Under the Dome

Dome: Wall Street Journal praises NC tax plan

Staff reportsJuly 21, 2013 

The recent New York Times editorial lambasting North Carolina’s hard turn to the right met with apparent indifference in the General Assembly, where Sen. Tom Apodaca, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, said he cared more about what the Wall Street Journal thought. Sure enough, the Journal’s editorial page came through on Friday with a piece praising Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s tax plan.

“The burning heart of liberal activism and indignation this summer can be found, of all places, in the charming capital city of the Tar Heel State,” the Journal’s Stephen Moore writes. Moore turns to the old “agitators” label for the “Moral Monday” protesters (avoiding the governor’s pitfall of also calling them “outsiders”), and concludes they’re mad about everything – especially the prospect of the GOP cutting back funding for some of the “left-wing groups sponsoring these rallies.”

Moore’s piece concludes that the Senate Republicans’ tax overhaul will spur growth and create jobs. What it means, politically, down the road in a swing state is an open question, he concedes.

“But as longtime Republican strategist Marc Rotterman told me last week, there is a potentially fatal flaw to the whole ‘Moral Monday’ strategy: ‘The core problem is the protesters are denouncing policies like tax cuts and welfare reforms that may be unpopular with the New York Times, but are very popular with mainstream North Carolinians.’ ” Moore writes. “That is the big bet the state’s Republicans are making – and come November 2014, we’ll see if it pays off.”

Here’s the full WSJ article and, if you missed it, the New York Times' editorial.

Agriculture bill signed

A regulatory reform bill for the agricultural industry has sailed through the General Assembly and was signed into law last week by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Senate Bill 638 provides protections to farmers and “agri-tourism” interests against what its backers call frivolous lawsuits by neighbors and visitors. It is also intended to make it easier for businesses to find insurance for petting zoos, educational programs and other operations; protect farmers’ water rights when there are shortages; and give agriculture leeway in building and maintaining dams.

Another provision keeps from public scrutiny livestock and poultry operations’ business records that might personally identify them, while allowing the state veterinarian to make public information affecting health.

The bill’s co-sponsors were Sen. Brent Jackson, a Republican from Sampson County, who is also a farmer, and Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican from Davie County.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler issued a statement thanking Jackson for his work on the bill.

Judges’ reprimands still public

The state Senate has voted down a measure to keep the Judicial Standards Commission’s reprimands of judges secret.

In a 13-21 vote last week, prominent Republicans joined Democrats in a rare move to defeat the bill because it reduced government transparency. Senate Bill 652 was later revived but sent to the Senate Rules Committee, where it is expected to remain without further action this session.

Under the legislation, a commission reprimand of a judge would remain confidential unless the N.C. Supreme Court concurs and makes it public. Sen. Buck Newton, a Wilson Republican who sponsored the measure, said the reprimands are often filled with “false or twisted accusations.”

But senators said the public needs to know when the commission that polices judges makes a finding that they’ve overstepped their bounds. “This weakens the right of the public to know what is happening with our judges,” said Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, a Chapel Hill Democrat.

Apodaca voted against the bill, saying “it sounds like lawyers protecting lawyers.” The N.C. Press Association, which represents The News & Observer, also opposed the measure.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and John Frank

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