The Locker Room

June 8, 2010

Legislative Committee Notes

Posted by Becki Gray at 4:00 PM

Recommendations resulting from legislative study committees held during the interim are eligible for consideration during the short session. Today, the House ABC Committee debated and passed a bill to  modernize the State ABC System (HB 1717). It would make it a lot easier if they just privatized the ABC System.   The House Water Resources and Infrastructure Committee considered several bills regulating our water supply (HBs 1746, 1747, 1748 and 1749).  Details on twitter.

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The Lottery

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 3:36 PM

For screening locations, go here.

Watch the trailer:

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Matching-funds moratorium necessary for N.C. taxpayer-financed elections

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:22 PM

Daren already has given you a detailed account of his reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court order in an Arizona taxpayer-financed election campaign case. 

He also discusses the issue in the following video clip:

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Foxes 1, Henhouse Zilch

Posted by Jay Schalin at 2:57 PM

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 finance.

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.

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Dem Senate candidates consider Witness Protection Program

Posted by Rick Henderson at 2:05 PM

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.

More interesting, however, is this little tidbit from PPP (HT: The Campaign Spot):

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.

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:37 PM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Sarah Okeson's report on the newly named chief investment officer for the state's $68 billion pension fund.

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Tonight at 7:30

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 12:37 AM

It's not just Raleigh Charter High School.

See what the charter school lottery means for four families tonight as part of a nationwide showing of The Lottery for Public Education Day.

The North Carolina Alliance for Public Charter Schools is screening the film tonight at 7:30 in Asheville, Greensboro, Morrisville, and Raleigh. No need to purchase tickets.

If you can make it or not, read the Wall Street Journal's interview with 27-year-old director Madeleine Sackler.

City Theater Address
Greensboro Carmike 18 4822 Koger Blvd
Asheville Carmike 10 121 River Hills Rd.
Morrisville Park Place 16 9525 Chapel Hill Rd.
Raleigh Carmike 15 5501 Atlantic Springs Rd

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U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Matching Funds in AZ

Posted by Daren Bakst at 12:33 AM

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."

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Why can't our AG be like Virginia's?

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:40 AM

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.

Unfortunately for the people of North Carolina, our own Attorney General, Roy Cooper, has deliberately avoided the primary legal issue in putting Party loyalty over his duties.

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Republicans tout successful House budget amendments

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:19 AM

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.

Click play below to watch the 15:44 briefing.

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Suit happy

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:25 AM

So, Tim D'Annunzio has now sued his opponent, Harold Johnson, for defamation in the 8th Congressional District runoff. That's on top of a threatened lawsuit against state GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer.

From The Fayetteville Observer:

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.

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Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 09:16 AM

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.

See Joe Coletti's entry below as well. Corrected.

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They really don't know economics

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:10 AM

Progressives got an average 5.26 of 8 questions on economic effects of policy wrong in a recent test arranged by Daniel Klein and the folks at Zogby.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:00 AM


  • U.S. Sen. Richard Burr launches his campaign at the GOP's state convention.

  • The New York Times reports that Democrats are still trying to dodge constituents at town hall meetings.

  • Bill Randall, Bernie Reeves debate (video) leading up to their June 22 runoff.

  • National women’s group praises Elaine Marshall.

  • Mark Binker of the Greensboro N&R reports on scarce votes in the Democrats' U.S. Senate runoff.

  • Rep. Dale Folwell’s Democrat opponent outlines her platform. Folwell represents the state's 74th House District in Forsyth County.

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I think this is good news for fans of high speed rail

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 08:59 AM

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.

Nobody knows the cost yet.

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Barone analyzes Michigan's political trends

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:56 AM

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.

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Cato expert takes aim at bureaucrats

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:05 AM

The Cato Institute's Dan Mitchell uses his latest video to take aim at federal bureaucrats and their paychecks.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:54 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Karen McMahan's report on federal proposals to increase government involvement in private pension systems. 

John Hood's Daily Journal explains why public-sector unionism would be a "calamity" for North Carolina.

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