- Our Party
Senator Kinnaird's Newsletter (9-23-2012)
First, a correction: in referring to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote, I mistakenly called it the 21st, as a reader pointed out. This was due to my bad translating of the roman numeral XIX of the section. It’s been a long time since junior high when I learned them - not well, it seems. Our history records actions that show where we are at any given time, and how we rectify them is another part of our history. There is also a religious test for holding office that is superseded by the U. S. Constitution that I feel should be repealed.
Last term, Verla Insko and I introduced a Resolution to ask Congress to overturn the very badCitizens United Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited contributions to Super PACS by corporations and unions. This overturned 100 years of precedent. (Remember when the new appointees promised to honor stare decisis, or not to overturn precedent.) Our Resolution was not even assigned to a committee, much less heard. Now Representative David Price has introduced a bill in Congress, called The Empowering Citizens Act. Although it does not overturn Citizens Uniteddirectly it has measures that would off-set the incredible amounts of funding we are seeing in this election. It would replace the outdated and ineffective presidential public campaign funds with a “new small donor matching program that encourages candidates to reach out to all Americans, not just those with the thickest wallets.”, as Rep. Price says. Price would also extend the same small donor matching system for congressional campaigns to allow the candidate to focus on ideas, not on high-dollar donations by seeking matching funding for small donations - a 5:1 match for donations up to $250, making a $250 donation worth $1,500. It would also have a clear prohibition forbidding Super PACs from operating as unacknowledged arms of candidate campaigns. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and I hope Congressional representatives understand the seriousness of the challenge to democracy itself, and join Congressman Price and perhaps even overturn the Citizens United ruling. We can see the results every day in the huge amounts of money spent in campaigns this year.
I was invited to a presentation of some basic science research by Professor William E. Goldman, his doctoral students and post-doctoral students at the UNC School of Medicine, Department of Immunology and Microbiology. The work these researchers are doing is extraordinary and will affect every aspect of medicine and public health. Their work and funding is almost entirely from NIH and other federal grants and even the Defense Department. I am concerned that this crucial work is threatened by both sequestration (also known as the January 1st “fiscal cliff”) and any increase in military spending that might cause corresponding reductions in NIH funding. Such cuts would result in our falling behind in basic research that translates into new pharmaceuticals and therapies. It would also stifle the entrepreneurship coming out of these labs and researchers. After learning about the significant research at UNC Medical School, I was honored and pleased to join the UNC Health systems in their 60th Anniversary celebration. We heard the history of the School and its growth to a nationally and internationally recognized institution that cares for all the people of North Carolina.
Rufus Edmisten, who served the subpoena to President Richard Nixon for the Watergate tapes in 1973, donated his Watergate papers to the UNC Library. I regret I was not able to attend, but my colleague Verla Insko, did and took great pictures of one of our outstanding public servants; he served as not only deputy chief counsel to the Watergate Committee, but as NC Attorney General and Secretary of State. He is also a delightful character in our history.
Finally, payday lending, which can throw people into a cycle of increasing debt as they struggle to repay these loans, has raised its ugly head again in North Carolina with Alabama-based Regions Bank, with six branches in North Carolina. This in spite of the strictest regulation passed by the legislature, with the help of Attorney General Roy Cooper. He is investigating how he can stop them, but since they are national banks, it may be impossible.
We must be always vigilant.