Gov. Perdue Promises to Raise Taxes in Next Budget

Governor Bev Perdue put out a press release announcing she would raise the sales tax in the budget she will present to the General Assembly for the Spring short session. She said that would pay for education cuts in the plan passed by the legislature. Legislative leaders said they haven’t seen the horror stories come true that were predicted by Democrats because of that budget.

A recent article posted on the Civitas Institute noted an increase in spending and hiring within the education budget.

Perdue was quoted in the press release:

“I want to let you know that when I present my budget this spring, I will once again call on the Republican-controlled General Assembly to temporarily restore three-quarters of the one-cent sales tax as a vital step to funding our schools.”

Perdue’s promised tax increase mirrors the same pledge made by Rep. Bill Faison (D-Orange) who appears to be setting himself up for a primary challenge to Perdue. He also called for increasing the sales tax.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) pointed that out in a press release reacting to Perdue’s pledge.

“Obviously, Gov. Perdue’s attempt to nip this economic recovery in the bud is dead on arrival at the General Assembly,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “The Democratic primary for governor apparently has devolved into a fight over who can raise the most taxes, spend the most money, and grow the biggest government. Gov. Perdue’s latest tax-hike stunt proves she can’t fix this mess she made.”

Berger said The Governor seemed to be wanting to one up Faison. Sen. Berger noted while Faison would raise the tax by $700 million, Perdue’s proposal would up it by $750 million.

Update:

House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) issued the following statement today regarding Gov. Bev Perdue’s proposal to raise $750 million in new taxes:

“Governor Perdue continues to show that she is out of touch with North Carolinians and lacks a basic understanding of our economy.  Her proposal, which would raise the state portion of the sales tax by an estimated 15%, would make it harder for working families to purchase prepared food, clothing, medical supplies and other basic necessities to support an extreme agenda for larger government.  That is completely unacceptable.  This regressive tax would make it more expensive for single moms to buy carryout food for their children, force seniors to pay more for medical supplies, and would negatively impact every level of society.  Now is not the time to raise taxes, especially in light of the fact that the General Assembly’s education budget was only 0.5% different than the Governor’s – and we did not raise taxes.”

New Law Gives NC Breweries a Boost

In a piece of welcome news, Governor Perdue signed into law a piece of legislation that gives breweries in the state increased access to customers.

HB 796, which passed the legislature in the late November special session, allows all licensed breweries in North Carolina to sell beer and offer on-site tastings. Previous law restricted these events and sales to breweries producing less than 25,000 barrels per year. There is speculation that the legislative action is designed to attract beer producers Sierra Nevada and New Belgium to the state.

The bill is expected to boost the state’s already thriving craft brew industry. There are currently dozens of small breweries in the state, and Asheville, NC was named “Beer City USA” in 2010.

The deregulation provisions were included in a bill that also altered funding for Cherokee County Schools and allows high school students to take non-credit courses at community colleges. The law takes effect immediately with Perdue’s signature.

Let us hope that legislators continue to create jobs this way: deregulation, not corporate welfare deals. This quote from a recent News and Observer article on the issue gave an interesting perspective from a North Carolina entrepreneur on how increased competition will increase benefits for consumers and improve his industry in the state:

Oscar Wong is the founder of Asheville’s Highland Brewing Co., the state’s largest brewery, producing 23,000 barrels a year. He acknowledges the new midsize breweries would cut into his market share.

“As far as competition for us, it may kick our (butt) a little bit, but it’s the American way,” he said.

But Wong, a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, felt conflicted because it would benefit his community.

“As they say, pioneers get shot at more,” he said. “We’ll just have to keep up and do our thing.”

Were ECSU Students Pressured to Vote by University Staff?

This story has been all but dismissed by the mainstream press.  Every article I have read contains a couple of paragraphs saying that the Pasquotank Board of Elections met to hear a complaint about Elizabeth City State University students being pressured to vote.  The  articles included a link to the Daily Advance article, but The Daily Advance online version requires a subscription.

ECSU has had its voting and voter registration problems before.  According to the most recent article, Elizabeth City Fourth Ward Councilwoman “Lena Hill-Lawrence said the allegations appear to validate concerns she has raised about ECSU students being told whom to vote for by off-campus groups.”

This particular incident is a good example of how Same-Day Registration (SDR) is open to misuse and abuse – its very existence invites fraud.  In this case the students are not to blame, they were clearly unaware of the requirements to vote and when the law was explained to them they decided not to vote.  According to this report, they were pressured again, this time in the parking lot, to go ahead and register and vote.

This is a transcribed version of the article emailed to me by a Daily Advance subscriber.

By Reggie Ponder – The Daily Advance – Monday, October 10, 2011

The Pasquotank Board of Elections heard allegations Monday that an Elizabeth City State University staff member pressured students to register and vote in today’s Elizabeth City municipal election.

The board took no action other than to hear a report on the incident and explain that the students — or anyone who feels they have been subjected to coercion in voting — have the right to file a complaint with the State Board of Elections.

Elections Director Linda Page said the incident apparently involved an ECSU student who had expressed some ambivalence during one-stop voting about whether to vote in Elizabeth City or in their permanent home county. The student allegedly returned to the parking lot without voting but then was instructed by an ECSU staff member to return to the elections office and vote.

Page said she did not witness the alleged incident. It was reported to her by another elections official who did witness it, she said.

“I wasn’t out there at the time it happened,” Page said.

During an election board meeting Monday afternoon, Deputy Elections Director Bonnie Godfrey described the incident in some detail.

Godfrey said that between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Friday, a group of young women who are ECSU students came in to the elections office to register and vote. She said that when they began to put their out-of-town addresses on the registration form, she explained they needed to use their campus address and school ID if they wanted to vote in Elizabeth City and Pasquotank elections.

Godfrey said the young women decided not to vote in Tuesday’s election. She said one of the students was met in the parking lot by a woman who threw her arms in the air and yelled “get in there and vote.”

When the students returned to the office, Godfrey said she asked them who the woman in the parking lot was. They told her they were cheerleaders and that the woman was “a coach,” Godfrey said. Godfrey said the students then filled out registration forms.

Lonnie Walton, an ECSU employee who had been in the car in the parking lot, then came inside the Board of Elections. When Godfrey asked him to leave the voting enclosure, she said he asked her for her name and then left.

Godfrey said that later, Mayor Roger McLean’s re-election campaign treasurer, Bert Birdsall, told her he had heard that she had advised students they had a choice about where to vote. She said she told Birdsall that that was correct.

Godfrey said she heard some students say a criminal justice teacher had advised students that they would receive a “100” if they voted. Other students commented that it was “mandatory” that they vote, she said.

Pasquotank Board of Elections Chairman Michele Aydlett explained that the board is not the “elections police” and can’t control what other people are doing.
Board member Betsy Meads agreed and said the only thing the board could do is make Godfrey’s report part of the record. She said it’s important to protect everyone’s personal liberties and she believes “some personal liberties were trounced upon Friday.”

“You have a perfect right not to cast a vote,” Meads said.

It’s important to educate students about voting options “and not force them to do something that they don’t want to do,” Meads said.

Elections board member William Skinner said the students Friday morning did have a choice, since according to Godfrey’s account two of them decided not to vote.
Meads said her concern was that teachers and coaches exert a great deal of influence over students. She said she wants students to know they have avenues if they face any consequences for not voting.

Aydlett said she, too, knows coaches have a lot of influence over students.

“Our office is following the letter of the law,” Aydlett said. “That’s the bottom line. We want fair and equal elections.”

Jackie Latson, a citizen who attended Monday’s meeting, said she believes it is up to ECSU Chancellor Willie Gilchrist to ensure university staff are following correct electioneering procedures.

Aydlett said she believes Gilchrist has been very conscientious about election rules.

Page said the elections board already had a meeting scheduled Monday to review absentee ballots. Elections officials decided to hear the allegations about coerced voting during the meeting, she said.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Lena Hill-Lawrence attended the election board’s meeting Monday.

Hill-Lawrence said the allegations appear to validate concerns she has raised about ECSU students being told whom to vote for by off-campus groups.

“That was my concern,” she said in an interview Monday afternoon. “That’s the tragic part of all this. That’s the part I think is just wrong.”

Hill-Lawrence said pressure on ECSU students needs to end.

“My thing is it just needs to stop,” she said. “If it’s wrong it just needs to stop. This is a moral and ethical issue and we have to treat it morally and ethically.”
Meads said the students themselves have done nothing wrong.

“The students were the ones who were wronged here,” Meads said.

“Abortion – Women’s Right to Know Act” Gives Women Choices

According to a recent Civitas poll, 56% of North Carolina voters support the “Abortion – Women’s Right to Know Act.” This proposed piece of legislation requires doctors to provide women seeking abortions with an ultrasound, information on alternatives to abortion, and 24-hour waiting period before the abortion is performed.

Not only does this proposed act increase the seriousness of a decision to have an abortion by creating more closely guarded rules for the procedure, it will also work to provide women with a clear understanding of their options and the opportunity to reconsider once presented with alternatives.

If passed, this act will be a terrific step towards increasing awareness of a host of organizations that offer counseling and assistance in choosing alternatives to abortion, and it could lessen the probability of post-abortion regret.

House Bill 854, “Abortion – Women’s Right to Know Act,” is currently in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

Heritage Weighs in on Wake County Schools

Anissa Borchardt lends a much-needed and reasoned voice to the brouhaha over diversity and neighborhood schools in Wake County. Borchardt, writing on the subject  in the Heritage Foundation blog, The Foundary, quickly gets to the heart of the matter: the right of parents – or lack thereof – to choose quality schools and correctly highlights the best way to address these concerns. She writes:

 Having a county bus children to a school—in some instances over an hour away—is not the answer to creating more diverse learning environments. The main focus should not be on the distribution of children but rather empowering parents to choose a quality education. The power should ultimately reside in the hands of the parents to choose the school in which their children can best excel.

School choice, not the central planning that comes from policies such as busing or assignment-by-zip-code, ultimately fosters innovation and leads to academic achievement increases for all children. And school choice has many forms, including innovative practices in online learning, which are beginning to catch fire across the country.

It’s exactly these types of innovative practices that can become available to students when robust school choice options are in place. And hopefully for the students in Wake County, the board’s move to end bureaucratic busing policies will usher in something far more effective than the status quo.

Nice to see a good article on an important subject.

Higher Power Bills for North Carolinians are Coming!

Higher power for North Carolina consumers are not a maybe – they are a certainty. That is unless the legislature changes direction. A change in direction does not appear likely as they get ready to pass Senate Bill 75 as explained in this Carolina Journal article. This bill is a follow on to the horrendous Senate Bill 3 of 2007 which added a “renewable energy” requirement for NC power producers. Renewable energy means more expensive energy.

The current Senate Bill 75 is just a way of taking a bad bill and making it seem less bad. But this bill has all of the worst aspects of lobbying and “rent Seeking” and at the end of the day people of NC will pay for this bill. It favors a type of equipment made by a particular manufacturer that the power companies are not interested in using unless they can shift the cost. SB 75 will help them do that. Back in the 1980′s I participated in CP&L’s demand reduction program because they offered me a financial incentive to allow them to interrupt some of my use of electricity. When they no longer needed to reduce demand (new generating capacity became available) they ended the program.

Instead of passing more government interference in the marketplace, this legislature should look at repealing the bad parts SB-3.  House Bill 431 by Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) is a start. The bill needs some work but it is the direction a “conservative” legislature should be taking, not more interference like SB-75.

So when your power bills go up, remember the legislative action that caused it and the legislative action that did not fix it…

People of NC Agree with Voter Photo ID – AGAIN!

A recent poll out of Elon University confirms that North Carolinians “overwhelmingly support” voter photo ID legislation.  According to the News and Observer, “The Elon University Poll found that 75 percent support voter ID provisions in a bill being considered in the legislature and 80 percent think it is fair.”

The Elon poll corroborates Civitas Institute polls that consistently reveal huge support for voter photo ID.  In the December 2010 Civitas poll, 84 percent of respondents supported the idea. The breakdown of the Civitas Poll shows 96 percent Republicans, 86 percent unaffiliated voters and 73 percent of Democrats support a voter photo ID.  The breakdown further reveals that 89 percent of white voters and 68 percent of African-American voters support voter photo ID.  Civitas Polls and Elon University Polls differ in that Civitas only polls registered voters while Elon polls residents of North Carolina.

While opponents, extremely liberal groups (including the State Board of Elections and mainstream media outlets), want everyone to believe this is a partisan and racist issue, the people of North Carolina know better. The people of our State know that it only makes sense (C O M M O N – S E N S E) to ask someone for a photo ID before giving them a ballot.

Tort Reform Moves to NC Senate Floor

Senate Judiciary I Committee considered S33, the Medical Liability Reforms Act today.  The latest version would provide limited protection from liability to those required under federal law to provide emergency medical care, authorize the bifurcation of trials on issues of liability and damages, and authorize periodic payments for future economic damages in lieu of a lump-sum payment.

It would also limit noneconomic damages in medical malpractice actions to $500,000 per plaintiff for judgment entered against all defendants.  In addition, judgment entered against any particular defendant for noneconomic damages shall not exceed $500,000 for claims brought by all parties arising from the same cause of action.

Noneconomic damages include damages covering pain, suffering, emotional distress, physical impairment, disfigurement, and any other nonpecuniary compensatory damages.  It does not include punitive damages.

After a brief discussion and a failed amendment offered by Senator Nesbitt, the bill was passed on a motion offered by Senator Apodaca.  According to Senator Brunstetter’s office, it will be reported out of Judiciary I later this afternoon and will be debated on the Senate floor later this week.

CBO Report Shows ObamaCare Will Cause Massive Future Budget Deficit

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its new 10 year baseline, which shows “daunting economic and budgetary challenges” facing the United States.  Without change, the nation could potentially face a Greece-like economic crisis according to Heritage budget expert Brian Riedl.

One such policy driving the deficit is the “doc fix.” Ever year, doctors are scheduled to receive severe pay cuts under Medicare, which threaten seniors’ access to care. As a temporary fix, Congress continually passes a fix to delay the cuts. The CBO warns if the cuts are extended indefinitely, deficits from 2012 through 2021 would average about 6 percent of GDP.

Federal spending on health care is also a prime culprit in the future bankruptcy of our country. According to the CBO:

Spending on the government’s major mandatory health care programs—Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and health insurance subsidies to be provided through insurance exchanges—along with Social Security will increase from roughly 10 percent of GDP in 2011 to about 16 percent over the next 25 years. If revenues stay close to their average share of GDP for the past 40 years, that rise in spending will lead to rapidly growing budget deficits and surging federal debt.

As America continues to face economic instability, ObamaCare seeks to expand our deficit by billions each year.  A federal healthcare law devastating the US economy, further spiraling America into an uncontrollable debt, surely cannot lead to a path of prosperity and “quality” healthcare access for all.

How does NC’s version of the Castle Doctrine compare?

Plenty of states, including North Carolina, have laws that give citizens the right to use deadly force against intruders that invade their homes or other property. This concept–the Castle Doctrine– protects your right to protect your own “castle.”

Though NC does have some Castle Doctrine protection,  currently the mix of common and statutory law leaves too much gray area that can leave crime victims who protect themselves in a legal mess.  Florida’s Castle Doctrine is written with less ambiguity and gives citizens more freedom to defend themselves in the event of an attack or intrusion.

Here is a quick comparison of how North Carolina measures up to Florida when it comes to Castle Doctrine protections.

  • Duty to retreat– In Florida a person who is attacked has a right to meet force with force, whether they are attacked in their home or a public place. In North Carolina you have a right to use force in the case of an attack or intrusion into your home, but there a duty to retreat if the attack occurs outside of your home like in a car or in public.
  • Presumption of intent to commit a felony or violence and fear of death or serious injury– In Florida there is a legal presumption that an intruder or attacker entering a home has the intent to commit a felony and that the victim has a reasonable fear of death or injury. In North Carolina, occupants must prove that they had a reason to believe the intruder planned to commit a felony and that they feared that the intruder was going to harm them physically.
  • Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability – If a question about whether force used was justifiable arises in Florida, the burden is on the state to prove that force was excessive. In North Carolina the victim of a crime must prove that the force they used was justified.

The most recent attempt to update the North Carolina Castle Doctrine, SB928, passed the state Senate but failed to make it out of committee in the House.  Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie, Rowan), a co-sponsor of the bill, says that it  would have given an individual “a right to defend themselves if they [felt] that their life [was] in danger.” The bill would have expanded Castle Doctrine protection to include vehicles.

Legislation to clarify and strengthen the Castle Doctrine in NC is a realistic plan to include more rights for citizens who want to defend themselves.

Police officers cannot be in all places at all times. Expanding the law would not mitigate duties of officers. Rather it would provide supplemental support in rare, extreme cases. With tight budgets, law enforcement could be  subject to scrutiny and funding cuts like any other government agency.

North Carolinian’s should have a right to protect themselves and others should a public attack like the one in Tuscon, Arizona ever happen in NC.