NC GOP

The biomass bait-and-switch: From scraps to whole trees

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This was both predictable and preventable:

Several Enviva mills were soon processing material from logging sites and sawmills throughout the region. Environmental groups say they have documented truckloads of logs and whole trees, not just leftovers, entering pellet mills. Publicly available images show logs stacked at mills, and a reporter outside a pellet mill entrance saw trucks of logs entering.

Pellet makers’ pledges to rely on waste wood “painted them into a corner,” said Robert Abt, a forest economist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, because the wood-products industry already used its supplies relatively efficiently, leaving little waste.

Around 2009 or so I got into a protracted (online) debate with an NC State grad student about burning biomass as a replacement for coal. I could not get him to admit that, eventually, the industry would grow to the point it would need to consume whole trees instead of detritus. Which he stubbornly claimed would be "more than enough" to satisfy demands. But aside from the deforestation issues, the environmental justice impact of these plants is horrendous:

Protect the NC Constitution: TABOR is back, and it's really bad

Voting about voting about tax increases:

No law shall be enacted to impose or increase any tax, or to allow the counties, cities, or towns to do so, unless approved by a majority of the qualified voters of the jurisdiction to which the tax or increase pertains.

This isn't just about sales taxes, it's about all taxes. Including property taxes levied by county, city, and town governments. Those property taxes are a major source of funding for school construction, but they also cover police and fire protection, public works, parks & recreation, etc. Every year (or two) municipal governments crunch numbers on their budgets (which the state requires to be balanced, by the way), and those elected officials have to decide what is needed, and whether property taxes have to be increased to cover those needs. They are already constrained by electoral politics, but this Amendment would shift those decisions directly to the voters. And if you believe they would ever vote to increase their own taxes, I've got a bridge to nowhere I'd like to sell you.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Cue bigoted Republicans bashing the NCAA in 3...2...1...

No refuge: Transgender youth persecuted by their families first

It's no wonder the suicide rate is so high:

28 – percentage of transgender or nonbinary youth who attempted suicide who reported they had been subjected to so-called “conversion therapy.”

78 – percentage of transgender or nonbinary youth who reported that they were under the age of 18 when they were subjected to “conversion therapy.”

40 – percentage of transgender or nonbinary youth who reported being physically threatened or harmed due to their gender identity.

50 – percentage of transgender or nonbinary youth who reported being kicked out of their homes.

To call those numbers "shameful" is a gross understatement. Children are the greatest responsibility an adult can have, and tossing them out if you can't "fix" them is the height of selfish irresponsibility. It's also criminal, or at least it's supposed to be. Conversion therapy is psychologically abusive and, in many cases, also physically abusive. Of course Republicans know this, but they refuse to stop it. And they also don't care if NC gets negative national exposure for promoting violence against transgender youth:

Protect the NC Constitution: Anti-union amendment needs to be blocked

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It's like déjà vu all over again:

Sens. Carl Ford, R-Rowan, and Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, have introduced a bill — Senate Bill 624 — that would guarantee N.C. workers would not be forced to join a labor union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

North Carolina has had such a “right-to-work” law in place since 1947, but it could be repealed by a future General Assembly. Putting this language in the state constitution would all but guarantee that North Carolina would remain a right-to-work state for the foreseeable future.

I was afraid this would become a regular thing, slapping 4-6 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot every two years. For those inclined to allow the voters to make these decisions, just remember Amendment One from nine years ago. 61% of the voters chose to block gay marriage. Back then, a lot of people I know weren't worried about it. It wouldn't pass, because we had "outgrown" such bigoted concepts. Aside from the potential hazards of each Amendment voted upon, the more they show up on ballots, the less "important" they become in the eyes of voters. Pretty soon it's like changing socks.

The crushing burden of Voter ID on people of color

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Not everybody lives in the mainstream:

Nearly three dozen states require voters to show identification at the polls. And almost half of those states want photo IDs. But there are millions of eligible voters who don't have them. A 2012 survey estimated that 7 percent of American adults lack a government-issued photo ID.

While some organizations have sued to overturn these laws, a nonprofit organization called Spread The Vote has taken a different tack: It helps people without IDs get them. And people over 50 years of age have presented some of their biggest challenges.

Just a quick personal anecdote: when we had to move my mom into a nursing home, it was right at the beginning of a primary early voting period. When she asked me if I would take her to vote, my brain was pushed into overdrive as I tried to figure out "how" to make it happen. Yes, she could change her voter registration thanks to same-day voting. But her driver's license still had her home (house) address. So I would need to take her to the DMV and get that fixed before doing anything else. When I told her that, she just said, "Forget about it, that's too much." I briefly contemplated just taking her to vote under her old, no-longer-valid registration. But then I remembered pricks like Jay DeLancey and McCrory's goons who challenged voters all over the state, and didn't even mention the idea to my mom. Understand, this is somebody who already had ID and voted regularly. A lot of folks are further behind:

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