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State lawmaker embarrasses himself on drug testing bill

 Tommy Tucker 2There are so many reasons that it is a ridiculous idea to require drug tests for all applicants for Work First/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or “TANF” benefits (as proposed by multiple state senators) that it’s hard to know where to begin.

It would be absurdly expensive. It would likely catch a tiny number of people. It would likely undermine the state’s ongoing successful efforts to help get people with drug abuse problems into treatment. It is also absurdly unfair to pick only on TANF recipients — Why not all college students? Or all legislators? Or all recipients of economic incentive giveaways?

But here’s another and less debatable reason: It’s unconstitutional.  Last month, the Federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta unanimously struck down a Florida law that is the basis of the North Carolina proposal.

According to the court: Read more

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House Speaker’s “divide and conquer” statement lights a fire

The web is alight these last 24 hours with stories and commentaries regarding North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis’s remarkably offensive and bone-headed comments before a group of Madison County Republicans.  

The story, which was broken by my colleague Chris Fitzsimon, has now made its way onto the websites several other news outlets, including WRAL, the News & Observer, State Government Radio and the Freedom newspapers.   

The Speaker’s helpers are already trying to spin the story as mere linguistic clumsiness, but anyone who watches the speech gets a very different impression — namely that Tillis thought he was speaking to an extremely friendly audience of supporters (one in which he could let his hair down and say what he really thinks).

It is, frankly, an incredibly depressing glimpse into the heart (largely non-existent it would appear) of a very powerful and, normally, very slick politician.