NCGA

Chief Justice Martin's avoidance of the term "exclusively"

If parts of the Constitution don't fit your argument, just forget they exist:

Entitled "State school fund," Article IX, Section 6 provides:
The proceeds of all lands that have been or hereafter may be granted by the United States to this State, and not otherwise appropriated by this State or the United States; all moneys, stocks, bonds, and other property belonging to the State for purposes of public education; the net proceeds of all sales of the swamp lands belonging to the State; and all other grants, gifts, and devises that have been or hereafter may be made to the State, and not otherwise appropriated by the State or by the terms of the grant, gift, or devise, shall be paid into the State Treasury and, together with so much of the revenue of the State as may be set apart for that purpose, shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for establishing and maintaining a uniform system of free public schools."

Bolding mine, in the hopes Mark Martin's attempt to erase the word won't stick. See if you can find that word in the numerous references he makes defending this decidedly un-constitutional siphoning off of public school resources:

NC GOP playing fast and loose with taxpayers' money

Multiple Primary elections are not free:

“With a recent agreement to move North Carolina’s presidential primary to March, North Carolina will play a pivotal role in the selection of the Republican nominee,” said Todd Poole, the executive director of the N.C. Republican Party.

“I am happy the primary has been moved up so the state has more of a say in the primary,” said Mark Baker, the chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party.

And in keeping with their "shift the costs to local government" approach to managing NC, General Assembly Republicans did not set aside a single penny from the state budget to finance this early Primary election. In Mark Baker's County alone, the costs could be over $100,000:

How about a little Arsenic with your softball?

So much for the beneficial uses of coal ash:

A softball field at South Brunswick Middle School remains closed after coal ash was found beneath the surface more than a year ago.

The coal ash was identified last year, several months into a project to renovate the existing field. According to district operations staff, a county engineer overseeing the original construction of the field in 1992 used coal ash–a free, readily available material from nearby the nearby Cogentrix plant–to fill the field.

In this context, the definition of "free" is: If you will take this toxic mess off our hands so we don't have to deal with it ourselves, we would greatly appreciate it. And as long as we refuse to categorize coal ash as a hazardous waste, stupid things like this are going to continue to happen.

VIVA trial update: Plaintiffs rest their case

Amidst more innuendo and nonsense from Phil Strach:

Dr. James LeLoudis II, an historian who specializes in the history of North Carolina and the American South, was called to the stand as a witness for the Plaintiffs on day ten of the federal lawsuit seeking to overturn VIVA.

Strach asked Leloudis if current black lawmakers enjoyed equal participation in the General Assembly. Leloudis said he was concerned about the broader political system and all citizens having a voice. "Policy comes out of an inclusive process," he said.

Hell, I'm not sure many members of the Republican majority enjoy "equal participation" in the process, much less African-American Dems in the minority. Debate has been stifled, Representatives have been strong-armed in caucus chambers, legislation has been rewritten and crammed through the voting process before people can even catch a breath. The outrages have been non-stop, and the African-American leader of the minority party Rep Larry Hall has to struggle just to get a few words in edge-wise. Equal participation? Don't make me laugh.

VIVA trial update: Voter fraud "exceedingly rare" in NC

Verified statistics vs manufactured fear:

Dr. Lorraine C. Minnite is an associate professor in the Department of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers and the author of The Myth of Voter Fraud. Minnite took the stand as an expert witness for the Plaintiffs on day nine of the federal lawsuit challenging VIVA.

In an expert report offered to the court on February 12, 2015, Minnite concluded that voter fraud is "exceedingly rare" in North Carolina and VIVA's photo ID requirement and elimination of same-day registration are unjustified.

The plaintiffs may wind up their part of the case today, but we have yet to see the defense's shenanigans arguments, so you may want to roll up your pant legs.

Gutting renewable energy still on ALEC's menu

NC's budget will simply have to wait:

Nine Republican House members, including Speaker Tim Moore, and Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, are attending the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council in San Diego, which runs through Friday.

Better known as ALEC, the conservative nonprofit sometimes comes under fire for giving business executives direct access to lawmakers, who often return to their states with model legislation favored by those corporate interests. In North Carolina, legislation modeled upon ALEC proposals includes attempts to repeal the state's mandate for renewable energy production, tort reform, malpractice reform, providing immunity from civil penalties to companies that report their own environmental violations and a push to teach the gold standard in schools.

ALEC's agenda for the week includes the usual suspects of pushing for balanced budgets via debt ceilings, the ubiquitous "Convention of States" mildly treasonous sales-pitch, making more inroads in school privatization, and of course continuing the war against renewable energy:

VIVA trial continues, Senator Josh Stein takes the stand

A witness to the outrage:

In its original form, H.B. 589 only added a photo ID requirement to voting. The bill was under 20 pages long. H.B. 589 sat untouched in the Senate for three months, Stein said. On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights act, which required certain states to submit major election law changes for "preclearance," or federal approval.

As a member of the Rules Committee, Stein expected to receive a copy of the new bill before the July 23 discussion. He was at home on the evening of July 22 when he checked his work email at around 9 p.m.
A copy of the new version of H.B. 589 was waiting for him. He was stunned. H.B. 589 had grown from under 20 pages to 57.

When opportunity knocked, Republicans answered the door with a gleam in their eyes. But as we've all learned in the last few years, an opportunity for Republicans usually equates to a loss of opportunity for others, and it's quite often the less fortunate on the losing end.

DENR doesn't want expanded water protections

And is suing the EPA to stop them from doing so:

DENR officials said in their lawsuit, filed Monday in a federal court in Georgia, that the new definition could expand the jurisdiction by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers over a significant portion of North Carolina. The move would stifle economic growth with little environmental benefit, they said.

"North Carolina’s water quality programs, many of which go beyond federal requirements, are a model for the nation and have contributed to the steady improvement of the quality of the state’s waters," DENR general counsel Sam Hayes said in a statement.

Really? I guess that's why the Jordan Lake Rules have yet to be implemented, making NC something like ten years late in taking positive steps to improve the impaired status of the reservoir. The bottom line is, when waters flow, they flow into our drinking water system. And since about 60% of our drinking water flows through intermittent streams and other "non-navigable" water systems, we either expand our quality control into those areas or continue to struggle to process enough potable water for our needs. And contrary to the scare tactics employed by ALEC and their agri-business cohorts, farm ponds will not be included in this expansion:

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