NCGA

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Here we go again:

But it's not in the Veto garage, it's in the Veto driveway. Just leaving it on the Agenda until enough Dems go to the bathroom? You can tell Phil Berger is about to blow his top:

Public mood is trending more Liberal in the wake of Trumpism

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For all you "too far left" naysayers, chew on this:

Democrats worry that they’ll nominate a presidential candidate who’s too liberal to win a general election, but liberal policies are what the majority of Americans want now. That’s the intriguing finding of an analysis by UNC professor emeritus James Stimson, a leading figure in American public opinion research.

In announcing his most recent analysis, Stimson wrote: “The annual estimate for 2018 is the most liberal ever recorded in the 67-year history of Mood, just slightly higher than the previous high point of 1961.”

I'm sure many of the Old Guard (Rob C) would/will tell us this is a predictable swing based on who is in the White House, and that is surely a contributing factor. But I believe it's also a trend that will continue, as Millennials get more politically active and Gen Z hit the voting age. That's why it's critical we focus our GOTV efforts at those younger folks, who are much less prone to fall for the Right's constantly re-hashed "tax cuts spur job creation!" and "government regulation is bad!" mantras. Here's more on the Presidential effect:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Trump's EPA bows to industry pressure

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Nixing rule requiring power plants to show financial capability to clean up spills:

The Trump administration said Tuesday that it won't require electric utilities to show they have money to clean up hazardous spills from power plants despite a history of toxic coal ash releases contaminating rivers and aquifers. Environmental Protection Agency officials said Tuesday that modern industry practices and recently enacted regulations are sufficient to shield taxpayers from potential cleanup costs.

The finding comes after the EPA last year reversed a related proposal under President Barack Obama that would have imposed new financial requirements on the hardrock mining industry.

On paper anyway, the difference between "taxpayers" and "ratepayers" is substantial. But in reality, there really isn't much difference. All taxpayers also pay power bills, and when the NCUC bows to Duke Energy demands to raise their rates to pay for spills and safe disposal of coal ash, taxpayers are footing the bill. And this is not an academic exercise:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The big day is Friday:

I am running for local office again this year, and I challenge each and every one of you to take a look at the people who are running for your town/city council and boards of aldermen. Some of these folks would do a fantastic job, but some of the others have no business even running. Pay attention, and make sure to vote. Don't let 10% choose who will run your town, or you will probably regret it.

NC GOP has put DHHS in the crosshairs

And Secretary Mandy Cohen has had quite enough:

Cohen has spent a lot of time at the legislative building in Raleigh this week, working the halls and talking to budget writers about her qualms with the budget. She’s also been making media appearances to reiterate her priorities and concerns.

Cohen also sharply criticized the legislature for cutting out $42 million in recurring administrative funds over the coming two years. Additionally, she said that as the budget stands right now, the Medicaid budget is $63 million short. “It’s dramatic. It’s irresponsible,” she said. “It’s not like we’re trying to manage some really trying times. No one has given me an answer in this building about why are we doing this cut? We’re not in a recession. Why are they doing it this year… other than to play games?” Cohen said.

There are a couple of obvious reasons, and they both have to do with Medicaid Expansion. Cohen has been pushing them hard for it, and has the data to back up her arguments. That makes her the "enemy" in the eyes of irresponsible and capricious Republicans, so whatever levers they can pull to exert pressure on her are being pulled with a vengeance. But there's also something else: Using the excuse of a procedure change (switching to managed care), they're cutting her staff, which will make it much more difficult to handle Medicaid Expansion if it did get approved. And that will become one more reason for them to not approve it. Create a crisis, and then lament said crisis. Standard operating procedure. Dr. Cohen also has a completely unnecessary and disruptive move looming:

Holmes v. Moore challenge to Voter ID Amendment being argued today

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Currently in front of a 3-judge panel, but destined for the NC Supreme Court:

Specifically, the lawsuit argues that the law violates multiple provisions of the state constitution by: 1) purposefully discriminating against and disproportionately impacting African American and American Indian voters; 2) unduly burdening the fundamental right to vote; 3) creating separate classes of voters, treated differently with respect to their access to the fundamental right to vote; 4) imposing a cost on voting; 5) imposing a property requirement for voting; and 6) impeding voters’ ability to engage in political expression and speech by casting a ballot.

Here's the full complaint (sorry, can't copy & paste), and a few Tweets from NC Policy Watch's intrepid court reporter Melissa Boughton:

Once again, SCOTUS rules against democracy

This ^ right here. It takes power to fix problems, power we don't have. The 2020 Legislative races just became critical, even moreso than the Presidential race.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Chatham County ash pit leaking dangerous toxins

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Charah needs to answer some questions like yesterday:

State regulators have asked the operator of a Chatham County landfill where coal ash is being stored to come up with a plan to address high levels of toxic elements found in nearby water. The Brickhaven site near Moncure is a former clay mine that the state Department of Environmental Quality approved four years ago to be used as a lined landfill for coal ash being moved from unlined pits at Duke Energy power plants.

DEQ's Division of Waste Management sent a letter to Brickhaven operator Charah Inc. on Friday, noting that levels of barium, chloride, chromium, cobalt and vanadium were found at levels higher than state standards in various groundwater monitoring wells over time. In addition, high levels of arsenic, cobalt, copper, lead and zinc were found in nearby surface water.

In theory, the clay located at this particular site should have provided a good impermeable layer to block seepage. But generally speaking, when a mine is "played out," there's not enough (of whatever it is) left over to continue operating. Whatever the case, this just drives home the message that bottom liners are the only way to ensure leachate doesn't get into the groundwater. But thanks to decades of criminal negligence by coal plant operators, only 5% of the nation's ash pits have those liners:

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