A Sprint, Not a Marathon
Based on the pace of this week’s activities, it’s not hard to guess that the short session will is going to start a wind-down point. Where that wind-down point begins is hard to tell, but when the pace picks up like this, you just know that the end is session is not far off. Right now, the speculation is that we are on track for an adjournment by June 30th.
Update on Local Bills
This is one of the first bills that I introduced early in the 2017 session. The bill designates Swain County as the home of the fly fishing museum of the Southern Appalachians.
Currently, North Carolina does not have an official location for a fly fishing museum. Other locations, however, have been adopted by the State as official designations, including the Asheboro Municipal Airport as the official location of the North Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Aviation Museum, and the Wilmington International Airport as the official location of the North Carolina Museum of Aviation.
One change took place while the bill was in the Senate. At the request of Sen. Cathy Dunn (R-Southmont), the North Carolina Outdoor Festival held in Montgomery County was designated the official outdoor festival of the State.
On Wednesday, the bill was presented to the Governor for his signature.
The language in this bill was removed and modified from my original House Bill 1023. As you might recall from last week’s newsletter, the bill I filed sought to address the disputed issue over spouses of school superintendents being employed by the school system. There’s one very important difference.
Originally the bill was designated for Jackson and Swain Counties. When it became apparent that there were similar situations in the eastern part of the state, I agreed to have a definition encompass their counties as well.
After some back and forth, it was finally agreed that a provision would now encompass all school systems in the state. Subsection 3a of Section One of the bill reads as follows:
Any employment relationship between a local board of education and the spouse of the superintendent of that local school administrative unit, if that employment relationship has been approved by that board in an open session meeting pursuant to the board’s policy adopted as provided in G.S. 115C-47(17a).
Section 115C-47 is known as the Powers and Duties generally pertaining to local boards of education. To fully understand the context, Chapter 115c-47(17a) of the General Statute reads as follows:
To adopt anti-nepotism policies. – Local boards of education shall adopt policies requiring that before any immediate family, as defined in G.S. 115C-12.2, of any board of education member or central office staff administrator, including directors, supervisors, specialists, staff officers, assistant superintendents, area superintendents, superintendents, or principals, shall be em
Civitas Institute Friday, June 15, 2018 – The North Carolina Left could lose nearly $20 million next week.
Now is your chance to help make it happen.
On June 20th, the North Carolina Court of Appeals will hear Civitas’ lawsuit against the massive environmental slush fund created by Mike Easley and managed by Roy Cooper.
For nearly 20 years as Attorney General, Roy Cooper administered a grant-making scheme that gave roughly $2 million per year mostly to liberal environmental groups.
The money comes from a 2000 agreement between the North Carolina Department of Justice and Smithfield Foods.
Both Smithfield Foods and the Attorney General’s office claim that this agreement was a voluntary agreement to enhance North Carolina’s environmental protections…
…The truth is that Smithfield wanted to avoid enforcement concerning their environmental record.
The North Carolina Constitution requires that all fines and forfeitures – and settlements – go towards public schools. But this fund, which amounts to a $50 million settlement, has gone to environmentalist causes – some of which supported Roy Cooper’s political ambitions.
With your help, if we are victorious next week, it will mean that nearly $20 million of the fund will be re-directed to the public schools of North Carolina where it belongs.
Civitas has been fighting to get rid of this slush fund for more than two years now. In that time, we’ve learned a great deal about how the money was allocated, the special interests and insiders that benefited, and how this funding scheme has damaged, rather than enhanced, the environment.
It’s time to eliminate this slush fund and send a message to the DOJ that North Carolinians won’t stand for these kinds of strong-arm, Chicago-style shakedowns.
Your gift today will help build Civitas’ legal war chest and ensure that whatever the outcome next week, Civitas will be prepared to continue the fight against corruption and graft.
Donate here right away!
President & CEO
History on the case…………
On October 18, 2016 the Civitas Center for Law and Freedom (CLF) filed suit against Roy Cooper in his capacity as North Carolina attorney general, alleging he illegally diverted money from public education to special interest groups.
The Bottom Line
The North Carolina Constitution, as well as a 2005 NC Supreme Court decision, require all fines and forfeitures be directed to public schools. The Civitas Center for Law and Freedom lawsuit alleges that Roy Cooper, in his capacity as attorney general, directed funds resulting from a 1999 agreement with Smithfield Foods that appear to be equivalent to fines and forfeitures to favored environmental groups.
Click here to read more.
FEE – Back in the 1980s, Irwin Schiff, the late anti-tax activist, political prisoner, and father of free-market pundit Peter Schiff, wrote a marvelous comic book titled How an Economy Grows and Why It Doesn’t, which teaches economic principles through a light-hearted story.
The comic starts with three islanders—Able, Baker, and Charlie—who live off of fish, which they catch in the sea. They have no tools to aid them, so they must fish with their bare hands. Fish, to the islanders, is a consumers’ good: something that is used to pursue their goals directly (in this case, the goals of satisfying hunger and not starving). But, fish can only be a consumers’ good when it is ready for consumption. The fish do the islanders no good while they are still swimming in the sea. So the islanders must engage in production. They must produce the product of “fish on a plate,” which is the true consumers’ good.
To produce “fish on the plate,” the islanders must use productive resources, or factors of production. One factor the islanders must use is their own labor. In this case, their labor is the act of fishing: using their eyes to spot the fish and their hands to grab them. Another factor they must use is land, or natural resources: in this case, “fish in the sea.” “Fishing labor” + “fish in the sea” = “Fish on the plate.”
Using only their bare hands, the islanders can only produce one fish per day, which is very low productivity.
Click here to read more.
Mike’s Weekly Message
A Shift in Focus
Last week, the focus was almost entirely on the state budget. This week, the focus has shifted to other bills covering a whole range of issues from school safety to matters only effecting local issues. It should be noted, however, that the budget is not entirely off the radar. Yesterday, the North Carolina Senate overrode Gov. Cooper’s veto of the budget, and the Speaker announced that the House is likely to follow suit next Tuesday.
For clarifying purposes, the local bill in this pairing is House Bill 1023 (Spouse Employee and Local Sales Tax/ Certain Counties). While the bill has not moved in committee, it is important to understand that part of this bill’s purpose was met in other bill.
Here’s the background. Last summer, it had come to my attention that a school superintendent might have accidentally been in violation of statute since his wife was simultaneously employed by the school system. There was no intent to violate the law, and the superintendent opted to retire so that his wife could remain employed.
In subsequent conversations I had with legal experts and other local stakeholders, a remedy was suggested that would solve the problem.
In all candor, Swain County, along with a certain number of other counties, have very small populations when compared to Wake and Mecklenburg County, and I think such a prohibition in these small counties are unreasonably restrictive.
Upon filing the bill, I was approached by Sen. Don Davis (D-Greenville) about including other counties in the east. The result was section 2 of Senate Bill 15, which simply reads as follows:
“G.S. 14-234 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:
50 “(d7) This section does not apply to employment contracts between a local board of
education and the spouse of the superintendent of a county local school administrative unit located in a county having a population of 65,000 or fewer according to the most recent official federal census or of a city local school administrative unit located in whole or in part in a city having a population of 15,000 or fewer according to the most recent official federal census.”
As to the other part of House Bill 1023, the quarter-cent sales tax for Swain County to be used only for public school capital outlays for construction, repair, renovation, and safety and security purposes, I am hopeful that part of the bill can be moved forward soon.
This bill is the result of a challenge brought up against a candidate in our district. Much has been made of it in the media, so there is no need to replay that particular incident. The bill simply states that the burden of proof in a candidacy challenge rests with the challenger of said candidacy.
School Safety Bills
Background: House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) appointed the members of the House Select Committee on School Safety in an effort to find real solutions and establish real preventative measures to enhance school safety for students and staff. The committee was chaired by Rep. David Lewis (R-Dunn) and Rep. John Torbett (R-Stanley).
Two weeks ago, there were several bills filed upon recommendation from that committee. To view the report of the committee, click here. In this report, you’ll find the recommendations of the committee, as well as draft legislation.
I will report on these bills as they make their way on to the House floor. In the mean time, here is a list of all of the filed bills for your review, as well their current status.
The lead sponsor on this bill Rep. Josh Dobson (R-Nebo). House Bill 933 the General Statutes to eequires the State Board of Education to issue a school psychologist license to any individual who either meets the criteria for licensure established by the State Board, or who holds the Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential issued by the National Association of School Psychologists.
This bill also contains recommendations of the state House Select Committee on School Safety to improve classroom security and protect students.
The bill adds a new subdivision defining “public school unit” to include local school administrative units, charter schools, regional schools, and schools operated by specified state agencies.
House Bill 934 creates the North Carolina Center for Safer Schools (The Center). The functions of the center are as follows.
(1) serve as a resource for public schools by conducting research, sponsoring workshops, and providing information;
(2) provide training for public school personnel;
(3) disseminate information to public schools on effective school safety initiatives;
(4) collect and analyze North Carolina school safety data;
(5) encourage development of partnerships between public and private sectors to promote school safety;
(6) provide technical assistance to North Carolina public schools in development of school safety initiatives;
(7) develop model policies for threat assessment teams for public schools, including procedures for the assessment of and intervention with students whose behavior poses a threat to school safety. The Center must work with the Task Force for Safer Schools, local law enforcement agencies, and other government agencies.
Section 3 directs the creation of threat assessment teams by the local board of education and governing body of each public school unit. The threat assessment teams are responsible for assessment of and intervention with students whose behavior may pose a threat to school safety consistent with the model policies created by the Center. These policies must include procedures for referral to health care providers for evaluation and treatment, where appropriate.
Section 4 requires the creation of peer-to-peer student counseling programs. Local boards of education must require the creation of peer-to-peer student mentoring, counseling, and support programs established at all schools with grades six or higher. Such programs are encouraged to be created for other grades as well.
Section 5 of the bill provides $1 million to the Department of Public Instruction for one-time grants to local school administrative units for training and materials for peer-to-peer mentoring, counseling, and support programs in schools serving students in grades six and higher.
The State Board of Education must award grants of these monies to local school administrative units in the amount of $5,000 per school for training and materials for evidence-based peer-to-peer student mentoring, counseling, and support programs as identified by the Center for Safer Schools.
The State Board of Education must award grants to applicants in the order in which they are received. An initial grant may not exceed $20,000 per local school administrative unit. If funds remain after the initial grants have been awarded, the Board may award a second round of grants using the same criteria. Applications for grants from local school administrative units in Tier 1 counties must be given priority in awarding initial grants.
This bill also contains recommendations of the state House Select Committee on School Safety to improve classroom security and protect students.
All schools with grades six or higher, and in other grades as appropriate, would coordinate and provide training for peer-to-peer student support programs under the proposal.
The bill also requires the Center for Safer Schools to develop facility vulnerability assessments in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Public Safety.
The school vulnerability assessments would be integrated with the School Risk and Response Management System (SRRMS) as part of a School Risk Management Plan (SRMP). Local school systems would be required to apply the tool to each school building annually.
H.B. 938 also expands school resource offer (SRO) training and continuing education programs. The training standards would be required to include diversity and equity, tactical, and mental health training.
It also requires all public schools, including charter, regional, laboratory, and innovative schools, as well as the Schools for the Deaf, the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, the School of Science and Mathematics, and the School of the Arts, to meet all the school safety requirements that apply to traditional public schools.
Military Dependents and In-State Tuition
A question had come up about military dependents (normally a spouse or child of someone serving in the military) receiving the in-state or out-of-state tuition rate. To get that question, I reached out to the Legislative Liaison of Community College System, and this what the statute states.
Section 116-143.3c of the North Carolina General Statutes states the following:
dependent relative of a member of the Armed Forces who is abiding in this State incident to active military duty, as defined by the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina and by the State Board of Community Colleges while sharing the abode of that member shall be eligible to be charged the in-State tuition rate.
Updates from the Southwest Commission
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day- Walks to be Held Throughout the Region
The Southwestern Commission’s Area Agency on Aging is helping partners organize Elder Abuse Awareness Walks in each of our region’s counties and the Qualla Boundary. These walks will take place at the following locations at 6:00 PM on Friday, June 15, 2018.
Cherokee County: River Walk, Murphy Valley River Park (ball fields), Andrews
Clay County: VFW Park, Hayesville
Graham County: Robbinsville High School Track, Robbinsville
Haywood County: Downtown, Waynesville (Begin at the Justice Center)
Jackson County: Jackson County Department on Aging, Sylva
Macon County: Crawford Senior Center, Franklin
Swain County: Downtown, Bryson City (Begin at the Gazebo behind the Old Swain County Court House)
Cherokee: Downtown, Cherokee
We hope to see you there!
NC Rural Center Announces New Lending Opportunity for NC Small Businesses
The NC Rural Center recently launched a new small businesses lending organization for North Carolina.Thread Capital is a nonprofit organization focused on ensuring that all residents of North Carolina have access to the resources they need to start and grow businesses. Thread Capital provides access to capital, coaching, and connections in the belief that with these tools entrepreneurs will create jobs and promote more equitable economic mobility in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
Southwestern Commission’s Executive Director Sarah Thompson has been named Chair of Thread Capital and will serve along side other community and economic development leaders from across rural North Carolina.
Thread Capital operates as a subsidiary of the NC Rural Center. For more information, click HERE.
Community Outreach Across the Region
The NCWorks Career Center offices for Jackson, Swain, and Macon counties packed 425 boxes for the CareNet Backpack Program. These backpacks will be used to feed children who might otherwise go hungry, providing them with nutritionally dense food options. Way to go, team!
For more information on how Southwestern Commission Workforce Development Department works with NCWorks Career Centers across the region, click HERE.
Town Hall Reminders
This month, since we were not able to schedule a town hall meeting for the month of May, the town halls for Jackson and Swain Counties will take place on June 15 and June 29, respectively. The Jackson County town hall will take place at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Swain County Town Hall will take place from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at the Swain County Administration building in the District Courtroom.
The Jackson County Public Library is located at 310 Keener Street in Sylva. The Swain County Administration Building is located at 100 Mitchell Street in Bryson City.
Please remember that you can reach my office by phone and by email. My phone number is (919) 715-3005, and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can listen to the session, or most committee meetings by visiting ncleg.net,and clicking the audio tab.
Email for more info: Chairman Haywood County Republican Party
[Update June 5, 2018–SB 486 passed a second and third reading in Monday night’s legislative session. No lawmakers offered to amend the portion of the law addressed in this article. ~ jd]
Jun 4, 2018 (Raleigh) — Tonight at the Legislature, North Carolina’s lower chamber will conduct a third vote on an election reform bill that’s full of surprises, but one quiet little $10 million nugget will effectively mandate a single source for our state’s election machines, forcing all 100 counties to buy the same brand of equipment at non-competitive prices.
Peeling back the bill’s hidden meaning.
While common sense says that companies selling election equipment should warranty their work, up to the cost of a new election. The bone of contention involves how big an election.
For decades, North Carolina has required competing companies to post a bond covering the cost of a “statewide” election, specifically $10 million. While that all seems fair at first blush, it’s a red herring designed to drive out all competition. The failure of a voting machine in any given county would never require a new statewide election. Such a failure usually results in a manual recount. At worst, it forces a new county-wide election.
Vendors [must post a] bond or letter of credit …in the amount determined by the State Board as sufficient for the cost of a new statewide election or in the amount of ten million dollars ($10,000,000),
whichever is greater.” (SECTION 3.6A. G.S. 163A-1115(a)(1))
Click here to read more.
What can lawmakers consider during the 2018 short session? Not everything, because of limits imposed by the long session Adjournment Resolution. Important issues such as school funding, certificate of need repeal, work requirements for Medicaid, repeal of the capital gains tax, changes to the ABC system, and more will be delayed until 2019.
But there’s still plenty of work for legislators. Cross-over bills are OK, as are all budget bills and any affecting the pension or retirement systems. Recommendations from study committees, local bills, and appointment bills, or action required by the governor are OK, too. Lawmakers can bring up some contentious issues, such as those dealing with election laws, impeachment and litigation. Joint resolutions and bills vetoed by the governor, including three not yet overridden from last year, can be considered.
Bills proposing amendments to our state constitution are eligible for consideration during the short session.
North Carolina has had three constitutions — 1776 after the Declaration of Independence, 1866 after the Civil War brought North Carolina back into the Union, and 1971 during a reorganization of state government. The current constitution has been amended more than 20 times.
Section XIII reserves the power to amend or change the constitution to the people. It can be done either by a convention of the people or by legislative initiative.
Although the General Assembly can initiate changes to the constitution, the power to change it lies with the people. All that lawmakers can do is bring amendments to us for a vote.
Eighteen constitutional amendment bills were introduced during the long session. Because of the eligibility rules for the short session, more will probably be introduced.
New constitutional amendments can be proposed during the short session. One likely proposal is a requirement for identification when voting. Judicial selection, moving toward a retention or merit-based process from our current election system, may be considered. Leaders for months have hinted numerous amendments may be brought forward.
North Carolina’s constitution lays out the process for voting on amendments initiated by lawmakers. In addition to voting for your congressman, members of the General Assembly and local candidates, and issues on your ballot, expect to be asked to amend our state constitution. It’s not only a right, but it’s also a responsibility. Use it wisely.
Becki Gray is senior vice president at the John Locke Foundation.
The Daily Signal – With consumer confidence at a 17-year high and economic prospects looking relatively strong, congressional Democrats have taken to grousing about the gas pump as a midterm strategy.
“These higher oil prices are translating directly to soaring gas prices,” declared Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “something we know disproportionately hurts middle- and lower-income people.”
If this is true, then why have Democrats spent the past two decades advocating policies that artificially spike fossil fuel prices? If higher energy costs hurt Americans—and thank you, senator, for conceding this point—why have liberals favored increasing gas taxes, inhibiting exploration for fossil fuels (including a ban on fracking for less environmentally damaging gas in a number of places), and capping imports?
If higher gas prices disproportionately impact the working class and poor, then why do Democrats push for national schemes designed to create false demand through a fabricated marketplace?
Click here to read more.