With House Bill 890 becoming law, the General Assembly continues its good work in recent years expanding alcohol freedom in North Carolina. More freedoms for North Carolina's distilleries are especially welcome because nearly all distilleries are small, local businesses, doing most of their sales to home-state customers. While North Carolina remains in the minority of control states for liquor, legislators can continue removing legal and regulatory impediments to the state's alcohol industry.
Signed by Gov. Cooper, HB 951 puts his policy goal of 70% reduction of CO2 emissions into law, allows multiyear rate plans for utilities, and lets small solar facilities amend and extend their contracts with utilities. Elements of the new law portend large increases in electricity costs for consumers in North Carolina, but its intent was to "ensure reliable energy generation with fiscal responsibility" and prevent even worse rate hikes. Only through a very strict adherence to the law as written can that goal be achieved.
While natural immunity is stronger than vaccine-induced immunity, proving natural immunity is difficult because fewer than one-fourth of infections are documented and antibodies testing is hit-or-miss. Vaccine mandates would affect more people with natural immunity (the stronger immunity) than those without any immunity, which would not justify the ostensible public-health case for such mandates. If the vaccines are effective as we know them to be, there's no need to deprive other people of their livelihoods for not being vaccinated, especially given the better-than-even odds that their immunity is better.
DHHS data show that North Carolinians with natural immunity are much less likely to contract Covid than even vaccinated individuals. Data show the reinfection rate (a measure of the strength of natural immunity) is lower than the post-vaccination infection rate (strength of vaccination). The reinfection rate was likely less (possibly much less) than 0.8% while the post-vaccination infection rate was at least 1.3% (and possibly much greater).
By favoring wind and solar generation with battery storage to the exclusion of viable, dependable sources, Gov. Cooper's "Clean Energy Plan" would be extremely expensive, costing consumers an average of $411 per year more for electricity. It would cost $123.86 per metric ton of CO2 emissions reduced and take up more land than the state's three largest counties combined. Alternatives provided for Locke by energy researcher Jordan McGillis showed that emissions reductions could be achieved via more natural gas or nuclear facilities at much less expense to consumers and with a miniscule environmental footprint.
Cooper's "Clean Energy Plan" has a very definite preference for extremely expensive, intermittent, and unreliable electricity resources, to the exclusion of viable, dependable resources. A report for Locke by energy researcher Jordan McGillis showed that Duke Energy's scenario most closely aligned with Cooper's plan would level enormous costs to consumers. Such reliance on wind and solar generation and battery storage carries many hidden and unconsidered environmental, supply-chain, ecological, and land-use costs.
The North Carolina General Assembly is still finalizing a two-year budget. Budget proposals from the House, Senate, and governor would have varying effects on North Carolina’s fiscal future. Spending restraint, tax cuts, and considerable savings would contribute to more opportunities and bigger paychecks for North Carolina families.
North Carolina reportedly had a record year of investment in film productions in 2021 despite having a cap on its film grant, a seemingly counterintuitive result that's consistent with research on film incentives. Owing to so many other factors influencing film productions, research has found film incentives have diminishing returns and argued for strictly limiting the incentives even if they're to grow the film industry as opposed to the state's economy. Research also finds that film incentives fail at growing a state's economy, returning only cents per dollar of tax credit or grant given.
An earlier version of the House budget would have relaxed some of the restrictions North Carolina places on its licensed opticians. Those reforms would have followed some of the John Locke Foundation's principles for reforming occupational licensing, including universal license recognition as well as moving the state in the right direction toward a least-cost-state standard. The reforms were not in the final House budget, but they could be restored in the final conference report.
The House budget plan, per previous agreement, would spend about the same total amount as the Senate plan. Differences exist, however, primarily with a less aggressive tax cut plan and more aggressive pay raises to teachers and state employees. Similar to the Senate plan, the House proposal would set aside significant funds in the Savings Reserve and Capital Infrastructure funds.
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