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.
Judge David Lee recently and unexpectedly declared that the General Assembly is an unnamed defendant in the long-running Leandro case. The General Assembly has never been a party to the Leandro lawsuit, and Judge Lee has never identified them as such during his five years of oversight of the case. Despite calling for a “cooperative effort” with the legislature in April, Judge Lee plans to penalize the General Assembly for failing to approve a budget that does not include all components of the court-approved remedial plan.
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.
All On The Line, a program of Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee, is seeking to use public hearings as a way to assist in future litigation of district maps. The General Assembly has several avenues for public comment on any bill, including district maps. Further delaying elections, which have already been pushed back due to delays in the U.S. Census data, would either force municipalities to hold two elections or delay already overdue municipal elections in North Carolina’s major cities.
A recent order by the North Carolina Supreme Court confirms that its four Democratic members may attempt to disqualify two of the court’s three Republican justices from a case seeking to nullify constitutional amendments voters approved in 2018. In addition to being unjustified and unprecedented, such a blatant act of partisan gamesmanship would seriously harm the court as an institution and permanently damage the reputations and electoral prospects of the justices involved. If successful, it would also effectively disenfranchise the millions of North Carolina voters who approved the constitutional amendments and elected the disqualified justices.
Gov. Cooper likely would sign a state budget that includes the first two years of a multi-billion-dollar plan developed by a California-based consulting firm without input from legislators. Lawmakers should reject Cooper’s offer because the court-ordered plan is an affront to the constitutional authority of the General Assembly to direct taxpayer dollars. Rather than concede to a consulting firm’s plan favored by an unelected judge, lawmakers should continue to empower parents by expanding public and private school choice options.
One 2019 lawsuit successfully changed Asheville being packed into one district, while another 2019 lawsuit successfully challenged Asheville being split across districts. Buncombe County will have three North Carolina House districts, and either packing Asheville into one district or spreading it across three could subject the map to a lawsuit. A compromise would be to have most of Asheville split between two House districts while having the third district represent rural parts of Buncombe County.
Rising tensions between school officials and parents are real, but they are not cause for concern. Attorney General Merrick Garland agreed to use U.S. Department of Justice resources to address National School Boards Association concerns about purported threats of violence and acts of intimidation against school board members. Cooper and state education officials should send a joint letter to the Department of Justice declining federal assistance unless confronted with irrepressible violence at school board meetings.
Parents want public schools to focus on academics and implement coronavirus mitigation policies that acknowledge the costs and unsettled questions associated with masks and vaccines. The erosion of trust between public schools and families feeds the perception that board members, school administrators, and educators are not listening to parents’ legitimate concerns. Adding to the frustration is the fact that taxpayers realize that they have limited options: elect a new school board majority or enroll their children in a school of choice.
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.
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