In a question and answer session with the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday, North Carolina U.S. Senator Thom Tillis told the audience that there are too many government regulations.

To illustrate his point, Tillis recounted a conversation with a constituent in his home district at a local Starbucks where an employee was exiting the bathroom.

“She says, for example, don’t you believe that this regulation that requires this gentleman to wash his hands before he serves you food is important?” Tillis recounted to the audience.“I said: ‘I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom.’”

Tillis told the audience “the market will take care of it.”

Click on the image below to go to the full video carried on C-SPAN.

For more on the importance of handwashing by restaurant workers, visit this page from the Centers for Disease Control.

Tillis-Feb2 2015


More news from the campaign trail: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins Sen. Kay Hagan in Charlotte on Saturday at an early voting event. Next week brings former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to North Carolina stumping for House Speaker Thom Tillis.  Then there’s word of the American Future Fund, a political group backed by the Koch bothers, spending $225,000 this week to steer votes to Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh.

Will the high-profile endorsements or the flurry of new ads for the third-party candidate sway voters in the final days of North Carolina’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race?

Tom Jensen with Public Policy Polling joins NC Policy Watch’s News & Views this weekend to discuss what could be the most expensive Senate race in our history and what trends he’s seeing for the legislative races down ballot.

For a preview of Jensen’s radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below:

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School-vouchersThe N.C. Court of Appeals ruled today that the 1,878 students who have already been granted school vouchers can now use those taxpayer dollars at private schools while the fate of the program is decided.

Students enrolled at private schools this fall expecting to have the vouchers, worth $4,200 annually, in hand – but an August ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood found the school voucher law to be unconstitutional, halting a program that, as Judge Hobgood said, “appropriates taxpayer funds to educational institutions that have no standards, curriculum and requirements for teachers and principals to be certified.”

As a result, voucher recipients either returned to public schools or paid the full cost of attendance at private schools. Some private schools also indicated they would temporarily subsidize voucher students with the hope that the final court ruling would turn out in their favor.

While the Court of Appeals’ ruling obligates the state to disburse taxpayer funds to the private schools of those students who were awarded vouchers no later than August 21, 2014, it also blocks the state from awarding any additional vouchers until the final merits of the case are decided. Read More


As expected health care played a major role in the first debate between Sen. Hagan and Speaker Tillis.

Tillis took two major lines of attack against Sen. Hagan on health care: he chastised Hagan for saying that people could keep the insurance plan they like, and he criticized the policy of setting minimum standards for insurance plans. He also mentioned at the end of the debate that people will pay 11 percent more for insurance next year but that was a strange sidebar claim with no evidence to support it. Insurance policies are not yet posted and have not even completed regulatory review.

On the first point Tillis chose his words carefully. Koch brother groups in North Carolina keep claiming that thousands of people in the state lost their insurance. The Tillis camp apparently realizes that this is a ridiculous assertion. So Tillis said that thousands of people received cancellation notices from their insurance company. This thrust was parried by Hagan when she pointed out that the plans were continued when she and other members of Congress pressured the Obama Administration to keep the policies in place. She also noted that insurers continued selling non-compliant insurance plans to consumers after the Affordable Care Act was signed without adequately explaining that the policies would have to change after 2014.

On the second point Tillis argued that people should be able to purchase any insurance plan they want without regulations on what is covered. The Affordable Care Act imposes some standards on insurance policies. Hagan didn’t spent much time responding to this charge, although she could have noted that his push for mandating that insurance cover Autism treatments directly contradicts his criticism of health reform. The problem with deregulating insurance is twofold. Read More


The battle over school vouchers in North Carolina is now before the state Supreme Court, thanks to an emergency motion filed late Monday by attorneys on behalf of Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate leader Phil Berger and parents to allow the taxpayer-funded vouchers, ruled unconstitutional by a Superior Court judge last week, to be disbursed to private schools immediately while the fate of the program is decided.

Plaintiffs challenging the school voucher program — parents, educators, community members and school boards represented by the N.C. Justice Center, the North Carolina Association of Educators, and the N.C. School Boards Association – filed a response Tuesday morning to the motion now before the state’s highest court.

“[The defendants] implore the Court to put millions of taxpayer dollars at risk by turning on the spigot of public funds almost a month before the SEAA’s long-planned disbursement schedule, nullifying a decision by a senior trial judge entered after months of discovery and consideration of hundreds of pages of evidence and briefs,” said the plaintiffs’ response. Read More