Daily dose: McCrory's GEAR slips edition


NC GEAR doesn’t engage at legislative reception (WRAL-TV) -- A key legislative committee gave a chilly reception Monday to the final report from NC GEAR, Gov. Pat McCrory's signature initiative to reform state government. The two-year, $4 million project, headed by McCrory budget director Lee Roberts and deputy director Joe Coletti, made 22 recommendations for reforms, from changing school system purchasing to privatizing the state motor pool.

Net Neutrality Doesn't Require Heavy Regulation of the Internet

A New Yorker cartoon a few years back showed a suburban home going up in flames. Firefighters were racing across the lawn in full gear. But they were being waved off by the homeowner. He was spraying the inferno with a garden hose and saying to the firefighters: "No thank you, we're Libertarians."

Argumentum ad Temperantiam brings REPS to its knees

Also known as "middle ground" or "appeal to moderation" logical fallacies:

When a similar bill filed this session was voted down in committee, Hager added the substance of the bill as an amendment to Regulatory Reform Act of 2015. Hager’s amendment capped the requirement at 6 percent and set it to expire altogether in 2018.

After push back from supporters of renewable energy, a compromise amendment approved late Wednesday caps the rate permanently at 6 percent and repeals an 80 percent property-tax break that solar farms and facilities now receive. “It saves REPS but freezes it,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), who fought to establish the standards in 2007.

I would never dream of questioning or advising Pricey on legislative matters or environmental issues. That being said, it's my understanding that Hager's amendment (which, as a bill, couldn't make it out of Committee) was withdrawn when this "compromise" amendment was accepted. Meaning an amendment with a questionable chance of passing on the floor served as a "lever" to swing votes for this other, less damaging amendment. Here's a question for lawmakers: If either of these amendments were put forward by themselves, where no comparisons or compromises were involved, would either have passed?

Daily dose: Houston, you have a problem edition


McCrory headlines Houston’s huge Offshore Tech Conference (Houston Chronicle) -- The annual Offshore Technology Conference in Houston could be the biggest ever despite the lowest oil prices in years. Drilling beneath the world's oceans has yet to feel the full brunt of cheap oil and the thousands of OTC attendees will browse exhibits from 2,600 companies - up from last year's record-setting 2,568 companies. One highlight is a panel of elected officials who will discuss the future of drilling and assess federal and state regulations. The panel includes Republican N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop , R-Utah.

Fast Tracking Death: NC House Bill 562

While most of the civilized world would think it rare to have something so absolutely idiotic, so devoid of common sense, and so disdainful of one's own fellow human beings presented as legitimate legislation, we've become used to it in NC. HB562, however, surpasses every bar of abject stupidity previously set by this NCGA. As we all know, that's an amazingly high bar. I am far from alone in my assessment of this piece of NRA propaganda.

North Carolina HB-736, Discriminates against non-indian claimants fishing or hunting on Public lands,No Legal cause for Law exemptions to special heritage groups,state Constitution equal rights-sections.1,19,33 prohibits hereditary priveleges

Rep Grahams proposes HB -736

The battle of the Dukes: Better science vs ambiguous results

When solving the mystery of coal ash contamination is not a priority:

Prominent Duke University water-quality researcher Avner Vengosh and several colleagues developed a “forensic tracer” test last year that promises to identify with great accuracy whether coal ash is the culprit in individual cases of water pollution. “The isotopic signature of boron coming from coal ash is always different from naturally occurring boron or boron from other sources,” added Laura Ruhl, Vengosh’s partner in the research and a professor of earth sciences at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Drew Elliot, DENR’s communications director, said agency officials would welcome more and better testing tools, but they are under “aggressive deadlines” set by North Carolina’s new coal ash law. They can’t meet those deadlines if they detour to add a new series of tests, he said. The state’s preferred methodology for deciding whether coal ash is causing water pollution is to look for obvious, chemical clues in the well samples, he said.

And that "preferred methodology" is ineffective. Ignoring the isotopic signature of the contaminant is like ignoring fingerprints at a crime scene. It only makes sense if you're trying to protect the perpetrator.

Daily dose: Guns everywhere edition


After the Mayhem, Politics as Usual (New York Times) -- In North Carolina, lawmakers want to weaken penalties on gun owners who violate a ban on carrying guns in restaurants, and to punish doctors who ask patients about guns as a safety issue. … The idea that this improves public safety is firmly rebutted by the latest figures from the Violence Policy Center , a gun safety research and advocacy organization, which found that at least 743 non-self-defense deaths since 2007 were attributable to individuals with permits to carry concealed weapons. These included 222 suicides.


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