NCGA

On the need for Dem candidates in every district

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I had the privilege to chat with Carolyn Hunt for a little while during the Sanford-Hunt-Frye breakfast yesterday, and one of the main topics we discussed was recruiting candidates for the upcoming 2018 Legislative races. I also mentioned our previous efforts to keep track of the filing process, with an eye towards challenging as many R incumbents as we could. Understand folks: Filing season is coming up quickly, and finding the right person to run needs to start right now. By "right person" I don't necessarily mean somebody whose conservative leanings fit better in an R-leaning district, I mean somebody who has the smarts, the dedication, the motivation, and the pure energy it takes to swim against the current. Follow me below the fold and I'll tell you why I think this is so important:

NC's "hit and kill" bill one of many designed to stifle protests

And of course it was started by Big Oil protecting its profits:

State lawmakers in Florida, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas also considered similar measures, which the American Civil Liberties Union nicknamed "hit and kill" bills. The bills were part of a broader package of anti-protest legislation floated in at least 19 states after an upsurge in activism over the last year.

Of the half-dozen states entertaining proposals to shield drivers who hit protesters, North Carolina is the one where it has the best chance of passing. And despite the violence that recently unfolded in Virginia, the bill's sponsors have come to its defense, although its prospects appear to have dimmed.

My reference to Big Oil in the intro has to do with how protesters often use their bodies to block access to pipeline or fracking sites, where contractors have gotten into the habit of just rolling slowly through the crowd, like they're trying to push sheep off the road. But even North Dakota balked at passing such an ill-advised law:

Cooper's Veto of "Regulatory Reform Act" is right on target

Improving water quality is serious business and requires a thoughtful approach:

Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 16, the Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017, which seeks to remove regulations in many instances. The bill extends the validity of some wastewater permits issued by local health departments that may have expired, and limits requirements for increased stormwater controls on some new developments.

"We should make it easier, not harder, for state and local governments to protect water quality, whether through stormwater safeguards or by giving public health departments the ability to revisit wastewater permits if needed. Rolling back ways to protect water quality is dangerous," Cooper said in his veto message.

There are two major contributors to the out-of-control nutrient levels in our water resources (especially Lake Jordan): Non-point source contamination (stormwater runoff) and periodic massive discharges of high-concentration wastewater, mostly from municipal treatment facilities. This bill relaxes regulations on both of them, which is exactly the opposite of what should be done. Combine that with the GOP's latest boondoggle of chemical treatment to kill algae, and *at best* you would have a break-even scenario, with no overall improvement in water quality. But it's much more likely the water quality would degrade even further. The only thing Republicans have working in their favor with this formula is the wanton destruction and corporatization of the EPA under Scott Pruitt, so the GOP likely won't get into trouble with the Federal government over this extremely reckless behavior. But they should be in (deep) trouble with the people of North Carolina for doing so.

The latest GOP Jordan Lake boondoggle: Mystery chemicals to kill algae

Several lawmakers need to be redacted from the General Assembly:

The SePro Corporation is receiving as much as $1.3 million in taxpayer money to chemically kill the algae in Jordan Lake, but the company is keeping key details of its proposal — including a full ingredient list of the products and the amounts to be released — secret from the public. The proposed chemical treatment of a drinking water source for 300,000 people is yet another questionable technique backed by some lawmakers and business interests, who have been reluctant to instead enforce rules limiting development in the Jordan Lake watershed.

SePro’s proposals were marked “confidential,” but Policy Watch obtained them under the state’s public records law. However, more than half of the eight-page document had been redacted by SePro, under a state statute allowing companies to refuse to divulge material they deem as proprietary or a trade secret.

No doubt the fact literally hundreds of toxicologists and other scientists (and their families) will be drinking that treated water comes into play here, because there's bound to be some potentially dangerous compounds used. Killing algae isn't really a straightforward process, it involves either intense oxygenation of the water and/or chemical binding with nutrients to separate them from the algae itself. And while we already use some amounts of aluminum sulfate and other chemicals to help purify water, those were studied for years before being implemented. To withhold information about chemicals being used to treat Jordan Lake (or any public drinking reservoir) because it's "proprietary" is recklessness bordering on the criminal. This project needs to be halted until full disclosure, and publicly-monitored studies, have been done.

Berger tweaks legislation so fellow Republican can draw two salaries

Can you say Patronage? I knew you could:

A one-sentence change tacked into broader legislation earlier this month helps a single state employee, tweaking state law so he can again get paid to serve on a state commission while on vacation from his full-time state job. Under Gov. Pat McCrory, Peaslee drew his regular state salary and was also paid the daily wage tax commission members get to sit for several days each month hearing appeals from around the state. When Gov. Roy Cooper took office, a new regime at the state Department of Revenue looked at state laws against employees double-dipping on salary and questioned whether Peaslee should draw both paychecks.

Peaslee, a former general counsel for the North Carolina Republican Party, brought the issue before Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and other state legislators. He'd been taking vacation time from his $115,494-a-year job at the Industrial Commission to make $450 to $500 a day at the tax commission. His tax commission pay last year totaled $24,500.

If you're thinking something about this story sounds familiar, it's because NC Republicans are making a habit of using the Industrial Commission to line the pockets of their friends. During one of the grossly unconstitutional Special Sessions of late 2016, Republicans gave authority to McCrory (after he had lost the Election) to appoint his Chief of Staff's wife to a NINE YEAR TERM on the Commission, a million-dollar pat on the back:

NC GOP uses attacks on Roy Cooper to distract from its failures

Filing a baseless complaint about campaign finance violations:

The North Carolina Republican Party is questioning the legality of a fundraiser Gov. Roy Cooper held at a trial lawyers’ convention several weeks ago, a complaint that the governor’s campaign promptly denounced as “baseless.”

GOP Chairman Robin Hayes asked state election officials Wednesday to investigate Cooper’s mid-June event, which took place at a Sunset Beach resort where the North Carolina Advocates for Justice was holding its annual meetings.

No doubt this is in response to recent stories detailing the tons of money GOP Legislators have raked in during the 2017 Session, and/or the $50,000+ BergerMoore raked in from beer wholesalers to stifle the craft beer folks. Always with these guys, if they take an aggressive position on something, it's because they're trying to cover up their own transgressions in that area. Which is exactly what they're doing with the GENX controversy. When the Cooper administration called for additional funding to deal with the crisis, the facts surrounding the General Assembly's drastic and reckless cuts of those agencies since 2013 came to light. And knowing the public would hold them partially responsible for the crisis because of those cuts, Republicans dashed off a letter disguised as a "fact-finding" probe, when in reality, it's geared towards justifying their previous irresponsible behavior:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The GOP underfunding of government services is taking a toll:

And sometimes people pay the ultimate price for that negligence:

Never again: Lessons need to be learned from Hurricane Matthew

Residents in Lumberton are still suffering from this disaster:

The southern part of Lumberton was one of the hardest hit areas by the Oct. 8 storm, primarily due to widespread flooding from an engorged Lumber River. Dozens of people were stranded and needed to be rescued, while hundreds were forced from their homes. Five shelters were opened for more than 1,800 people. In the days following the hurricane, many residents were trapped because water had flooded major roads in the city cutting them off.

With no electricity, there was virtually no gasoline, water or food for sale. Bottled water and military MREs were distributed to residents from 10 of the county’s 28 fire stations. The city’s water treatment plant flooded, shutting down public water for about two weeks. About a week after the hurricane, officials attributed three deaths in Robeson County to Hurricane Matthew.

Although McCrory started making noises in late October about a Special Session to allocate funds for the disaster, it didn't happen until mid-December. And Republicans promptly added two more sessions to take away power from Governor-elect Roy Cooper after they had dealt with those pesky relief funds. And just to give you an idea how venal and opportunistic they are, here's Tim Moore's announcement on the bill:

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