Governor Roy Cooper

Drilling down into Gov. Cooper's Veto of Read to Achieve reboot

An expensive boondoggle, by any other name:

The state has put more than $150 million into the program to date, and a study last year by North Carolina State University found no gains for the first year of students involved.

"Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly," Cooper said in his veto message. "This legislation tries to put a Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed."

It has failed. Not "performed below our expectations," but failed, miserably. NC State followed two separate cohorts of students who took part in the RtA program, and detected virtually no improvement with them as compared to those who did not take part:

A Cooper Veto of the Budget is exciting pundits

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Concurring on the concurrence is the question:

The length of the 2019 legislative session — outside another rash of extra sessions — could come down to whether Gov. Roy Cooper and Senate Democrats are willing to bog down the state budget process for the sake of inserting some form of Medicaid expansion.

Cooper could also choose to veto the Republicans’ compromise budget bill to highlight disagreements over public education and environmental issues as well.

Maybe even more than the Governor, this is a test of the willpower of NC House Republicans. The Senate's Budget is a stinking mess, and unless the House can wrangle some fairly serious changes, Cooper is going to have to Veto the thing. Don't usually lean on Puppet quotes to drive home a point, but Mitch Kokai makes some good ones:

The right bill for the wrong reason: NC Senate passes whistleblower protections

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Just in time for Sunshine Week:

A bill passed by the N.C. Senate last week to provide greater protections for government whistleblowers is a move in the right direction.

The Protecting Government Accountability Act passed unanimously, 44-0, after adopting two amendments that strengthen it. One requires heads of state agencies, departments and institutions to inform their employees about the law. The other clarifies that the protections cover state employee testimony to agents or employees of legislative inquiry panels appointed by the House speaker or Senate president pro tempore.

The key word there is "agents." They're called "private" investigators for a reason, because they operate outside normal parameters that dictate the behavior of government investigators. The Governor is right to shield state employees from their scrutiny, and to demand the General Assembly get its answers in a formal setting. And as for this observation:

Can Republicans be trusted to keep Special Session free of politics?

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The short answer is "no," but with the election coming up, they may have to:

“The currents will be moving under the surface,” said Gary Pearce, a columnist who was a longtime aide to Jim Hunt, a Democrat who was North Carolina’s longest-serving governor. “You can’t take politics out of anything, and this state is so, so polarized, so politicized, and the last eight years have been so angry and bitter, that even in a disaster like this, it’s going to hard for people to set it aside.”

Few state governments in America have been as divided in recent years as the one in North Carolina, where Democrats and Republicans have regularly fought pitched battles over issues like redistricting, voting rights, bathroom access for transgender people, education, and executive authority.

Republicans take note: When your state-level feud is controversial enough to make the New York Times, you might be tempted to celebrate your success. But voters across the board are extremely tired of such partisan gamesmanship, and they will be watching closely at how you handle recovery efforts after this horrible storm. And thanks to the dynamic campaign of Jen Mangrum, Berger's constituents will be watching closely, too:

Roy Cooper files lawsuit to preserve Separation of Powers

“The General Assembly has proposed two amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that would take a wrecking ball to the separation of powers. These proposed amendments would rewrite bedrock constitutional provisions— including the Separation of Powers Clause itself. They would overrule recent decisions of the North Carolina Supreme Court. They would strip the Governor of his authority to appoint thousands of officials to hundreds of boards and commissions that execute the laws of our State. They would confer exclusive authority on the General Assembly to choose those whom the Governor can consider to fill judicial vacancies. And they ultimately threaten to consolidate control over all three branches of government in the General Assembly.”

Governor Cooper asks Trump to back off on tariffs

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Defending those NC farmers and producers at risk of economic collapse:

Cooper wrote a letter Thursday to the president telling him retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products by other countries resulting from the administration's increases stand to harm several North Carolina commodity exports.

Cooper mentioned specifically pork heading to Mexico and China and tobacco going to Turkey, China and the European Union. He says North Carolina exports of these products alone to the affected regions are $550 million annually. The governor says rising prices for all U.S. steel and aluminum also increases costs for anyone who uses them in their production processes.

Roy shouldn't have to do this, because this trade war Trump has gleefully engaged in is not a partisan issue. Congress could (easily) pass Veto-proof legislation to halt or limit this activity, but Ryan and McConnell are simply not responsible enough to take the proper steps. Here's more from Roy on what's at stake:

Offshore drilling update: Approval for seismic testing may come soon

Whether NC's coastal residents want it or not:

The steps to seismic testing in the South Atlantic include approval of the incidental harassment authorizations by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which could then be followed by approval of the permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). According to NOAA’s website, the public comment period for proposed seismic permits in the Atlantic closed last July. The comment review and final determination process typically takes, according to the site, one to three months.

“We are working through about 17,000 public comments as expeditiously as possible, but will take the time necessary to ensure that they are all appropriately addressed and that our final decision is based on the best available science,” Kate Brogan, a National Marine Fisheries Service spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

I can't help but stir my tea leaves when a government official says, "best available science." Because they are the ones who decide what's best, what's available, and (of course) what is "science" as opposed to opinion. All that said, both the NOAA and the Marine Fisheries branch are part of a dwindling group of Federal regulatory entities that are still at least trying to do their jobs properly. But that may be about to change:

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