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This week was perhaps the most startling of all in the agenda put forth by the Republican Senate leaders. The headlines from the Republican Senators tax reform proposal read, “Largest tax cut in the history of North Carolina.” What it didn’t say was that while it is a billion dollar tax cut, it is at the expense of the poor and middle class. Millionaires could get up to a $56,000 taxbreak while those earning under $60,000 will see a tax increase. And soon, they will repeal the estate tax benefitting the wealthy again, after repealing the Earned Income Tax Credit for low income workers.
The Earned Income Tax Credit was President Reagan’s plan to bridge the gap for low income workers who might fall into poverty without it. Reagan was proud of the plan, and it has been successful. The Republican tax plan also places a state tax on food and prescription medicine: two very regressive taxes. Although some people will be better off under their proposed tax plan, especially the wealthy, manypeople living in ourdistrict—and around the state—are low-income workers who will suffer under the plan. I fear for thosein our community who are already struggling if this plan is enacted. Making even worse, because of the tax breaks, the budget is $1billion short, so cuts will be necessary to balance the budget if this plan is enacted. Of course, not all Republicans may agree, including perhaps the governor and the House, so this is a work in progress.
Incorrect material will be required to be taught to health classes in our schools in a bill passed in the Senate last week. The bill says thatthe schools must teach that an abortioncauses future preterm births. Testimony in the committee meeting was that there is a small risk of such an outcome and another researcher even disputed that. The Democrats were able to add language that pretermbirths are also caused by poverty, teen pregnancy, etc. I still could not vote for a bill that requires teaching non-factual material to our young students.The aversion to using science in creating public policy is quite distressing.
This week’s agriculture news was a presentation by Agriculture Commissioner Troxler to our International Caucus. He always reminds us that agriculture is the largest part of North Carolina economy and in this talk; he added that it isalso the largest export.
A bill in the Senate would immediately take away a driver’s license for 12 months if a person refuses to take aBreathalyser test when stopped by a law officer and upon a finding of probable cause by a magistrate that the person was driving under the influence. That finding is sent to the DMV which automatically revokes the license. After 30 days, the person can ask at a hearing for a limited driving privilege to enable them to get to work, etc. Even though the person requests a hearing, the revocation will not be stayed until the hearing. When a person gets a driver’s license, he consents to a Breathalyser test, even though most people may not be aware of it. It is called “implied consent” in the law.
Some misdemeanors would become infractions under the Wildlife boating safety act. This is important because one of the big costs to the state is for lawyersfor indigent clients. If there is a possibility that a person might go to jail if convicted of a misdemeanor, they are constitutionally required to have an appointed lawyer. But since a person will not go to prison for an infraction, it makes sense to change many minor misdemeanors to infractions. When I was on the Sentencing Services Commission, we studied the issue tosave the state money, but this is thefirst time a bill has made it to the Senate.
In the grabbing-headlines-for-meaningless-bills department, the Senate passed an Act to Clarify Student Rights to Pray in School. The U.S. Supreme Court decided this right years ago, so this is a feel-good bill known as a “run-on” bill. That is, the sponsor can run on the bill in the next election. A waste of time and money and paper but par for the course this year.
I was proud to receive a Certificate of Appreciation at the Graduation ceremony for the Department ofAfrican, African-American and Diaspora Studies. While the news has been filled with the misconduct of one professor and staff member, the real picture is of a department of recognized scholars and respected teachers whose intellectual energy has imparted to its students rigorous knowledge and analytical thinking. One of the tasseled awardee's thesis studied the role of women ministers in the black church, another the Nigerian economy whereher father was born.
To end on anotherpositive note, an avid bee keeper in our community and I were able to convince the Town of Chapel Hill to allow bee keeping under strict rules. Now there are hives on the roof of Top of the Hill owned by one of our community leaders and business owners. In addition, Carrboro's first urban rooftop installation is at Tyler's. It will be called "Carrboro Honey.” Open Eye will be featuring the honey as well as Neal's deli.
The Hillsborough Board of Commissioners met Monday, May 13, 2013, at the Town Barn, 101 E. Orange St. The following is a brief summary of noteworthy actions. It does not include all action taken at the meeting. This summary should not be viewed as official minutes. A copy of the agenda and details can be found on the town’s website. Using the meeting calendar, located on the right side of the home page, click on the meeting date and then the attachment.
Appointed Jim Parker of Summit Design and Engineering Services to a four-year, in-town term on the Water/Sewer Advisory Committee.
Approved town sponsorship of the Central High School Alumni Reunion Parade, to take place at 9 a.m. May 25 along Churton Street from Corbin Street to King Street. The parade will require closure of Churton Street for about 45 minutes and overtime for Hillsborough police officers and Public Works employees. It is expected to include floats, cars and bands.
Central High School was a former Orange County school for African-American children in grades 1-12. The school graduated its first class in 1938 and its last class in 1968, the year it later merged with Orange High School. The Central High campus now houses the year-round Hillsborough Elementary School. Alumni held the school’s first reunion parade five years ago in 2008, marking 40 years since the school closed and integration began.
Set a public hearing on ordinance amendments that would allow food trucks to operate on private property within the Historic District on a regular basis. The hearing is scheduled for the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners’ June 10 regular meeting.
The town currently allows food trucks to operate during special events. The owners of Maggie’s Hot Tin Roof, a bar locating in the former Hillsborough Plumbing building on West Margaret Lane, requested that the ordinance be changed.
For more information, contact Hillsborough Planning Director Margaret Hauth by phone at 919-732-1270 Ext. 86 or by email. Or contact Sarah DeGennaro, executive director of the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, by phone at 919-732-7741 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
School Resource Officers
Approved pursuing a grant to start a school resource officer program in four elementary schools. The proposed program would assign a Hillsborough police officer to Central and Hillsborough elementary schools as well as one to Cameron Park Elementary and Orange Charter schools. Primary responsibilities would include:
- Teaching a curriculum to various classes over the school year.
- Conducting security surveys; monitoring and critiquing lockdown drills; providing safety training to school staff; and being a physical security presence.
- Assisting with traffic control during peak drop-off and pick-up times.
- Investigating complaints and incidents on school grounds.
- Mentoring students and being a resource to school staff and parents.
- Running summer camps.
The officers also would provide backup help to the Hillsborough Police Department, including responding to service calls in close proximity when staffing is limited.
The COPS Hiring Program grant — from the Office of Community Oriented Policing of the U.S. Department of Justice — would fund up to 75 percent of the salary and benefits costs for hiring two school resource officers for three years. The town’s share of the costs would be $28,000 annually for the first three years, with the fourth year costing $113,600. Orange County Schools officials have indicated possible funding help. The Hillsborough Board of Commissioners directed staff to continue communications with the school system to determine whether the grant is worth pursuing and whether the school system would pay costs for the program once the grant funding ends.
The town welcomes feedback and questions from the public. For more information, contact Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton by phone at 919-732-9381 Ext. 22 or by email.
Waterstone Special Assessment District
Approved a resolution confirming a special assessment roll at a maximum of $6.2 million for the Waterstone Special Assessment District. The creation of a special assessment district allows liens to be levied annually over the next 10.5 years on the mixed-use development’s affected properties, ensuring current Hillsborough taxpayers do not bear the cost of completing the development’s infrastructure. Costs to complete the work — such as construction of Cates Creek Parkway, Waterstone Park and other work — are estimated at $3.2 million. After bond issuance and debt repayment, total cost of the bond would be approximately $6 million.
The board also approved a policy outlining the parameters for considering use of a special assessment district and approved an interlocal agreement with Orange County for collection of the annual assessment. The next step in the special assessment district process is for the Local Government Commission to consider approval of a revenue bond offering at its June 4 meeting. If approved, the bond sale could take place in late June or early July.
Waterstone is located in southern Hillsborough between N.C. 86 and Old N.C. 86 and the two interstates. The special assessment district would cover about 210 acres south of Interstate 85 and north of Waterstone Drive.
The Chapel Hill Town Council met on Monday, May 13, at Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., to consider an agenda that includes the following highlights. This brief summary is sent immediately following the public meeting. It should not be viewed as official minutes. Council meetings are replayed throughout the week on Chapel Hill Govt-TV 18. They also are available via streaming video atwww.townofchapelhill.org/councilvideo. The full agenda is available at tinyurl.com/chggund or by contacting Communications and Public Affairs at 919-968-2743 or email@example.com.
Republicans in North Carolina are trying to make it harder for college students to vote.
They're moving a bill through the state Senate that will impose a burdensome tax on the parents of North Carolina college students who choose to register to vote where they live, in their college communities.
This bill is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and unconscionable.
Tell Republicans in the North Carolina Senate that they've gone too far. Add your name to our petition.
I remember when I got involved in my first campaign. I was nine years old, and I worked for a city council candidate who promised my community a playground. The participation of young people is incredibly important to me and to the health of our democracy.
Last year, it was encouraging to see record numbers of young people registering to vote. Many of them registered for the first time in their lives, and many did so on their college campuses.
But Republicans saw those numbers, too -- and they got scared.
They're already trying to pass restrictive photo ID laws, cut early-voting hours, and end early voting on Sundays. Now they're adding one more scheme to keep young people from registering and voting in future elections.
Stand up for the voting rights of North Carolina's students -- tell Senate Republicans you oppose the student voting tax bill. Add your name to our petition:
Thank you for taking action,
Vice-Chair for Voter Registration and Participation
Democratic National Committee
Today at the State House:
House: Convenes at 12:00PM
A House committee will consider a Taxpayer Bill of Rights measure, known as TABOR, that would restrict state spending. Its hugely controversial and produced varied results. Other legislative committees will consider trimming environmental regulations and altering rules governing midwifery. In the House, a bill about cancer drugs that split Republicans faces another vote, as does the LEED certification bill.
Senate: Convenes at 12:00PM
On the Senate floor, lawmakers will hear a bill to prevent undercover whistleblower operations at farms and processing plants