Another Environmental Loss for North Carolina

From the Myrtle Beach Online:

Emissions tests of 1995-model and older vehicles ended Saturday, exempting some of Charlotte's likeliest polluters from the dragnet intended to catch them.
Annual emissions tests for those vehicles no longer will be required in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Union and the five other N.C. counties where they've been the law since the early 1990s. More than 600,000 cars and trucks - one vehicle in four in those counties - will get a pollution pass.
Older vehicles are those most likely to flunk the tests, state records show.

Lawsuit Against Lottery Asks the Courts to Stop the Games

The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law has filed suit to challenge North Carolina's new lottery. The challenge is based on the fact that the lottery was not considered on three separate days as most revenue bills must be. The State's claim is that the lottery is not a form of revenue. This claim is despite the fact that the reason Easley gave for needing the lottery was obtaining revenue.

Now the Institute is asking the court to prevent the games from beginning until after the suit is decided. From the Winston-Salem Journal:

It Gets Worse for DeLay - Off Topic, but Worth It

I realize we are trying to concentrate on local North Carolina politics here, but today's Washington Post article about Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff is an important piece. It is stunning and should be required reading for anyone in the least bit interested in politics.

Not only does it look like Jack Abramoff is going to sing like a little birdie next week, it looks like he's going to have a lot more to sing about than we first thought.

The Washington Post is running an in-depth article on The U.S. Family Network, a group with ties to both DeLay and Abramoff. From the WaPo:

Easley Appoints New Superior Court Judge

Former Center for Duke's football team and current Guilford County DA Stuart Albright has been named to replace his father as a superior court judge in Guilford County.

From WWAY 3:

North Carolina's governor finished out the old year by handing out some new jobs. Mike Easley named a new Superior Court judge in Guilford County, keeping the job in the family.
Easley chose District Attorney R- Stuart Albright for the judgeship -- replacing his father, W- Douglas Albright, who is retiring.

President of NCACC Urges Governor to Repeal Election Laws

Kitty Barnes, the President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners is requesting that the Governor repeal the state's election laws.

Barnes is not only the President of the NCACC, but she's the chair of the Catawba County Board of County Commissioners. Barnes, a Republican, says the counties have not been given enough time to comply with the law.

"Giving counties less than five months to order, install and train poll workers on new mandated equipment could very well lead to serious problems on Election Day, and that outcome would certainly not instill the public’s confidence in our elections."

Much Ado Over 2.8 Cents

Sorry if this becomes a bit rantish, but why the hell is there this much noise over 2.8 cents? For those of you that do not read North Carolina newspapers, websites, or watch local news, the gas tax is set to increase 2.8 cents a gallon on the 1st. This change is due to the fact that part of the gas tax in this state is pegged as a percentage of the cost of gas in the trailing 6 months. Since prices were higher these last six months, the tax is going up.

Since that time, there has been a push by some legislators to call a special session to cap the tax. And many news outlets have picked up on the story. The most recent one is the Jacksonville Daily News. And their estimate of the total cost of the tax to family over a year: $15.

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