Category Archives: Legislative Action Committee

OMNIBUS GUN CHANGES bill can still pass if we…

Dear CCTA Members and Friends,

Back in June, the NC House passed HB-746, the Omnibus Gun Changes bill.  This bill started out as a Constitutional carry bill, but there were not enough true conservatives in the House to pass it.  However, much work was done in the House Republican Caucus, and this bill (HB-746) finally passed and was sent to the Senate.  It is not as good as it once was, but, if passed, it WILL roll back some of the unconstitutional infringements that we’ve been living with.

What happened in the Senate?

Well, it passed the first reading and was referred to the Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee where it continues to languish today.  If you look at that Committee on the General Assembly webpage at http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/Committees/committees.asp?sAction=ViewCommittee&sActionDetails=Senate+Standing_148, you will find that approximately 600 other bills are keeping it company there.

What is this all about?

That committee is being used as a graveyard for bills.  However, some of them will probably be reported out and sent to the floor of the Senate and be voted on.  Some will pass.  Which ones?  Well, it’s popular to say, “Follow the money; who stands to benefit from this and as a result is making donations to Senators’s coffers?”  Historically, that has happened over and over again.

A new model may be emerging.  That model might best be described as “Follow what the activists are working on.”

If enough of us call or email Senator Bill Rabon (Chairman of the Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee) and ask him to have his committee report HB-746 out so that it can be voted on, we could help make it happen.  Grass Roots North Carolina is already working to get HB-746 passed.  Let’s join them and write or call…

Senator Bill Rabon, Chairman, Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee
919-733-5963
bill.rabon@ncleg.net

If you’re REALLY ambitions, you can scroll down the General Assembly webpage (see URL above) to where the committee members are listed, hover over each name, click and go to his or her info page, and call or write him or her, too!

Let’s get this done!  Oh, and we might want to thank Representatives Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale, Chris Millis, and Justin Burr  the next time we see them.  They are the primary sponsors of the bill.

Sincerely,

Raynor

Raynor James, Chairman, CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee

 

What happened on SEAFOOD LOBBY DAY

Trip to Raleigh with NC Fisheries Association
Purpose…
Defeat HB-867
Save NC commercial fishing industry
Save NC seafood for North Carolinians who do not catch shrimp, crabs, or fish

Yesterday, members of CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee (Gladys and Ed Suessle, Mary Griswold, Ron Cherry, and Hal and Raynor James) went to Raleigh with the North Carolina Fisheries Association to lobby in favor of a healthy commercial fishing industry and fresh, healthy, North Carolina wild caught seafood for all North Carolinians including those of us who have never caught a fish, shrimp, or crab.

The focus was on killing a bill designed to kill the commercial fishing industry.  HB-867, Coastal Fisheries Conservation / Economic Development, if passed, would do a lot of things.  None of them is good.

Let’s start at the end.  The bill provides for recurring funds to buy back commercial fishing licenses from fishermen who are put out of business.

It rewrites the NC Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 without any public input.

It changes the definition of “overfishing” from something simple and clear to a bunch of nebulous, shadowy words that invite draconian interpretation.

It throws out the Fishery Commission’s 5 advisory committees which were designed to have a balance of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, and scientists.  The 5 committees (built around different areas of expertise and geographic areas) are to be replaced with a single 20 member advisory committee chosen without regard to members’ expertise (or lack thereof) or experience fishing (or lack thereof).

What do you think of that?  Sounds like a formula for disaster to me.

The bill is in the House’s Wildlife Resources Committee.  As long as it stays there, it cannot be passed.  Jerry Schill (NC Fisheries Association’s legislative person), Brent Fulcher (Association’s President), Representative Michael Speciale, Representative Larry Pittman, Senator Bill Cook, and others spoke to the gathered citizen-lobbyists when we first arrived.  We were given a list that contained the names and office numbers of the 15 members of the Wildlife Committee.  We were asked to visit those offices, speak to the representatives or to their legislative assistants, and to explain why we do not want the bill to pass.  We were asked to tell our stories.  To be calm, clear, direct, and polite.

We were asked to visit the visitors’ gallery for a short session of the Senate at 10:30 a.m. and a longer session of the House at 2:00 p.m.

Our group systematically visited the offices of committee members floor by floor in the Legislative Building, then trudged over to the Legislative Office Building and did the same thing there.  We had visited the offices of all 15 members and had frank discussions with them or their legislative assistants by noon.

Sometimes our group and another group of our citizen-lobbyists would be in a representative’s office at the same time.  In those situations, we took turns talking. 

On one such occasion, we shared an office visit with a clean-cut young fisherman and his 3 shiny haired, bright eyed, well behaved children.  The father explained earnestly to the representative we were visiting that he wanted to be able to earn a living for his family and pass a good way of living and earning an income on to his children.  He said he is already teaching his children how to fish, and unlike many children today, they already have a strong work ethic.  Wow!  That blew me away and brought tears to my eyes.  This man gave up a day’s earnings to come and plead his case, and he did it with a calm, natural dignity that I admired very much.

It is a real tragedy that the likes of HB-867 was ever proposed.  The sponsors of the bill, and the people who egged them on should be ashamed.  The bill should die in committee and never be heard from again.

Respectfully submitted,

Raynor James

CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee Chairman

Save 3 Bills Favoring Free Enterprise & the 2nd Amendment?

Make 1 Phone Call and Save 3 Bills ?

As you probably know, the “Crossover” deadline is fast approaching in the North Carolina General Assembly. April 27 is the Crossover deadline for this session. Any bill (with a few exceptions basically having to do with budgeting) that has not been passed in one chamber and “crossed over” to the other chamber by the 27th will die in committee.

There are three bills stuck in House committees that involve subjects near and dear to our CCTA mission statement. One involves freeing up free enterprise. The other two involve pushing back infringements on our God given, 2nd Amendment supported rights. These two gun bills are being supported by Grass Roots North Carolina also.

Let’s take a brief overview of what’s in the bills.

HB-344, Exempt Ocular Surgery from CON Laws
This bill would allow ophthalmologists to perform ocular surgery in ambulatory surgical procedure rooms in their offices without obtaining a CON (Certificate of Need) so long as certain criteria are met.

As we’ve talked about before, this would bring down costs associated with such things as cataract removal while, at the same time, making them safer.

HB-588, Omnibus Gun Changes
This bill would simplify getting a pistol permit, allow a concealed carry permit holder to carry on property used as a school and church so long as school was not in session, and would also allow the holder of a concealed carry permit to carry on properties used for higher education (like community colleges, and universities). It would allow the governor and his immediate family to carry in the Executive Mansion and the Western Residence of the Governor. It would also allow legislators and legislative employees who hold concealed carry permits to carry in state legislative buildings. It changes the reason a person discharged from our U.S. Armed Forces can be denied a permit from “conditions other than honorable” to “dishonorable conditions.”

The Omnibus Gun Changes bill would also alter provisions relating to the confiscation and disposal of deadly weapons used to commit a crime. For instance, if the person convicted is not the owner of the weapon, it can be returned to the rightful owner. However, if the weapon does not have a unique ID # or is unsafe, it is to be destroyed. Other than that, it can be turned over to a law enforcement agency to use, sell, or trade.

The Omnibus Gun Changes bill would also change the concept of “going to the terror of the people” so that it would no longer apply to carrying a handgun concealed or openly, but it would apply to carrying “an unusual and dangerous weapon for the purpose of terrifying others.”

HB-746, NC Constitutional Carry Act
This bill would remove “firearm” from the list of concealed weapons one must not carry except while at home. It also provides that any citizen of the U.S. may carry a handgun openly or concealed without a permit in N.C. unless prohibited by N.C. or federal law.

The NC Constitutional Carry Act prohibits carrying on private property that is “posted” against it. It also prohibits consuming alcohol when carrying, and there are exceptions to who may carry such as people under indictment for or convicted of a felony, a fugitive from justice, an addict, etc.

The NC Constitutional Carry Act also provides that, when carrying a concealed firearm, one must also carry an ID, and, if approached or addressed by a police officer, must disclose that a concealed handgun is being carried and must be prepared to show ID if asked.

What can we do to help get these three good bills passed?

We can call or write Speaker of the NC House, Tim Moore. If he wants them to come out of committee and be voted on by the House, they will be.

Speaker Moore is a Republican. Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly. The Republican Platform is favorable to free enterprise and the 2nd Amendment, so it is logical that they would favor these bills, and they are the sort of bills that the people who elected them would like to see.

Speaker Tim Moore’s phone number is 919-733-3451. Speaker Moore’s email address is tim.moore@ncleg.net.

Respectfully requested,

Raynor

(Raynor James, Chairman CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee)

The MURDER of HB-2… Why?

State Legislative Action Report
The Murder of HB-2

March 30, 2017 was a day of infamy in the North Carolina General Assembly. HB-2 was murdered. “Leadership” engineered the foul deed. They and others calling themselves “conservative” made it happen by passing HB-142 with the short title, “Reset of S.L. 2016-3” (aka “HB-2”).

What does HB-142 do?

1) It repeals HB-2.

2) It tells all subdivisions of the state (including schools) that they cannot regulate access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities except in accordance with an act of the General Assembly (an act which has not been passed yet, and may never be passed, but who knows?).

3) It forbids local governments from regulating private employment practices or public accommodations until December 1, 2020.

Now I’ve got some questions for you.

If HB-2 was a good law, and by George I believe it was, why are Republicans who say they’re conservative caving when they have a veto-proof majority?

Why is that same cast of characters betraying our Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest, who consistently walked the walk of a conservative by standing strong for HB-2, encouraged other states to pass similar laws, and even visited Texas in a gesture of helpfulness when they were working on a law similar to HB-2? Have they no consciences, no loyalty to a fellow conservative?

One of the reasons put forward is the fear that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals would “pull the rug” on HB-2.

Huh? You’re afraid it’s going away, so you throw it away yourselves? Operating from fear is not a good idea. Conservatives operate from principle and let the chips fall wherever they fall. Besides, if the 4th Circuit struck down HB-2, our General Assembly could have passed a law that simply says that subdivisions of the state cannot regulate multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities (as an interim step while battling all the way to the Supreme Court). Why the scramble to do this before the 4th Circuit creates a problem?

Another reason proffered is the “loss of revenue” caused by the loss of sporting events and celebrity performances. Those losses are not “net” losses. Not at all, and besides, they’re largely limited to the area that caused the problem to begin with. To the contrary, North Carolina’s overall economy is growing by leaps and bounds. We should be taking pride in that. The General Assembly’s changes to taxes and regulations are working, and more businesses are popping up in North Carolina and moving here from other places day by day.

Another question. If it’s a good idea for the General Assembly to forbid local government entities from regulating private employment practices or public accommodations before December 1, 2020, why is it okay to let them do it after that date?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m completely fed up.

CCTA is non-partisan, but I myself as an individual am a Republican because the Republican Platform closely resembles CCTA’s mission statement in the areas our mission statement covers, but I’m disgusted by the behavior of the so-called “conservative” Republicans who voted in favor of HB-142. I hope each and every one of them faces a primary opponent the next time he or she runs for office. Would you consider running for one of those seats???

Conversely, I’m very grateful to the conservative Republicans who voted “No” on HB-142. Who are they?

Senators Bishop, Brock, Cook, Harrington, Hise, Horner, Meredith, Rabin, Randleman, and Sanderson voted “No.”

House members who voted “No” are Representatives Arp, Bert Jones, Blackwell, Boles, Boswell, Brody, Bumgardner, Cleveland, Collins, Conrad, Destin Hall, Dobson, Elmore, Ford, K. Hall, Henson, Howard, Hurley, McElraft, McNeill, Millis, Pittman, Potts, Presnell, Setzer, Shepard, Speciale, Steinburg, Strickland, Torbett, R. Turner, Warren, and White.

Respectfully submitted,
Raynor
(Raynor James, Chairman, CCTA State Legislative Action Committee)

Report – Legislative Action Committee Lunch with Representative MICHAEL SPECIALE

CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee
Lunch with Representative MICHAEL SPECIALE
3-18-17

CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee had lunch with Representative Michael Speciale and Hazel Speciale upstairs at Beer Army Saturday afternoon.

Anne and Rick Hopkins, Joe and Barbara Whiteman, Kathryn Blankley, Ann Tipple, Connie Hanna, Katherine Wyatt, Bill and Betty Harper, Ron Cherry, Nancy Brinkley, Iggi Husar, and Hal and I were there. Ed and Anne Kearney came, but they went to the Baker’s Kitchen (our first planned meeting place which had an hour wait time), and Hal missed them when he tried to catch everyone who came. We “owe you one,” Anne and Ed! I’m so sorry that happened!

We pointed out to Michael that he knows us well enough to know what we want to hear about and asked him to update us on what’s going on in Raleigh that we need to know.

There’s a lot of good stuff going on! However, there are some things that aren’t so good. One thing in that category is the effort to replace HB-2.

Michael says HB-186 isn’t going anywhere, but Representative Sarah Stevens, Speaker Pro Tempore, has introduced a bill to replace HB-2. That’s a shame. So far the Republican Caucus has rejected all efforts to get rid of HB-2, but what if there is a long term effort to wear them down and pick off one or two representatives at a time?

It would be wise for us to write every Republican (yes, I know we’re non-partisan, but the Republicans are the ones resisting the change we want resisted) in the NC House and make sure they know beyond all doubt that we want HB-2 kept; Please stand strong.

The address of the General Assembly website is www.ncga.state.nc.us. Go there and in the upper right there’s something that says, “VIEW MEMBER INFO: Select a member,” and there’s a drop down menu with House members listed. Each has a page with their, political party, phone numbers, and active email addresses on it. You can send a message to each of the Republicans on the list. Just cut and paste the message you write once and go from name to name down the list.

Some observations about HB-2…

People complain that we’ve lost millions of dollars in business (mostly from athletic events in the Charlotte area – poetic justice since they caused the problem), but NC’s state economy is about $552 BILLION dollars and CLIMBING, so the loses are minor.

Dan Bishop, the guy who wrote HB-2 was in the House when he wrote it; he’s in the NC Senate now. Writing HB-2 does not seem to have cost him votes!

Dan Forest went to Texas to help them do a bill similar to HB-2. Conservatives in other states are still going forward with similar measures.

Mark Brody has put forth HB-328 which would investigate the tax status of the ACC and the NCAA.

Michael has proposed a bill, HB-344, which would exempt ophthalmology from the need for a Certificate of Need (CON).

On the school front…

A bill to give tax credits for home schooling has been proposed.

Larry Pittman is waiting until after meeting with Mark Johnson, new head of the Department of Public Instruction, to finalize a bill referred to as Bill to Actually Repeal Common Core!

Also, Linda Harper has a meeting scheduled with Mark Johnson toward the end of the month, and we’ll want to check with her afterwards.

A simple, straight forward bill has been put forward that says life begins at conception.

There are two “Constitutional Carry” bills. The Republican Caucus is expected to work to combine the best features of each.

The Marine Fisheries Commission is playing politics. Work is going forward outside the General Assembly for now, but the General Assembly will get involved if it needs to.

Michael Speciale is the Chairman of the Freedom Caucus on the House side. Senator Norman Sanderson and Senator Bill Cook are the only two who have joined on the Senate side. Thank heavens for those two!

This Wednesday is the deadline to begin the drafting process for statewide bills. Within a couple of weeks after that, people will begin pushing their bills in earnest. Therefore, we need to plan a trip to Raleigh on about Wednesday, April 12. I believe we’ll want to work on some of the items mentioned above. (We’ll know more details when we get closer to that date.) Can you go with CCTA, or can your group join in working on some of the same items at the General Assembly on the same day?

Respectfully submitted,

Raynor

(Raynor James, Chairman, CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA SESSION 2017 SENATE BILL 77

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA SESSION 2017

                                                                    SENATE BILL 77

Short Title:      Public Meetings/Records Law Violations.                                                 (Public) Sponsors:        Senators Cook, Sanderson (Primary Sponsors); and Krawiec.

Referred to:    Rules and Operations of the Senate

February 15, 2017

  • A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
  • AN ACT TO MAKE  VIOLATIONS  OF THE PUBLIC  RECORDS  AND  OPEN  MEETINGS
  • LAWS CLASS  3

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. G.S. 132-9 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:

It is a Class 3 misdemeanor to deny access to public records for purposes of inspection

  • and examination or to deny copies of public
  • SECTION 2.  Article  33C of Chapter  143 of the General  Statutes is amended by
  • adding a new section to read:
  • 143-318.lSA. Violation  of Article.
  • Violation of this Article is a Class 3
  • SECTION This act becomes effective December  1, 2017.

 

NC Fisheries Commission’s meeting-Wilmington

Dear CCTA Members and Friends,
Eight CCTA members drove to Wilmington this past Wednesday to participate in the NC Fisheries Commission’s meeting to consider whether or not to approve the NC Wildlife Federation’s draconian petition for rulemaking relative to commercial shrimping. Kim and Glenn Fink, Katherine Wyatt, Gladys Suessle, and Hal and Raynor James each spoke against the petition, and Marilyn Fink and Ed Suessle were in the amen corner.
There were about two to three hundred people in attendance. Contrast that with the thousand or so people who attended the public meeting on the same subject held by the 5 advisory committees (which each voted to recommend against the petition) to the Fisheries Commission in New Bern last month. I asked one of the commercial fishermen why there were not more in attendance and was told that the location is too far and too expensive for many.
While there were more speakers in favor of the petition than in the New Bern meeting, the preponderance of speakers were against the petition.
As you’re probably aware, The County Compass newspaper has run a series of articles on the petition, how commercial shrimping works, and the science that undermines the “logic” of the petition.  (We took copies of the paper to the meeting, and they were snatched up rapidly.)
Also, a professor at ECU, Joe Luscavich, again told about the thesis written by his graduate student, Rebecca Deeile. This thesis has been peer reviewed and published, and it actually touts some commercial shrimping activity as being beneficial to the health of marine life. (The entire thesis had previously been submitted to the Commission.)
The petition largely centers on the pretense of wanting to reduce fin fish by-catch.
You’ll remember that the General Assembly set up the Fisheries Commission with the intention that it handle fisheries management in a way that balanced the interests of all North Carolinians based on science and fairness. In addition to science being represented, sports fishermen and commercial fishermen were to be equally represented on the Commission. Also, there were 2 members-at-large.
As a result, fisheries management plans were established for each species.
The 2015 management plan for shrimp authorized the study of by-catch reduction devices and set a target goal of a 40% reduction in fin fish by-catch to be achieved by the end of 2017.
Commercial shrimpers cooperated, and in the first year of studying and testing gear, a 39.7% reduction was achieved.
It doesn’t stop there. In 2016, while testing several different types of gear, reductions ranged from 46% to 55%.
People involved in the gear testing have been speaking confidently about achieving by-catch reductions of as much as 60% by the end of 2017. Commercial shrimpers have made amazing strides in fin fish by-catch reductions, and they appear to be on the cusp of making even more!
How are they being rewarded?
Our CCTA members returned to Wilmington on Thursday to hear the Fisheries Commission’s decision. Would they accept or reject the petition?
They accepted the petition. The vote was 5 in favor, 3 against, and 1 abstention.
We sat through two days of tedious meetings for this travesty? Watermen and their supporters stood and left the meeting. In the hallway, there were tears and anger. How could this have happened? What is fair about this?
Politics, that’s how.
Before he left office, Governor Pat McCrory appointed 2 people to the member-at-large seats who are in the sports fishermen/nutty extreme conservationists’ camp, and they provided 2 of the votes to accept. (As a personal aside, I voted for Governor McCrory, and I was sorry to see him lose, but how did his conscience allow him to do this?)
If the items in the petition are implemented, we can say good-bye to North Carolina shrimp in seafood markets and restaurants. We will be forced to buy foreign seafood, much of which is raised in polluted waters, if we are to have any. That’s what will happen to North Carolina consumers, and it’s bad, but what will happen to North Carolina watermen and their families? They’ll lose their livelihoods and their way of life. That’s what. Fair???
There is hope however. The process to implement the petition is long (a year or more) and convoluted. There are points at which it can still be chucked out. We need to follow it and work against it.
Also, in the last short session, Senator Bill Cook introduced a bill that would eliminate the 2 at-large seats on the Fisheries Commission. We need to ask him to dust off that bill and resubmit it.

Also, our CCTA public meeting this coming Tuesday (2-21-17) will feature 2 speakers on the pros and cons of this issue. Jerry Shill, president of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, will represent commercial fishermen. Donald Willis, Vice President of Coastal Conservation Association, will represent recreational fishermen and whacko, extreme environmentalists. (Yes, I know. I’ve already made up my mind, but I promise to be polite as CCTA members always are.)
Please come to the meeting, invite your representatives in the General Assembly to come, listen, ask questions, and help me figure out how we can help right this wrong.

 

Sincerely,
 
Raynor James, Chairman
CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee

Shrimp Petition by NC Wildlife Federation- Could End Commercial Shrimping in NC Waters

Dear CCTA Members and Friends,

Hal and I spent an interesting day yesterday in the midst of fascinating people and events. To jump to the bottom line, the day went well for shrimpers, fishermen, and those of us who enjoy fresh, succulent, wholesome, locally caught shrimp and seafood, but the last shoe has not fallen yet.

We parked in Union Point Park about 10 a.m. and walked to the point where there was a collection of people. Some were talking to each other. Some were walking dogs. Some (including Jerry Schill, President of the North Carolina Fisheries Association) were being interviewed by TV personalities. All were noticing the flotilla of work boats at anchor off the point. One young man was painting a lovely picture of one of the boats. The atmosphere was electric.
We walked under the bridge to the New Bern Convention Center in time for the prayer meeting and pep talk at 11 a.m. led by Jerry. A minister, a marine biologist, some fishermen, and a member of the North Carolina House (Michael Speciale) were among the people who led us in prayer. Jerry closed out the meeting by encouraging folks to be energetic and forceful in their remarks, but to remain respectful and polite.
The main feature of the day, the meeting conducted by 5 advisory committees to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission started a few minutes late, but it was well conducted. They first heard a presentation on the petition that has been put forward on behalf of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. (I have to ‘fess up that I had some very sarcastic thoughts chase themselves through my head while this was going on.)
Next, members of the Committees had the opportunity to ask questions and make statements about the petition, its intended consequences, and its perhaps un-intended consequences. (I began to feel better while this was going on.)
That was followed by a presentation by people representing the state’s current program under its fisheries management plan noting their successes to date in working with industry members to achieve finfish bycatch reduction, and making observations about differences in how they’re proceeding now, and what the process would be like if the petition were approved.
After that, 3 people representing the North Carolina Fisheries Association, Jerry Schill, Jess Hawkins (a retired marine biologist who worked for the NC Department of Fisheries for years), and another marine biologist whose name I didn’t catch (which is a shame because he expressed himself very well) made presentations to counter the petition and ask that it be denied. I came to the conclusion while these gentlemen were talking that the petitioners and their aiders and abettors should be ashamed of themselves.

Following that, the meeting was opened to allow each person who had signed up to do so, to speak for or against approving the petition. What emerged was truly amazing. Fishermen and women have a rather solitary job, but can they ever express themselves well. It was clear that some of them were not accustomed to public speaking, but even those folks were logical, plain spoken, and heartfelt.

People on the periphery of the shrimping/fishing industry did well, too. From seafood distributors, to people dealing with tourists, to those of us who represent masses of North Carolinians who want to eat fresh North Carolina seafood and don’t fish, each added something of value to the conversation. One man was a complete surprise. He was a professor at East Carolina University who had a doctoral student do her thesis on exactly the subject of the petition. The thesis has been peer-reviewed and published. I gather much of it refutes assertions made by the petitioners. The professor summarized differences and presented a bound tome to the person chairing the meeting. It will be presented to the Commission.

At yesterday morning’s Craven County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, our Commissioners passed a resolution urging denial of the petition. At the request of our Commissioners, Hal presented that when he had an opportunity to speak. (Isn’t it nice to feel in concert with our Commissioners for a change?) Several other counties presented similar resolutions.
There were a handful of people who spoke for the petition.
At about 6:45 p.m., the chairman cut off the speakers. (There were still about 60 people who wished to speak.) He said they had the room for a limited amount of time, and he wanted each of the 5 advisory committees to have an opportunity to vote on whether to recommend approval of the petition to the Commission before they needed to vacate the premises.
Each of the 5 committees held meetings in succession. The Northern Advisory Committee voted to recommend the petition be denied by a vote of 9 to 1. The Shell Fish and Crustacean Advisory Committee voted to recommend petition denial by 8 to 1. The Finfish Advisory Committee voted to recommend denial by 7 to 1 with one person not voting. The Southern Advisory Committee voted for denial by 6 to 0 with one person not voting. The Habitat and Water Quality Advisory Committee voted for denial by 7 to 1 with one person not voting.
Some of the people on the committees are also on the Commission. We talked to people who know the “cast of characters” pretty well and were told that 2 committee people who did not vote are on the Commission, 1 who voted for denial is on the Commission, and 2 who voted for approval of the petition are on the Commission. Also, 6 of the people who are working on the current management program to reduce finfish bycatch are on the Commission. (That management program is going great, by the way. They were asked to set a 40% reduction in bycatch as a goal, and they are currently achieving a reduction that ranges from 45% to 55%!)
Many CCTA members and friends were there. Eddella Johnson, Kim and Glenn Fink, Marilyn Fink, Gladys and Ed Suessle, Don Murdoch, Howard and Patsy Garner, Ron Cherry, Mary Griswold, Bob Stash, Katherine Wyatt, Lucy Dicktel, Kathy New, Ann and Will Bowman, and Jeff Aydelette to name a few. Several of us spoke. Several more signed up to speak, but had to leave to prepare for our CCTA meeting that evening, or were among the 60 people denied the opportunity because of time constraints. (Kim was one of these, and it’s a darned shame because she always expresses ideas so well.)
So, as we began, here we are again. It went well because good folks showed up and did their best. However, the last shoe has not fallen. The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission will assemble in Wilmington on February 15, and it is at that meeting they’ll vote for approval or denial of the petition.
We still have a couple of days (until 5 p.m. on 1-20-17) to send written comments to the Marine Fisheries Commission. Write to NCWFPetition@ncdenr.gov. (I plan to take a couple of minutes to drop them a short, clear note. I hope you will, too.)
Hal and I are really sorry we missed the CCTA meeting last night. The meeting at the Convention Center didn’t end until after our meeting had started, and for once, Hal and I just ran out of steam – all the go had gone!

Sincerely,


Hal & Raynor James

Boats draw interest at Union Point Park

Three Fishermen

Work boats anchored off Union Point 1-17-17

“Papa’s Girl” draws attention at Union Point, New Bern

  The folks, the boats, and TV people at Union Point


Gathering for prayer meeting…
Row 1, 3rd and 4th people in, Peggy & Howard Garner
Row 2, Eddella Johnson, Mary Griswold, Hal James
Row 3, Kathy New, Hazel Speciale, Glenn Fink (standing)


Right side of room at Public meeting on NC Wildlife proposed petition…
Right foreground, Will Bowman, Ann Bowman, Mary Griswold, and Eddella Johnson


Left side of room during public meeting on Petition…
Foreground, Katherine Wyatt and Don Murdoch

Candidate Vetting Interview-Josh Willey, Superior Court Judge, District 3B

Interview questions were developed by a Vetting Committee of 10 members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. All candidates for a particular office were asked the same questions. Interviews were conducted by 3 rotating members of the Vetting Committee. Summaries are the agreed-upon consensus of each 3-member group. Candidates were asked to interview in-person, but phone interviews were offered for candidates living outside Craven County if schedules would not allow travel.
Name, Candidate Position: Josh Willey, Superior Court Judge, District 3B
Interview Date: 10-12-16
Party Affiliation: Republican
Interviewed: In Person
Name: Josh Willey (Joshua W. Willey, Jr.)
Phone: 252-638-1111
Email: jwwilley@embarqmail.com
Address: 507 Pollock Street,Suite # 5, New Bern, NC
Educational Background:
BA in history from Wake Forest University, 1974
Law degree (JD) from Wake Forest University, 1977
Experience:
I’ve practiced law in this district since 1977. It began as a general practice, an office and trial practice. For the last 20 years, it has been primarily a trial practice for both criminal and civil litigation in state and federal court.
Demonstrations of Leadership:
The State Bar regulates the practice of law in North Carolina.
I was elected by members of the District Bar and served as State Bar Counselor in this judicial district from 2000 to 2010.
I’ve also served on the State Bar Executive Committee and chaired the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee.
Locally, I’ve served as a Board member and President of the New Bern Historical Society.
Memberships and Associations:
* NC Bar Association
* 3rd District Bar Association
* NC State Bar
* Inn of Court for the Eastern District of NC (honorary association of lawyers to promote professionalism, membership by invitation only)
* New Bern Historic Society
* First Presbyterian Church of New Bern
Why are you running for this office?
I believe the practice of law is not just a profession, but a means of public service. As a practicing lawyer, I can have an effect on several hundred clients a year. As a judge, I can have a positive influence on several thousand people a year.
We are said to be a country of laws, not of men. For that to remain true, we need judges who respect law and the Constitution.
As to timing, this is the first time a seat has come open since 2002.
What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?
Since I have never run for public office before, I employed a campaign consultant to help me decide how to run, what types of advertising to use, and give me pointers. I’ve done fundraising primarily myself, and friends have helped.
Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire?
James Madison.
Why?
He was as instrumental as anyone in getting the Constitution drafted and ratified. He wrote many of the Federalist Papers, and worked on the Bill of Rights which was needed in order to get the Constitution ratified. Without the Constitution, we wouldn’t be the country we are today.
Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
I don’t know that I agree. Good leadership gets citizens behind you and leads to consensus. A good leader will set the agenda and persuade folks that this is the correct course of action.
Which President do you most admire? Why?
Maybe George Washington.
Washington set the right tone for a President. At the time he took office, he could have made the Presidency almost a monarchy. Also, he thought public service should be for a relatively short period of time, not a lifetime.
Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:
            a. An evolving document whose meaning changes with time, or
            b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?
They intended it to be a permanent set of rules.
They’d had a lengthy revolution to escape government tyranny, and they wanted to avoid ever-expanding government power.
Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened? How did you resolve it?
It’s tough to think of one that I’ve personally faced.
As a judge, your obligation is to follow the law and the Constitution regardless of what your beliefs are. Ethically, you do what you believe to be right within the confines of the law.
Where do individual rights come from?
The Creator.
That’s what the Declaration of Independence says.
What do you know about Common Core? What is your position on it and why?
I’m not sure I can properly answer that as a candidate because issues involving Common Core could come before us.
What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?
That’s also something I don’t think the code of judicial conduct permits me to comment on.  I do see that the Constitution says gun ownership shall not be infringed.
What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?
That the government shall not establish a state religion.
If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?
To apply the law and the Constitution’s protections equally to everyone who comes before me in court. If I do that, everything else kinda’ takes care of itself.

This interview was conducted by Kathryn Blankley, Hal James, and Raynor James.

Candidate Vetting Interview- Hunter Murphy, NC Court of Appeals Judge

Interview questions were developed by a Vetting Committee of 10 members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. All candidates for a particular office were asked the same questions. Interviews were conducted by 3 rotating members of the Vetting Committee. Summaries are the agreed-upon consensus of each 3-member group. Candidates were asked to interview in-person, but phone interviews were offered for candidates living outside Craven County if schedules would not allow travel.
Name, Candidate Position: Hunter Murphy,  Superior Court Judge
Interview Date: 10-12-16
Party Affiliation: Republican
Interviewed: on Phone 
Name: Hunter Murphy
Phone:   828-550-2752
Email: hunter@huntermurphyforjudge.com
Address: 370 N. Main Street, Suite 201, Waynesville, NC, 28786
Educational Background:
Graduate of Tuscola High School in Waynesville.
Hold an undergraduate degree from UNC Chapel Hill with a double major in economics and religious studies.
Graduated with honors from the University of the Pacific (in Sacremento) Law School.
Experience:
I have a general practice here in the mountains west of Asheville handling things like civil and criminal cases, real estate transactions, and wills and estate planning. In addition to state court and federal court, I practice in Cherokee tribal court.
Demonstrations of Leadership:
Over a period of time beginning before my children were born, I’ve helped with youth sports. I’ve served on a number of boards, but one I’m especially proud of is the board of Full Spectrum Farms in Cullowhee, North Carolina. It helps adults and adolescents with autism.
Memberships and Associations:
I’m active with the local and state Bar Associations and with the local Chamber of Commerce.
My wife, our children, and I are active in our church, Pinnacle Church. It’s associated with the Southern Baptist Association, but it’s pretty independent.
Why are you running for this office?
I’m running because I think the future of our courts is in jeopardy. So far, our state courts aren’t politically active, but I’m afraid that will change. I don’t want our courts to become a “super-legislature.”
I want my children to grow up knowing a judge judges the facts of cases and does not set policy. The Constitution is a shield for our rights, not a sword to strike down legislation we don’t like.
What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?
I’m pretty much the head of my campaign. Well, with my wife.  I run everything by her.  Plus, we have volunteers – folks in the mountains, and folks in the east.  Also, Carolyn Justice and Andy Yeats are working with us.
I’m proud to have the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire?
John Adams.
Why?
I’ve recently read a book about him, and watched the mini-series on him available through Amazon, and I like how he was early on.  He recognized the proper role of the Constitution in binding the federal government with things it can and cannot do. He understood the proper role of the states.
Toward the end, when the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed for example, I was no longer a fan.
Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
In the setting she was talking about (in executive and legislative roles), her statement could be right.
But with a three judge panel, consensus can be very important because if you don’t agree, you don’t establish a constant, logical body of law. Sure, I’ll write a descenting opinion if I disagree, but I would hope that agreement will occur most of the time.
Which President do you most admire? Why?
I admire what Reagan was able to do with foreign policy and economics. He created long range effects in those areas. I tend to look at the results of a Presidency, not necessarily the rah-rah along the way, but Reagan was great at giving speeches during the time he was President, too.
Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:
            a. An evolving document whose meaning changes with time, or
            b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?
“It’s b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government.”
To evaluate the Constitution, it’s necessary to look at the 4 corners of the document and interpret the words of the document itself. Even the Federalist Papers are the opinions of a handful of people. There are two phrases that then current standards need to be taken into account in order to understand. They are “reasonable searches and seizures,” and “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened? How did you resolve it?
I’ve faced that in the last 2 months with fund raising. I was encouraged to raise money from different PACs and large law firms. That made me uncomfortable.  I talked to my wife and to our pastor about it.  I decided not to do it.  I just accept contributions from individuals.  I want to win, but I also want to sleep at night.
Where do individual rights come from?
God.
What do you know about Common Core? What is your position on it and why?
I think there are a lot of problems with the testing aspects of it.
I don’t have a position on it. I think the legislature needs to decide that policy.
What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?
Gun ownership is important. We are gun owners. People need to protect themselves and stand up for what’s right if it comes to that.
I’m not in favor of registration because then the federal government and foreign governments would know where the guns are.
What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?
The phrase is over-used. It is not what the Constitution says. It’s been the mantra of certain cases for the last one hundred years. I’m bound to follow prior court decisions. I don’t believe we should ban anyone from praying – not even a public official – but I’m bound by precedents set by higher courts.
If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?
Making sure we get opinions right. Helping illuminate a constant body of law – a logical (not mis-matched) body of law.
This interview was conducted by Kathryn Blankley, Hal James, and Raynor James.
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