The following post was originally run on CaldwellTEAParty.Org on May 13, 2014, just prior to the start of the 2014 NCGA Short Session. Reposting here, as the items below are still relevant to the ongoing legislative battles being waged in Raleigh:
The North Carolina General Assembly convenes tomorrow at noon to begin the short session. Independent North Carolina, an informal NC activists communication network focused on government reform outside of the partisan structure, held our first conference call to discuss issues pertinent to the upcoming session. We are planning to hold follow-up calls once a month. If you’d like to be informed of future calls, you can join the group facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/719751841396840/
Here are a few of the items discussed of which immediate activism is needed – please call and email state legislators today about the following:
NC Commercial Fishing Industry Regulatory Burden - Video documentary for information on the plight of NC Commercial Fishermen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imZll1qBKB0
Watch out for Joint Enforcement Agreement legislation: turns control of NC’s marine law enforcement over to the federal government by accepting grant money with strings attached. Linked is an action plan memo from North Carolina Watermen United for activists to share with NC legislators: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zEusP9Al-rZHnTCecbTGfwHXYzaBUzw_h5CCmC5zLdc/edit?usp=sharing
Common Core / Race to the Top - Video documentary for information on history of Common Core in NC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_tKGwR-tJI
The main issue is grant funding that was given to our state with strings attached. The Race to the Top phase II Grant mandated the implementation of common standards. RttT agreement was a 3-part initiative: common standards, data mining, & school reform/transformation including STEM and teacher professional development – these 3 parts are summarized in a chart on page 11(page 21 of pdf file) of the Race to the Top grant agreement signed in 2010 by Bev Perdue & June Atkinson:
The NCGA placed the grant mandates into NC general statutes in 2011, making compliance a state law. The language MUST be removed from NC’s general statutes if we wish to be rid of data mining, common core, federal testing mandates, etc. A legislative proposal from the Common Core Study Committee is eligible for hearing in NCGA short session. Their proposal forms another committee (more bureaucracy?) to propose “revisions” to the current standards, delegates $250,000 for the new committee to spend on education consultants, keeps us operating under Common Core (though renamed ‘North Carolina standards’), does not address RttT data mining, keeps many of the testing mandates in our general statutes, etc. – the committee’s legislative proposal is on page 21-25 of study committee packet:
Activists – petition legislators to instead offer substitute amendment which strikes all testing mandates & other grant-compliance mandates from NC general statutes, such as the sample legislation shown at following link: http://carolinalibertypac.com/2014/02/making-the-committees-job-easier-legislation-to-repeal-common-core/
*UPDATE* Rep. Larry Pittman was able to incorporate substantial amendments on the House side, including prohibitions on data collection. Action item: Petition Senators to PASS HB1061.
Toll Roads - Public-private partnership HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes plan for I-77; tax dollars fund the lane construction, private company (Cintra) profits from the tolls. NC residents already pay gas tax rates that are among the highest in the nation. In 2013 the NCGA increased the annual registration fees of electric vehicle drivers to cover their exclusion from the gas tax. The eventual costs of the HOT lanes plan are incalculable as the toll rates would be subject to the whims of a private corporation unaccountable to the taxpayers of North Carolina. For more information about the HOT lanes scam, see: http://wideni77.org/about/
Skip Stam recent email to insiders on how to promote the idea of HOT lanes, published on Daily Haymaker, indicates that NCGA leadership will be pushing to finalize the plans ASAP: http://dailyhaymaker.com/?p=7924
House Bill 267 is still to be passed from the Senate side. Contact Senate members to REJECT passage of the HOT lanes-allowing bill from Senate. Contact info for Senate members can be found here.
The following message is a further action item regarding the HOT lanes issue from Charlotte TEA Party President Christian Hine: “The contract with Cintra has not yet been made available for public scrutiny. The DOT should be contacted as well as the members of the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee which is supposed to review the contract. Let them know additionally that we do not support the project in general. Both general purpose lanes and (worst case scenario) even a traditional toll road are preferred options.”
Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee members’ contact information can be found here: http://pundithouse.com/2014/04/cintras-hot-lanes-a-hot-mess/