Category Archives: Politics

TRUMP REPORT CARD By Constance Hanna, reprinted from The County Compass

On July 5th, President Trump embarked on his second trip abroad.  His first stop was Poland where he was warmly received.  He met with President Duda, and also gave a heartwarming, patriotic speech. That speech was in stark contrast to the apology tour conducted by our previous President.  President Trump’s speech was a critical and diplomatic success.  He said, in part, “I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken.  Our values will prevail.  Our people will thrive.  And our civilization will triumph.  So, together, let us fight like the Poles – for family, for freedom, for country, and for God.”

While there, he also spoke with 12 Central European, Baltic, and Western Balkan leaders at a summit referred to as “The Three Seas Conference.”  The President then traveled to Hamburg, Germany for the G20 Summit.  The President and First Lady apparently connected with President and Mrs. Macron of France.  They were invited by President Macron to visit France and help celebrate Bastille Day.  This trip was another resounding success.  “A+.”

On July 10th, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that 526 workers have been fired for misconduct since President Trump took office.  Another 200 have been suspended, and 33 demoted.  This included physicians, nurses, pharmacy technicians, food service workers, medical technicians, office workers, and even some police officers.  VA Secretary, David Shulkin, said, “Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we’re doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent.”  There will be more terminations now that President Trump has signed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.  It strengthens Shulkin’s ability to get rid of bad employees.  This includes senior executives.  “A.”

To reverse the weak negative policies of the previous administration, President Trump will sell Patriot missiles and increase natural gas shipments to Poland.  We will also export coal to Ukraine, apply pressure in Syria, and support NATO.  “A.”

President Trump has, so far, signed 42 pieces of legislation to move forward on enacting his agenda and this coming week will be “Made in America” week.

Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting
19 June 2017
FY 2017-2018 Budget Adopted
The Craven County Board of Commissioners adopted the FY 2017-2018 budget. The budget does not increase taxes or fees.
However, there is much to object to about this budget process and the budget itself.
First, the process, We at CCTA object strongly to the members of the Board of Commissioners or their wives being appointed to the boards of organizations that apply for funding and other approvals of their activities.  There are some 22 instances of this happening.  We are convinced that this is a conflict of interest and will seek ways to abolish that situation.
We object to increased spending even though the taxes aren’t increased.
Then there is the membership dues for Commissioners to belong to organizations whose principal purpose for existence is to train county commissioners in the art of separating taxpayer’s from their money. $115,977 dollars goes to pay commissioners dues to belong to such organizations.
I want to refer you to a paper entitled “God’s Role; Not Government’s by Don Keel.
Christian Charity is voluntary, rewarding the giver as well as the receiver.  Government programs require forced confiscation of earnings through threat of fines or imprisonment.  The receiver of Christian charity is humbled by the kindness of neighbors and he often receives his blessing in a way that glorifies Christ.  This, in turn, will increase the likelihood that he will strive to for self-reliance and inspire him to one day “Pay it forward.” Government programs redistribute mass amounts of earnings with very little scrutiny or accountability.
Because of the “blanket approach,” government programs reward bad behavior and punish good behavior.  They punish ambition and encourage sloth and dependency.  This, in turn,  creates a cycle of dependency that destroys one’s dignity, self-esteem, self-worth, and ambition and a cycle that is almost impossible to break.  Some people have found a way to grow their families by taking from another person’s family and have found a way to live in ever increasing comfort by taking comforts from another who has actually worked for that privilege.
I would submit that no Christian would advocate forciblytaking from one and giving to another, yet that is what our government does.  They would rightly regard such a taking as theft- prohibited by one of the Ten Commandments, the cornerstone of God’s Law on Earth.  Delegating that authority to government does not sanctify taking private property.  The 8th Commandment does not say, Thou should not steal …except by majority vote.”  Clearly, some clergy have confused what is rendered to Caesar and what should be rendered to God.
That from Don Keel.
We at CCTA surely pray that there will come a day in which government at all levels obey the 10 Commandments and the US Constitution.
Respectfully Submitted,

 

Hal James,
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

 

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

Conflict of Interest? Does the Taxpayer stand a chance? by CCTA’s Watchdog Chairman, Hal James

There has been much talk lately about who should recuse themselves from voting on issues in which they have a personal interest.  At a recent meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, two members of the Board of Commissioners cast votes that benefit organizations that had just made appeals to the Board.  In each case, the appeal was presented by one of the commissioner’s wives!

It also often happens that Board members cast votes that benefit organizations on whose boards they themselves serve.  That’s because CarolinaEast Hospital, Down East Regional Planning Organization, Swiss Bear, Craven Aging Board, all the public libraries, Craven County Health Board, Eastern Carolina Workforce Development, Fire man’s Relief Fund, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Highway 17 Committee, Highway 70 Corridor Committee, Smart/Start/Partnership for Children, the Zoning Board, Coastal Regional Solid Waste  Management Authority, Social Service Board, Tourism Development Authority, Coastal Carolina Airport Authority, Craven Community College Board of Trustees, East Carolina Behavioral Health Board, Carolina East Council of Governments, AND the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council ALL HAVE CRAVEN COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OR THEIR WIVES ON THEIR BOARDS.  I have seen nearly all these agencies make appeals to the Craven County Board of Commissioners for support and usually financial support.  THE TAXPAYER DOESN’T STAND A CHANCE!

Usually after such an appeal to the Board, the Commissioner who serves on that organization’s board (or on which his wife serves) then makes a speech extolling the great works the organization does, and he often makes a motion to approve the request.  DON’T YOU SEE HOW IT WORKS?

Now consider that most of the counties across the state have Commissioners who attend the NC Association of County Commissioners meetings and discuss how to increase county revenues, or in other words, HOW TO STACK THE DECK AGAINST TAXPAYERS!

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

This report appeared as an article in The County Compass newspaper- Week of May 25-31, 2017

Recycling’s Dirty Little Secret”

The following CCTA report appeared in the County Compass newspaper in the May 18-24 edition.

Reprise of “Recycling’s Dirty Little Secret”

by CCTA’s Watchdog Committee Chairman, Hal James

Several counties in eastern North Carolina are struggling with the high cost of re-cycling.  The County Compass recently reported that “a large jump in monies earmarked for recycling survived” in the Pamlico County budget process.  At last Monday’s budget work session of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, the Commissioners voted for a very large increase in the cost for citizens to discard a bag of garbage/trash.  The cost went from $2.25 to $3.00 per bag.  A one-third increase in price!  The one dissenter, Commissioner Jason Jones, voiced concern that more trash would appear on roadsides and in the woods.  You are so right, Commissioner Jones!

Now for the dirty little secret. It was reported that in Pamlico County, many people will simply throw their garbage into the recycle bin which they can do for free.

Recently, I was talking to a friend who shall go nameless, and he told me that he was doing just that!  Here’s the problem, the recycling facility in Greenville will reject contaminated  loads.

It seems to me that all citizens benefit from money spent by taxpayers for garbage and trash removal.  This is much the same as police protection which also benefits us all.  Contrast that with so many government “programs” that benefit specific, small groups of people with monies forcefully taken from us all.  If the burden of paying for this trash and garbage removal were shared by citizens though the taxes paid already, there would be no need for a charge per bag, and our counties would be tidy and clean, not littered.  Nor would there be a need to increase taxes in Craven County.  I have seen the County Manager’s recommended budget, and believe you me, there is no need for a tax increase to meet that expense!

What about your county?  Have you checked to see if it has a dirty little secret, too?

 

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)

Watchdog Report Craven County Board of Commissioners 18 April 2017

Watchdog Report

Craven County Board of Commissioners

 18 April 2017

The Craven Board of Commissioners meeting Monday (17 April) saw a continuation of expansion of government.

First, the “Consent Agenda” contained a request from Craven Area Rural Transit System (CARTS) to hold a public hearing on plans to extend services to include “Paratransit” service as a complement to the fixed route service.  A Paratransit eligible person is any individual with a disability who is unable to board, ride, or disembark from any vehicle in the system which is readily accessible to and useable by individuals with disabilities.  There is more detail provided in the request.   ANYWAY, YOU GET THE PICTURE.

Call me hard hearted, but I can see this addition to the CARTS service as needing more employees (or contract service providers) to accomplish this end.  I believe this type of service should be provided by family, friends, neighbors, church, benevolent organizations, etc.  Is there no service that the government doesn’t want to provide for people?  Their willingness to dip into your pocket and mine in order to give things to small groups of other people continues to amaze and frustrate me.

The Project Development Engineers from the NC DOT gave a presentation on improvements to US 17 which will 4 lane that highway all the way from Bridgeton to Vanceboro in the next few years.  Commissioner Mark was like a proud papa.  This is not a dig.  Roads are needed by and can be enjoyed by all citizens.  They are a proper function of government, and helping to get an appropriate benefit for the folks he represents is worthy of pride.

A revised Solar Energy Facility Ordinance was presented by the planning department.   The entire proposal can be found on the county website as an attachment to the agenda for this meeting.  This proposed ordinance has been discussed at several meetings now, so it did not come as a surprise to me that the burden of responsibilities for cleanup after a facility closes has been shifted to the facility owner and operator.  That is because Commissioner Jason Jones has been looking out for the farmers and doesn’t want the land owner held responsible.  The bond requirement has been dropped from $100,000 to $50,000 to make the land lease easier to make.   Again, this seems to be a reasonable, fair-minded approach.  If a problem is caused, the person or entity which causes it is required to fix it.

I had hoped the ordinance would make it practically prohibitive for these facilities to locate in Craven County because I believe they have no economic value without subsidies, and the government has no business subsidizing business and thus picking winners and losers.  However, the interest of farmers who want to have this relatively new source of revenue continue to be an option for them was the reason that didn’t stand a prayer.  The “softer” approach taken will hopefully be adequate to protect taxpayers from the expense of clean up, so while not perfect, we’ve seen them do worse.

Commissioner Jones had another opportunity to demonstrate his farm roots when the discussion of a proposed ban on smoking outside the Craven County Court House was discussed.  Commissioner Jones pointed out that as a farmer himself he did not like to be perceived as against smoking tobacco.  He does not favor an all out ban on smoking outside the courthouse, but he thinks some areas should be left available for smoking.  Staff was instructed to continue to study the proposal.  Actually, I do not believe second hand smoke is harmful to others in an outdoor environment, so I see absolutely no reason to curtail a smoker’s right to do something (smoke) that doesn’t hurt anyone else at all.  Bans of the kind being suggested are unnecessary intrusions into personal liberty.

It was announced that the Federally Qualified Health Center in Havelock would be open for business in a few weeks.  This is another way the government earns “profits” by charging Medicaid, Medicare, etc. more than it costs to provide the service.  The same thing applies to the Dental Service Van.  The finance director asked for authorization to transfer $97,000 of “profit” from that program to apply toward needed renovation of the van.  The total cost of the renovation will be about $500,000.

Wow!  The counties of our nation have discovered a great new source of revenue!  It’s “profits” from federal and state welfare give-away programs paid for with taxpayers’ money!

The last event of the day that Raynor and I stayed for was the meeting with the four members of the NC General Assembly that represent our area, Senator Norman Sanderson and Representatives, John Bell, Michael Speciale and George Graham.

The stated purpose of the meeting was to let the members of the NC General Assembly know of their desires concerning legislative action.  Several members reminded the commissioners that “crossover” for new bill proposals was only 8 days off, and Representative Bell said the date of the crossover deadline was almost cast in stone this time.  That means that, if a bill has not been passed by one house by that time, it is off the table for this session.  (There are ways around this, if legislators get serious about a bill.  For instance, bills requiring money/ budget related things are exempt, so a financial angle can often be added to a bill in such a way as to overcome the crossover deadline requirement.)  A significant amount of time was spent explaining procedural matters and the fact that the upcoming budget is paramount for them right now.

The commissioners expressed concern about the cost of state mandated class size reductions, and they’d like to see HB-13 passed.   They want the state to fund any changes it mandates.  They also asked that about 40% of the proceeds of the “Education Lottery” be re-directed to education as was originally proposed in order to sell the idea of a lottery in NC in the first place.  Representative Bell said this would be tough as the money is now going to other needed services.  Where could they make up that difference?  Cutting some inappropriate services perhaps?

Representative Speciale said the there are several good “gun bills” and “regulatory reform” bills proposed.  He also said that there’s a “drone bill” proposed that would allow Emergency Management Services to use drones (which would have allowed surveying for damage much quicker during the aftermath of Hurricane Mathew, and as it turned out was an item on the commissioners’ wish list).  He also mentioned work going on that would allow localities to set their own school calendars.

Commissioner Jones said that less and less money was coming from the state for health services for seniors.  He stated that many of the seniors cannot help themselves and government has to do it.  He said he knew many people who think government shouldn’t do it, BUT…

Commissioner Jones also said he did not want to ask citizens of Craven County for another tax increase.  I expect we all concur on that one!

Commissioner Liner said he was disappointed that the “Wind Farm” bill had gone to committee to die.

County Manager, Jack Viet asked for adequate funding for NC Military Affairs and relief from the electronic recycling requirement.

Commissioner Sampson wants the state to do something about a drainage problem in New Bern.

In commenting on HB-13, Senator Norman Sanderson said that the state needs to figure out some way that the need for new facilities is not passed down to the counties, and earlier, in his opening comments, he had said that it will be helpful to cities and counties if the General Assembly gets the NC budget done by mid-June.  That way, cities and counties will have earlier knowledge of what they are dealing with.

All in all, (with the exception of some excursions into reasonableness) you can see from this meeting why our nation is in so much financial turmoil!

Respectfully submitted,

Hal James

CCTA Watchdog

Strange Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting

Watchdog Report
Craven County Board of Commissioners
3 April 2017
 The Craven Board of Commissioners meeting last Monday evening seemed strange to me. First, judging by the agenda, I expected a short meeting. However, upon Raynor’s and my arrival, we found the meeting room at full capacity. Seeing our friend, Tyker Gonzales, among the crowd, we knew that the cause was not anything on the agenda, but the folks there were concerned about the mistreatment of dogs by some of their owners in Craven County.
Under the Petition of Citizens portion of the agenda, Tyker gave the Board a written petition signed by around 1,400 Craven residents. Please, don’t hold me to the exact number; I didn’t write it down. Then, Tyker and two other citizens asked the Board to do something (pass an ordinance limiting tethering, requiring adequate water, food, and shelter to be provided, etc.) to stop mistreatment of dogs and, in the process, cut down on the number of times dogs attack people in the county. Some discussion followed, but no real action was taken.
Another strange thing happened next. Former Commissioner, Bill Harper, started to petition the Board against getting involved with the Global TransPark again. Commissioner Dacey said they had no intention of doing so, and Bill apologized and left the podium.  Actually, Bill was right-on in spirit! At their last meeting, the Commissioners did approve of joining North Carolina’s Southeastern Partnership which is another regional economic development scheme similar to the one that the county recently separated from. And the Global TransPark is in that region!   In fact, the Global TransPark will be touted as a big draw for the region. These regional boards always end up hiring consultants, lobbyists, etc., and costing taxpayers millions. Bill may not have gotten the wording literally correct, but he was spot on about what the county is up to; it’s a case of déjà vu.
After that, another strange thing happened. Chairman Mark made a statement that he could call a 5 minute recess for people who wished to leave to do so, BUT if they did not leave now, they would have to remain for the entire meeting. I WONDER HOW HE CAME UP WITH THAT ONE? Anyway, most of the citizens left. I have been to a lot of these Board meetings and have never seen that rule mentioned before. I do remember that Chairman Mark complained once about my leaving the meeting before the Commissioners’ reports (always at the end of their meetings) because that did not give them a chance to respond to my complaints. Funny, he often admonishers citizens not to direct their remarks at any one member of the Board. I DON’T KNOW WHERE HE GETS THAT ONE EITHER. I do recall that the county attorney once advised Mr. Mark that Mr. Humphrey could indeed make remarks directed at Commission Liner’s behavior.
Anyway, enough of that.
Another strange thing happened. Two different staff members asked for budget changes, explained what the money was to be used for, but neglected to say the dollar amount of the change. None of the budget changes was something that CCTA would object to, but it was as if the staff knew that the Board knew the dollar amounts (and so did I because I print the attachments to the agenda for me to refer to during the meetings), but It’s almost like the amounts of taxpayer dollars involved is not the business of the taxpaying citizens in attendance or who will watch on TV later. Maybe the numbers are frightening. The smallest was $45,000, and then it went to an amount of $4,493,874 from the “Education Lottery.” The amount of $1,100,000 was to be used to pay down the school debt. Commissioner Jones did ask about the full amount of the debt and was told, “Around $35 million.” Still, there was no mention of how much this payment was. Odd.
Chairman Mark asked if anyone in the “audience” ( I wish he would refer to “citizens in attendance” ) would like to write to our NC representatives and request that the General Assembly restore the participation of education funding in the lottery profits back to 47% from the current 17%. I THINK THAT MIGHT BE ARRANGED.
He also wanted people to try to get HB-13 passed. It has passed the House and is in a committee in the Senate. If passed, it will mitigate the cost of providing additional K-3 classrooms and teachers to reduce classroom populations as is currently mandated, but not funded, by the state according to the Commissioners. (I believe they were relying what they had been told by members of the Board of Education on this point.) Unless that is done, it was strongly implied that Craven County taxes will have to be raised. Again.
However, when speaking with a member of the General Assembly, I was told that some of that money had been provided by the state, but the local school district chose to use it another way. This can get confusing. Who’s on first? Ah well, the Commissioners and local legislators are planning to meet soon, so that will give them an opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding about the situation.
To get back to the strangeness of the Board of Commissioners’ meeting, I believe that can be explained by my belief that the meetings are “dog and pony shows” to look like the county’s business is conducted in the open, but that it is really only an illusion.
Whatever the cause, this was altogether a very strange, down-the-rabbit-hole sort of meeting!
Respectfully submitted,

 

Hal James,
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

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)

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