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The following was posted this morning on ”Taking Note” the editorial page blog at the New York Times:

“The Decline of North Carolina, Continued 

An editorial last week lamented North Carolina’s abandonment of progressive policies in the seven months since Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches in the Tar Heel State for the first time since reconstruction.

The piece cited backward slides in areas such as public education, tax fairness, voting, abortion rights and the mean-spirited slashing of federal unemployment benefits for roughly 70,000 residents.

To that depressing list, I would add one more item: the destruction of North Carolina’s public financing system for judicial elections. Read More

In case you missed it over the holiday weekend, Raleigh News & Observer columnist Rob Christensen had an excellent column that took state lawmakers to task for five proposals that will adversely impact the quality of North Carolina’s democracy:

  • The proposed demise of SBI independence,
  • The end of publicly-financed judicial campaigns,
  • The proposed expansion of political patronage hiring,
  • Expanded secrecy in personnel grievance proceedings, and
  • Making it harder for average citizens to vote.

As Christensen notes:

“The Republicans came into office as reformers promising a broom to clean up the mess left by the Democrats. As my mom liked to say, the proof is in the pudding.”

He might have added that right now, the pudding is watery and tastes lousy. Read the entire column by clicking here.

In case you missed it, the Fayetteville Observer had this to say over the weekend about the issue of recent campaign contributions from corrupt gambling interests to Gov. McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Berger, Speaker Tillis and others:

“It’s clear that campaign-finance reforms haven’t gone far enough. The laws may be better, but enforcement is weak.

The Board of Elections needs to conduct a full, unbiased and public investigation that follows the money wherever it goes.

And the General Assembly needs to follow up by giving state regulators the tools they need to spot illegal campaign contributions quickly.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Uncategorized

State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger got some media attention yesterday for his new education “reform” plan. Though it may have a good idea or two, the plan appears, as is usually the case with the right-wing establishment, to be mostly about using more threats of sanction in an attempt to extract better results out of teachers and students. Once again, conservatives are sending the message that the problem with schools is that people are lazy and not trying hard enough. 

In case, however, you have any doubts that the proposal is ultimately driven mostly by far right political objectives, check out this part of the plan that didn’t get much attention in the mainstream media reports: The final item in the proposed legislation (beginning on page 38) would eliminate public financing for the candidates seeking the office of state Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Got that? Berger’s plan is to “reform” public education by making sure that we can go back to having a system in which money bags like Art Pope (and maybe even for-profit corporations like the scammers at K12 Inc.) can buy the office for their chosen candidate.

submitted by Chase Foster, NCVCE



NCVCE's number one bill this session–HB-1517 "Voter-Owned Elections Pilot"—was tentatively approved in the House today!   
The bill passed 53-52, with Speaker Hackney breaking the tie.   Though we were hoping for a more solid margin we're happy that the bill was successful in today's vote.    On Wednesday, it was reported favorably out of House Appropriations 39-34.

There's a summary of the debate:

Reps. Glazier, Ross, Rapp, Martin, Underhill, and Coleman all did an excellent job explaining why this is such an important and needed program. 

Rep. Ross spoke about the success of North Carolina's judicial program and why the Council of State is a logical place to expand campaign public financing because so much of the money raised in Council of State races comes from groups and individuals regulated by Council of State agencies. 

Rep. Underhill focused on how the bill would improve education about the role and function of North Carolina's Council of State agencies through its voter guide provision and requirements for participating candidates to run mostly fundraising-free (after collecting "qualifying donations") community-based, grassroots campaigns.

And Rep. Coleman described how the "pay to play" system hurts the democratic process and why "Voter-Owned Elections" help less wealthy candidates, especially women and people of color who are often at a fundraising disadvantage in statewide races. 

For more information read Chris Fitzsimon's take on the day's arguments.

Today (Saturday) HB-1517 will be heard in the House on third reading where we're also hopeful there will be a good outcome. 
Once passed by the House, HB-1517 will head to the Senate.   The bill will be referred to the Senate Select Committee on Government and Election Reform which will meet next on Monday at 1pm.