wb-9292015As reported in yesterday’s Weekly Briefing, Republicans have been attempting in the final days of the 2015 session to address an intramural battle over the control of campaign finance funds by allowing legislative leaders to create slush funds of their own that could act very much like political parties — i.e. not subject to many campaign finance limitations.

When this action provoked a firestorm of opposition from Tea Party Republicans (and even the possibility of a gubernatorial veto), however, the lawmakers solved the conflict by taking the amazing step of inserting a provision in the “technical corrections” bill last night that will give members of the Council of State, including Gov. Pat McCrory, the authority to set up their own “affiliated campaign committees” separate from party funds. WRAL has more here.

In other words, now there will be lots more political slush funds under the control of the state’s statewide elected officials! What could possibly go wrong?

We’ll have more details and analysis from campaign watchdogs on this provision later this morning. Stay tuned.


Larry PittmanRep. Larry Pittman is obviously not a powerful lawmaker or someone who will ever be taken very seriously — even in the strange, far right environment of the 2015 North Carolina House of Representatives.  That said, the Cabarrus County lawmaker needs to be called out loudly and repeatedly for his outrageous statement on the House floor last night that, as reported by,

“the nonprofit would ‘give out contraceptives that don’t work’ in order to increase the number of abortions done.”

Although Mr. Pittman describes himself on his campaign website as a “minister of the gospel,” he is someone best known for promoting the spread of guns and an especially virulent version of the far right social agenda. And while he is entitled to his opinions — however twisted they may be — he should not be entitled to tell malicious lies about good people who have dedicated themselves (often at great personal sacrifice) to saving the lives and health of millions of women. The representative needs to apologize for the one he told last night.

Those interested in reminding Rep. Pittman of his duty not to tell such monstrous untruths will find his official contact information by clicking here.


With lawmakers on the verge of passing controversial legislation to expand funding for charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools, yet another voice is speaking out against the proposal.

Proposed charter school bill masks true budget issues

By Amy Wamsley and Lynn Michie

There are few things that stir a dust-up among education advocates like the issue of charter schools. Even among our own board of directors and members of Western North Carolina for Public Education (WNC4PE), we don’t agree on the value and role of charter schools in our communities and our region. But one thing we all can and do agree on is that making our state’s public education budget a scrap heap for different viewpoints to fight over is not just bad public policy – it’s very bad for our children.

That’s exactly what HB539 does. It once again pits traditional public schools and charter schools against one another for funds that are hard-earned and precious. In a nutshell, HB539 would redirect a portion of funds used by traditional public schools to public charter schools during a time when all of North Carolina’s public schools are inadequately funded to meet the diverse needs of all our students.

There is no doubt that there will be vehement argument and outcry on both sides of the debate about HB539, and that debate will mask the true issue at hand: public schools, traditional or charter, in North Carolina are still woefully underfunded.

Yes, the budget just passed included some tiny gains, such as the promised raise for first-time teachers and a stay of execution for thousands of teacher assistant jobs. But the fact remains that North Carolina’s leadership have yet to step up and fulfill their obligations to the taxpayers of the state to provide “a sound basic education.” Not making additional cuts is not the same as making investments.

Let’s put it in perspective. Read More


In yet another round of rather remarkable hypocrisy for a group comprised of members who have repeatedly complained about the supposed problems of “state government mandates” and threats to “local control,” state lawmakers are advancing bills in  the waning days of session to seize more power in Raleigh at the expense of local governments.

Late last night, the Senate passed and sent to the House a bill that will, among other troubling things, reduce the number of forms of ID government officials, including police, can accept. In addition, IDs handed out by individual cities and embassies would no longer be recognized. WRAL has the story here.

Meanwhile, the conference committee report on a bill that was originally dealt with sex trafficking prevention, emerged yesterday with all new language that would place all new sorts of limits on local governments with respect to their ability to mandate wage standards and prohibit discrimination in the provision of goods, services and accommodations. (Click here and scroll to page 8.)

As is so often the case in the General Assembly these days, the language appears to have materialized out of nowhere without discussion so it’s hard to say exactly what its effect will be. But given the recent shenanigans on Jones Street and the hostility the leaders there have displayed toward immigrants, LGBT citizens and other frequent targets of discrimination, there is reason to be very concerned. Stay tuned.



Planned ParenthoodAs the General Assembly gives approval today to legislation based in part on phony-baloney allegations against Planned Parenthood, advocates for women’s health and  reproductive freedom will rally at the General Assembly tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. as part of the national “I stand with Planned Parenthood” movement.

This is from local organizers:

“Here’s what’s going on in North Carolina.

Just last week, NC lawmakers attacked sex education although it’s proven to be effective – teen pregnancy rates are steadily dropping.

Our students need more than that and to let our legislators know, we are holding a People’s Assembly, complete with a sex-ed teach in on Tuesday, September 29.

We’re thinking, if they don’t support sex education, we’ll bring it to them!

Let’s show our legislators that our students deserve to learn what’s healthy.

So wear Pink, come to the legislative building and show our lawmakers that we are not backing down!”

Click here to RSVP and get for more information.