Carolina Journal Weekly Report

January 23, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of January 23, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — North Carolina should repeal its system of taxpayer-financed elections, since a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling makes it clear the system is unconstitutional. That’s the conclusion a John Locke Foundation analyst reaches in a new Spotlight report.

“As Gov. Beverly Perdue pursues a new endowment fund for taxpayer funding of gubernatorial campaigns, she should be aware that North Carolina’s existing taxpayer-financed election systems face serious constitutional problems,” said report author Daren Bakst, JLF Legal and Regulatory Policy Analyst.

Rather than set up another taxpayer-financing scheme, lawmakers should scrap their current systems, Bakst said. “Legislators should not sit idly by and let North Carolinians’ First Amendment rights be trampled until a court ‘officially’ declares this taxpayer financing system to be unconstitutional,” he said. “Taxpayer-financed elections should be repealed immediately. At a minimum, there should be a moratorium on taxpayer financing systems until a final legal decision is made on a key element of taxpayer financing called ‘matching funds.’”

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Davis v. Federal Election Commission struck down a federal law that punished congressional candidates for spending too much of their own money on their campaigns, Bakst said.

“Once personal spending on a campaign exceeded a threshold level, the federal McCain-Feingold law gave opposing candidates fundraising advantages,” Bakst said. “This penalty on ‘self-financed candidates’ was called the Millionaire’s Amendment.”

“As the Supreme Court has made clear in its campaign finance cases, restrictions on spending money are equivalent to restricting a candidate's speech because money is necessary for political communication,” he added.

News Features

CJ: Legislators ponder taxing computer downloads
RALEIGH — Some N.C. legislators want to take a closer look at taxing songs, movies, books, and games downloaded on computers. A study committee could discuss the issue Wednesday. “I just think in terms of our retail merchants and folks with bricks and mortar [stores], they’re being burdened in a way that other retailers are not because of the way the world has changed,” said Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, during the Jan. 7 meeting of the General Assembly’s Revenue Laws Study Committee.

CJ: Pro-lifers mark anniversary of abortion ruling
RALEIGH — Pro-life activists gathered in downtown Raleigh recently to mark the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional right to abortion. The rally was conducted three days before President Obama, a supporter of abortion access, was inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

CJ: Court rebuffs town on building permit
RALEIGH — A Chapel Hill company won the opportunity to build a house on a lot the firm owns, thanks to a recent N.C. Supreme Court ruling. In its ruling in December, the high court found that Chapel Hill had violated its own rules in not issuing a building permit for the lot that is largely situated in the town’s Resource Conservation District.

Panel: Annexation shouldn't be forced on residents
RALEIGH — Cities and towns shouldn’t be allowed to annex unincorporated areas unless targeted residents first are allowed to vote on the matter, a legislative study committee agreed Thursday despite opposition from a powerful lobbying group and state senator. The special panel examining changes to North Carolina’s municipal annexation laws voted in favor of requiring referenda as a prerequisite for involuntary annexations.

Basnight offers up a hike in ‘sin tax’
RALEIGH — N.C. Senate leader Marc Basnight on Thursday proposed raising taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to help prop up crumbling state revenue numbers. It was the first public mention of possible tax increases this year by the state’s political leaders. Gov. Beverly Perdue, in her first month on the job, has talked primarily about finding ways to cut spending as the economic downturn erodes state revenues.

Upcoming Events

Monday, January 26, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Jane S. Shaw
Inside the Black Box: Why Higher Education Resists Change

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. General Reception-Cash Bar
7:15 p.m. Dinner

19th Annual Anniversary Dinner in the Triangle
with our special guest The Honorable Bobby Jindal
America: An Agenda for the Future

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
A Headliner Event in Hickory
with our special guests Dr. John R. Christy and Dr. William H. Schlesinger
A Forum on Climate Change: Opposing Views

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. General Reception-Cash Bar
7:15 p.m. Dinner

19th Anniversary Celebration in the Charlotte Area
with our special guest Winston Churchill III
Register Now!

John Locke Foundation Carolina Journal Online
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Capital Quotes

A lot of buyers have turned into somewhat of a vulture.
Jake Kent, president of K2C Real Estate Solutions in Charlotte, describing the state of the local housing market to the Charlotte Observer. K2C hasn’t been able to sell some houses despite 15 percent price cuts. Building permits for single-family homes in Mecklenburg County, meanwhile, are off 70 percent versus a year ago.

If you have a $1.5 million home, you obviously have the money to buy insurance at a higher rate.
— Rep. Bruce Goforth, D-Buncombe, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer, rejecting arguments against lowering the limit on properties covered by the state’s beach insurance plan to $750,000 from $1.5 million.

Since every other school has two colors and we’re the School of the Arts, we thought we… could push the envelope and have three.
John Mauceri, of the UNC School of the Arts, describing the origin to the school’s new green, blue, and purple logo to the Winston-Salem Journal.

You’re kidding.
Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the state board of elections, responding to the Greensboro News & Record upon learning that a candidate, who now cannot be located, won election to the Guilford County Soil and Water Conservation District board using a false name.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
JLF’s Becki Gray discusses General Assembly priorities, Emory University’s Mark Bauerlein critiques the impact of digital technology on young people, JLF’s Jon Ham explains research that exposes liberal media bias, Clemson University’s Bruce Yandle explains the “Bootleggers and Baptists” theory, and JLF’s Joe Coletti recommends a plan for getting N.C.’s fiscal house in order.

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. Topics this week: The latest developments on North Carolina’s budget crisis; substance abuse programs needing detox; a strange exit interview by outgoing DOT Secretary Lyndo Tippett; and a new permit to mine wetlands. This week’s panelists: John Hood and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; and former Attorney General and Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…
Watch At Issue, hosted by Kim Genardo, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Also available on the web at


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