A bill making its way through the NC House committees right
now—HB 1884—is a blueprint for bad governance. The bill alters the composition of the Board of Directors
for the State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA), an independent
organization that oversees state financial aid. Currently, the board is
composed of seven members of the public, appointed by the governor. The bill
increases membership to nine: six members of the public, one CFO of a private
college, and the CFOs of both the UNC and university systems.
Supporters of the bill say the change is necessary to make
sure that the board continues to have members who understand higher education
But what it really does is to add board members who, by
virtue of their jobs, have a vested interest in the board’s decisions.
Furthermore, the CFOs, with their professional expertise and support staffs,
will be able to dominate the part-time members of the public on the board.
Instead of looking out for the public as an independent body, as intended, the
board will likely look out for the very organizations it should keep an eye on.
The UNC and NCCCS systems have been pushing for more scholarships in recent
years, and, if the bill becomes law, they will have de facto control of the
scholarship authority—a nice little power grab.
Newly published surveys from Public Policy Polling and Rasmussen Reports show incumbent GOP Sen. Richard Burr extending his lead over both Cal Cunningham and Elaine Marshall as the Democratic rivals prepare for their June 22 runoff.
Seventy-four percent of voters in North Carolina are unsure of their opinion of Cunningham and 62 percent of Marshall. This is an increase from 66 and 56 percent respectively in the week following the primary election.
PPP goes on to note that "Voter turnout is typically lower in run-off elections as voter interest decreases."
Maybe so, but when more than 60 percent of voters have no opinion about candidates for statewide office two weeks before an election, that hardly inspires confidence in their ability to rouse public support later on.
The United States Supreme Court has just blocked the distribution of matching funds in Arizona until the Court issues an opinion on the matter (or declines to hear the case, which is unlikely given its actions).
As I have argued, matching funds, like we have in North Carolina's taxpayer financing systems, are unconstitutional. If a candidate that doesn't take taxpayer financing (unsubsidized candidate) spends beyond a threshold amount of money, such as $10,000 beyond that threshhold, the opposing candidate automatically receives $10,000 in matching funds. As a result, this punishes candidates for engaging in free speech because they wouldn't want to help their opponents.
Even worse, in calcuating whether a candidate has spent beyond a threshold amount of money, the expenditures of independent groups are added. Therefore, independent groups that support an unsubsidized candidate won't engage in free speech either because they don't want to hurt their candidate.
The matching fund system is so extreme that independent groups supporting a taxpayer-financed candidate can spend an unlimited amount of money without triggering matching funds to an unsubsidized candidate, but independent groups that support the unsubsidized candidate can spend very little before triggering matching funds.
It is possible that a taxpayer-financed candidate along with the supporting independent groups could outspend the unsubsidized candidate along with the supporting independent groups by millions (unlimited amount), yet matching funds would go to the taxpayer-financed candidate!
The Court's action are a fairly clear signal that they will strike down matching funds and as a result our taxpayer financing systems will officially be unconstitutional.
While the Court's current actions may not technically block matching funds in North Carolina, its actions warrant an immediate moratorium on matching funds in North Carolina.
If the Court felt that there are likely First Amendment problems in Arizona, then there's no reason why it also wouldn't have taken the same action regarding North Carolina's system.
The NC Board of Elections should immediately cease any actions furthering the matching fund system and no matching funds should be disbursed. Roy Cooper, the state Attorney General, should provide immediate guidance to this effect.
There would even be a possibility that individuals working for the state and still disbursing matching funds could be help personally liable for doing so under Section 1983 (federal law). It was already very clear that such actions were likely unconstitutional. The Court's recent action makes it even more clear.
This is a great day for those that believe in free speech. It is a bad day for the "reformers" who think it is ok to violate the First Amendment.
I don't want to count my chickens, but this is a strong indication that the end is near for "clean elections."
Criminy, and we're just one state away from an attorney general with the stones to fight for his people and his state. Kudos to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and to the people of the Commonwealth. I'm jealous:
In a 52-page response filed this afternoon in U.S. District court, Cuccinelli argued that Virginians are not obligated to buy insurance. ...
The feds also say the government has the power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause to mandate the purchase of individual health insurance.
But, Cucinnelli says the government's argument is contrary to the meaning of the commerce clause as understood by the founders.
"Historically, that type of financial charge to a citizen would not fit into any category that has previously been referred to as a tax … they have never before used the commerce clause to try and compel people to buy something, ever", he says.
Legislative Republicans used their weekly news conference this morning to highlight four GOP-led amendments approved as part of the N.C. House budget package.
The amendments would eliminate public schools end-of-grade tests deemed unnecessary, prohibit "golden parachutes" for state employees who leave their jobs, forbid the practice of granting in-state tuition to out-of-state students at public universities, and allow state lottery funds to be distributed equally to traditional and charter schools.
Late in the day, Johnson swung by the local "GOP Victory" office off Bragg Boulevard expecting to meet supporters and well-wishers.
Just before 5 p.m., two Cumberland County sheriff's deputies marched into the office and led him to a back room, where he was served with a civil lawsuit filed by Fayetteville lawyer Ronnie Mitchell on behalf of his client, D'Annunzio.
The suit was filed at 3:33 p.m. in Hoke County Superior Court. Some of D'Annunzio's supporters were present at the GOP office in Fayetteville and recorded the incident. They wanted to ask Johnson questions, but the 68-year-old was ushered away by his aides.
The lawsuit accuses Johnson of defamation of character and violation of state campaign laws that prohibit candidates from making statements against their opponents that are either knowingly false or in reckless disregard to the truth.
According to research conducted by Dan Klein of George Mason University, in conjunction with the Zogby organization, the answer is "No." At least, that is, not if you are a self-described liberal or very liberal/progressive responder.
What are the questions? Basic understanding of economic relationships, like those between trade restrictions and goods prices, unemployment and minimum wages, and the like. The very conservative group scored highest among six political leanings categories, the [very liberal] were at the bottom. This short piece is well worth reading for its methodology as well as the results content.
For fans of clear communication in English, not so much. From the SEHSR website:
FRA has approved DRPT's Draft Tier I EIS for high speed rail service to Hampton Road. The final Tier I EIS will now be progressed and once completed, more detailed Tier II studies will determine exact designs and impacts.
Michael Barone's latest contribution to the Washington Examiner focuses on some surprising developments in the land of "victors valiant" and "conquering heroes" (or "armpit of the Midwest," depending on your Big Ten affinities):
Standard political analysis would suggest that Michigan should have moved even farther toward the Democrats since 2008. In the deep recession Michigan has consistently been the nation’s number one unemployment state. And the federal government under the Obama administration bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, two of Michigan’s largest employers—although one might more accurately say that the Obama administration bailed out the United Auto Workers, Michigan’s largest private sector union.
But Michigan voters have been moving right, not left. A recent poll taken for the Detroit Free Press poll showed that only 43% of Michiganians support the Obama Democrats’ health care bill and 53% are opposed. Most interestingly, 69% of those under 30 are opposed; they apparently have figured out that the bill would force them to pay more to subsidize insurance for their elders.
Moreover, Republicans have been consistently leading in the open race for Michigan’s governorship.