NCGA

Public investment, private profit? Broadband bill has serious flaws

The need is great, but the need to do it right may be even greater:

(a) A county shall have the authority to construct facilities or equipment of a broadband service as defined by G.S.62-3 for the purpose of leasing such facilities or equipment, in accordance with G.S.160A-272, to one or more lessees who are not a governmental unit as defined in G.S.160A-274.16. (b) A board of county commissioners may utilize ad valorem tax levies authorized under 17G.S.153A-149(c), grants, or any other unrestricted funds in exercising authority granted under this section.

Bolding mine, because caveats kind of piss me off. A few years ago, Republicans in the General Assembly basically outlawed municipalities from constructing and operating broadband networks, ostensibly because they represented "unfair competition" to private companies. Said companies lobbied the hell out of Legislators to make that happen, but since then have done little (or nothing) to bring broadband into areas that desperately need it. The above bill, as you can see, pulls the cost of construction out of the hands (wallets) of taxpayers, and gives whatever profits are made to private sector entities. What happens when said company starts raising rates above what people are willing (or able) to pay? I see no mechanism for the municipality in question to regulate that. There is also no mechanism for the municipality to take over operation in case of mismanagement, or if said private company decides to pull out of the lease agreement. In the absence of those mechanisms, this bill is terminally flawed.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

If not now, when?

They shouldn't have to do this, but Republican leaders have neither the desire nor the courage to protect our citizens.

Dale Folwell is not a "friend" of state employees

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Friends don't try to get your children booted off your health insurance:

Since he took office in 2017, Folwell has repeatedly advanced or acquiesced to policies that would ultimately reduce the number of people on the SHP rolls. In May of 2017, for example, state employees received an email and letter sent via “junk mail” rate postage instructing them to resubmit a copy of the first page of their tax returns, or children’s birth certificates in order to prove they are not fraudulently covering spouses or dependents under the SHP.

After receiving the letter, I for one thought that it was a scam since it had all the telltale signs, and I had already recently submitted my tax return to prove that my children are my children, and are eligible to be covered on my plan. Folwell’s letter said I had to submit copies of their birth certificates by July 31 through an online portal, or my children would be removed from my health insurance plan on August 1. Six hundred people were removed from the SHP for the rest of 2017. Of that number, how many were actually fraudulent?

In a sane world, the employees' union would have pushed back on that, and made sure that nobody (or their children) fell through the cracks. But "sane" and "SEANC" probably shouldn't be used in the same sentence. Tweets I saw back then were completely supportive of Folwell's "fraud" claims, and SEANC's website itself published Folwell's entire statement with no comments or rebuttal:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

This is what you do with bad legislation:

If they want to expand, they need to start by fixing their problems. But frankly, this "pilot" is about to crash that plane...

Stifling dissent: WUNC-TV set to cancel NC Spin

And once again, this behavior is usually associated with 3rd world dictatorships:

After almost 22 years on the air, the political debate show “NC Spin” will end on UNC-TV after its contract is up this year. Tom Campbell, the show’s founder and host, told The News & Observer this week that he learned of the decision in an email from UNC-TV’s interim director Kevin Fitzgerald last Friday.

Campbell thinks the show was essentially canceled because it had been critical of the UNC Board of Governors and its treatment of former UNC System presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, former UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt and former East Carolina University chancellor Cecil Staton.

While there may have been an occasional controversial statement made by guests on the show, Tom Campbell has managed (well) to keep it balanced and informative. The truth is, the UNC BOG has made many questionable decisions, and has operated in a plainly partisan fashion on more than one occasion. Talking about that isn't "out of line," it's something everybody involved with UNC should be doing, from students to professors to alumni, and all points in-between. And to get rid of Tom's show while keeping this one:

Trump admin blocks Utah from expanding Medicaid

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And they would likely do the same to North Carolina:

According to the senior officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, White House advisers argued that it did not make sense to approve generous federal funding under the ACA while the administration is arguing that the entire law should be overturned.

White House advisers on the Domestic Policy Council, Office of Management and Budget, and National Economic Council, which are controlled by conservative Republicans, were the staunchest opponents of allowing Utah to receive enhanced federal funding for its expanded Medicaid program.

For every action there's a reaction. It may not be equal and opposite, but it trends that way. Utah voters passed a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid, and Trump blocking that might just lose him that state in 2020:

Republicans try to defend the indefensible on gerrymandering

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Denial is a river in Egypt:

Bell's testimony came Wednesday morning in the eighth day of a trial over the legislative voting district maps the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved two years ago. Common Cause North Carolina alleges that the maps are were drawn illegally into gerrymandered districts that favor GOP candidates.

Trying to maximize GOP seats in the House would dilute Republican strength in many districts and would wind up costing the party seats, he said. That, would cause a revolt in the House Republican caucus, which on the best of days is like trying to manage a wheelbarrow full of frogs, he said.

That little theory comes apart when you look at what actually happened: Republicans gained majorities in both houses after the 2010 (national) GOP Legislative wave, but they didn't achieve their Supermajority until after the maps were gerrymandered. And the Blue Wave of 2018, which flipped control of the U.S. House to a strong Democratic majority, still could not overcome those gerrymandered NC Legislative districts. So you can stick that "it wouldn't make sense for us to do it" argument where the sun don't shine, because we know you did it. And this makes even less sense:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Hey Mark Johnson, the NC House has a message for you:

Unfortunately, it will likely not even get a hearing in the Senate, because Phil Berger just can't admit when a fellow Republican is wrong.

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