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LegislatureAnother day on Jones Street, another day of rolling back the 20th Century. Here are just some of the regressive proposals on tap for today along with the names they ought ot be known by:

The Predatory Lending Protection and Expansion Act — The Senate will vote on this proposal to jack up interest rates and fees on consumer finance loans at a time of record low interest rates.

The Erosion of NC’s Commitment to Public Education Act — The Senate will also take up this proposal to create a separate authority to (sort of) oversee charter schools. The new conservative head of the State Board of Education called the proposal unconstitutional this morning. Read More

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The General Assembly returned to Raleigh last week and a controversial method of natural gas drilling – known as fracking – is already on the Republican agenda with the introduction of the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act – S820 (don’t be fooled by the title).  A recent development in the gas industry may foretell the future of the most cavalier of gas companies. Read More

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Desmogblog.com has released a series of documents from the conservative Heartland Institute that exposes their 2012 climate skeptics program and their major donors, many of whom had requested anonymity. This is a rare window into the world of the most conservative policy thinkers in our country.

According to the documents, Heartland views itself as playing a leading role in preventing “the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming.” A new program for 2012 focuses on creating K-12 curriculum because “principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.” The Charles Koch Foundation, a major supporter of efforts to kill national climate policy, gave $200,000 to Heartland in 2011. Heartland is looking for an increase in 2012 and access to the Koch’s “network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests.”

The Heartland fundraising strategy exposes donors, many that requested anonymity.  While the US Chamber of Commerce is a supporter, you’d expect that. Here’s a few more unexpected donors:

In North Carolina, the chairman of BB&T is a donor as is GlaxoSmithKline headquartered in RTP. John Allison, Chairman of BB&T and a Wake Forest University Distinguished Professor of Practice in the Business School contributed $16,000 to Heartland in 2010, $0 in 2011 and Heartland is looking to Allison for $25,000 this year.

GlaxoSmithKline gave a total of $50,000 in 2010/2011, and according to the New York Times, a spokesperson for the company said the funding was for Medical News a monthly newsletter for Heartland Institute members. The Heartland Institute’s “Consumers for Health Care Choices” program states “We believe Obamacare …… ought to be repealed and replaced.” Other pharmaceutical companies also contributed to Heartland over the past two years – Eli Lilly (25k in 2010), Pfizer ($130k in 2010), PhRMA (20k in 2010).

The Heartland Institute works on a variety of issues from the environment to education, health care, to the federal budget. These documents are worth a read for progressive activists as we gear up for this year’s election and the policy issues that will be debated alongside.

Oh and here’s Heartland’s lame response to the documents being released by Desmogblog.com

 

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This morning’s email box provided yet another reminder of the crazy and backasswards way conservative leaders are running the North Carolina General Assembly these days. It was a simple enough thing: an emailed notice from the chairs of the House Select Committee on Education Reform providing notice that that the group would meet on Wednesday, February 8.

“What’s wrong with such a notice?” you ask. Well, nothing — that’s the point. Read More

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Veteran General Assembly attorney Gerry Cohen sent out a tweet this morning alerting people to a document that lists all of the bills that are legally eligible for consideration during the spring session of the General Assembly that convenes this May. It is a long and not terribly encouraging list.

But, of course, as the recent special sessions have made patently clear, it is also a rather quaint, even poignant, document; one that hearkens back to a time when legislative leaders at least kinda, sorta tried to abide by the rules.

Here is the hard truth about what’s “eligible for consideration” come May 16 (or February 16, or whenever lawmakers come back into session): 

The General Assembly will take up whatever Thom Tillis and his aides want to take up whenever they want them to do so. 

Get used to it.