The House continues its marathon session, and the first bill taken up after the dinner break is House Bill 856, "Modify Charter School Law," which raises the cap on charter schools to 106 from the current cap of 100.
With no debate, other than a brief explanation by the bill sponsor, Rep. Marvin Lucas, D - Cumberland, the bill passes 102-6.
The 2009 Viticulture/Enology Act, House Bill 667, makes improvements in the ever-growing wine industry in North Carolina. There are now wineries, large and small, in 17 counties.
This bill would exempt a uniiversity or community college teaching wine production from having to secure an ABC permit, allow small wineries one satellite location to sell their wine, and allow a retail outlet to sell wine whenever the outlet is open unless there are local restrictions.
The bill passed 115-0 and will go over to the Senate.
A very controversial bill, House Bill 593, "Change School Starting Date," is taken up. It's nteresting that bill sponsor (and outspoken school choice opponent), Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, begins the debate by saying this is about "choice ... choice for local school districts and what is best for the schoolchildren in their districts."
The bill says school cannot start any earlier than the second Monday in August, making exams before Christmas break, coordinating with community college course schedules.
The number of vacation days would be the same, and the days in the school year would be the same. Those speaking in favor of the bill like the flexibilty it gives school systems. Those opposed say it adversely affects tourism and summer jobs.
The bill passes second Reading, 76-41, and will be voted on again in the House before heading over to the Senate, presumably before the second Monday in August.
I move forthwith to remove the dates May 20th, 1775 and April 12th, 1776 from the North Carolina State Flag and replace them with today's date and August 30th, 2005, because they are far more reflective of today's illiberal, kleptocratic North Carolina.
House Bill 223, No High School Graduation Project Required is considered on the House floor which would stop the State Board of Education from requiring a project as a condition of graduation from a North Carolina high school. Local governments can still require one. The issue will be studied for two years with the assumption that the project will become a thing of the past. As the most recent high school graduate and youngest member of the House Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanley) told the body, it wasn't all that long ago that he did his high school project and he can't remember what it was.
Bill passes 115 - 3 to the cheers of high school juniors across the state.
"Government bureaucrats in China have been ordered to smoke more locally produced cigarettes in order to set an example for citizens and stimulate the Chinese cigarette industry. And health officials are worried that smoking could become the number one cause of death now because of this government mandate. But do you know what the number one cause of death is in China now? Disobeying a government mandate. So, you're kind of stuck."
In an unexpected move, the House concurred with the Senate version of the Smoking Ban bill, HB 2, with a 62 - 56 vote. The bill becomes effective as soon as the governor signs it, making smoking illegal in bars and restaurants across North Carolina.
As session continues in the Senate, Senate Bill 461, North Carolina Racial Justice Act is considered. The bill says that race can be a factor in a capital punishment appeal.
Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) moves to amend the bill to re-institute lawful executions for the death penalty pursuant to a recent NC Supreme Court decsion. The amendment passes 37-10.
In a side note, senators can vote from anywhere in the chamber, unlike House members who must be at their desk and engage their voting machine. But they must be in the chamber when the vote is called. At the conclusion of the amendment vote, Sen. Hoyle asked to be included in the vote since he was in the doorway temporarily detained when the vote was called. Sen. McKissick (D-Durham) who entered the chamber after the vote asked to be included as well and said he was in the chamber at the time of the vote. Sen. Rand called him on it, McKissick asked for the rules to be suspended which they did and his vote was counted after all.
Sen. Fletcher Hartsell (R-Cabarrus) proposes an amendment to eliminate contiguous districts in gathering racial statistics. Amendment fails with 22 voting yes; 27 no.
Vote on the NC Racial Justice Act passes 35 - 13. Sen Phil Berger objects to third reading so the bill will be voted on again tomorrow.
From Jay Leno-- "The price of a postage stamp has gone up to 44 cents. The government says they had to raise the price because fewer people are using the mail these days. That's government thinking for you. Hey nobody's buying our products -- let's raise the price!"
[Typical progressive thinking--"Hey, low skilled workers can't find employment at a decent salary--let's raise the minimum wage."]
The Ludwig von Mises Institute has recently republished F.A. Hayek's very important collection of essays titled Individualism and Economic Order. It includes all of Hayek’s classic essays on knowledge and the market, including "The Use of Knowledge in Society." It also includes his most important and influential works on the nature of competition, which stands in stark contrast to the text book/neoclassical concept of so-called perfect competition. And last but not least it includes three articles that he wrote in the 1930s and 40s as part of the now classic "socialist calculation debate." Not only is it important that this collection has been republished, but at $15 it's an incredible bargain, especially given that the typical textbook used in university economics class costs about 10 times that amount.
Coinage of Dixiecrat was attributed to William Weismer, telegraph editor of the Charlotte (N.C.) News, who had difficulty squeezing States Rights Democrats into a headline. Alabama Governor Frank Dixon did not like the new nickname: "Dixiecrats leaves the wrong impression," he complained. "Our contention is that we are returning to the original concepts of the founding fathers of our nation and the Democratic Party." Harry Truman was having none of that.
For those unfamiliar with the term, William Safire tells us a Dixiecrat was a "Southern Democrat who bolted the national party in 1948 in opposition to President Truman's civil rights platform."
Senate Jud I committee continues plodding through a long list of bills to get them moved along to the Senate floor in order to meet tomorrow's crossover deadline.
After a sexual predator in his 50s abused a 16 year old autistic female, Sen. Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover) filed SB 527 intending to protect young victims from "a person of authority". However, as the bill is considered, Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) points out the way the bill is written anyone of any age engaging in sex when one partner is in a position of influence over the other even when the sex was consensual would be guilty of a criminal offense. The DA who prosecuted the austistic 16 yr. old case says the bill is too broad and doesn't do what it intends to do. The committee does nothing on this one leaving it in committee to die.
Sen. Boseman had another ill conceived bill, SB 300, Amend Speeding to Elude Arrest Statute. This bill would require law enforcement to seize any vehicle used to try to get away from policemen and hold for 24 hours. Then the owner could get it back. No one seemed to understand why the car would not be forfeited or why you would do this. Sen. Boseman said the bill had been watered down quite a bit from her original proposal. The bill was not voted on and allowed to die as well.
With this story everyone but the blind and little children can see that the Mike Easley sleaze factor has damaged the reputation and standing of state law enforcement -- just like Bill Clinton's corrosive effect on Arkansas troopers in the late 80s and early 90s.
I hereby challenge State Highway Patrol Capt. Alan Melvin to take a lie detector test on the question of what he delivered to Easley's doorstep back in February. I want the examiner to ask Melvin if he dropped off Easley's flight and travel records, the ones that were set to be released to the N&O the following day.
House Judiciary II meets to consider, among others, House Bill 742, Prohibit Beach Plan Surplus Distribution.
Sponsored by Rep. Tim Spear (D-Washington), the bill would require that any surplus in the beach plan insurance fund must go to purchase insurance on insurance (also known as re-insurance) instead of those surplus funds being distributed amoung member companies. Legal counsel from the Commissioner of Insurance spoke and said Wayne Goodwin is against this, as is the insurance industry. Want to find a long term large picture solution, this won't do it. Surplus is part of the solution but should be considered as the whole in order to address the very serious problems with the beach plan. Lobbyists for NC Insurance Federation looking for refinement of a study commission finding with comprehensive new plan for beach insurance, two lawsuits are in Court of Appeals. Retain the surplus is included in all plans but there is $85 Billion in potential exposure with only $700 to $1.1 billion in the plan surplus - this clips one wire and could set off the timebomb. Independent Insurance Association doesn't like it for IRS could come in and take some of the money in the surplus as has happened in other states. Everyone (except Rep. Spear, it appears) argues that the only answer is a comprehensive reform bill. This bill is crossover sensitive and if this provision is not included in a comprehensive plan, the issue could not be raised again until 2011. Reportedly, the comprehensive bill, which is not crossover sensitive, is still being drafted and is incomplete at this time.
House Bill 742 fails by a voice vote.
See Eli Lehrer's report on the Beach Plan for more details on the problem with coastal insurance....http://www.johnlocke.org/policy_reports/display_story.html?id=191
From Joseph Bottum's contribution to the latest "Public Square" section of First Things:
There are three infallible signs of the crank — that oddball, goofball sort of person who mutters, as he walks along, about how he's grasped the key to everything. The first is that he has a theory about the Jews. The second is that he has a theory about money. And the third is that he has a theory about Shakespeare.
[T]here are plenty of recent examples — and to their ranks we can now add the Supreme Court's John Paul Stevens. "In a visit to Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, Justice Stevens observed that the purported playwright left no books, nor letters or other records of a literary presence," the Wall Street Journal reports. "'Where are the books? You can't be a scholar of that depth and not have any books in your home,'" Justice Stevens says. 'He never had any correspondence with his contemporaries, he never was shown to be present at any major event — the coronation of James or any of that stuff. I think the evidence that he was not the author is beyond a reasonable doubt.'"
"Oh my," as Coppelia Kahn, president of the Shakespeare Association of America, replied when told about that "beyond a reasonable doubt" stuff. Justice Stevens apparently holds the Oxfordian thesis — the view that Shakespeare was just too lower class to write the plays, and the true author must therefore have been the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.
As it happens, de Vere died in 1604, before the appearance of King Lear, The Tempest, and other plays. But when has the simple fact of death even gotten in the way of a good theory? No news yet on Stevens' views about silver coinage and the ten lost tribes, but the day after the Wall Street Journal told us about Stevens, CNN ran a story about the nutrient-rich seed of the Maya tree in Guatemala, which, we are informed, "can be prepared to taste like mashed potatoes, chocolate, or coffee." The headline, however, seemed to promise more: "Forgotten Nut Changes Lives."
Perhaps Justice Stevens' views are simply one of those "sweet mysteries of life," like the one that enabled him to see no constitutional roadblock to cities and towns seizing private property from one owner and giving it to another private owner for purposes of boosting the local tax base.
As for bizarre ideas about Shakespeare, it's a topic Carolina Journal Radio discussed in 2007 with N.C. State Professor R.V. Young, now the editor of Modern Age. Click play below to view a clip from that interview.
Law professor Todd Zywicki has an excellent article in today's Wall Street Journal on the way the Obama administration has been strangling the rule of law to secure benefits for political favorites (the UAW).
If memory serves me right, it was Sir Henry Sumner Maine who said that the history of progress is the history of the advance of contract over status. That is, the progress of civilization depends on relinquishing the antiquated idea that people should be entitled to things just because of who they are, and embracing the idea that you're entitled to what you can get through peaceful relations with other people, that is, contract.
The US has been slowly retreating from its historical commitment to the rule of law over time, but now it's turning into a rout like Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Obama is happy to demolish the legal structures that gave the US economic progress just so he can give short-term benefits to his political allies.
July 31 -- that's the deadline Obama administration officials and Democratic leaders in Congress have set to pass "comprehensive health-care reform." What would the legislation include? No one has any idea:
The announcement did not describe the contents of the health care bill
-- leaving key questions about funding, coverage and access for another
Nor is this tidbit encouraging, if you recall the nightmare that is, was, and has been Bailout Nation:
The Obama strategy is to stay above the legislative fray, keeping
the process moving forward and the industry players in the mix until
the tough legislative choices are made this summer and fall.
Haven't we been here before?
Over at Reason, Ronald Bailey explains why major players in the medical industry have pre-emptively surrrendered to the administration's goals for government-run health care.
Meantime, Harvard Business School professor Regina Herzlinger described her vision of consumer-driven health care in this CJ interview. Warning: These principles will be nearly impossible to find in anything Obama and congressional Dems have in mind.
In this column on the origins of the housing crash, Thomas Sowell implies that Barney Frank is lying about his role in causing it.
Isn't it obvious that we need the Fairness Doctrine back? Sowell should have to find some good things to say about Congressman Frank and quote more people who say that capitalist greed caused the housing crash. Wouldn't it be much better if columnists had to be "fair"? And imagine all the jobs that would be created if we started a Federal Office of Fair Writing!
David, I thought the same upon reading that news. But you forgot the new name of the lottery, which was formerly "for education" (wink, wink) but now isn't even that any more:
And good grief, I don't know if a school system deserves any public money if its leaders spend it on consultants telling them not to penalize cheaters. Cheaters deliberate avoid learning. You've just about lost all sight of what educating means if you pass cheaters.
Wake County school administrators may pay thousands of dollars to hire a consultant whose recommendations include not reducing grades for cheating or missing a deadline for handing in work.
School officials want Ken O'Connor, whose work is being reviewed by high school and middle school teachers, to speak with teachers about grading practices. But his hefty price tag and controversial suggestions, which school officials say they're not necessarily endorsing, could hold up the deal at a time when Wake teachers and school employees face pay cuts, furloughs and possible job loss.
"If we can get him to come, we'd like to have him," said Ken Branch, Wake's' senior director for secondary education. "This is a discussion we want to have."
I have a feeling Terry Stoops wouldn't consider this vital education spending:
Is it just me, or is the North Carolina Education Lottery a bundle of contradictions?
The chief inconsistency, of course, is that revenue from ticket sales goes to the kids ... except when it doesn't. Now, the Associated Press reports that state House lawmakers have approved a bill that would prevent check cashing joints (which often crop up on the poor side of town) from selling lotto tickets.
Forget that the lottery commission recently expanded its reach into the predominantly low-income Latino community:
The lottery commission took steps Tuesday to make it easier for the state's estimated 600,000 Hispanics to play the lottery.
It authorized the use of Spanish signs and brochures at stores that cater to Latino customers. About 200 retailers had asked for the change.
Sometimes, I get the feeling they're just toying with us.