John Locke Update / Research Newsletter (Archive)

Expansion of the Police State: One Pill at a Time

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In the Spotlight

First, there was the DNA bill, where innocent people who are arrested will have their DNA information collected by the government to protect, in a very minimal way, public safety.

Now comes what may be one of the worst ideas I have seen in years and can’t believe it was even discussed at a legislative committee meeting. According to The Charlotte Observer, the state’s sheriff association wants sheriffs to have "access to state computer records identifying anyone with prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other controlled substances."

It doesn’t matter if there’s any probable cause for such information. The sheriffs want all this information even though almost all of the information would be related to innocent people. How would such a privacy violation impact whether people seek necessary medications? Would it create a larger black market for medicines?

All of these terrible ideas come at the same time when there should be little faith in law enforcement — see the SBI debacle.

There’s no compelling reason why the state needs DNA information and certainly not health information covering more than 50 million prescriptions. Further, there’s no doubt that there would be abuse of that information (yes, I will say it: the government would abuse that information).

NCPIRG Needs to Correct Its Major Error Regarding Corporate Free Speech

NCPIRG, in another anti-corporation rant, has sent out a grassroots alert urging people to fight against the evils of corporations exercising their free speech rights.

In the blast asking people to sign a petition to support the DISCLOSE Act, a federal bill designed to chill free speech, NCPIRG says:

In January, when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited funds on elections, we knew what would happen. In August, Target, a national corporation, donated $150,000 to a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate.

One problem, however: Target didn’t donate $150,000 to a gubernatorial candidate, because direct contributions to candidates are prohibited by state law. It did, apparently, give $150,000 to an organization called MN Forward that supports or opposes candidates.

In the same email, NCPIRG tries to scare people by having a big headline saying "Don’t let corporations secretly influence our elections."

The amusing thing is that the Target example is also an example of how corporations can’t "secretly influence our elections" — by NCPIRG’s own admission, it was Minnesota’s public-records laws that made Target’s contribution public. So much for secret contributions.

NCPIRG should at minimum immediately send an email correcting the error about the $150,000 contribution to the gubernatorial candidate.

My Comments to the Utilities Commission: Don’t Violate Separation of Powers

Last week I discussed how the Utilities Commission is being asked to rewrite a statute on their own to meet the needs of a biomass company. This week, I sent formal comments to the Utilities Commission urging them to properly interpret state law and principles of separation of powers.

Quick Takes

NC high court hears case on governor’s powers

The state Supreme Court weighed Tuesday whether North Carolina’s governor is granted power in the state constitution to shift cash between pots in government to balance the annual budget, or if the Legislature must sign off first.

Ballot measure would bar felons from serving as sheriff

After six felons in North Carolina ran for sheriff during the May primaries, legislators decided it was time to close that particular legal loophole.

This November, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would put a stop to convicted felons being able to hold a county’s top law enforcement post. State representatives this summer unanimously signed on to that amendment, forged in the state Senate.

For more information, please see this related article.

Daren Bakst is Senior Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy at the Heritage Foundation. In this position, Bakst studies and writes about agricultural and environmental policy and property rights, among other issues.  He has done extensive work on the farm bill… ...

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