Commentary

Sen. Dan Soucek seems to think that allowing same-sex couples to get married is not about equality, but is giving them special rights—whatever that means. Here’s what Soucek told the Avery Journal over the weekend.

“I think the most disturbing thing about this is how it’s being stretched to not give some people fair privileges, but special rights. And how those rights are infringing on other peoples’ constitutional religious freedoms,” Soucek said.

According to Soucek, legally re-defining marriage to include same-sex unions falls under the definition of a special right.

“Marriage has always been defined throughout history one way and re-defining marriage is a special right. It’s not an equal right,” Soucek said. “Interracial marriage was an equal right because it was excluding a group. This is a redefinition. It’s a fundamentally different thing.”

So, allowing gay couples to have the same rights as other people is a “special right” because it infringes on other peoples’ freedoms?  Huh?

Commentary

The election may be over but the misleading claims are still coming from the politicians. Senator-elect Thom Tillis apparently couldn’t help himself in an interview recently, parroting a false talking point about the Affordable Care Act.  And the Washington Post called him out on it.

Thom Tillis is a newly-minted senator from North Carolina, having narrowly defeated the incumbent, Sen. Kay Hagan (D). But in one of his first interviews since the campaign ended, he hauled out a stale talking point that has long been debunked.

This kind of start doesn’t bode well for his time in office in Washington.

Commentary

Pat McCrory press eventGovernor Pat McCrory is reportedly considering calling the General Assembly into special session to put more money into one of the state’s primary business incentive schemes, the Job Development Incentive Grant program, or JDIG.

Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker says the state is pursuing several big economic development projects and is bumping up against the $22.5 million cap on JDIG grants.

If all this sounds familiar, it should. Decker was openly calling for special session two months ago. Here’s what she told the N.C. Economic Development Board in August.

Decker told board members that money in the popular JDIG incentives fund would run out by late October without legislative action to increase the cap. The state, she said, is pursuing a large project that would take 80 percent of the fund’s balance, leaving little cash for about 30 other projects – and roughly 10,000 jobs – that are “in the pipeline.”

“We won’t get all of those jobs even with the Job Development Investment Grant, but I can assure you we will get fewer of them if we don’t have it,” Decker said.

….Decker wants a special session to be called soon. “Several folks have said to me, ‘Can you wait until the (2015) long session?’ We can’t, in my opinion,” she said.

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News

daughtry-and-mooreElection season is not over yet. There’s another big contest left, the race inside the Republican House Caucus to be the next Speaker of the House. The campaign is not public of course. It is all happening behind the scenes and has been going on for months.

Here’s what we know so far from sources inside the Raleigh beltline.

There are two leading candidates, Rep. Leo Daughtry from Johnston County and Rep. Tim Moore from Cleveland County.  There were several other candidates running for a while, most notably Rep. Mike Hager from Rutherford County, Rep. John Blust from Guilford County, and Rep. Bryan Holloway from Stokes County.

Moore, the House Rules Chairman under Speaker Thom Tillis, was very active during the recent campaign, going door to door for Republican candidates and giving more than $250,000 from his campaign to the state Republican Party and to individual Republicans’ campaigns.

Daughtry, with 11 terms in the House after serving two in the Senate, has held most of the leadership posts other than Speaker in his legislative career and has promised not to use the office as a springboard. Daughtry ran for governor in 2000 but failed to win the Republican nomination. He’s clearly playing the role of the steady senior statesman in the race, if there is such a thing.

Neither Moore nor Daughtry are closely identified with the Tea Party wing of House Republicans. If they have a candidate, it would most likely be Hager, a former Duke Energy employee who has spoken out prominently on environmental issues in the House, almost always siding with corporate interests.

But the Speaker’s race is more like an election to student council than an important statewide political post. It’s as much about relationships, political favors, and personality as much as ideology.

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Commentary

It’s probably just a coincidence that the biggest donor to the state’s new sketchy economic development nonprofit is Duke Energy that ponied up $200,000 to help the nonprofit meet its first year goal of $250,000 in private contributions.

That donation surely has nothing to do with the state’s ongoing battle over regulation of the company’s leaking coal ash ponds across the state. There’s no chance that Duke officials were trying to keep Gov. Pat McCrory and his administration happy with the donation to the nonprofit that is so important to the governor.

It’s all probably above board. Nothing nefarious here. No expectations, just $200,000 out of the goodness of Duke Energy’s heart.