary route of arsenic exposure. Exposure from birth may increase urinary cancer risk much later in life, suggesting that people whose drinking water is contaminated by arsenic from coal ash should be monitored long-term for this cancer, even if they stop drinking the contaminated water.

I know a lot of environmental advocates who are energetic as all get-out, but lacking somewhat in the details. Energy is important, but you need some basic factual tools at your disposal if you want to persuade others the danger is real. Understanding the toxics involved and their deleterious effect on our health is likely the best tool you could wield in that effort:

Daily dose: Hole in budget gets deeper

Economists predict $271M NC government shortfall this year (AP) — North Carolina's tax collections this year are expected to come up $271 million short of what's needed to cover the $21 billion state government budget, economists at the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory's administration say.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/economists-predict-271m-nc-government-shortfall-year-2791437

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