GOP coercion: Give us our plastic bags and we'll give you GENX funding

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Playing political games during a public health crisis:

The state's plastic bag ban, in effect since 2009 on the barrier islands and peninsulas of Dare, Currituck and Hyde counties, would be repealed under the House Bill 56. House Minority Leader Darren Jackson accused Republicans of "playing games" by tying the repeal to what essentially amounts to emergency clean water funding.

Jackson, D-Wake, asked Republican bill negotiators in committee why GenX couldn't have its own bill. Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, said Senate negotiators wanted the issues joined. "It's the vehicle we used," said McElraft, who helped work out the final language. "That's the privilege that we have here, to use any vehicle we want."

No, the privilege you have is being trusted by the people to do the right thing, but it's actions like this that betray that trust. You are basically using the fear and angst of Wilmington-area citizens as an "opportunity" to get something else you want, and it doesn't get much more disgusting than that. And while we're on the subject of disgust, the penny-pinching behind this so-called "funding" should enrage those citizens:

The bill directs $185,000 to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority to monitor drinking water and to try to remove the chemical from the water. Another $250,000 is earmarked for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to measure the concentration of the chemical in river sediments and to otherwise study the chemical.

Gov. Roy Cooper had asked for $2.6 million in funding so the state Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Human Services could monitor GenX in the water and study the health effects of long-term exposure to it.

The Sierra Club's North Carolina chapter criticized the funding as too little and said money should have been directed to the state's environmental and public health agencies. It called the legislature's proposal "like asking everyone except a doctor to examine a sick patient.”

That number amounts to about 20% of what Governor Cooper asked for, and his administration doesn't get a dime of it. But you better believe Republicans will be pointing fingers at him and criticizing DEQ and DHHS for lack of progress on the issue, because that's what they do: Choke off agencies so they will fail, and then make political hay out of that failure. But unfortunately for us, their base can't put two and two together and come up with anything other than five, so they keep getting away with it.

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