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It was one of the many great ironies associated with controversy surrounding the issue of fracking in North Carolina that so-called conservatives opposed efforts during the 2012 legislative session to include stronger protections for landowners.

As you may recall, it was mostly conservative supporters of the fracking industry who opposed efforts to include language in fracking legislation that would have made it easier for private landowners to avoid the phenomenon known as “forced pooling” (i.e. the notion that landowners can be forced to enter into leases to sell their gas rights). Mind you, many of these same people are some of the most ardent supporters of “property rights” when it comes to things like municipal annexation.

Now comes word from Pennsylvania of a battle in which the fracking industry is butting up against another traditionally conservative ideal: local control. Read More

Recent Policy Watch Crucial Conversation headliner Les Bernal of the national Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation is out with a press release that includes a truly remarkable and sobering statistic this afternoon that would, in any just world, greatly influence members of the North Carolina House has they vote tomorrow on a bill to approve a compact with Harrah’s and the Cherokee Tribe to introduce casino gambling to our state for the first time.

“In a review of casino job numbers from Illinois– state where Harrah’s has two casinos- Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation found there are almost 20% more citizens who have come forward to publicly ban themselves from the casinos because they are addicted – what gambling operators call the “self-exclusion list” – than there are citizens who work at the casinos in that state. The total enrollment of citizens in the state’s voluntary Self-Exclusion Program was 9,171 and the total number of full and part-time casino jobs was 7789.”

So much for the all those new and beneficial jobs for our state.

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The Commerce Committee of the North Carolina Senate just sent out its offical notice for a meeting that will convene tomorrow morning at 11:00 at the General Assembly. Mind you. this is a committee that has not met in months and that currently has 36 bills assigned to it. Sounds like a meeting that the chairman, Senator Harry Brown might have been thinking about for a while and in which there might be a fair bit of public interest.

Here is what the “notice” said:  Read More

As we and others reported on Friday, a candidate for state Democratic Party Chair, Donald Vaughan, was revealed in recent days to have been a member of the corporate-funded, arch-conservative group ALEC. Late on Friday, Vaughan sent us a letter in which he explained that he is resigning from the group. Click here to read the letter.

Good for Vaughan. It remains to be seen, however, whether the state’s Democrats will find the explanation compelling or too little too late.