NCGA

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.

Tim Moore: Speaker for Cleveland County

Driving back home with a trunk full of pork:

The speaker, a lawyer from the Cleveland County town of Kings Mountain, has slipped some nice items into the state budget now under consideration. There’s the grant for water and sewer infrastructure, to go to towns under 12,000 people. Kings Mountain has 10,000.

Then there’s the $200,000 grant for the American Legion World Series, which has an annual baseball tournament in the Cleveland County seat of Shelby. The region has a long and grand history with American Legion baseball.

He's not just a lawyer "from" Cleveland County, he is the lawyer for Cleveland County. On the payroll, with an employment contract shielded from public scrutiny via personnel records confidentiality rules, or some such nonsense. Why do I say it's nonsense? Because he's currently the most powerful lawmaker in the NC House of Representatives, and we need to know if his County contract encourages him to wield undue influence in his State government position. It ain't rocket science, it's Ethics 101. And he appears to be failing miserably.

No respite for weary environmental advocates

A real shift in public opinion or wishful thinking?

In recent elections, North Carolina voters have teetered between red and blue. But the only green in the mix was the color of money, not environmental concern - or even basic awareness.

This state has the gift of a magnificent natural environment, but most voters take it for granted, seldom worrying about issues like water or air quality. That may be changing. Environmental issues have become serious political issues, especially in the past year.

The operative word there is "may" be changing, but I believe even that is a reach. Yes, there have been some high-profile environmental problems that surfaced (or leaked just below the surface) in the past year and a half, but it doesn't automatically follow that a larger chunk of the public has become concerned. I've watched these numbers since 2007, and the percentage of people who list the environment as their top issue has remained around 3 percent, just like in this Gallup poll covering 2015. Yes, that's a national poll and not targeted on NC voters, but it is hard numbers vs speculation of what should happen:

In defense of NC's wildly successful Solar tax credits

It's foolish to even consider stalling this engine:

The Tar Heel state ranked fourth nationally for total solar electric capacity and ninth per capita, according to a new report by the Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center. State House lawmakers used the report Thursday as a launch pad to talk about the potential freeze to North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and the hangup in the budget over extending renewable energy tax credits.

Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat, said clean energy is an “economic success story” for the state. “It’s not time to cut it off,” she said. Nearly 23,000 North Carolinians are employed in the clean energy industry, Harrison added. “These jobs, businesses, investments in new revenues are at stake right now as the House and the Senate debate budget provisions,” she said.

Ten years ago, we used to get excited about a couple of hundred kilowatts of Solar PV being added to the mix, but in 2015 North Carolina will bring online 76 megawatts of Solar power in the 2nd Quarter alone. It's no longer a boutique-level "novelty" for the well-to-do to show off to their friends, it's grown into a baseload-providing system powering hundreds of thousands of homes. It's not on the drawing board, folks. It's a reality. And the last thing we need to do is screw around with the formula.

Too little, too late: NC GOP's film incentives shell game

Happy talk won't put these pieces back together:

Ted Davis has declared North Carolina’s film industry “officially back open for business.” The state representative’s statement–made after lawmakers reached a $30 million compromise on the N.C. Film Grant Program–was preceded earlier this week by news that a TNT pilot is set to shoot in the Port City next month.

Senator Michael Lee would agree. “I am pleased that my Senate colleagues, after much negotiation, have agreed to increase the funding levels for this important program,” he said. “While there is still much more that can be done, today is a victory for both our region and our state.”

A victory? The only "victors" in this embarrassing series of blunders are the State of Georgia and the anti-government nut-jobs at the John Locke Foundation. We've sent a clear message to not only the film companies already engaged in North Carolina, but also those who might have considered shooting here, that we are simply not mature enough to maintain a stable environment for their business. Aside from slashing film incentives and chirping about what we "might be willing to spend," the fricking budget is two months late already, and negotiations are not promising. Two months of uncertainty in the film business, especially when you've got television schedules to consider, is a project-killing nightmare. And for Davis and Lee: The people in the Wilmington area know the Republican Party caused this nightmare. You might want to update your resumes.

The disingenuous faux-Libertarian attack on renewables

Ripping up the astroturf:

The attack dogs in this war are funded by Koch Industries and include Americans for Prosperity, American Energy Alliance and the American Legislative Exchange Council. They frame their attacks as a defense of the free market and fiscal conservatism. Yet even a cursory examination of their positions reveals they’re not defending the free market but attempting to protect the fossil fuel industry from competition.

Not sure if this Conservative's opinion signals a movement growing or is simply an anomaly, but the fossil fuel industry's actions are blatantly obvious. Harnessing clean, renewable energy resources like Solar has been a wildly popular idea for decades, and now that we're finally seeing a massive surge in installations, any pushback on that is liable to carry a heavy political price. One can hope, anyway.

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