Henderson Co. Sheriff McDonald Attends President Trump’s School Safety Roundtable

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, Henderson County Sheriff Charles S. McDonald attended a school safety roundtable at the White House with President Donald Trump, State and local leaders, law enforcement officers, and education officials.

Sheriff McDonald, one of 12 attendees to the event, spoke with President Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and others about addressing the need for school security measures in light of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida. The event was part of an ongoing initiative from the White House to receive feedback on gun safety measures from local officials.

“I appreciate the opportunity to bring a local perspective from western North Carolina to what has become a national conversation,” said Sheriff McDonald. “School security is a multi-faceted issue that is going to take cooperation from numerous stakeholders to bring about change and enhance the safety of our children. I would like to thank President Trump and especially Congressman Mark Meadows for their invitation to share ideas concerning this important issue. Congressman Meadows has always been a great supporter and friend to sheriffs across North Carolina. I want to acknowledge his leadership and thank him for his ongoing support for law enforcement across our great state.”

“I can think of no better individual or professional to represent our district’s schools and law enforcement at the White House than Sheriff Charles McDonald,” Rep. Meadows (R-NC) said. “I’m thrilled that our district had the opportunity to give direct input, straight to the President of the United States, on the issue of keeping our schools, students, and teachers safe. I want to thank Sheriff McDonald for making the trip to Washington, D.C. to speak, the President for his kind invitation, and the White House for hosting the event. No matter where you stand on the issue of gun safety, one principle remains true: the willingness to listen and directly involve American citizens in the conversation is a major part of what makes America great.”

You can watch Sheriff McDonald’s remarks at the event here.


Henderson Co. Sheriff Charles McDonald, seated next to AG Jeff Sessions, participates in School Safety Roundtable

Stockton, California, to Test Universal Basic Income Program

The New American – Later this year, the city of Stockton, California, will begin giving a select group of poor residents $500 a month in an experimental program to test the effects of giving people a universal basic income, or UBI. Though this initial program, which will run for a period of 12-18 months, will be funded by a million-dollar private grant from a tech group called the Economic Security Project, it will involve only 100 families in a city of city of 300,000 people where one in four residents lives below the official poverty line. That means as many as 75,000 people potentially might qualify for similar programs in the future. Figuring four people per family, that would be 18,750 families. It would, therefore, cost $9,375,000 a month to give $500 each to 18,750 families.

The unanswered question, of course, is who would pay out that $9,375,000 a month? The Economic Security Project? Since that is highly unlikely, it would be the taxpayers of Stockton who would foot the bill.

Dorian Warren, who co-chairs the Economic Security Project (along with Aspen Institute fellow Natalie Foster and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes) told KPIX 5 news in San Francisco that the goal in Stockton is to gather data on how having a basic income impacts people.

“What does it mean to say, ‘Here is unconditional guaranteed income just based on you being a human being?’” Warren asked.

Ari Shapiro, a host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered program, interviewed Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs about the guaranteed income plan on January 29.

After Shapiro asked Tubbs to explain how the problem will work, the mayor said:

So from now until June, we’ll do a community engagement process to come up with the selection criterion for the families who will be selected. Those families will receive $500 a month for the next year to 18 months with the idea to really elevate the story of working-class people everywhere. People are working very hard and struggling and unable to make basic ends meet. So we were able to get a grant of $1 million from the Economic Security Project to really test this idea….

It doesn’t cost taxpayers anything. It’s paid from $1.2 million in philanthropic funding. So the idea is that in the next couple of years, we’ll have some data that will tell us whether this is a solution that is viable or not.

It is worth noticing that Tubbs stated the $1.2 million grant is to test the program. After that, the city will use the data to decide whether this program is the “solution” to helping low-income families. However, as we noted above, implementing this program on a full-scale basis, when it is no longer a test run on a sample of a fraction of Stockton’s population, is likely to cost the city more than $9 million a month. And the bill for that will go to the taxpayers.

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Treasurer Folwell reports 13.5 percent return for pension plan in 2017

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(Raleigh, N.C.) – State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, announced today that the state pension plan reported gains of 13.5 percent for calendar year 2017, outperforming its benchmark of 12.8 percent. Pension fund assets were valued at $98.3 billion, up from $89.1 billion at the end of 2016. The pension plan, known as the North Carolina Retirement Systems, is managed by the N.C. Department of State Treasurer. Treasurer Folwell made the announcement during his monthly “Ask Me Anything” media availability.

“We are very pleased to see these gains at a time when the pension fund as a whole had less exposure to risk,” said Treasurer Folwell. “Our investment management team, including interim Chief Investment Officers Chris Morris and Jeff Smith, has done an outstanding job of protecting and sustaining the pension plan on behalf of the public workers who rely on it during their retirement.”

 

The following 2017 performance figures are reported net of all fees and expenses:

  • Public equity, which makes up almost 40 percent of the total fund, gained 24.4 percent
  • Private equity rose 12.0 percent
  • Non-Core Real Estate and Opportunistic Fixed Income returned 12.4 percent and 7.1 percent respectively
  • The multi-strategy portfolio rose 13.6 percent for the twelve-month period
  • Inflation-sensitive and diversifier investments increased by 8.6 percent
  • Investment-Grade Fixed Income earned 4.4 percent

Treasurer Folwell and the investment management team cut costs significantly in 2017 to provide more value to members of the pension plan. During the first year of Folwell’s administration, fees paid to Wall Street investment managers were reduced by more than $60 million for a projected savings of $240 million over four years. That figure exceeds Folwell’s pledge to cut fees by $100 million over four years.

The department also moved $100 million in passive indexing funds under in-house management in 2017 as a means of further reducing fees while maintaining performance as measured by the Russell Top 200 index strategy and the Russell Mid Cap index strategy.

 

Click here for a full listing of asset classes.

 

The North Carolina Retirement Systems is the tenth largest public pension fund in the country. It provides retirement benefits and savings to more than 900,000 members, including teachers, state employees, firefighters, police officers and other public workers. For more information, visit www.nctreasurer.com.

Mark Meadows fears Congress is about to pass a ‘Christmas tree of spending’

>Washington Examiner – House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., warned Wednesday that Congress might be on the verge of passing a huge spending and debt ceiling deal, one that goes far beyond what members of his conservative group can support.

“I’m afraid that the numbers will get so high and the debt ceiling will get added and it will be a Christmas tree of spending, that a lot of votes will be bought,” he said on MSNBC.

“So, it’ll be quote a bipartisan deal, but you’ll end up with 120 or 140 Democrats and maybe about the same on Republicans, sending this to the president’s desk,” Meadows added.

It’s not entirely clear what Congress will soon pass, but lawmakers have said they are close to reaching a two-year spending agreement that boosts spending for both military and non-military programs. That could include a hike in the debt ceiling, which has to be raised somehow by March, and new spending on disaster aid and other items in order to win enough support for it.

The House passed a short-term spending bill on Tuesday to keep the government open past Thursday, but if the Senate can finalize the larger deal, it might pass that and send it over to the House.

Meadows said the House Freedom Caucus has lost some leverage in this fight because it decided to back the short-term bill in the House, which also funded the military for the rest of the fiscal year.

“We had to make a decision last night,” he said. “We had an emergency meeting of the Freedom Caucus, really the plan that we had was to go ahead and fund defense and keep the line straight on non-defense.”

“We knew by giving that vote that potentially we would use all our leverage over the next 48 hours,” he added.

Meadows warned that Congress needs to tackle spending reform soon, which must include defense spending reforms.

“It is time that we make sure that the federal taxpayer’s dollar is accounted for properly,” he said.

But he also acknowledged that it’s an issue that pits Republicans against each other.

“You’re going to probably see a whole lot more fighting and really debating on that particular issue in the coming weeks,” he said.

Source: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/mark-meadows-fears-congress-is-about-to-pass-a-christmas-tree-of-spending/article/2648349

Senate Leaders Announce Two-Year Budget Deal to Boost Spending by $300 Billion

Congressional leadership on Wednesday reached a bipartisan spending agreement that would set top-line funding levels for all federal agencies for the next two years, increasing spending at defense and non-defense agencies by a total of $300 billion.

The deal would stave off a shutdown by punting the deadline for six more weeks, allowing appropriators to write an omnibus bill that sets line-by-line funding levels across government. It would mark the third such two-year agreement to allow agencies to exceed the spending caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act. The measure would also suspend the debt ceiling until March 2019.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the deal would “fully repeal” the caps on domestic spending, which would see a $131 billion funding increase over fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Democrats have called for parity for defense and domestic agencies’ spending increases, a demand that to this point had log jammed budget negotiations.

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NCGOP Response to Three-Judge Panel Ruling on Legislative Districts

Raleigh, NC — Today North Carolina’s three-judge panel ordered new legislative districts to be drawn and used in this year’s election. North Carolina Republicans responded below:

No one should be surprised that the three-judge panel ruled the way it did. The panel had no intention of allowing our elected officials to fulfill their constitutional roles in redistricting. It is now up to the US Supreme Court to preserve the role of state legislatures under our constitutional system. North Carolina has a duty to engage in this fight. Bottom line, the three-judge panel has replaced the judgement of our elected officials with its own, simply because they don’t like the Republican legislature. In our democratic system this cannot be allowed.” – NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes

If a power-hungry federal court can order that a California-based professor gets to usurp the North Carolina legislature’s constitutional authority to draw election maps, then there is no limit to federal judicial power. This is nothing short of judicial tyranny.” – NC Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

It is a shocking move for one of the same judges just reined in by a bipartisan U.S. Supreme Court less than 24 hours ago to again attempt to create chaos and confusion in an election process set to begin in just three weeks. The legislature has repeatedly asked this court to provide guidance, citing the urgency of the upcoming candidate filing period. Contrary to our pleas and fresh off yesterday’s stinging rebuke from the high court, this panel has unleashed another bout of uncertainty that could harm North Carolina voters who are entitled to free and fair elections. We will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.” – North Carolina House Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), chairmen of their respective chambers’ redistricting committees

House OKs Warrantless Surveillance; Paul to Filibuster

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is preparing to filibuster a surveillance bill already passed by the House of Representatives — a bill that reauthorizes long-term federal surveillance of U.S. citizens under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

In a press release, Paul said he would block the bill in order to keep a promise to protect the Fourth Amendment.

“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a flawed bill that will continue the warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans. No American should have their right to privacy taken away. I will keep doing everything in my power, including filibuster, to oppose this legislation and to speak out and stand up for forcing the government to get a warrant based on probable cause, as required by the Constitution,” said Dr. Paul.

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N.C. House Provides Funding to Address GenX, Emerging Compounds

Raleigh, N.C. – Legislation to provide funding and policy reforms that address GenX and other emerging compounds in North Carolina’s waterways was approved by the state House of Representatives on Wednesday with unanimous bipartisan support.

The legislation is a product of hearings held by the state House Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality and extensive collaborations with the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

House Bill 189 Short-Term Response to Emerging Contaminants provides more than $2 million to fund personnel and sampling equipment – including a $537,000 mass spectrometer machine – to help DEQ detect contaminants, collect data and pursue solutions to water quality concerns in North Carolina.

“The House’s water quality legislation modifies state policy and purchases important machinery to ensure the safety of citizens and the accountability of companies in North Carolina,” said House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

“This proposal is a result of a thorough oversight committee process and bipartisan collaboration. It is a significant step to protect our state’s drinking water.”

The bill also provides a comprehensive review of permit disclosure requirements and seeks recommendations to ensure full transparency in the permitting process.

“We conducted a thorough process of committee deliberations and bill drafting in the House to get this right and remove politics from the conversation,” said Rep. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick), a co-chair of the river quality committee.

It also requires that North Carolina maintain communication with neighboring states in monitoring the flow of contaminants across borders.

“The state House built a solid foundation from which to proceed and protect our citizens’ drinking water now and decades into the future,” said Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland), who represents portions of the Cape Fear River basin.

H.B. 189 further directs the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to collaborate with the Science Advisory Board to review and screen health goals before disseminating to the public and seeks recommendations on how to best notify the public of contamination events.

“I’m pleased the river quality committee was productive for both the state legislature and the administration to keep North Carolina on the leading edge of understanding and resolving water quality concerns,” said Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), a member of the river quality committee.

Representative Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), chairman of the House Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality, also released a statement:

“The river quality committee combined expert testimony with extensive debate on how to reform state law and allocate resources to best address the issue of emerging contaminants in North Carolina,” Davis said.

“I’m proud of today’s result and the broad bipartisan support the legislation received in the state House of Representatives.”

Secretary Michael Regan of DEQ spoke in favor of the legislation in the state House Appropriations Committee:

This is a much-needed first step,” Regan said. “It’s an opportunity for us to continue a dialogue about what our agency needs to adequately keep pace with emerging compounds in our state.”

Representative Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) also spoke in favor of the legislation in the House Appropriations Committee, thanking committee leadership and Speaker Tim Moore’s office for their work on the measure:

“I recognize it is an important first step, and I’ll be voting for it,” Harrison said.