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.

Budget bacchanalia

Okay folks, it's time to dissect the piece-of-crap budget that came out of Raleigh last week. We're officially taking nominations for the Worst of the Worst provisions that weaseled their way into the mysterious legislation. What's your take? Got a favorite provision that we should love to hate? Let's hear it.

NC GOP set to privatize healthcare for 1.8 million of NC's poorest citizens

Let somebody else worry about them:

Medicaid reform has been a sticking point between the House and the Senate for several years now, with House leaders championing a Medicaid plan that would emphasize patient-centered medical homes and local providers while Senate leaders have pushed for commercial managed care organizations to be part of the mix. Senate leaders have also said they would not recess this year's legislative session without a Medicaid plan in place.

Add this one to the list of wildly successful programs Republicans in the Legislature feel the need to break fix because they are too obstinate to allow verifiable reports to get in the way of their fact-deficient prejudices:

Budget sandbags the environment

While also kicking it in the groin and tossing it on The Rocks:

The provisions require the state Coastal Resources Commission to revise rules for sandbag walls on the beach to allow for protection of adjacent properties without a permit. The provision also loosens requirements that the barriers be installed only to protect a structure.

When the changes to the rules were introduced earlier in the session, opponents said the move could lead to nearly unlimited construction of sandbag walls.

Read the whole list, if you want an idea of what happens when you ignore science in favor of development scams.

Voter survey on education spending

Private schools and for-profit charters are not as popular as the GOP thinks:

• 75% agree public tax dollars should not be used to pay for exclusive private schools
(up from 73% in 2013).

• 73% agree public money should not go to private schools. If parents choose to send their
children to private schools, they should pay for it (up from 68% in 2013).

• 71% agree tax dollars should not go to for-profit companies who run charter schools that are
not accountable to taxpayers for delivering student outcomes in the same way local public
schools are.

This is what happens when elected officials pay attention to a small group of advocates who echo their own prejudices; they strike off on a Crusade that does not have the support of a super-majority of the people they are supposed to represent. It's also one of negative effects of gerrymandering, because their inevitable re-election leads them to falsely believe people actually support what they're doing.

SEX is back, at ‪#‎NCGA‬!!

Sex Education, that is. They just can't keep their hands off of it.

Now that I have your attention, a new addition to SB279 would allow anyone who calls themselves an expert to approve sex ed curricula-meaning ANYTHING could be taught. It could be written by James Dobson's Focus on the Family or your Great Aunt Rose.

Once again, teach lies and call it education. This opens the door to Abstinence Only, or any kind of erroneous information a school or district finds their parents are comfortable with.

Op-Ed: Solar farms a way to ease economic struggles in rural NC

In which I preach from my digital soapbox:

One of the most difficult issues facing lawmakers and rural advocates is how to bring some level of prosperity back to areas that used to have textile mills and lucrative tobacco farms. Our consumer-based economy, which generates so much revenue in densely populated regions, fails miserably where populations aren’t so dense. And the very thing that makes these areas attractive to many who live there, the lack of bustling crowds and traffic jams, is the very thing that’s killing them.

I'm going to ask a favor of you dear readers. No, it's not money for some critical cause or organization (not this time, anyway), I just want you to click through and read the article. The N&O graciously published this piece in a timely fashion, and the number of reads or hits might encourage them publish more in the future. But here's a little more before you go:

GOP puts tax reform back in the Budget

And crams it down the throats of Legislators who haven't seen it yet:

“With the tax reform package within the budget, the Special Provisions will run to over 500 pages,” McGrady wrote on Facebook Sunday.

Senate leaders announced Monday morning that they’ll hold the first vote on Tuesday – meaning rank-and-file senators will have only one day to read a complex spending bill that spans 500 pages.

Really? You've been given an additional 2 1/2 months to dick around compose the Budget, but you're only giving duly elected representatives of the people less than 24 hours to study it before casting their votes? Just on principle alone that deserves a whole bunch of "Nay" votes and a Veto, but I'm sure the long knives are coming partially out of their scabbards to force Republican puppets to stay on their strings. What a frickin' circus.


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