We know that our Republican-run legislature is hellbent on rolling back environmental regulations. Rest assured they have some special gifts for us in the hopper for this upcoming session.
“Ahead of the session several joint House and Senate committees have been preparing potential legislation. Last week, the Environmental Review Commission, the legislative committee that acts as the main gatekeeper for environmental policy, voted on a dozen prospective measures.”
“At the meeting commission members said that the aim of the election year session is to be efficient and not to delve to deeply into policy. All the bills the commission considered would weaken existing protections. Environmental advocates say some of the proposals represent major changes to the state’s approach to water quality and other protections.”
The Clean Water Act is on the chopping block with a draft bill that would remove on-site stormwater controls as a possible source of downstream pollution. It would also require that the N.C. Environmental Management Commission change water quality rules to reflect the weakened water quality standards.
“The commission also wants the department (Department of Environmental Quality) to submit written comments this year to the Army Corps of Engineers while it reviews its general permit on stream dredging and filling. The bill would require the department to ask the Corps to double the threshold for requiring mitigation for the loss of intermittent and ephemeral stream bed to 300 linear feet.”
Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, Commission Co-chair, suggested doing away with NC’s electronics recycling program and removing the ban on electronics, including television sets, from landfills.
“Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, said she agreed, but suggested lifting the ban only for televisions.”
“Dixon’s provision passed, despite objections from co-chair Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, but Dixon later asked for the vote to be rescinded.”
(Emphasis mine.) “Dixon said the landfill ban proposal will likely be taken up during the discussions on a regulatory omnibus later in the session. “
And this is just legislation pertaining to our environmental protections. I can only imagine what else they’ve got up their sleeves. So brace yourselves, folks. It is going to be a bumpy ride. It is more important than ever that we work to replace these legislators, who are laying waste to our environment for the price of a campaign contribution.
To read the article in full visit: Bills to Weaken Protections Are Ready
See a recent Lunch & Learn presentation by Randolph County Democrats on River Basins in Randolph: Two River Basins Run Through It: Randolph County Water
Visit our Presentations page to view other environmental presentations from RCDP: Lunch & Learn Presentations
Opinion Column by Jim Meredith, Randolph County Democratic Party Chair. Published in the Courier-Tribune, Asheboro, NC April 22, 2016
Not since the establishment of Jim Crow over a century ago has a North Carolina Legislature been so mean-spirited, so cynical, so lacking in conscience, so devoid of moral authority. Never before has a North Carolina legislature been so oblivious to the tide of history. Never has a Legislature been so careless, so irresponsible, and so heedless of the impact of their actions on the well-being of our state and its citizens.
Although I am a well-known active Democrat, I have lived most of my life in Randolph County and I have no shortage of Republican friends and relatives. Some of those Republican friends and I have found ourselves agreeing about HB2. People of both parties want their LGBT friends and relatives treated with kindness and respect. People of both parties are using phrases like “mean spirited”, “legislative overreach”, “intrusive”, and “authoritarian.”
As a Republican acquaintance told me, “This is, in no way, small government.”
The high profile “bathroom” provisions of HB2 have generated most of the national outrage. That may be what our legislators intended. They may have cynically assumed that the majority of North Carolinians had gut-negative attitudes toward the LGBT community and wouldn’t pay attention to the rest of the bill.
In 12 short hours, they ran roughshod over democratic principle and due process. The rushed schedule prevented people from having time to adequately review and challenge the law. The result was a law that prevents employees who are unjustly fired from filing claims of discrimination in state courts.
It takes away power to set non-discrimination policy from local governments, regardless of the will of the citizens who live there, and it prevents local governments from setting local minimum wage policies.
Across the nation, we see cities taking matters into their own hands when state governments are unwilling to tackle problems at the state level. North Carolina legislators clearly do not trust democracy and are making sure that local officials, answerable to local voters, do not have the rights they have in other states.
There are other examples of arrogant, dictatorial rule by our legislature. In previous legislation, they have denied local governments the power to restrict or regulate “fracking” in their jurisdictions, even if local citizens wish their governments to do so. The legislature has also passed laws to confiscate local resources, developed and paid for by local governments, such as the Asheville water system and the Charlotte Municipal Airport.
Our legislature, for ideological reasons, cut education spending and denied Medicaid expansion that was already paid for by North Carolina’s taxpayers. For political reasons, they would rather have our tax money subsidize health care in other parts of the country than help North Carolina citizens in need, or reap the local economic benefits that would have resulted if we had accepted those federal dollars.
A Republican friend told me this is the worst North Carolina legislature in history. I agree with him.
How can our legislators be so fearless and arrogant?
It’s simple. They believe they are untouchable. They feel safe and secure in gerrymandered voting districts. However, it is possible to override the effects of gerrymandering if enough people turn out to vote and I hope that is what happens this fall.
I should also mention that the Randolph County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution earlier this month in support of HB2. It was not a unanimous decision. One member was absent and one member voted against it.
I don’t believe the commissioners thought through the implications of their resolution before passing it. Although, Randolph County is relatively conservative, its citizens still want economic growth and the jobs that come with it. They want tourists to visit and spend their dollars here. They want businesses to move in and young families to take up residence.
By claiming that Randolph County supports HB2, the commissioners are advertising an unwelcoming and intolerant attitude that will discourage tourism and dissuade businesses, families and young people from moving here. That cannot have been their intent and it is my hope that in May, the commission will have second thoughts and rescind their harmful resolution.
* Jim Meredith is a member of The Courier-Tribune’s 2016 panel of guest columnists. An information technology manager at Replacements Ltd. in Greensboro, he and his wife, Beverly, live near Liberty with their children, Suzanne, Tia and Wilson. He is also chair of the Randolph County Democratic Party. Contact:[email protected]
Walker’s response to Springsteen unsatisfactory
The offer by Congressman Mark Walker to “explain intellectually” North Carolina’s new law called HB2 to Bruce Springsteen is interesting. This is just after calling Mr. Springsteen a “bully” for canceling a rock concert in protest over the law. If Mr. Walker’s main qualification prior to election was that of being a pastor, using the term “bully” in the context of LGBT issues shows a remarkable lack of sensitivity to what these citizens experience every day. Mr. Walker’s solution is that he is going to a Justin Beiber concert.
What Mr. Walker should intellectually explain to his constituents is why over 130 corporations have written a letter to the governor asking him to repeal the bill. Please explain why he thinks PayPal would bully us by denying us 400 promised jobs. Please explain why 13 conventions are cancelling their Charlotte location. Please explain why a $15 million research grant has been pulled from UNC. Please explain why we would want to inflict economic suicide in the middle of a tepid recovery when our district’s unemployment is higher than the state and the national average.
When he is neither acting like a pastor nor understanding the total repercussions of laws that he endorses, why is he qualified to be our lawmaker?
Candidate for U.S. Congress (NC-6)
HB2 gives our state a national black eye
The legislators seemed to agree that the outcry over passage of the bill was due to liberalsand the left-wing media. I will let the liberals and the left-wing media speak for themselves, but the way I read and understand the situation, it is the General Assembly that has overreacted to the Charlotte ordinance, and as a result, has given North Carolina a national black eye and wasted $43,000. The state will spend additional dollars defending this legislation in the courts.
The passage of the bill has had enormous economic impact on Randolph County and our state already. The loss of PayPal’s new global operations center in Charlotte with its 400 jobs and average wage of $51,000 is only one of many companies rethinking investments in or travel to our state. Some companies are expected to bypass the High Point Furniture Market this year because of the legislation. This didn’t seem to be a concern to Randolph’s legislators.
The legislators speak of preserving the state’s values. Are they saying that discrimination and demeaning a group of our citizens (the LBGT community) are the state’s values? The N.C. Constitution speaks of equality and inalienable rights. These are the state’s values and mine.
Enforcement of the law seems to be downplayed by the legislators. But this can be a real problem. Will citizens have to carry their birth certificates with them and then disrobe to prove they are in the right bathroom? And taking the law literally, if I see a mother taking a little boy in the women’s bathroom, do I need to call security and have the boy arrested?
The law clearly needs to be repealed.