Civitas Review

CLF Fighting for Coastal Residents


Check out this News & Observer story about how our Center for Law and Freedom is helping some coastal residents fight plans to build 104 giant wind turbines in their area.

“I’m concerned it will make our beautiful county, quite frankly, ugly,” one resident said. “Each turbine is the size of the Washington Monument. These things are huge monstrosities.”

Residents, aided by Elliot Engstrom of the CLF, are fighting to ensure the project undergos a new regulatory review. Keep an eye on this blog and for news about how the lawsuit is progressing.

CON Exemption for Bellhaven Hospital Moves to House: Why Is This Necessary?


A bill that would exempt "legacy" medical care facilities from acquiring a Certificate of Need to operate has cleared the Senate and is heading to the House. An amendment to clarify the definition is credited with exempting the hospital in Belhaven.   

Some additional background via the Statesville News & Record

Health care company Vidant Health took over the Pungo Hospital in 2011 but closed it on July 1, 2014 in part due to operating losses and the hospital's aging building.

Vidant is now building an around-the-clock health facility, but it's not considered a hospital, which Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal and others say is needed for critical, emergency care now lacking between Beaufort County and the Outer Banks.

A nonprofit formed to reopen the hospital has been approved for a $6 million federal rural development loan provided in part there is a certificate of need — a state document affirming the hospital's necessity. The document wouldn't be necessary for an "existing hospital."

The certificate of need "is holding us up and stopping us from saving lives," O'Neal told the committee, adding "the bureaucrats in Raleigh are stopping us from opening our hospital up and it's wrong and we need some help."

O'Neal said in an interview hospital supporters believe they don't need a new certificate of need because the hospital had previously been open for more than 60 years. The process also would take a year and cost $500,000, and likely would be opposed by Vidant, the mayor said.

All this begs the question: why is all this necessary? Why does North Carolina continue to have restrictive, anti-competitive, bureaucratic CON laws on its books?

Its time to repeal these CON laws, which serve to drive up health care costs, bog down medical facilities in red tape, and restrict access to medical care.

Top GOP Candidates Zero in on North Carolina


As the GOP field begins to winnow, the top contenders for the Republican nomination have had their eyes on our own state of North Carolina.

This week, Dr. Ben Carson, currently in second place according to a just-released NBC/ WSJ poll, will be visiting Randleman and Winston-Salem to meet and greet North Carolinians. Donald Trump, still at the number one spot according to the same poll, also visited North Carolina to fund raise just last month. Jeb Bush was in Greensboro just three weeks ago. And Marco Rubio, who just shot up to third place in the NBC/WSJ poll, gave his stump speech to over a hundred people packed into a restaurant in a town outside of Charlotte last week. (Read NC Capitol Connection's full account of the Rubio event here.)

So why are the top candidates so focused on North Carolina? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that according to a new bill on the governor's desk for signature, NC has 72 delegates to offer. In order to win the GOP nomination and stand victorious at the convention next July, a candidate will need 1,235 delegates, making our 72 quite a chunk out of what they need to procure. In fact, this is a larger number than many other states with larger populations have to offer, making North Carolina a strategic state for the GOP primary.


Were the State Bond and Corporate Welfare Bill Bargaining Chips for Income Tax Cut?


There has been much written about the tax changes included in this year's final budget bill. Most notable among the changes were a decrease in the personal and corporate income tax rates, the creation of a new historic preservation tax credit, a shift in the formula for corporate taxes to a single sales factor, and the expansion of the sales tax base to some services – accompanied by a new distribution formula for the new revenue created by the new tax.

But an interesting aspect of these tax reforms, however, has not been discussed. Included at the end of the tax change section in the budget bill is the following qualifier:

ENACTMENT CONTINGENCIES SECTION 32.21A. Unless both House Bill 117 and House Bill 943 of the 2015 Regular Session of the General Assembly are ratified prior to January 1, 2016, all sections of this Part are repealed, except for Section 32.18, Section 32.19, and this section.

House Bill 117 and HB 943, respectively, refer to the "NC Competes Act" (an expansion of corporate welfare programs) and the $2 billion bond referendum proposal. These measures were approved last week.

Sections 32.18 and 32.19 of the budget bill being referenced are the sales tax expansion and the distribution formula for that new sales tax revenue.

In short, the budget bill clearly states that if the corporate welfare bill and bond referendum were not approved, then the major tax cut portions of the budget bill would not be enacted. However, the sales tax base expansion would be implemented regardless.

Is this evidence of some deal-making between the House and Senate? In other words, if appears that one side was demanding that the bond bill and corporate welfare bill be approved if the other side wants the major income tax cuts to go into effect.

Three Things You Should Know About NC's Education Budget


New today at is this article outlining three major things you should know about North Carolina's education budget. A sample from the article:

The education budget has been increasing. First, contrary to the claims of many educators and the media, the education budget is not declining. General state appropriations for public education (i.e. K-12 education, community colleges and UNC System) have actually increased five years in a row. …..

Few NC Lottery dollars finding way to classroom. While the Lottery money has certainly helped the state to cover bills, fund programs and expansions, it’s obvious the money is not getting into the classroom. Those hopes seem all but forgotten. …..

Teacher Retirement and Benefit Costs Increasing.  Thirdly and lastly, if we establish that K-12 education funding has increased every year for each of the last five years, and grown $1.5 billion over that time period, where has all the money gone? The short answer to that question is to salaries and retirement. Since 2010, $1.1 billion of the funding increases have been spent on employee salaries and benefits.

Read the whole article here.

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