Over the past few years much has been made of the North Carolina state government and its efforts to turn a once-proud state into West Somalia. Granted, there have been no end of crazy laws and bans going on across the nation (witness the Virginia lege banning flags on sticks
in the capitol building), but when it comes to pure, unadulterated legislative ridiculousness, the Old North State has them all beat, hands down
So what is the General Assembly up to in North Carolina? Well...
Just this week, the state senate passed a bill that would allow counties to raise sales taxes to fund infrastructure or education, but not both. Even though a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers has stated that one in nine bridges are structurally unsound, and despite the constant need to improve education, the GA has decreed that counties can choose good roads OR good schools.
Meanwhile, after seven years the state government is about to release a report on water-quality standards that it is federally required to do every three years. This is not the most worrisome thing about the report, though. That belongs to the fact that the report will do nothing to address the possible water toxicity of fracking chemicals. North Carolina is expected to open the state to fracking in 2015, and for many mountain residents with no job prospects and no unemployment aid coming from the state government, they may have to poison their own land so they can feed their families.
If you're a teacher, of course, you have no need to worry. You have a job and it's secure, right? WRONG! The GA passed a law this spring that not only eliminates tenure for teachers, but also eliminates pay raises for teachers who earn advanced degrees. For some reason, however, this did not seem to placate teachers who are already having to sweat out performance reviews and buy supplies not only for themselves, but for their students as well:
In April, the Wake County Public School System – the largest in North Carolina with about 150,000 – said more than 600 teachers had left since the beginning of the school year, an increase of 41 percent over the same period the year before.
But fear not, North Carolinians! The GA has got your back on the important issues. They passed a bill that allows students to pray in school and mention God in school assignments. This is a move that is sure to compensate for the budget cuts and mass exodus of teachers who selfishly want to make more money to provide for themselves and their families. Also, they are planning on issuing "Choose Life" license plates, even though such plates have been ruled unconstitutional twice.
(Would this be a good time to mention that State House speaker Thom Tillis is the Republican nominee to unseat US Senator Kay Hagen? I think it is.)
All of this is merely the tip of the iceberg of the riciculousness that has beset North Carolina over the past two years. I grew up in NC, and I love the state like no other. However, seeing what is going on there, I think I can stand not being there as long as ALEC and the Koch brothers wield their kingmaking scepters over the flunkies that are trying to put the state in last place in so many national standards. Maybe the electorate will wake up this year and in 2016, but I'm not overly optimistic.