NC GOP

Unintended consequences of gerrymandering

Most people have now heard about the NC GOP mutiny against Thom Tillis in the failure of House bill 1224.

Why couldn't Tillis corral his Republican caucus? He rules through fear and intimidation, and it's rare that his party colleagues cross him.

Well, perhaps the very gerrymandering that put him in his position of power also cost him the ability to get what he wants when the stakes are high.

“[Tillis] is one of the most criticized speakers in modern times and, because of redistricting, does not hold the same degree of power over caucus members through controlling huge amounts of campaign money that people need for reelection,” [Meredith College political science expert David] McLennan said.

Coal Ash Wednesday: "cap and leak" plan moves forward

Stick a Band-Aid on it and do a victory dance:

The legislation mandates that ash be excavated at only four of Duke’s 14 North Carolina coal-fired power plants. “Low-risk” ponds can be capped in place without removing ash. A moratorium on Duke seeking rate hikes to pay for coal ash cleanup would expire in January 2015, as the Senate bill had stated. The House had pushed for the moratorium to end in December 2016.

Contaminated groundwater has been found near ash ponds at all of Duke’s coal plants. The Southern Environmental Law Center said the committee changes seek “to weaken existing law and protect Duke Energy from taking responsibility for its coal ash waste.”

“Allowing coal ash to be left in unlined, leaking pits across North Carolina with documented groundwater contamination at each site is not a cleanup plan nor does it protect the people of North Carolina,” the center said.

This isn't a compromise bill, it's the bastard child of a horrible plan and an already compromised plan. And the only reason it's moving forward is political in nature, so Republicans won't get punished in November for doing nothing.

So much for McCrory orchestrating deliberations at the NC General Assembly

Hat-tip to Chris Fitzsimon for finding this:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The sacrificial lamb bleats:

I hope you haven't eaten yet, because this is seriously nauseating:

Instead of cracking down on polluters, Skvarla battles EPA

Protecting the business environment:

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources asked for the extension because additional time is needed to understand the potential impacts of the rule on the environment and the economy, John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a letter sent this week to the EPA.

“Our review to date has revealed that the rule will have a significant impact on electric power providers and rate payers,” Skvarla’s letter states. “We believe the proposal creates a regulatory scheme that affects all aspects of how electricity is generated, dispatched, and used by businesses and consumers while creating a new EPA oversight of every state and local authority involved in these complex issues. EPA’s current comment period deadline of October 16, 2014, simply does not provide sufficient time to understand this far-reaching and complex proposal.”

For a climate-change denier who believes fossil fuels are a renewable resource, I'm not sure there is a sufficient amount of time to understand this, or any other "complex" issue.

Alamance County's racial profiling Sheriff makes national news

Throw 'em in jail first, ask questions later:

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a sheriff, Terry Johnson of Alamance County, is on trial this month, accused by the Justice Department of rampant racial-profiling abuses against Latinos. Two retired supervising deputies testified at the trial that Sheriff Johnson had told officers not to give Latino drivers traffic citations, but to take them directly to jail.

Starting in 2007, Sheriff Johnson was a partner in the federal 287(g) program, which trains local officials as immigration agents. The government revoked that agreement in 2012. As with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., an inveterate immigrant victimizer whose 287(g) authority was belatedly curtailed, Sheriff Johnson seems to be a prime exhibit of the dangers of outsourcing immigration authority to peace officers who don’t get the memo, or heed the Constitution.

No doubt many of my fellow Alamance County-ites consider Terry Johnson some kind of hero, but I'm sure that would change if a burned-out tail-light landed them in jail until somebody checked and double-checked their papers. Which (of course) will never happen to these navel-gazers, since they are sporting the preferred skin color.

Killing good, productive programs

While McDecker attempts to get her hands on a wad of taxpayer money to use to bribe corporations to come to NC, so that her boss Guvnor Pat can brag about bringing 11 new jobs to Charfayleighashington, existing programs that have proven to be effective economic engines and job creators have been killed by the Tillisberger.

First, they replaced NC's highly successful film industry tax credits with a lame grant program that has been panned by the film industry.

As of late July, the state film office reported, North Carolina has experienced $268 million in estimated direct spending by the industry and nearly 19,000 jobs.

Then they outright killed the historic preservation tax credit program.

NC GOP tries to become immune from judicial checks and balances

The NC GOP, stung by a series of judicial rulings that their unconstitutional laws are...er...unconstitutional, isn't about to put up with that.

When judges get in their way of passing unconstitutional laws, Tillisberger just passes a new unconstitutional law.

After passing laws imposing new conditions on abortions and elections, taking away teacher tenure and providing vouchers for private school tuition, Republican state legislators have seen those policies stymied in state and federal courtrooms.

So they have passed another law, this one making those kinds of lawsuits less likely to succeed when filed in state court. Beginning in September, all constitutional challenges to laws will be heard by three-judge trial court panels appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Tillis has a meltdown

The NC House and Senate were expected to adjourn today.

But that was before Thom Tillis decided to throw a big wrench in the works -- and his GOP colleagues revolted!

The House rejected the [business incentives] bill earlier this month, but now the proposal is tied to an unrelated measure aimed at sparing teacher assistant jobs. Many districts have said that, despite legislative promises, the state budget will force them to cut teaching assistant positions.

Tillis linked a third bill on Friday, a measure that would give Wake County the option to hold a referendum in 2016 on a .25 percent sales tax increase.

The maneuvering uses one piece of legislation to undo provisions in the incentives bill, which otherwise would kill Wake County’s option to levy a quarter-cent sales tax to raise teacher salaries.

Short-changing NC's environment in the Short Session

From the good folks at NC Policywatch:

[Updated: The Senate adopted the conference committee report as its first act this morning]. As state lawmakers prepare to gather this morning for what could be the final day of the 2013-14 General Assembly, it should come as no surprise that one of the final acts is likely to be the enactment of a polluter “wish list” that was crafted mostly out of public view.

According to environmental protection advocates who finally got a chance to begin reviewing the last minute conference committee report that emerged to Senate Bill 734 last night, the legislation contains at least a dozen gifts to industry. Many of the changes are technical, wonky and even minor on their own, but make no mistake, the cumulative effect will be to weaken environmental protection, hasten the development of more open land and wetlands and further imperil our increasingly fragile environment.

You're right, I'm not surprised. Republicans are no longer even attempting to appear as if they're acting in the public's interest, they're just going for broke. That's not confidence in the legislation they're cramming down our throats, it's confidence in their gerrymandered safety.

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