Tag Archives: North Carolina General Assembly

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)

Wakeup Call 05-08-2015

Legislative Action Update and Discussion

Wakeup Call 05-08-2015
Wakeup Call

 
 
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Wakeup Call 04-17-15

Kim Fink and Katherine Wyatt on legislative actions and happenings in Public Education in NC!

Wakeup Call 04-17-15
Wakeup Call

 
 
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Visiting our Raleigh Legislators

Visiting our Raleigh Legislators
CCTA Legislative Action Committee Report of 4-3-15

Yesterday’s visit to Raleigh was a little different. Instead of setting specific appointments with every person we wanted to see, we took “pot luck” and stopped in to see fourteen legislators from eastern North Carolina (after having sent them an email “heads up” about our coming). At first I was disappointed, but it ended up being a productive day.

First, of our Legislative Action Committee members, only Kim and Glenn Fink and Hal and I were able to go. (There was no one problem, just a variety of things. A wife’s birthday [excused!], an unexpected visit from grandchildren [excused!], an impromptu and quickly called work meeting [excused!], etc. You get the drift – the stars were improperly aligned.)

Second, the legislative schedule was changed so that instead of the House and Senate sessions beginning at 2 p.m., they started at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Bummer. Where have all the legislators gone? They’re in session, of course.

Fortunately, since this was an introduction of CCTA to many, I had written a letter to each person we hoped to see and had them with us for hand delivery. My reasoning was, if written “snail mail” letters are useful, wouldn’t hand delivered letters be even better?

The legislators whose offices we visited and the counties they represent (all or part of the county) follow.

Senator Harry Brown, Jones and Onslow
Senator Norman Sanderson, Craven, Carteret, and Pamlico
Representative George Cleveland, Onslow
Representative John Bell, Craven, Lenoir, Greene, and Wayne
Senator Bill Cook, Beaufort, Camden, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, and Perquimens
Representative Paul Tine, Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, and Washington
Representative Phil Shepard, Onslow
Representative Chris Millis, Onslow and Pender
Representative Pat McElraft, Jones and Carteret
Representative Brian Brown, Pitt
Representative Michael Speciale, Craven, Beaufort, and Pamlico
Representative Larry Pittman, Cabarrus
Representative George Graham, Craven, Lenoir and Greene
Representative Marilyn Avila, Wake (especially wanted to thank her for her work on a CON Reform bill)

The final paragraph in the letter given to each reads…

“As you can imagine, there are several bills currently being considered that we support because they move toward accomplishing our goals. Examples include Senator Norman Sanderson’s NC Firearms Freedom Act (a good beginning, but we’d like to see it strengthened), Senator Bill Cook’s Property Insurance Fairness bill, and Representative Marilyn Avila’s bill to Amend Certificate of Need Laws. There may be others that have not yet come to our attention. We are very willing to work to support any bill that is in alignment with our beliefs about good governance. If we can help you by supporting something we mutually agree is worthy of it, please let us know how.”

The first person we met with was Representative Pat McElraft. She is a very pleasant person. We discussed the three things in the paragraph above with her. She reacted positively to two of them, but was negative about the need to reform Certificate of Need (CON) laws. If you know anyone who might have influence with her, please ask them to work on changing her mind. Also, we really should invite her to our public meeting on April 21 at which Jay Singleton, M.D. will speak on the reasons CON law needs to be reformed. (In a nutshell, let the free market significantly reduce health care cost while increasing patient safety. And nobody can lay out that case better than Jay!)

After that, we met with Representative George Cleveland. Actually, George wasn’t in his office when we first arrived, and we met with his Legislative Assistant, Pamela (can’t remember her last name, darn it). She is a very sharp and knowledgeable person. Very likeable, too. She and Kim had a long talk about Common Core in particular and education in general. They were in complete harmony. It was fun to listen and occasionally kibitz. When George got there, we discussed the usual suspects with him, plus Kim brought up a bill he is sponsoring that ties data collection and sharing among drivers’ licensing, work force info, and students (preschool to age 20) in a way that seems inappropriate and potentially dangerous to free choice. We met with resistance on that topic. Again, George Cleveland seems like a fine, basically conservative gentleman. If any of you has his ear, please “bend” it on this topic.

Senator Norman Sanderson wasn’t in his office when we got there, and we had a good chat with Kathy Voss, his Legislative Assistant. Another personable, smart, charming person. In fact, it would be hard to exaggerate just how high the quality is in each and every Legislative Assistant we met with. Each of them we talked to is a very impressive person who is smart and who has excellent “people skills.” I’m not sure how our legislators have done it, but they surely have found talented people.

Norm and Linda Sanderson arrived, and we had a nice visit with them. I may not have shown proper appreciation to Norm for his work on the NC Firearms Freedom Act. I complained of what I see as its two weaknesses. It only pertains to weapons and ammunition manufactured in North Carolina, and punishment for persons who don’t abide by the act will be based on breaking the law’s being only a misdemeanor. Norm was pretty clear that he’s unwilling to buck the way the “interstate commerce clause” has been interpreted, but he is willing to try to increase the seriousness of an infraction so that it will be a felony. I really appreciate that.

Norm and I also got into a discussion about his work toward North Carolina’s requesting an Article V Convention. Kathy had told us earlier that someone had given Norm a very hard time yesterday about this very topic. In doing so, the person had made reference to CCTA. I explained that CCTA is divided on this subject with some of us (including me) strongly opposing it and some of us strongly favoring it. Since we are divided, CCTA does not have an “official” position. I revisited some of the reasons I oppose an Article V Convention (I’d sent him a long email previously), and Norm listened patiently, explained he thoroughly understood those ideas, but feels “it’s a conversation we need to have.” It just seems to be one of those times when two people with the same basic goals had an honest disagreement about how to get there.

Representative John Bell was not in, but we had a really rewarding talk with his Legislative Assistant, Susan Horne. Susan shared some information with Kim about some of the things she’s following for us, and asked some very astute questions about the pros and cons of CON reform.

Jordan Hennessey, Senator Bill Cook‘s LA was also very helpful; he always is.

Hazel Speciale was her usually welcoming, cheery, smiling self, and we visited with her learning more about how things work until Representative Michael Speciale arrived and joined the conversation. Discussion among the six of us was wide ranging. We learned some more about the various CON reform bill proposals. A bill has been proposed in the Senate that would absolutely eliminate the need for a Certificate of Need in North Carolina. Passage of that would be perfect. But can it pass? There is a lot of opposition to CON reform. The opposition comes from people and entities with money and power. Will a proposal to do away with CONs altogether bring out a full court press of opposition, while just removing a few might work? I just plain don’t know, but I wonder, don’t you?

Some of the discussion revolved around the Article V Convention issue. Michael thinks much the way I do, but he expresses it better.

Representative Larry Pittman and his wife and Legislative Assistant, Tammy, walked by the office door on the way home for Easter. We waylaid them, gave Larry his letter, and wished them a Happy Easter.

We then returned to Michael’s office, wished him and Hazel “safe travel home,” and left to head home ourselves.

Respectfully submitted,

Raynor

Raynor James, Chairman, CCTA’s Legislative Action Committee

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