7.23.2015

HB 562 Brings Guns to NC School Parking Lots






While most of North Carolina is distracted by the state budget, NC legislators are working to allow guns on public school campuses.

The first principle in magic is misdirection. Keep the audience's eyes somewhere else, and then slip the trick right under their noses. That's what the NC legislature has been up to these last few weeks--with a budget now more than three weeks overdue and a committee of nearly endless members debating it, the legislature has resumed negotiations on a bill that makes important changes to gun laws in North Carolina.

House Bill 562 has been around for a while (it was first introduced in April of this year), but as this legislative session has been kept alive with budget talks, it's inching closer to law.

Frankly, there are a lot of things inside its pages that are pretty scary:

- The bill would allow permitted gun owners to bring their guns onto public school campuses and defends them if they shoot someone.

- It prohibits local jurisdictions from restricting guns in any way and eliminates their participation in permitting private gun sales, making it easier for people who shouldn't have a gun permit to obtain one.

- It almost entirely eliminates penalties for people who break the law by carrying concealed weapons into places that currently prohibit them, reducing most to a hefty traffic fine.

- It removes "unnecessary disqualifiers" from concealed carry applications, making it easier to get a permit for a concealed weapon.

- It allows short-barreled rifles for hunting (the kind which are heavily taxed because they're concealable and deadly).


6.25.2015

Better to be a Bitter Southerner





As Southerners, we get to choose what we keep and what we let go of. How you can love the South but hate the Flag.


Excuse me--and forgive me--for joining the bandwagon of people around our country who are demanding the removal of the Confederate flag from its official posts in South Carolina and elsewhere in the South.

I acknowledge it's hardly a brave thing to say that the flag is overdue in its removal, particularly after none other than the likes of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham have added their noteworthy voices to this chorus.

Indeed, much of Southern, conservative leadership has seemed to take on the cause of taking down the rebel Stars and Bars from the corner of the Capitol grounds in Columbia, SC. It is more than a little surprising, given how flaccid their opinions were only recently--but who am I to blame? It's not like I've been standing on that soapbox myself as of late.

But before you pass too much judgment upon me and my desire to see the flag gone, allow me to share with you my story as a Southerner.

6.22.2015

Senate Budget Ends Retired Teacher Healthcare





The Senate's Budget Bill, which was approved by vote last Friday, will end healthcare benefits for thousands of teachers when they retire.


Your healthcare could be in danger.

The North Carolina Senate just won't stop. Last week, the chamber voted on its budget proposal, which among other things ends the retirement healthcare benefit for any teacher hired after January 1, 2016. 

The change is buried deep, deep in the budget--you'll find it on page 445--and it primarily amends who is qualified as eligible for retirement benefits. The new language defines that as anyone who's hired after 1/1/2016 or anyone who returned to state employment after that date--and took their retirement funds when they left.