Thursday News: Unconstitutional


LAWSUIT FILED OVER LEGISLATIVE PROTECTIONS OF HOG FARMS: After North Carolina’s pork industry began facing — and then losing — high-dollar lawsuits related to pollution and foul odors, state lawmakers passed new legal protections for the companies. But on Wednesday, several environmental and social-justice groups filed a lawsuit over those new legal changes, seeking to have them overturned. “These laws not only violate the state constitution, but also have disparate impacts on low-wealth and non-white North Carolinians, who disproportionally live where North Carolina has permitted industrial hog facilities to develop and operate,” the lawsuit says. Specifically, the lawsuit is asking the state courts to overturn the 2017 farm bill and part of the 2018 farm bill. They added new legal protections for the agricultural industry by restricting the ability of people who live near farms to sue over pollution, odor and other problems using “nuisance” laws.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Cap-in-place is the industry's new Plan A

Just when Illinois thought it was making progress:

The approved version of the Illinois bill had broad support from environmental advocates, even though some of the provisions they sought had been softened. Introduced in January by state Sen. Scott Bennett, the original version would have required the full removal of coal ash from storage pits and would have limited the repurposing of coal ash for uses like creating cement and concrete. After resistance from Dynegy, a Texas-based electric utility and subsidiary of Vistra Energy, as well as from the Illinois Farm Bureau and local waste management association, the legislation was modified.

In the final version, coal plant owners have the option to cover the ash pits with soil and leave the waste where it is, known as "cap in place." Operators would first have to conduct an environmental review to show the method would be equally protective as removing the coal ash.

There is really only one legitimate result of that review: In the absence of a bottom liner, there is no "equal protection." The only potential locations where cap-in-place might be comparable to a lined pit are those with densely-packed clay. North Carolina has a few locations that might work, but (unless I'm mistaken) none of our current coal ash impoundments meet that criteria. And Illinois is even worse, thanks to glaciation that gave that state some of the best soil in the world. In other words, an across-the-board approval of cap-in-place with no consideration of geologic strata is just bad policy. And of course Trump's EPA is making this issue even worse:

Commission to study reparations for Slavery on the move in U.S. House

And it's a long time coming:

With the support of a string of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, the idea of reparations for African-Americans is gaining traction among Democrats on Capitol Hill, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi backs the establishment of a commission that would develop proposals and a “national apology” to repair the lingering effects of slavery.

Nearly 60 House Democrats, including Representative Jerrold Nadler, the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, support legislation to create the commission, which has been stalled in the House for 30 years.

I read the bill last night and noticed a couple of depressing aspects, which combined together severely undercuts the potential of this Commission. First, they're only budgeting $12 million for its entire operation, which would barely scratch the surface of what needs to be researched. And then there's the timeline. One year to make their report to Congress, and then the Commission will be dissolved shortly after. And considering the Commission will also be studying the years that followed the end of slavery (critically important), that budget low-ball is even worse:

Wednesday News: 500,000 good reasons


GOVERNOR COOPER WANTS MEDICAID EXPANSION IN THE BUDGET: Cooper’s staff was clear that Medicaid expansion needs to be part of the discussions and has invited legislative leaders to the Executive Mansion on Wednesday to continue negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, who signed the letter to Cooper along with Sen. Kathy Harrington and Sen. Brent Jackson, spoke with reporters on Tuesday about the letter and budget negotiations. “If [Cooper’s] willing to not just have a show, but really sit down and negotiate, we’d love to sit down with him,” Brown said Tuesday. Brown said that Medicaid has problems and expansion “just doesn’t make sense to a lot of us.” The revised budget is expected to come out within a week, but it would face a possible veto if it doesn’t satisfy Cooper — and it would then need the support of supermajorities in the House and Senate to become law.

Tuesday News: Drink, Drank, Drunk


REPUBLICANS WANT TO CONSUME ALCOHOL 'TIL 4 A.M. AT THEIR CONVENTION: Legislation that emerged Monday in the N.C. House Rules Committee would create a special exemption during the RNC for North Carolina’s longstanding law that cuts off alcohol sales at 2 a.m. If the new version of Senate Bill 191 becomes law, bars, nightclubs and restaurants in Mecklenburg County and neighboring counties could continue serving alcohol until 4 a.m. between Aug. 22, 2020, and Aug. 30, 2020. The provision was added Monday in a new version of SB 191, which also would allow out-of-state law enforcement officers to have policing powers to provide extra security for the convention. And while the provision is intended to extend RNC festivities later into the night, the provision would apply to all businesses with on-premises alcohol sales in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Union, Gaston, Lincoln and Iredell counties.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The stench of desperation:

Well of course they looked at the files, how else were they supposed to determine if they were relevant to the case? As far as classifying them as "secret," you can't have your cake and eat it, too. You can't claim you did all the work yourselves on Legislative computers, but then claim the files contain "sensitive" information.

The State of Rape: Lack of funding and delay tactics plague victims


A system that seems to favor the predators:

“Cases don’t get better with time; they often get worse,” Pearce said. “If they can delay it and let it go on for longer, it’s less likely the evidence will be fresh. You are hoping the victim will grow tired of it.” With every delay in their case, victims can get discouraged. People move. Memories fade.

“(These crimes) are done in the dark, they are done in secret and done in private,” Pearce said. “Oftentimes that victim is the only primary witness.”

Keep in mind, in most of these cases, the accused rapist is out on bond pending the trial. In other words, free to assault other women, and free to harass their accuser. And of course there are "friends" of the accused who are out there harassing the victim, in an effort to get her to drop the charges. She might as well be in prison (or house arrest) herself, which often leads to the "People move" observation above. It's a shameful and untenable situation, and lawmakers who set budgets need to be called to task:


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