News

BREAKING: Divided state Supreme Court affirms decision striking down judicial retention elections

Just in from the North Carolina Supreme Court in the case challenging the judicial retention scheme cooked up by the General Assembly and Governor McCrory:

Opinion of the Court

Justice EDMUNDS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.The remaining members of the Court are equally divided, with three members votingto affirm and three members voting to reverse the judgment of the three-judge panel of the Superior Court, Wake County. Accordingly, the judgment of the three-judge panel of the Superior Court, Wake County is left undisturbed and stands without precedential value. See, e.g., State v. Long, 365 N.C. 5, 705 S.E.2d 735 (2011) (per curiam); State v. Greene, 298 N.C. 268, 258 S.E.2d 71 (1979) (per curiam).

In other words, the decision striking down the retention scheme as unconstitutional stands. The June 7 primary election for the Edmunds seat on the court will go ahead as planned. Click here to read the court’s ruling. For more background on this issue, be sure to check out this April 13 story by reporter Sharon McCloskey.

Commentary

“SolarBees” a bust: Who could have seen this coming?

Solar beeIn case you missed it, officials in the McCrory administration’s Department of Polluter Protection (aka the Department of Environmental Quality) have finally given up on the harebrained “SolarBee” scheme for cleaning up Jordan Lake. As you will recall, the “Solar Bees” are solar powered water mixers that were supposed to clean the lake’s water by stirring it up rather than, as has long been recommended by experts, keeping pollutants out of it in the first place.

In response, the good people at the N.C. League of Conservation Voters issued the following statement last night:

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced today it would discontinue the Jordan Lake SolarBee project. North Carolina League of Conservation Voters Director of Governmental Affairs Dan Crawford released the following statement regarding the confirmation of the inevitable failure of the McCrory administration’s $1.3 million experiment:

“For two years Governor McCrory has been wasting taxpayer money on an experiment he was told would fail. Hundreds of thousands of people depend on Jordan Lake for their drinking water and it’s time for Gov. McCrory and legislative Republicans to stop wasting time, stop wasting money and start cleaning our water. Everyone knows water runs downhill and it’s always best to address a problem at its source, so maybe Gov. McCrory will start taking advice from people instead of polluters and reinstate the Jordan Lake Rules. Considering he has an abysmal record of choosing cronyism over common sense, I’m not holding my breath.”
 
Background:

 

News

Gov. McCrory promises response on Justice Department’s H.B. 2 letter Monday

Gov. Pat McCrory

Gov. Pat McCrory told reporters Thursday afternoon that he would have a response to the U.S. Justice Department’s letter on House Bill 2 by Monday.

McCrory’s comments, the only reference he made to the controversial legislation that axes local LGBTQ protections, came moments after a mostly congenial discussion of school choice and classroom technology in Chapel Hill Thursday.

The governor did not elaborate on what that response would be and took no more questions before leaving the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity, a decidedly right-leaning discussion that brought together education leaders in the N.C. General Assembly, activists like Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform, Jimmy Kemp of the Jack Kemp Foundation and, of course, the governor himself.

His brief comments came after state House Speaker Tim Moore said this week that the federal department’s Monday deadline for action on House Bill 2 would come and go.

Leaders with the department told state officials that the controversial legislation violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX of federal education law. As Policy Watch reported in March, the latter claim could jeopardize billions in federal education dollars in North Carolina. 

Read more

2017 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina deserves better

Just two weeks into the legislative session, North Carolinians already are seeing how limited policymakers’ aspirations are for the future of communities and families.

First, the Governor proposed a state budget that fell far short of what North Carolina needs to have thriving communities and broad prosperity.

Then, yesterday, leaders of the House and Senate agreed on setting their sights even lower.

As if the limitations forced by tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy weren’t enough, legislative leaders went a step farther in the wrong direction by tying their spending targets to a flawed formula that replaces judgment with rigid numbers.

In deciding that what the state spends in a year can’t increase by more than the percentage growth in population and inflation, legislative leaders set a target below at a little over $22 billion – less than the governor’s.

Such a formula is similar to one that has been severely reducing the quality of life in Colorado. A report from Colorado just this weekend found this inflexible policy is seriously diminishing educational opportunity. Students are trying to learn with outdated technology, and schools are having a hard time attracting or keeping the best teachers. The state’s ability to compete in the global economy can only suffer as a result. Read more

Commentary

House Speaker on HB2: Five days is too little time to repeal law written and passed in 12 hours

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

The self-destructive hole digging by North Carolina’s top political leaders on HB2 continues apace. Today it’s House Speaker Tim Moore manning the backhoe of state. According to Colin Campbell of Raleigh’s News & Observer, Moore has made plain that the General Assembly won’t be meeting yesterday’s demand from the U.S. Department of Justice that the state roll back its new discrimination law.

Without any apparent sense of irony, Moore rejected the idea that the state could repeal the law in time to meet the Feds’ Monday deadline:

“That deadline will come and go. We don’t ever want to lose any money, but we’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date. That’s not how this works.”

How it works, huh? Thanks for clearing that up. Mr. Speaker. Somehow, the DOJ must have gotten the impression that the General Assembly could act very quickly when it wanted to. Can’t imagine what could have given them that idea.