The Locker Room

May 12, 2009

Rock stupid

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:38 PM

I read this tonight on WRAL. I remember what we said the last time something this dumb was discussed. We are truly under a reign of imbecility:

Recalling the gas lines that panicked drivers last fall after Hurricane Ike disrupted fuel supplies along the East Coast, state lawmakers are considering a proposal that allow the governor to ration gas in similar situations.

Senate Bill 811 also would allow the governor to freeze fuel prices in the event of an emergency or market disruption. The Council of State would have to approve a price freeze to make it effective.

And why were there gas lines and stations out of gas in NC after Hurricane Ike but not after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? Because Ike happened after the state decided to outlaw "price gouging" — i.e., forbid prices to reflect a temporary greater scarcity. It's the stupid law that caused shortages by interfering with market pricing. Better to have gasoline at high prices than no gas available at a "great" price.

No one forces you to buy gasoline. When prices spike because of a disaster-driven temporary supply disruption, it causes people to ration their gasoline purchases voluntarily according to their needs. Get that, legislators? People ration voluntarily; the government doesn't have to force it on them unilaterally.

No one forces you to buy gasoline, but the state forces retailers to supply gasoline at pre-disaster prices — that means that people aren't given the higher prices than cause them to ration voluntarily, so they consume as usual (or worse, since they expect shortages, they hoard, which exhausts supplies even quicker) until there is no gasoline left.

What's the idiotic solution to this problem caused by idiotic legislation? Even more idiotic legislation — have the government force rationing after having the government force consumption-as-usual.

It's the fallacy of the old lady who swallowed the fly: making a much bigger mistake in an attempt to solve the problems artificially generated by the first stupid mistake.

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Where's Annexation Reform Before the Crossover Deadline?

Posted by Daren Bakst at 9:35 PM

Despite the legislature's mad rush to pass such critical bills as the bat bill that Becki described,  there's absolutely no movement on annexation reform before crossover.  The only real annexation reform bills (HB 645, SB 494) are just being ignored.

Legislator aren't providing any clear answers whether the annexation bills are affected by crossover, like most other bills.  I'd assume they would be, but some legislators (including "leaders") have said that annexation bills are treated differently--for example, in the Senate rules, if a bill affects local taxing power, then it allegedly isn't affected by crossover. 

I don't want to get into an analysis of whether an annexation bill really affects local taxing power or get bogged down in the crossover rules, but everything I have seen regarding whether crossover applies is very questionable.

My personal guess: Crossover will apply if a real annexation reform bill  is moving that the oligarchy doesn't like.  Crossover won't apply if a watered down annexation reform bill is moving and it is acceptable to the League and the oligarchy.

Remember, this is the same oligarchy that tried to shoot down the annexation moratorium bill by ignoring the absolutely clear language of the rules.  Imagine what the oligarchy can do when things are a bit vague.

When the clock strikes midnight on Thursday night, it may be the end of real annexation reform until at least 2011.

I'm hoping that those legislators that have said crossover doesn't apply will make sure the crossover excuse isn't used to stop real annexation reform this year.  Don't count on it though.

Anyone interested in annexation reform should be in full-court press mode right now.  Unfortunately, legislators from both parties are like the Harlem Globetrotters playing jokes on the citizens (from the perspective of the legislators: we are the Washington Generals).

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Working late

Posted by Becki Gray at 7:18 PM

With 49 bills on the calendar in the Senate Judiciary I Committee, the committee continues its work tonight.  S.B. 461, North Carolina Racial Justice Act, would allow that when race is a considerable factor in a death penalty case defendants can present evidence that the bias played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty or in their final sentence. The issue would be decided by a Superior Court judge.

The bill passed 12-6 and will go to the Senate floor next.

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Going batty in the House

Posted by Becki Gray at 6:00 PM

In a lively discussion of House Bill 1419, Bat Protection Act, bill sponsor Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, makes the argument for Wildlife Commission education on bats and protection and regulation of what several members call flying rats.

Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, asks if private homeowners will be affected (they won't — you can still kill bats in your attic) and also asks if the bill in any way will affect the Joker, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, or any of the others (it won't).

Rep. Thomas Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, says bats eat their weight in insects, and if you dislike mosquitoes you should like this bill.

Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, raises concerns that offering special protection for bats may interfere with homeowners' rights.

Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, asks if the representative from Transylvania would like to comment (he doesn't).

Rep. Lewis asks Rep. Dan Blue, D-Wake, who earlier in the day spoke in favor of bills ensuring homeowners' rights, if he thought bats' rights would be endangered under this bill. Rep. Blue said it depends: What are that bat's rights? Is it an American bat or a Transylvanian bat?

So with assurances that bat, homeowner, and Batman character rights will remain intact, the bill passes 102-12 and flies over to the Senate cave for consideration.

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You might be a progressive if ...

Posted by Jon Sanders at 4:42 PM

you think firemen are endangered by secondhand cigarette smoke in a burning building. Q.v.,

"All citizens have the freedom to decide whether they want to go to a place that allows smoking." However, you will want fire/police/health services to server[sic]/protect your business and those "citizens" do not get to make the choice of deciding to enter your establishment or not, they have an oath to help that says they have to. Who's protecting them?

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Try running your household budget like this

Posted by David N. Bass at 4:18 PM

AP reports:

The government will have to borrow nearly 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year, exploding the record federal deficit past $1.8 trillion under new White House estimates. Budget office figures released Monday would add $89 billion to the 2009 red ink - increasing it to more than four times last year's all-time high as the government hands out billions more than expected for people who have lost jobs and takes in less tax revenue from people and companies making less money.

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Global warming debate now up on CJTV

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:55 PM

The now famous debate between former Duke Nicholas School Dean and global warming alarmist William Schlesinger and Alabama State Climatologist and NASA specialist in global satellite temperature data is now available to watch in its entirety on Carolina Journal Television. The debate was co-sponored by the John Locke Foundation last February in Hickory.

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Update on clothesline regulations

Posted by Becki Gray at 2:45 PM

House Bill 1353, No Ordinances/Deeds May Stop Clotheslines heard today in House  Water Resources Committee.  Not sure why but nothing about this bill makes much sense.

Bill sponsor, Rep Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) rolled out a committee substitute bill that only slightly changes the bill by adding a definition for "residential property". As you may recall from yesterday's post, this bill would prohibit city and county ordinances from prohibiting the installation of clotheslines.

Freshman Rep and attorney Hugh Blackwell (R Burke) proposed an amendment that takes out a provision offering a remedy in civil court and awarding legal fees to the prevailing party.  In speaking with him after the meeting, Rep Blackwell said he was trying to take out the possible litigiousness of a clothesline dispute, hoping to keep those disputes out of courts and between neighbors where they belong and freeing the courts to deal with public safety and other legitimate concerns. The amendment passed.

With limited additional debate (really, what is there to say other than, why?) the bill passes and moves along.

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Private wells protection

Posted by Becki Gray at 2:25 PM

In today's House Water Resources and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. David Lewis's (R-Harnett) very important House Bill 1429 is considered. The bill amends last year's Drought Management Act to clarify that regulation of private wells is expressly prohibited. With no questions and no debate, the Committee unanimously approves the bill and it now moves on. 

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Metaphors for social media

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:25 PM

Social media like Twitter is about condensing complex thoughts into 100-character elevator pitches so it can reach a new audience. Someone compared it to Paul Anka putting classic rock songs in big band format, like this.

Still looking for an easy metaphor on hashtags.

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Re: Free Beer

Posted by Hal Young at 12:45 AM

Obviously not a history teacher.

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A GI Bill for Burger Flippers?

Posted by Jay Schalin at 12:45 AM

There is a rather strange bill going through the committees, HB 1140, which gives "need" scholarships to people who have worked for minimum wage for at least 18 months. The scholarships are a healthy amount--up to $11,000 per year  for four years, and it would appear that these scholarships will have precedence over other need scholarships. The bill has strong bipartisan support, with many sponsors on both sides of the aisle, despite some perturbing incentives. The longer somebody works for minimum wage, the more likely they are to qualify, so forget the promotion, forget the better job. There is now a penalty for having the skills to work a $10 or $12 an hour job 

And forget going into the military to pay for your higher education with GI benefits. The state of North Carolina now equates "serving your country" with "serving your country french fries."

Maybe someday politicians will figure out that if everybody in the country gets a PhD, then we will need to hire doctorates to work the drive-thru. And that subsidizing the education of said PhDs is probably not the most effecient use of resources. But I'm not holding my breath.

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Re: Remedial Sex Education Needed

Posted by Hal Young at 12:30 AM

Maybe this protestor is married, and takes a very literal view of Jesus's words when He said, "a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh"? Ipso facto ...

On second thought, Jay's probably right.

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Remedial Sex Education Needed

Posted by Jay Schalin at 12:10 AM

I'm not sure whether this picture is a signal that we need more sex education in the schools or less sex education in the schools, but it sure seems that the current amount is inadequate:

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another good thing - this one is dead or at least in a coma

Posted by Becki Gray at 11:52 AM

Senate Bill 699 which would have stopped operation of a cement plant in the southern coastal part of the state and while the General Assembly and DENR studied their operation. Sen. Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover) delayed the meeting several times and conferred with committee chairs before finally pulling the bill. Word from members of the committee: votes for passage just aren't there. And won't be if she brings the bill up again. Another bill that is bad for business bites the dust.

Members from both sides of the political aisle as well as different regions of the state seem to be understanding that the key to economic recovery and prosperity is creating a welcoming business environment, not burdensome government regulation and interference.

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Finally.....a good bill passes

Posted by Becki Gray at 11:45 AM

Senate Agriculture Committee considers SB 866, APA rules: increasing costs prohibition. This very short bill mandates that a state agency cannot adopt a rule if it results in additional costs. The only exceptions are if increased costs are necessary to respond to a serious threat to public health, mandated by an act of Congress or the NC General Assembly, a change in federal or state budgetary policy, a federal regulation or a court order.

There was overwhelming support for the bill with bill sponsor Sen. David Hoyle (D-Gaston) saying the state can't continue to burden business in North Carolina. Freshman Sen. David Rouzer (R-Johnston said it was the best piece of legislation he'd seen since he got here. Sen. David Weinstein (D-Robeson) expressed his support as well. The only question was raised by Sen. Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood) who suggested the provision have a sunset (not really sure why except as a delaying/effort to weaken the bill - shouldn't cost v. benefit ALWAYS be part of the rule making??). And of course the Sierra Club spoke in opposition to the bill.

The bill passed overwhelmingly and now will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

Finallly, the questions of the burden of government regulation and considering the cost of government rules are becoming part of the policy landscape in North Carolina.

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Spy guru sings the praises of this PBS series

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 11:27 AM

Bernie Reeves, editor and publisher of Metro Magazine and the founder of the annual Raleigh Spy Conference cannot say enough about this new PBS series: World War II: Behind Closed Doors – Stalin, The Nazis and the The West.

 It is so good that Bernie cannot believe it is on leftist PBS.

Could it be the Gauleiters of the Left - who assiduously guard the real truth about the USSR – have been caught napping? Or is the series World War 11: Behind Closed Doors – Stalin, The Nazis and the The West the dawning of a new era finally heralding long-ignored revelations about the human carnage under the Soviet communists? The program is such a surprise it takes a moment to believe it is really happening. Having dedicated two decades to exposing to the public in columns - and via the Raleigh Spy Conference - that the real story of the 20h century is lying there available in the record, I can hardly contain myself. 

The first of the three-part program was shown last Wednesday night with the second part airing tomorrow from 9 to 11 pm on WUNC-TV.

As Bernie describes the production, 

It is a stunning visual accomplishment, presenting the best production values I’ve ever seen on television. Period automobiles deliver the players - gussied up in authentic Nazi and Soviet uniforms - to Kremlin dining rooms where they dine in Czarist splendor, with footmen and butlers delivering steaming plates of haute cuisine; or take care of business in offices and conference rooms outfitted to the smallest detail in mid-century furnishings. Maps and newsreels and lucid photography literally draw viewers into the moments that signal death for thousands among the millions who perished at the hands of what even Hitler called an ”international guild of criminals”. 

Every student knows or should know that the Nazi-Soviet Pact allowed Hitler to invade Poland unmolested by the Soviet Army. What has been one of the best kept secrets from our students for every generation since WWII is that the Soviets invaded Poland from the east as well as a invading its neighbor to the north, Finland.

Bernie describes the way the program covers the event including the little known massacre of Polish military officers in the Katyn Forest.

The massacre of 17,000 Polish military officers held prisoner in the Katyn Forest in occupied Poland is presented in chilling detail. Night after night, several hundred are removed from three different prisons and trucked to secret facilities where they are met by Soviet executioners draped in leather aprons and gloves for the evening’s work – a pistol shot to the back of the head. But Stalin and his gang are just getting started, as we will learn in future episodes. And there is after all a war going on, but with a twist. Hitler, after arranging the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement to destroy Poland – and allowing secret codicils for the parties to control Eastern Europe – wheels around and attacks his erstwhile ally.

Why does Bernie believe this is such an important landmark for public television?

How does history depict this despicable state of affairs? It hasn’t had a chance to. The keepers of the communist flame in the US won the decisive battles by discrediting any attempt to expose the truth about the communists – from Whittaker Chambers to Joe McCarthy. Relying on agents and fellow travelers in government, the media and on campus, American communists and sympathizers won the hearts and minds of the intellectual community in the West. KGB political agents also used the United Nations and a host of non-government organizations to perpetuate the big lie about the USSR. Even after the collapse of the “evil empire”, they continue to fight for their tainted cause, stating that communism is still the best form of government, even if the USSR had a few problems – like the murder of millions.
That’s why the series on Stalin and the Nazis and the West is a watershed event, worthy of high hosannas. The truth is out and it is based and verified by recently unassailable declassified documents. I don’t think the Left can put this series back in the bottle, but we know they will try.

 I agree with Bernie.  I saw parts of the first program and it is fantastic. Don't miss it and tell your friends.

Although I remain skeptical about how the leftists at PBS will handle Churchill?


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PayPal now accepted for Taxpayer funded campaigns

Posted by Becki Gray at 11:16 AM

The Senate Judiciary I Committee took up SB 966, expanded voter owned elections, one of 49 bills the committee will consider today. A committee substitute bill was proposed that in addition to expanding taxpayer funding to campaigns for all council of state races except the governor and lieutenant governor, makes a few changes. A write-in candidate is not eligible, qualifying contributions have changed, credit cards and PayPal are now accepted, minimum and maximum qualifying contributions are changed, can't sell raffle tickets to get qualifying contributions and reduces the amount family members can give, and expands the Voter Guide to include all 10 offices for council of state, (presumably to alert taxpayers to just how vehemently they may disagree with those candidates they are compelled to fund.)

Senator Martin Nesbitt (D-Buncombe) proposed an amendment that would prohibit matching funds for an expenditure that supports or opposes all candidates for the same office or for an electioneering communication other than an appeal to vote for or against all candidates for the same office. Amendment passed.

Senator Tony Rand (D-Cumberland) proposed an amendment that appropriated $2 million this year and $7.16 million in 2010-2011 from the General Fund. That's tax revenue, folks, from a budget with a $4 billion shortfall. Amendment passed.

Voice vote on the bill - passed. Has to go to Senate Appropriations now because Rand put the money in it (aargh!)

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Free beer! Free beer! Free beer! Free beer! Free beer!

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:54 AM

A candidate for vice president of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association makes the greatest campaign pledge ever,

Seriously, though, if elected vice president, I will make sure that there is at least beer and wine available for our monthly Leaders' Meetings. I understand that this subject might not have complete support among our members, but we must be the only union in existence, and probably since the beginning of time, not to have alcohol served at our meetings. We are all responsible adults (in theory) and should be afforded this small luxury. Plus we are a union. Plus we live in Wisconsin. Plus we live in Milwaukee.

Anyway, if our budget permits, there will be complimentary beer and wine for our members at the Leaders' Meetings. If the budget is too tight for this to occur, I will promise that at least a cash bar will be provided."
His comment that the MTEA must be "the only union in existence, and probably since the beginning of time, not to have alcohol served [at their meetings]" explains a lot.

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Former Governor Easley on Learn and Earn

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:34 AM

Michael Shaughnessy from published an interesting, albeit sound bitey, interview with Mike Easley describing the Learn and Earn program.

Some notable quotes:

High school diploma virtually useless:

"Kids are smart and they understand that a high school diploma isn’t going to get them very far. The idea was to convince students that you have to learn more to earn more and that college was indispensable to their future."
Increased cost and bureaucracy, mixed results, not acknowledged:
"There is no downside to the early college strategy. Period."
Was Easley North Carolina's first school choice governor?
"I see this as one of our country’s first major innovations that change the way we deliver education to ensure more students receive the knowledge and skills they need to compete today. It also represents an approach to education that recognizes that one-size does not fit all and we need to be ready to create different pathways to success for our students."

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GOP lawmakers question fate of popular bills during crossover week

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:25 AM

Crossover week at the General Assembly will lead to longer-than-normal committee meetings and floor sessions as lawmakers try to get their bills through either the House or Senate. Failure to win approval from at least one chamber means death for many legislative ideas.

Republicans used their regular weekly news conference to raise concerns about a number of bills that have "stalled in committee" and will likely see no vote. Among the bills highlighted in the news conference and an associated news release are: the Taxpayers' Protection Act, a session-limits bill, a bill to require "meaningful" oversight and services in annexation cases, and the Defense of Marriage constitutional amendment.

Click play below to view the 10:16 news briefing. Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, and Rep. Bill Current, R-Gaston, all speak.

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Advanced Placement: If P, Then Q

Posted by Hal Young at 09:20 AM

U.S. News & World Report blogs that a survey of Advanced Placement teachers finds them "highly conflicted" about the program, saying administrators who want to boost school prestige are pushing unqualified students into the college-level courses. The survey by the Fordham Institute reported

Only 29 percent of teachers said that their schools ask for grades or a teacher recommendation before letting a student enroll in an AP class.
Meanwhile, students "appear to be focused on AP for utilitarian or pragmatic reasons, not intellectual reasons," according to most teachers, who said that "more students want their college applications to look better." As a result of these attitudes among students and school leaders, "too many students overestimate their abilities and are in over their heads" in AP courses, 56 percent of teachers said. More than 6 in 10 said that putting some limits on who can enroll would improve the AP program.

If George Leef and others are correct that not every student needs to go on to college, then the corollary must be that not every student should be expected to do college level work, especially while they're still in high school. Unfortunately, the trend of credential inflation which makes a bachelors' degree a prerequisite for many basic entry-level jobs is making AP coursework on the transcript an expectation to get into some of those bachelors' programs.

The AP instructors' fears of mandated course dilution are well-founded, and College Board will have to hold the line against administrators -- the teachers are not going to be able to do it alone.

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Cary education forum

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:35 AM

The N&O's Keung Hui is going to be one busy guy between now and October. As the reporter who has the thankless job of covering the Wake County Public School System, Keung knows that the school board race is going to get contentious.

Yesterday's education forum in Cary may have been the attaque of those who want to put an end to busing for the sake of social engineering.

In what could be a preview of this fall's school board election battles, critics lashed out at Wake County's student reassignment policies and praised the virtues of neighborhood schools during a forum sponsored by the town.

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The Left's great brainpower at work

Posted by George Leef at 07:28 AM

Ever since the economic implosion began (and actually before it began), a few economists explained what what happening and why through the Austrian theory of the business cycle. In a nutshell: when government artificially cheapens credit, that leads to unsustainable economic distortions that will later have to rectified with adjustments in the overexpanded sectors of the economy.

Because the Austrian explanation identifies the villain as government meddling with a key price -- interest -- rather than blaming it on leftist bogeymen like "greedy businessmen" or "capitalist instability," the Left has no use for it. But when they have to confront it, what do they say?

For an answer, read this article by Tom Woods, author of Meltdown, a book that explains the economic debacle in Austrian terms. The book was recently dismissed by a leftist writer who felt he had done enough simply to call the Austrian theory a "fringe" idea.

Hey, lefties, you don't determine whether an idea is true or false just by slapping a label on it. Take your fingers out of your ears and listen to what the Austrians have to say -- unless you're afraid that your house of cards philosophy of government interventionism will collapse.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:54 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Karen McMahan's report on the Perdue administration's new worker training initiative. 

John Hood's Daily Journal offers more sobering statistics associated with "bailout nation."

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Oh just bag it!

Posted by Becki Gray at 01:33 AM

Senate Bill 1018, Ban Certain Single-Use Bags is considered in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The committee substitute bill changes the ban in the original bill from applying everywhere in every store in North Carolina to a pilot program on the coast "in our most environmental sensitve part of the state". The plastic bag ban would apply only to parts of Dare, Currituck and Hyde Counties. Bill sponsor, Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake) speaks of the necessity of government dictating how we'll carry our grocercies and other goods and declares, "we can't let the plastic bag become the state flower."

Andy Ellen with Retail Merchants' Association says this will increase the cost of goods in the affected areas because the change of bags costs 30 percent more, and retrofit costs are estimated at $3,000 - $5,000 per store - costs passed along to customers.

NC Forestry opposes this ridiculous bill because NC GA shouldn't be deciding how merchants package their goods, restrict natural resources and increase costs of doing business.

Bill sponsor Stein, in response argues that bio-degradables are better for environment. "Where we should be going as a state is move towards recyclable." What about consumers and business owners getting to choose rather than the government deciding where we'll move?!?

Of note and somewhat ironically in this coastal community, there is an exception for fresh fish, which if not pre-packaged and sold only to an individual customer, can be carried home in a plastic bag.

Nevertheless, with little committee debate the bill passes by a voice vote and will now go to the full Senate for a vote.

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