Stifling public comments on...stifling public comments?


Yeah, it's just as absurd as it sounds:

A Senate committee on Wednesday shut down public discussion of a contentious portion of the Farm Act, which coincidentally, sharply curbs public input on swine farms that install biogas systems and anaerobic digesters.

The public was allowed to comment on Tuesday before the Senate Agriculture, Energy and Environment Committee, which approved the bill and sent it on to the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Wednesday, though, when the Judiciary Committee discussed the legislation, committee leaders limited public comment to non-controversial sections and specifically excluded the digester issue.

Republicans have refined this tactic over the years (only allowing certain topics for public comments). Senator Amy Galey was notorious for this as Chair of the Alamance County Commission, and kept deputies handy to drag out speakers who deviated from her "allowed" comments. FWIW, it is tempting to set such parameters. I've conducted several meetings where public commenters have gone way past their allotted speaking times, repeating almost verbatim what several others have said, and I have contemplated asking if anybody had a comment not related to a certain issue. But I held my tongue, because I didn't want anybody feeling they had been stifled. Back to the pigshit:

Monday News: Twelve thousand, seven hundred eighty


HALF OF NC ADULTS HAVE RECEIVED AT LEAST ONE DOSE OF VACCINE: At least 980,498 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 12,780 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,932 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 1,798 reported the day before. At least 1,006 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, down from 1,031 on Thursday. As of Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 4.4% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Roughly 50% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 43.6% were fully vaccinated as of Thursday.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


EXPAND VOTING OPPORTUNITIES, DON'T LIMIT THEM: Current state law requires any mail-in ballots to be postmarked on Election Day AND be received by the local board of elections within three days – unless they are sent from those in the military service or overseas. Now, the folks who run the legislature noticed that 45% of the nearly 1.1 million North Carolinians who voted by mail were Democrats compared to a mere 21% being Republicans. Now they want to command that ALL mail-in ballots must be received ON election day. The impact would be significant. They really think they’d be curtailing Democratic votes. But the reality is that there’s no telling which voters cast ballots when. There is no reason to set this date other than to deny some voters a chance to cast ballots. Votes aren’t officially counted for several days after Election Day – with the official canvass. The REAL votes for president aren’t cast until the Electoral College meets on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, as set by federal law.

Saturday News: Nothing or double


BILL WOULD STOP DOCKING TEACHERS FOR PERSONAL DAYS, IF THEY GIVE A REASON: Currently, teachers who use personal leave on days when classes are in session are charged $50 to help schools cover the cost of finding a substitute teacher. But the state House unanimously passed legislation on Thursday that waives the “required substitute deduction” for teachers if they provide a reason to their principal for taking personal leave. “This bill creates an avenue for teachers to be able to utilize their personal leave benefit without being docked $50 a day from their pay,” Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, a Wilkes County Republican and the bill’s primary sponsor, said Thursday. But if House Bill 362 becomes law, teachers who don’t provide a reason would be charged the full cost of hiring a substitute, which could be more than $100 a day. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Vaccine hesitancy is rife in rural North Carolina

Robeson County is stuck at about 25% vaccinated:

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday more than 50% of adults 18 and older in the state have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 43% of the adult population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

In Robeson County, 25.6% of adults are vaccinated, according to Bill Smith, county Health Department director. The county has 101,622 residents who are 18 years old and older. Of that population segment, 26,033 have been vaccinated. For the entire Robeson County population of 130,620 people only 20% have been vaccinated. That takes into account that almost 26,000 Robesonians are too young to get vaccinated.

We're not talking about a slight deviation from the state average, that's half of it. And this attempt to focus on young people doesn't account for that huge gap either:

Friday News: Widening the school-to-prison pipeline


NC GOP PUSHES FOR HARSHER SCHOOL SUSPENSION GUIDELINES: North Carolina Republican lawmakers want to toughen how school discipline is handled, but Democrats warn that a change could lead to more minority students being suspended and dropping out. The N.C. House approved legislation on Thursday that removes language from state law listing violations not serious enough for a long-term school suspension. That includes inappropriate language, noncompliance, dress code violations and minor physical alterations. Those four examples were added to the law in 2011 in a bipartisan effort to reduce long-term suspensions of more than 10 days. The belief was that if students were in school more, they’d be less likely to have poor grades and drop out when they fell behind.


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