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Puppy millsFew developments are surprising these days in the through-the-looking glass world of the North Carolina General Assembly, but the recent developments surrounding “puppy mills” legislation takes a very large cake.

As was reported last week in multiple places, one of the North Carolina Senate’s most powerful members, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, issued a statement in which he said that the Senate would not move legislation on this subject in 2014 because of its objection to the “tactics” of bill supporters — specifically the fact that a supporter meeting with Senator Bill Rabon openly recorded the Senator’s inflammatory comments on the subject and then made them public.

This was apparently not an idle threat by Apodaca. Yesterday, N.C. Policy Watch obtained an email sent by another lawmaker (Senator Bill Cook of Beaufort County) to a concerned constituent in which he recited Apodaca’s threat verbatim (see the bottom of this post for the full text). Read More

Ellie KinnairdThe resignation of Senator Eleanor Kinnaird from the North Carolina Senate was totally understandable, but still quite a disappointment for all who care about truth and justice. Ellie’s list of accomplishments and principled stands in the Senate is a long one and she will be missed enormously in that already depleted institution.

This morning’s editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right when it says:

“Kinnaird was part of the Senate’s conscience. Losing her voice may make lawmaking easier, but it won’t make it better or the results more humane. The General Assembly should be a place of debate where both sides listen and learn. It has become a Republican rally that drowns the dissent within and ignores the protests without.

The good news is that Kinnaird is resigning but not quitting. She will take her voice to where she can be heard so all can be heard. Her first step is to join a grassroots effort to fight Republican efforts to suppress the vote.

We thank Sen. Kinnaird for her service. And wish her luck as she continues the good fight.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/20/3122573/a-loss-of-conscience.html#storylink=cpy

Abortion protestIt’s hard to say what’s most outrageous and offensive in and around the North Carolina public policy world these days: the blatant special interest vote buying, the astonishing greed of giant corporations and their hired gun lobbyists, the not-so-thinly veiled racist pandering that oozes out of some of the far right advocacy groups, the raw political ambition that underlies the Phil Berger-Thom Tillis fight or Gov. McCrory’s ongoing impression of The Invisible Man.    

Here’s another leading candidate for today, however: the just plain meanness and nastiness of the folks running things on Jones Street. This has been evident on numerous occasions throughout the year – in the contempt for the democratic process and the right to be heard that’s constantly on display, in the way legislative leaders (particularly Senators like Tom Apodaca and Jerry Tillman) use rude, bullying language and tactics vis a vis their fellow lawmakers and members of the public, and in the dramatically ramped-up presence of law enforcement officers brandishing handcuffs, cameras and snarls on their faces.

This latter phenomenon was in full swing this morning as several hundred frustrated citizens — a large proportion of them moms toting their infant children — gathered in and around the Senate chamber to listen and watch as Senators finished off the dirty and disingenuous deed they commenced last night to make abortion a virtual impossibility in North Carolina.  Read More

A statement from the ACLU-NC:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 2, 2013

ACLU-NC Denounces N.C. Senate’s Sneak Attack on Reproductive Rights
Senate Attempted to Pass Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill Tuesday Night Without Public Notice or Debate 

RALEIGH – This evening, without any public notice or debate, the North Carolina Senate voted to pass an omnibus anti-abortion bill that would severely restrict women’s access to abortion care by prohibiting health plans offered through federal health care exchanges from offering abortion coverage, requiring abortion clinics to go through a licensing process similar to outpatient surgical clinics, allowing all health care providers to opt out of providing abortion care, requiring doctors to stay in the room for an entire abortion procedure (regardless of whether it is surgical, medical, or chemical), and compel doctors to interrogate patients about the reason they are having an abortion by prohibiting doctors from knowingly performing a sex-selection abortion. Read More

New from the numbers wonks at the Budget and Tax Center:

Allowing the state Earned Income Tax Credit to expire would harm veterans, active-duty military, a new analysis finds

RALEIGH (July 2, 2013) – About 64,000 veteran and active-duty military families in North Carolina would be impacted by current tax plans, all of which allow the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to expire. New analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and state-level analysis by the Budget & Tax Center found that tens of thousands of military families in North Carolina would be affected.

The Senate tax plan (HB 998, Fifth edition) being debated later today allows the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to expire, increasing the tax load on tens of thousands of low-income soldiers, veterans, and their families while the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations get a tax break. Read More