NCGA

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The ripples from this are still spreading across the political pond:

Some very important points to consider:

As deadline approaches for college IDs, UNC system stuck in neutral

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Jerry Wayne Williamson at WataugaWatch has been all over this:

As part of its new Voter ID Bill, the state legislature determined that university IDs would qualify as valid proof of identity at the polls as long as the universities complied with certain criteria (Senate Bill 824). The State Board of Elections created both rules and a form for certifying compliance with this criteria. The "attestation form" must be signed by university officials no later than March 15th to qualify a university’s student IDs as valid proof of identity. If the attestation form is not signed by March 15th, that university’s student IDs will not count as valid proof of identity for elections through 2020.

Turns out the universities have now banded together under the interpretations offered by Thomas C. Shanahan, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the UNC system, to refuse to sign the attestation, regardless of whether an individual university can comply or not. If none comply, then individual university leadership is insulated. If one or more do comply, the others are exposed for harsh criticism.

I know what you're going to say before you say it, but if the recent ruling voiding the Voter ID Amendment gets overturned, that original deadline (March 15) will still be in effect. The fault for this conundrum lies solely on the shoulders of Republicans in the General Assembly, who (as usual) pushed too far with their legislation on requirements for college ID's to "comply" with their unnecessary restrictions on voting:

Court rules NCGA actions related to two amendments VOID

I don't know if I read this right, but dang. It's big news.

The Wake County Superior Court just ruled that two amendments passed in November, Voter ID and Tax Cap, are INVALID. The Court ruled the NC Legislature was not legally constituted (because of gerrymandering) and its actions on these two amendments should be voided.

This is amazing. I'll try to attach the ruling.

Here you go!

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1SZvURg60pxJGxCOS_QJCIeApFzTboLhX

GOP school privatization scheme: Overfund, then loosen rules

Phil Berger is Public (schools) Enemy Number One:

Opportunity Scholarships, approved in 2013, provide up to $4,200 a year to help low-income parents send their children to private schools. The program has never used all the money allocated, leaving millions unspent each year, but a spending plan approved in 2017 calls for increasing the budget by $10 million a year through 2027, the Observer recently reported.

“We’ve got substantial demand,” Berger said. “I think the growth that’s currently built into the program is something that we don’t need to go backwards on.” Although he acknowledged that there haven’t been enough eligible applicants to claim all the money budgeted, he said that’s not a reason to rein in spending. “I think it’s reason to maybe modify the rules,” he said.

I take very little satisfaction that I predicted just that a few weeks ago. It was almost inevitable, considering how unethical Republicans can be when engineering their pet projects. I also take little satisfaction in being proved right RE my concerns about Joel Ford:

Berger gets fact-checked on his attack of Medicaid expansion

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He's not the sharpest tool in the shed:

In his shot-across-the-bow statement, Berger listed what he called seven fictional claims by Democratic supporters of expansion, along with what he touted as facts refuting the claims. It appears many of Berger’s points come from the right-leaning Foundation for Government Accountability.

Berger said Democratic claims “are simply misleading at best and purposely deceptive in some instances.”

We've had several years of looking on longingly at other states (who aren't plagued by ideologues), and the evidence is overwhelming. Expanding Medicaid is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do, as well. Here are a couple of Berger's misfires:

Wetlands primer: Don't repeat the same mistakes of 40 years ago

Lost in the crazy Trump show is a startling move by his EPA:

In 1976, 3,000 commercial fishermen and residents signed a petition that pleaded with state officials to do something about the runoff that plagued our estuaries and threatened their ability to make a living fishing. Many of these folks were from Hyde County, and they saw firsthand vast areas of wetlands converted to “superfarms” and other land uses. Trillions of gallons of drainage flowed directly into salty estuaries. This runoff made these essential fish nurseries much less productive for shrimp, oysters, flounder, trout and other commercially and recreationally important marine life.

This regulatory rollback proposed by EPA to eliminate most existing regulatory safeguards for wetlands in our state will extinguish our fishing industry. We know from the past experiences of our fishing forefathers that no wetlands means no seafood.

If there's one thing Republicans are masters at, it's forgetting the past. Or acting like they forget, which is even worse. You can take virtually any environmental movement of the last 50 years, and you'll see a cycle of progress and regress, needed changes gained and then subsequently lost. But when it comes to something as important as wetlands, what's lost cannot be gained back again. They're not just a breeding ground for seafood resources, they're also a critical habitat for stationary and migratory avian species. But preserving wetlands is also good business, because they can greatly mitigate losses from hurricanes and flooding:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Everybody's talking except the one who needs to talk:

Don't know what he thinks he's achieving by pleading the 5th, other than driving home the fact he knows he's guilty.

The anti-abortion extremists in the NCGA are at it again

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And as usual, Republican men are leading the charge:

House Bill 28 would ban abortions after 13 weeks unless there is a medical emergency. Current law in North Carolina bans abortions after 20 weeks.

House Bill 22 would require doctors to tell women who take the abortion pill that the process can be reversed halfway through. The bill would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to provide that information on its website.

It goes without saying the 13-week limit is not only extreme, but geared towards severely limiting a woman's choice. But the "abortion reversal" thing, especially forcing NC DHHS to sign off on such a snake-oil treatment, is fraught with both ethical and legal complications. Here's a little history about this "process":

Washington County Hospital joins ranks of NC's failing rural health care system

Another victim of privatization:

Washington County Hospital CEO Melanie Perry tells WCTI in New Bern that the facility's owner has plans to resolve several problems, including dwindling medical supplies and workers not getting paid for two weeks. Empower HMS promised 50 employees that checks would arrive Monday, but staff members said they never came. There has been no word on when or if the medical supplies will be replenished.

Perry said closing the county's only hospital would be devastating to the town of Plymouth, approximately 125 miles east of Raleigh.

Before we dig deeper into this unfortunate situation, a few words on how this could have been avoided are in order. When a public (municipal) entity provides a service, whether it's health care, transportation, water & sewer, or any other critical infrastructure issue, all considerations about turning a profit (net revenue gain, if you will) or even "breaking even" should be disregarded. Providing services to citizens is what government is for, and that's why we pay taxes. And this goes double in rural areas, where the economy simply cannot support/sustain a perpetually profitable business. Had local elected officials understood that back in 2007, they might not have sold this hospital in the first place. Because once a facility like this enters the private sector, the sharks start circling:

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