S1959: Buses to Deport Illegal Aliens

Legislation as campaign press release.

Just in case there’s a mass roundup or something Senator James Forrester has filed a bill to spend $30,000 and set up a study commission to examine the costs and feasibility of using the state’s prison and school buses to transport “Mexican nationals found within the state of North Carolina who are not lawfully present in the United States back to Mexico.”

I kid you not. $30 large. Fortunately, it’s in Rules and won’t likely see the light of day.
Here’s the Senator’s contact info:

Here’s the bill.

Hall wins District 29

As they say: Barring any unforseen circumstances or successful write-ins in November, Larry Hall will represent House District 29.

Hall beat Sandy Ogburn with 55 percent of the vote in a runoff that saw only about an 8 percent turnout.


Minimum wage bill passes

The final shakedown was 72 to 43 as H2174 passed 3rd reading in the House. With a similar hike also ensconced in the Senate budget, it’s got the votes.

The final debate boiled down to:
– dire warnings of job losses “thousands”;
– an attempt to suspend the rules and amend the bill to give businesses a 3 percent “discount” if they pay their sales taxes on time (est. annual cost to the state: $220 million). The motion failed failed 53 to 62;
– dire warnings of upcoming price hikes at Burger King;
– inevitable references to illegal aliens being the real problem.

Alama Adams (D-Guilford) appealed to the House to dedicate at least one day to the working poor.
Joe Hackney (D-Orange, Chatham) said that as he sat and listened to the arguments against the hike it was evident that the difference was fundamental. “They don’t believe that minimum wage laws should exist,” he said. “How out of step with the people of North Carolina can you be? We passed that step years ago.”

The N.C. Justice Center estimates the bill directly affects roughly 139,000 low wage workers in North Carolina.
The buying power of today’s $5.15 is at its lowest point in history. NC Fair Wages site.
It’s been nine years since this state raised its minimum wage.
Chart via NC Dept. of Labor

Eye exams examined


Update from Tuesday’s session: Boseman’s bill was removed from the calendar and debate rescheduled for June 7. The hitch may be that the bill, though more specific, does the same thing (repeal the program) as a special provision in the recently passed Senate budget (S1741 Section 10.4).

On Tuesday, the Senate is scheduled to debate S1210, a bill that would repeal the kindergarten eye exam program that got House Speaker James Black into hot water. The speaker, a respected Mathews optometrist, last year was entrusted with more than a hundred undated checks with the recipient’s name left blank from the North Carolina State Optometric Society’s PAC–an age-old practice that the State Board of Elections thinks might just be illegal. Still, Black’s not backing down, though. A counter provision is bubbling up in the House that could be titled: “Hell no, we’re not repealing the eye exams.”
How strange is this square-off likely to get? Senate sponsor Julia Boseman, a New Hanover Democrat, is determined, calling it an unfair and expensive burden to put on parents. In all, 87 school boards are suing the state (pdf) over the requirement. But the program has its backers. The Optometric Society’s president Dr. Hal Herring told Senators at a recent hearing that his organization would not abandon the children of North Carolina. “We will stand with them, even if we stand alone,” he said. The society’s members also stand to see some business. According to the school board suit, this year about 119,000 children will enter kindergarten in North Carolina, where an exam will run you somewhere between $50 to $165.

Enron & NC

A few things to keep in mind as you drink in the verdicts against Enron execs Lay and Skilling:

– North Carolina was not untouched by the scandal, with a big (5%) drop in the state employee pension fund announced late in 2002 blamed in part on $100 million in stock losses thanks to Enron, Tyco and AOL Time-Warner. There were also hundreds of Enron employees and retirees in the state who lost out when the company collapsed.
– Enron and Lay played a supporting role in a Democratic attack on Liddy Dole, who spent September 20, 2001 at a fundraiser–just a “little luncheon” she said–at Lay’s Houston mansion. This at a time when most politicians were laying off such things and Dole said she had “suspended” her campaign.
– And, lest we forget, Lay was trying like mad to get North Carolina to follow California in deregulating its power industry. In addition to hiring the well-connected lobbyist George Kitchens, Lay tried to get Kitchens appointed to a board studying a deregulation proposal.

Business North Carolina noted in its November 2003 issue:

Legislative documents and other sources show ex-Enron Chairman Ken Lay quietly attempting to strong-arm Asheboro Republican Harold Brubaker, then House speaker, into naming Enron chief lobbyist George Kitchens to the study commission. Brubaker refused.

Then, of course, the whole California thing happened, the secret accounts were exposed, the bubble burst and The Smartest Guys in the Room went away.

Catching up over the weekend

Catching up on matters over the weekend. Launch of the site and the column after that.
First post: Well, now.
First column: Coming up Wednesday, May 31.