Archive for NC Legislature


Crushing NC’s Unemployed

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As states cut back on unemployment for the long-term unemployed, North Carolina leads the way. From Bloomberg’s opinion section:

Across the country, the unemployed will lose from 14 to 47 weeks of insurance when the extension ends. Five other states will join North Carolina in providing fewer than 26 weeks of payments — the standard in the U.S until this year. What’s happened in North Carolina since July is an indication of what will happen nationwide. The picture is troubling.

The federal extension expires on January 1, 2014. North Carolina got a head start last summer when it cut the maximum benefit length and reduced the payments.

As intended, presumably, the number of North Carolinians receiving unemployment benefits has collapsed. It’s down by 45,000, or 40 percent, since last year. Expiring benefits aren’t the only reason for this. Far fewer are filing a claim in the first place. Initial claims are running at about half last year’s rate. Unemployment insurance is a thinner safety net than it has been in decades.

In addition, North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it’s ever seen –77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago. This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether. [Emphasis mine.]

That’s understandable, in part because nationwide there were still three job seekers per job as of May.

Food pantries are stretched, becoming, as Alan Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Food Bank suggested, “the safety net of the safety net.”

Please help out your local food banks this season. Decision after decision by the legislature in Raleigh seems aimed at worsening the situation for struggling North Carolinians.

Merry Christmas.


Raleigh Digest: News or Hackery?

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The following guest post is by Guest Hooligan, Sean McNeal:

As many of you have no doubt seen in the media recently, a new “news” source has hit WNC. The Raleigh Digest, produced by InTouchNC, was distributed by the Asheville Citizen-Times along with other paid advertisements before the Thanksgiving holiday.

I put quotes around the word news in the preceding paragraph because of the complete absence of any attempt at journalistic integrity by the folks at InTouchNC. This essay will show why The Raleigh Digest is indeed not journalism, but partisan propaganda, despite representative Tim Moffitt’s attempts to portray it as otherwise.

Tim Moffitt is a sitting representative for citizens of Western North Carolina at the state legislature and is up for re-election in 2014. He also happens to be the publisher of The Raleigh Digest. Just this fact alone would give most people pause. But when Mr. Moffitt tells the Asheville Citizen-Times, “The idea is really to communicate in a very straightforward way about what is occurring in Raleigh, without opinion being part of the report,” I think it’s best that we examine his claims to verify whether in fact they are true.

Read More→

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Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-ALEC) has a challenger.

Former UNC Asheville Assistant Vice Chancellor Brian Turner (D) announced his intention today to run for the North Carolina Statehouse in 2014 against two-term incumbent Rep. Tim Moffitt (R). Of course, if any other Democrats decide to run, there would be a Democratic primary to see which candidate challenges Moffitt. No other Democrats have declared their intention to run at this time.

There is a website and a video:

“To build a stronger community we need elected officials who understand the winner-take-all mindset that has infected Raleigh is not sustainable, and we need to be willing to work together, regardless of party, to achieve positive solutions to the challenges we face.”

Judging by the rollout of Turner’s video, the man has done his homework. Moffitt may have to spend some of the money he covets so dearly to hang onto the power he loves even more.

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Not From Around Here, Are Ya?

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Downtown Raleigh from Western Boulevard Overpass
Photo credit: Mark Turner, Wikimedia Commons

When Heath Shuler was Asheville’s congressman, I used to joke that I’d been living within 100 miles of Asheville longer than our congressman had been alive. Yet he was a native son and I remain “not from around here.”

Rob Christensen observes how the rapid influx of newcomers to North Carolina is a reflection of what North Carolina is doing right, contrary to the “broken” narrative that Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP-led legislature repeat ad nauseam to denigrate the last 100 years of Democratic dominance in Raleigh.

A net 2 million people have immigrated to the state since 1990. Where once North Carolina had one of the largest native-born populations in the country, now 42 percent of the state’s residents were born elsewhere, including many of the state’s current crop of GOP political leaders. Read More→

A lecture last night by Rev. Dr. William Barber, II at Appalachian State. Worth the hour. Embed seems not to be working. Stream it here. Lecture begins at timestamp 9:45.

Inspiring. Feels like a movement.

[h/t TJ Amos]


Cooper Comes Out Swinging

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NC Attorney General Roy Cooper goes national against the destructiveness of Republican rule in the state. This morning in the Huffington Post, Cooper writes,

For the first time since Reconstruction, North Carolina has a General Assembly and governorship controlled by the extreme factions of the Republican Party, and their legislative super majority means their power is unchecked. In ten short months, they have set out to deliberately and systematically undo fifty years of progress. It’s as if the Tea Party created its own playground of extremist fantasies.

Among the nonsensical economic policies in a state still struggling to recover, Gov. Pat McCrory’s rejecting Obamacare-related Medicaid funding “which North Carolina is paying for regardless,” and the jobs and billions it would add to the state.

It’s been a rough ten months and the wrecking crew is not done yet.

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Click image to play video.

“I really don’t get involved in social issues.” — Representative Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe)

More video today from that August 5 realtors’ luncheon where Tim Moffitt admitted to engaging in legislative retaliation against the City of Asheville, a litigant in a pending lawsuit against the state.

In this exchange, attendee Cindy Ward asks Moffitt his thoughts on the abortion restrictions enacted by the legislature and signed by Governor McCrory.

“I really don’t get involved in social issues. At all,” Rep. Moffitt replies.

“But you vote on it [unintelligible] so you must be involved,” insists a second woman.

“I’m not involved,” Moffitt insists right back.

“Who are you representing?” Ward asks, not buying the not-so-smart-ALEC response. “If you’re not involved, who are you representing? You’re a representative.”

“Right,” says Moffitt.

“In Raleigh,” Ward adds, driving home her point.

Moffitt explains that the abortion debate in the Republican caucus is driven by the women in the caucus. He just goes along in support, because he supports the women.

Just so you know, social conservatives — and women in general — if you think you’re paying Tim Moffitt to represent you on social issues, he doesn’t consider it part of his job description.

Cindy Ward’s interview on The Jeff Messer Show (880 AM) is here. Segment starts at 25:20.


A Big Fracking Deal

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As if the legislature hand not pissed off enough citizens in North Carolina, this item has been flying largely under the radar. Hold onto your groundwater, people, these frackers mean business and they mean to force you into theirs:

Known as compulsory pooling, or forced pooling, the policy allows drillers to tap local natural gas, even if property owners don’t want drillers probing under their homes and farms. Critics compare it to a government’s right to seize private property for the public good, except in this case the parties claiming rights to the land would be for-profit businesses.

“That’s just unfair,” said Therese Vick, a community organizer for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. “They’re taking control of your property – your neighbors, the government and a commercial interest – and making you sell your resource.”

The idea is not a new one and has been on the books since 1945, just rarely used writes the News & Observer. Now energy companies want to. The delicately named Compulsory Pooling Study Group will be holding a public meeting Wednesday in Raleigh and forwarding recommendations to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It may be the last public meeting before the issue moves to the legislature.

Wonder ow all those “No Zoning” folks out in our bright, red counties will respond once they find out control of their their property has been sold to the highest donors?

Don’t forget, those frackers will need water to frack with. Lots of it.

UPDATED with video.

Not to be outdone by the Republican-led state legislature’s efforts to limit student voting, Watauga County targeted Appalachian State students this week, with Kathleen Campbell, the lone Democrat dissenting:

Amid shouts and boos from an audience of about 60 people, the board — with Campbell’s disapproval — eliminated the early voting site on the ASU campus and recombined the Boone precincts into one with 9,340 registered voters and one polling place.

They also approved a new public comment policy that accepts feedback only in writing and assigned new rules to Board of Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges and employees.

Republicans also looked to further restrict the equal treatment of college-aged voters on the east end of North Carolina, this time at Elizabeth City State University.

Tuesday, the 2-1 Republican-majority on the Pasquotank County Board of Elections voted to disqualify Elizabeth City State University students who live in the country from running for local office. The board ruled that Montravias King, a student at the university who lives on campus, had not established permanent residency. The county’s Republican chairman had challenged King’s eligibility and vowed to challenge the residency of other students in Pasquotank County and around the state — a process made easier under McCrory’s new suppression law.

Someone trolling on Facebook the other day asked why a student with a California driver’s license should be able to vote in North Carolina. Uh, Symm v. United States, 439 U.S. 1105 (1979)?

In a letter to the News & Observer, Karen Lewis slams North Carolina House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam for condescending and sexist remarks about June Atkinson, the superintendent of public instruction for North Carolina.

Atkinson said private schools funded under the new voucher program should be evaluated using the same tests as public schools so parents can compare apples to apples. “The public needs a consistent measure of reading achievement in particular,” Atkinson said. New legislation allows private schools to select which national tests to us and allows some to opt out of reporting results.

Stam suggested that Atkinson “stick to her own knitting.”

Lewis responds:

Setting aside for the moment the appallingly condescending and sexist rhetoric Stam chose, I propose that he do the same thing he calls on Atkinson to do. Voters elected him and his cohorts to create jobs and restore economic prosperity to North Carolina, but they’ve instead rolled back personal freedoms, voting rights, access to medical care and, yes, funding of the very public schools Atkinson has been elected to lead.