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Sharon DeckerFor years, one area of common ground between conservatives and progressives in North Carolina has been their shared skepticism for business incentives. As analysts and advocates from both camps have shown dozens of times, state and local governments in North Carolina are pouring millions upon millions of dollars down a rat hole on corporate giveaways each year — sometimes just to lure businesses from one county to another.

Over time, the end result is an enormous drain on public resources that breeds cynicism, corruption and special favors and disadvantages homegrown, taxpaying businesses. To make matters worse, virtually every politician who campaigns for public office pledges to reform incentives and then, once in office, finds it impossible to do anything about the problem.

The latest case-in-point is Gov. McCrory who seems bent upon not just using corporate incentives, but dramatically expanding them. If you doubt this, check out reporter Andy Curliss’ article in Raleigh’s News & Observer about the administration’s utterly daft new proposal (given voice by Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker – pictured above) to tax fracking as a way of creating a giant slush fund to attract/bribe corporations: Read More

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A reworked version of legislation allowing fracking passed the House Commerce Committee Wednesday, despite confusion over who would be in charge of the state’s Energy Jobs Council.

Under the latest version of Senate Bill 76, the Energy Jobs Council would be located in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) tasked with making recommendations for increasing domestic energy exploration and production.

Rep. Mike Hager pushed to amend the PCS, moving the Jobs Council back to the Department of Commerce. Fellow Republicans Rep. Marilyn Avila and Rep. Dana Bumgardner also objected to stripping the Jobs Council from Commerce and moving it to DENR.

So Fred Steen, chief lobbyist for Governor Pat McCrory, tried to ease their concerns:

“DENR is not your father’s DENR and Commerce will not be your mother’s Commerce in the future. We’re going to change both of them,” said Steen. Read More

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Picture of Richard Glyndon CatlinReporter John Murawski has a fascinating story in the morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which he explains one of the enormous and unsolved problems with fracking: What to do with the waste.

According to the story, the current plan for the would-be frackers in North Carolina is to truck all of the millions upon millions of gallons of toxic chemicals that would be produced via fracking in the Piedmont down east to be injected underground.

But a conservative Republican lawmaker from that area who also happens to be a hydrogeologist is quoted in the story as saying this is a terrible idea. Read More

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In case you missed it, Indy Week’s Billy Ball has a fascinating and disturbing story about the Chairman of North Carolina’s Mining and Energy Commission, Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack.

According to Ball’s story, in addition to his two public roles, Womack is also a fire-breathing, Tea Partying blogger at a website known as “Lee County’s Top Political Blog,” which the article describes as:

“an on-again, off-again haven for like-minded right-wingers to publish manifestos on local, state and national politics. Multiple authors, writing mostly anonymously as Founding Fathers, fire off diatribes that savage their political enemies.”

Ball reports that one author (who many believe to be Womack), writes posts under a number of pseudonyms — including “James Madison.” Here is an excerpt from one such post from September of 2011:

“Did you hear? Our benevolent imperial imam Barack Hussein Obama is coming to North Carolina. Hey Governess Perdue, what are you going to be doing Wednesday? Hanging out with your buddy Barack? That should provide a real lift to your re-election campaign! I’ll bet Pat McCrory is just green with envy.” Read More

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RALEIGH – Bowing to new and overwhelming evidence from the scientific community and the powerful impacts of recent catastrophic weather events, North Carolina conservative political leaders announced today that they are willing to accept the reality of sea-level rise, while at the same time proposing a plan to deal with it.

“It does appear  that some coastal tidal patterns have started to shift slightly,” said State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. “And regardless of whether this is the result of direct intervention by the Almighty or, as I believe, over-regulation of offshore drilling which has prevented ocean floors from subsiding to their appropriate levels, it does appear it’s time to act.”

Berger went on to say that he and colleague House Speaker Thom Tillis will introduce legislation during the 2013 session of the General Assembly to be entitled the “Personal Water-Level Mitigation Choice and Responsibility Act.” Under the multi-faceted proposal, individual taxpayers would, among other things, be able to establish tax-free savings accounts in which they would be able to shelter income for future use in dealing with coastal storms and rising seas. Read More