WE HAVE A WINNER!
HB 1261: Cyberbullying
Hard cases make bad law. That phrase is an apt description for why HB 1261 is this week’s bad bill of the week. HB 1261 sponsored by Rep. Nick Mackey(D-Mecklenburg) and Rep. Earline Parmon (D-Forsyth) criminalizes cyber-bullying and makes it punishable as a misdemeanor. While HB 1261 may have good intentions, that’s the only thing that is good about it. For starters, the legislation is ill-defined, near impossible to enforce and unnecessarily expands the powers of government.
Among other things, HB 1261 criminalizes the use of a computer or computer network “with the intent to intimidate or torment a minor.” The law also criminalizes statements, whether true or false, that would “tend to provoke or that actually provoke any third party to stalk or harass a minor.” These are broad, far reaching statements. How do we prove intent? How do we define intimidate, torment or harass? Unfortunately, HB 1261 fails to speak to any of these issues. HB 1261’s expansive scope will in reality work to limit basic freedoms of speech and give government more control over everyday life.
Supporters of HB 1261 say the legislation is necessary to prohibit cyber bullying. This is not true. The fact is, when individuals sign up to be a member of chat rooms or social networking sites, the web sites terms and conditions already prohibit individuals from misrepresenting themselves or engaging in inappropriate or criminal activity. Shouldn’t we enforce existing provisions before creating new legislation?
HB 901: Honors PE
Proposed by Reps. Verla Insko (D-Orange) and Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Edgecombe), the bill proposes “to develop or identify academically rigorous honors-level courses in health and physical education.” In essence, the legislation creates honors gym classes for high school students.
The bill comes at a time when many schools are waiving their physical education requirements and an honors P.E. course would only benefit a few students. If part of the bill’s intent is to improve the physical health of our students, the only students that would likely sign up for Honors P.E. would be ones already inclined toward regular physical activity.
When honors or advanced placement classes are taken, a student’s grade point average, or GPA, is figured differently: a grade received in an honors class is worth the points of a letter grade higher. Rather than challenging themselves with an extra math class or pursuing an interest in art (or a dozen other courses offered to high school students as electives), students already inclined to fitness will take the new honors P.E. just to boost their GPA.
HB 177: Mandatory Sick Days
Each year the Legislature attempts to redefine the relationship between the employer and the employee. This session is no different. This week’s “Bad Bill of the Week” is spearheaded by Reps. Alma Adams (D-Guilford), Deborah Ross (D-Wake), Dan Blue (D-Wake) and William Wainwright (D-Craven). Not content with establishing a state minimum wage, they have introduced the misleadingly named House Bill 177 “The Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces Act” which would actually mandate that employers grant paid sick days to employees.
While many businesses provide numerous benefits, employers would be faced with four unpleasant options in order to comply with this proposed law:
- Pass on the costs of this new “benefit” to their customers, thereby hurting competiveness.
- Decrease employee benefits elsewhere such as paid vacation, which would impact employee morale.
- Offset the costs by reducing employee wages again impacting morale.
- Get rid of some employee positions that would hurt productivity, morale and competitiveness.
None of these compelled options would help North Carolina attract new businesses from out of state.
SB 488/489: Reducing Criminal Penalties
This week’s bad bill of the week is actually two bills that when combined together, will create a new criminal sentencing schedule that dramatically reduces the prison lengths of future felons.
SB 488 will reduce individual sentence lengths for most felony convictions. For example, a person convicted of a B1 felony (1st degree rape), who had previously committed multiple small crimes, would receive a 9-12 month lesser sentence under this bill.
SB 489 will shift prior criminal record point levels so that more habitual criminals will now fall into lesser sentence classifications, resulting in much shorter prison sentences.
For example, a person who has one prior penalty point (a minor felony conviction) who commits 1st degree rape prior to December 1, would receive a sentence of 230-288 months. The very next day, the punishment for that person will be 192-240 months – about 3-4 years lesser of a sentence.
HB 1005: DOT Participation in Light Rail
North Carolina lawmakers during the 2009 legislative session have set the state up to write blank checks. Those checks would cover the costs to build commuter choo choo services in areas such as the Charlotte metro and Raleigh-Durham, where the fight to build light-rail services has been on-going for years. According to House Bill 1005, “An Act to Allow the Department of Transportation to Participate in Funding Fixed Rail Projects That Do Not Include Federal Funds,” the state has now put it in writing that they are going to get funding for this mode of transportation one way or another.
HB 1384: Shopping Carts/Prevent Exposure to Germs
The nanny-staters are at it again with HB 1384 – Shopping Carts/Prevent Exposure to Germs. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Earl Jones (D – Guilford), would “encourage” retail outlets that offer customers shopping carts to make free sanitation wipes available near the store entrance.
The purpose of the bill is to “protect consumers from shopping cart handles that may be contaminated with bodily fluids, including blood, saliva, mucus, and urine, and fecal matter, by encouraging that the means to disinfect or sanitize nonporous surfaces on shopping carts be provided to the public.”
I don’t know about you, but if I see a cart with blood, urine and fecal matter on it – I’m telling the manger and leaving the store. A Clorox wipe is not going to put me at ease.
Of course, using the term “encourage” indicates that stores will not be required to provide such wipes under this law. But we all know what will happen if stores are not complying at a high enough rate – the next law will force retailers to comply, imposing yet another government cost on business owners.
Many stores that offer shopping carts already offer free sanitary wipes, but apparently not at the rate Rep. Jones finds acceptable. Store owners should be free to decide whether they want to supply the wipes, and customers would be free to shop only at stores that supply such wipes – if they choose to do so.
HB 197: Funds For Queen Anne’s Revenge
Just when you thought you saw all superfluous spending from this year’s legislature, HB 197 floats to the surface. Introduced by Reps. McLawhorn (D-Pitt), E. Warren (D-Pitt), Tucker (D-Duplin) and Haire (D-Jackson) , HB 197, titled “Funds for Queen Anne’s Revenge,” authorizes government spending for continued research on the sunken ship.
Queen Anne’s Revenge is believed to be the flagship of the legendary pirate Blackbeard, which is said to have sunk in 1718 near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. The funds totaling $400,000, distributed over the next two years, will go to Queen Anne’s Revenge Project, a team of archaeologists who “investigate, interpret and preserve the remains of Blackbeard’s flagship.” The bill explains that the money will allow critical matching of federal and private grant funds already given to the project.
Beneath the water lies not only the begotten ship of the dreaded pirate Blackbeard, but a complete misuse of government spending. Amidst the crisis of rising unemployment and increased budget cuts across education, public safety and healthcare, it is irresponsible for our legislators to fund such underwater excursions. Researching history should be a priority; however, using public funds to support this project when private money already exists is not acceptable. Spending like this has already led to another shipwreck – North Carolina’s economy.
HB 1128: Healthful Living Coordinators
At a time when state budget makers are warning about potential “deep cuts” to education and the need to “protect the classroom,” along comes HB 1128 – Funds for Healthful Living Coordinators, sponsored by Verla Insko (D – Orange). This bill would require an additional $14 million in tax dollars over the next two years to create more non-classroom bureaucratic busybodies.
The purpose of HB 1128 is to “provide one full-time healthful living coordinator in the central office of each local school administrative unit.” What would the newly invented position of “healthful living coordinator” entail? According to the bill’s language, “The healthful living coordinator shall design, support, implement, manage, and evaluate a district-wide coordinated school health program that will address childhood obesity prevention and other health related issues.”
In other words, each school district will have a central planner for your children’s diet and exercise regimen while at school. The bill further notes that the healthful living coordinator will “work collaboratively with the obesity prevention staff at the local health department.” Apparently, the “obesity prevention” bureaucrats aren’t preventing very much obesity, so of course the solution is to add more bureaucrats!
SB 460: License Dog Breeders
With the introduction of SB 460 by Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene), (Identical Bill HB 460 by Representatives Jeffus(D- Guilford); Dickson (D- Cumberland); Harrison (D- Guilford)) yet another branch of the extremist animal rights movement has surfaced in North Carolina.
While current statute already outlaws animal cruelty, SB 460 would have a huge impact on anyone who owns pets, hunts or breeds dogs by inserting the state into the breeding of dogs. The bill would add a new licensure regime and impose fees on breeders while also threatening them with a $1,000 fine.
While adding to the regulatory power of the state this bill will also increase the size of the state bureaucracy by adding more taxpayer funded positions. According to Fiscal Research, those positions and other estimated expenses will cost taxpayers almost $250,000 the first year and more than $400,000 a year after the first year.
This bill establishes an investment company focused on financing life science companies, guaranteeing a rate of return for investors. If the rate of return is not met, the difference will be made up by providing tax credits to investors.
HB 1516: Expand JDIG
While sounding like a benign “technical” bill – House Bill (HB) 1516 ( Senate Bill 576) – JDIG Technical Modifications sponsored by Reps. Jim Crawford (D-Granville), Margaret Dickson (D-Cumberland) and Pryor Gibson (D-Anson) keeps North Carolina moving ahead on a failed “job creation” strategy. This strategy consists of bribing companies with your tax dollars to relocate here and the companies respond by extorting money out of N.C. taxpayers for doing what they are supposed to do – hire people to make money for their companies!
This bill does two main things. First it extends the life of “Job Development Incentive Grants” (JDIG), due to expire January 1, 2010, until January 1, 2016. By doing the extension, it commits the state to spending at least $150 million more dollars on top of the money already committed (good dollars after bad). Remember this is from a Legislature that can’t get its act together to pass a budget before the start of the new fiscal year and is proposing to raise taxes by over a billion dollars.
North Carolina has been giving tax dollars to businesses for over a decade and has little to show for the “investment.” North Carolina has lagged the nation in job creation since 2001 and has been at the top of the national list in job loss since the start of the current recession, with just six states having higher unemployment rates in May 2009.
HB 1050: Independent Energy Efficiency Administration
This bill is designed to hide a tax increase under the guise of improving energy efficiency, but all HB 1050, Independent Energy Efficiency Administrator, by Reps. Blue D-Wake, Tolson D-Edgecombe, Glazier D-Cumberland and Harrison D-Guilford, will really do is squeeze North Carolinians already struggling with the 8th highest unemployment rate in the country.
The plan is to add another tax to our gas and electricity bill to fund “NC Save$ energy,” a quasi-governmental, non-profit charged with promoting and regulating energy efficiency. “NC Save$ energy” would be completely unaccountable and have the unfettered power to raise the tax as it sees fit.
In plain English, they can raise the tax on your electricity and gas bill as high as they want.
HB 1122: License Colonhydrotherapy
While it does not appear that this bill will go anywhere, (I will try and resist any and all jokes about this one) House Bill 1122, NC Colon Hydrotherapy Licensure, by Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) illustrates the problem with licensure bills. While this may be a therapeutic procedure some people desire, is it necessary to put the North Carolina official seal of approval on it by licensing colon hydrotherapists?
So called “professional licensing” serves several political interests; it restricts competition and raises prices, increases revenue to government through fees, fines and other new costs, expands government by increasing bureaucracy and extends the regulatory arm of government.
SB 202: The House Budget Proposal
It was a very easy choice this week for our Bad Bill of the Week – Senate Bill 202, the House’s version of the 2009-2011 budget.
What other bill pending in the General Assembly would destroy jobs, raise taxes on all North Carolinians and potentially kill any attempt at an economic recovery in our state?
Among the economically crippling taxes included:
• Increasing the sales tax by 1/4 percent to 7 percent (some counties are higher)
• Expanding the sales tax to services like auto repair, home repair and warranties
• Creating the “Christmas Present tax” – charging sales tax on shipping with FedEx and UPS (but not with the Post Office)
• Creating the “iTunes” tax – charging sales tax on Internet downloads like songs, software and ringtones for your cell phone
• Charging a sales tax on each and every ticket to movies and sporting events.
• Increasing the personal income tax – already the highest in the Southeast – paid not only by workers but by almost all small businesses as well
• Increasing taxes on small businesses – forcing LLCs to file as corporations and pay franchise tax
With almost 11 percent of North Carolina’s workforce unemployed, this bill will raise taxes by almost $800 million this fiscal year and over $1 billion the following fiscal year. The effect will be either killing or severely slowing new job creation in North Carolina’s economic recovery.
HB 1521: Green Welcome Center
Representative Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes) has introduced into the General Assembly House Bill 1521 which requests $50,000 to “construct an environmentally friendly visitor’s center in Wilkes County.” To paraphrase former tennis star John McEnroe, “You can not be serious!”
Leaving aside for now the question of what exactly makes a government-funded rest stop “environmentally friendly,” one has to question the nerve of Randleman to file a bill to bring pork back to her district during North Carolina’s largest budget crisis in at least a generation.
Moreover, Wilkes County isn’t even a border county, so the placement of this proposed visitor’s center is suspicious to begin with.
HB 762: Community Association Managers Licensure
Almost everybody who has bought a home in an urban/suburban area built in the last 30 years is familiar with a “Homeowners Association (HOA).” They either live in one, or know somebody who does. They also probably have heard a HOA horror story or experienced the wrath of an overly aggressive HOA themselves. This “Bad Bill of the Week” hits a triple in restricting competition and raising costs, expanding government and not really solving the problems of HOA’s running amok.
House Bill 762/Senate Bill 516, Community Association Managers Licensure, (the House version by Rep. Pryor Gibson, D-Anson, the Senate version by Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake) would require “mandatory licensure of persons who provide community association management for compensation is necessary…” As with most licensure bills this one institutes a strict regulatory body for oversight and regulating Community Association Managers. This body will require fees to be paid, will decide who gets a license, and who does not, and will decide who offers “continuing education.” It also decides who gets paid for educational service among a myriad of other details.
What it also will do is require every single “…community association whose membership includes the owners of 20 or more residential condominiums, town houses, apartments, or lots or any combination thereof” to register with the state and pay a $50 fee every year.
SB 642: Require Off-Road Vehicles to be Licensed
The state of North Carolina wants to know if you own an “All Terrain Vehicle” (ATV), dirt bike, or any other vehicle. And they don’t just want to know about it, they want you to register it with the state and pay $15 per year for the privilege of owning one.
Require Off-Road Vehicles to be Registered – SB642 – is sponsored by Sen. Doug Berger (D-Franklin) and co-sponsored by Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange). This bill would require any off-road vehicle, be it ATV, dirt bike, four-wheeler or other vehicle, to be licensed by the NC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The owner would be required to verify with the state that they have paid sales and use tax on the vehicle, as well as pay a $15 per year registration fee.
SB 575: Apple Incentives
Looks like another multi-billion dollar corporation has succeeded in bilking millions more of our tax dollars, courtesy of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Senate Bill 575 (Hoyle D – Gaston), aka the Apple bill, would establish a different tax liability formula for eligible companies. The eligibility requirements are so specific, however, that it has become readily apparent the legislation is designed to lure Apple Computers to open a server farm in Caldwell County.
A close examination of the legislation shows the new tax formula would apply to at least three companies that already exist in North Carolina. So even if Apple doesn’t open its location in North Carolina, the new law would cause a decline in state corporate tax revenue of roughly $1.5 million annually.
HB 1278: “We’re With the Government and We’re Here to Help”
The current recession has hit North Carolina especially hard. Statewide unemployment is 10.8 percent, fifth highest in the nation. The dramatic downturn has significantly reduced available tax revenue, creating an estimated $4.6 billion budget deficit for the coming fiscal year.
But never fear, your state bureaucrats are here to save the day! House Bill 1278 (Pierce D-Hoke) would create a “Response Team” to rescue any North Carolina county that suffers an extraordinary number of job losses.
In short, the bill would provide an “emergency response” to any county whose unemployment rate exceeds 15.5 percent for two consecutive months. Among other things, an “emergency response” includes:
• An unexplained method of “simplifying and expediting” applications for unemployment compensation and public assistance
• Education to the counties’ citizens about available retraining and educational opportunities in the region
• More intense economic development and job creation activities
• Assistance to municipal and county governments, as appropriate
The most disturbing aspect of this bill: it further entrenches the mistaken mindset that government is always the answer to all societal ills.
HB 628: Basnight’s Pier
Whether you are an avid vacationer in Nags Head or not, here comes a party house on the North Carolina coast that will only cost taxpayers a conservative $25 million to construct. Oh yeah, and there’s a pier attached to it. Normally, “Bad Bill of the Week” is dedicated to those who are trying to get legislation passed. However, this week we had to take note of one particular bill, HB628, which blew through the General Assembly at a much faster rate than most.
Aquariums Satellite Areas Funding was introduced in the House March 17 by Reps. Timothy Spear (D-Dare), Bill Owens (D-Camden) and Daniel McComas (R-New Hanover) – will New Hanover residents have a similar pier in the near future? House members passed the measure April 9; Senate appropriations moved it forward April 13; the Senate approved of it April 14 and it was signed, sealed and delivered to Gov. Perdue the same day. With very little discussion, it became law.
Final language of the bill reads, “An act to authorize the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to expend existing moneys for capital improvement projects at North Carolina Aquarium Satellite Areas,” meaning, the pier project is “to be funded with receipts or from other non-General Fund sources” and at a cost not to exceed $25 million dollars. Slated to create 555 construction jobs, and 1,250 off-site jobs, the pier, formerly known as Jennette’s Pier (properly now known as North Carolina Aquarium Pier at Nags Head), is “shovel ready,” yet it lacks any explanation of its true economic impact. Question – are North Carolinian’s going to get those jobs? And on top of that, are they seasonal or full-time with benefits? According to the bill, this project is estimated to bring in $14 million dollars to North Carolina’s economy – do the math.
HB 1075: Teach Green Science
An ever-changing energy industry combined with greater consumption and public demand for clean energy are placing increasing pressure on schools to expand the science curriculum. In response to these trends, more and more school districts across the country are including so-called green energy and green science courses as part of the curriculum.
Unfortunately, North Carolina has not escaped this tidal wave of environmental activism. Last week, Reps. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), Lucy Allen (D-Franklin) and Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg) introduced HB 1075, titled the “Teach ‘Green Science’ in High Schools” bill.
This is bad legislation for several reasons. First, “Green Science,” as much as you want to dress up the term, still lacks a clear and accepted definition. Ask three people what “green” means, you’ll get three different answers. Science refers to a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject. The fact is, “green” is a nebulous, gauzy term. If definitions are still evolving, how is it even possible to teach about a fixed body of knowledge?
HB 1348: Regulate Beauty Pageants
This week’s “Bad Bill of the Week” could easily be renamed after the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine.
Rep. Annie Mobley (D-Bertie) introduced legislation (HB 1348) to “establish the joint legislative study committee on the regulation of beauty pageants for youth under thirteen years of age.” As if the government is not already in over its head, Rep. Mobley thinks it can prevent any physiological “damage” preteens ensue during a beauty pageant (or is it a scholarship competition).
While the state sits in a budget crisis, HB 1348 would allot funds to “study” beauty pageants – events that less than one percent of young girls participate. The study committee would be comprised of five members of the House and five members of the Senate – since our elected representatives are obviously experts on the topic – and has six goals.
The goals include collecting data on how other states regulate beauty pageants (sounds like a simple Google search to me), finding an agency to regulate youth beauty pageants (really, we need to regulate them) and criteria to impose on them.
SB 848: Admit Illegals to Community Colleges
The admission of illegal immigrants to public institutions of higher education is an issue North Carolinians oppose in significant numbers. However, strong public sentiment hasn’t stopped Sen. Charles Albertson (D-Duplin) from introducing legislation (SB-848) to admit illegal immigrants to the state’s community college system.
While the State Board of Community Colleges has contracted with a consultant to help answer the question whether community colleges should admit illegal immigrants, most residents of the Tar Heel state already know it’s a bad idea.
North Carolinians know there is something inherently wrong with offering educational benefits — paid for with the hard-earned money of law-abiding taxpayers – to individuals who are in this country illegally and who are oftentimes accessing more in services than they are paying in taxes.
HB 750: Repeal Ban on Collective Bargaining
This “Bad Bill of the Week” is a piece of legislation that will fundamentally change North Carolina government at the state and local levels for the worse. It will cost the state tens of millions of dollars to implement and significantly increase costs annually, forcing tax increases. It will take decision -making ability away from elected officials and voters and give it to union bosses, lawyers and federal mediators. It will also end any hope of merit pay for outstanding teachers and state employees.
House Bill 750, sponsored by Rep. Dan Blue (D-Wake), Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), Rep. Lorene Coates (D-Rowan) and Rep. Ty Harrell (D-Wake) would repeal North Carolina’s ban on collective bargaining for state employees.
The labor union for state employees (SEIU) has calculated it will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. And, that’s not counting the need for the state to hire teams of labor lawyers to negotiate labor contracts with multiple labor unions, which will swoop in to collect union dues from the state’s 275,000 person workforce.
SB 619: License Pedorthists
You of sore and hurting feet, life may get more expensive thanks to Sen. Fletcher Hartsell (R- Cabarrus). He is our “Bad Bill of the Week” winner with Senate Bill 619, otherwise known as Pedorthist Licensure. Most people would not even know what a Pedorthist is much less feel there is a need to license them. Pedorthists specialize in the use of footwear and supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs
Sen. Hartsell desires to make anyone who sells footwear or devices register with the state and pay a licensing fee – which they will promptly pass on to us. This law will also expand state government by giving the new board the power to “Employ and fix the compensation of personnel that the Board determines is necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this Article and incur other expenses necessary to effectuate this Article.”
SB 519: State Health Plan Enroll on 1st Day
As North Carolina’s State Health Plan faces a projected shortfall of $1.2 billion over the next two years, it seems the last thing needed right now is any measure that would increase the costs of the program.
But that’s exactly what Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston) is proposing in Senate Bill 519. Essentially, what the bill does is expedite how quickly new state employees begin receiving their state health coverage. Previously, new employees needed to wait until the first day of the month following their first day of employment. SB 519 would move up coverage to the new employee’s actual first day of employment.
As legislation to “fix” the State Health Plan’s financial troubles by raising co-pays and deductibles moves through the Senate, SB 519 would only make any fixes more expensive.
SB 20: Publicly Finance State Treasurer Campaign
Thomas Jefferson once declared, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
Yet it is this sort of activity that the North Carolina General Assembly is seeking to expand. Senate Bill 20 would force taxpayers to finance the campaigns of candidates for state treasurer – even those candidates you may disagree with. SB 20 would add the state treasurer’s race to a 2007 bill (HB 1517) that initiated taxpayer-financed campaigns for three Council of State offices (Auditor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Commissioner of Insurance) to use tax dollars to finance their campaigns.
SB 100: Get Paid for Good Grades
Senator Fletcher Hartsell (R- Cabarrus) is this week’s bad bill award winner with his introduction of SB 100. This legislation would create a commission to study the feasibility of offering financial incentives to students as a reward for quality academic performance. Among other things the commission will:
Study the feasibility of giving to every public school student in North Carolina an incentive of one thousand ($1,000) dollars per year beginning at grade one and extending to grade 12 in the student meets successfully specific academic, disciplinary, attendance, character, and parental involvement goals and benchmarks.
Translation: Get good grades, get rewarded financially. I can save Sen. Hartsell the time and money necessary to “study” the issue. There are plenty of reasons why SB 100 is a bad idea without even talking about the $100,000 that he wants to spend on the “study”. First, it may be true that not all students are equally motivated to achieve academically. Some may respond positively to financial incentives. But why undermine the integrity of the entire system and the sacrifice of thousands of other students by conflating academic achievement to a dollar value? Tying financial incentives to academic achievement sends the wrong message to all students. It reflects a society obsessed with the outcomes of education, but increasingly unaware of the real value of learning.
HB 120: Public Funding for Municipal Campaigns
While state and local government leaders are in the midst of their most perilous financial circumstances since the Great Depression, legislators are still finding new ways to spend money. In “Bad Bill of the Week,” we are highlighting a bill that would make cities and towns put into action public financing of municipal campaigns.
House Bill 120 penned by Reps. Glazier, Goodwin, Harrison, and Wilkins would establish a “Pilot Program” for publically financed municipal campaigns. The history of pilot programs in N.C. is that they are almost always expanded at ever-increasing costs.
SB 46: Internet Libel
Basically, SB 46 would treat blogs and electronic communications under different libel and slander criteria from print or news media. It would criminalize and allow lawsuits to be brought against any Web site, blog, forum or newsgroup that posted allegedly false information. So, for example, I hopped on Facebook and posted a comment that John Doe likes to eat broccoli, when in fact, Doe has a severe aversion to broccoli. That means, under this filed bill, I could be arrested and charged with a class 2 misdemeanor and Doe could sue me for slander. Sen. Goss later said he thought the inclusion of criminal penalties in the bill was “a mistake.” But saying that doesn’t let him off the hook.
Sen. Goss also said that this new law is needed because “blogs are out of control.” And who’s control might that be senator, yours or the government’s? Apparently Sen. Goss believes freedom of speech and the 1st Amendment needs to be restricted.
SB 9: Amend Peeping Tom Law
Last year Boseman was involved in a number of semi-scandals, including allegations of campaign finance irregularities and the foreclosure on one of her houses. But the one that prompted this legislative action was a domestic dispute between Boseman and her former partner, which included a child-custody dispute. Her former partner alleged that Boseman violated the terms of their agreement, so in response she hired a private investigator to get proof that Boseman was in violation.
The Senator, obviously still upset over being caught in what appeared to be a violation of a child-custody agreement, used her first day back to file the bill in an effort to stop future private investigators from using surveillance as a tool. This is not a bill that the general public would storm the halls of the Legislature demanding action be taken; it is a bill to strike back at a profession in which she has suddenly taken an intense disliking.
With all of the troubles the state of North Carolina is facing: multi-billion dollar shortfalls in budgeting; high school drop-out rates through the roof; people dying in state mental hospitals, surely there is something more important she could find to concentrate on her first day back to work for the people of North Carolina?
HB 1623 – Star Fleet Academy
Or we should call it what it really does – to boldly give away your tax dollars as no man has done before. Once again a bill is attempting to disguise “pork barrel” spending as “job creation” except this bill is way out there in more than the usual way. House Bill 1623 – NCA&T McNair Center Funds – sponsored by Representative Earl Jones (D-Guilford) has an innocuous sounding title that honors a brave astronaut, Ronald McNair, who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.
But once you get by the title you find that this bill is definitely "Lost In Space" using as cover the old standby of “job creation.” Jones’ bill would fund the creation of a new research facility at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. This study and land acquisition comes with a price tag of $1.7 million. This money will be used to “secure land, to conduct a feasibility/market study, and to develop a master plan for the construction of a state-of-the-art technology research and development building complex known as, drum roll please, "The Star Fleet Academy Complex."