[Update June 5, 2018–SB 486 passed a second and third reading in Monday night’s legislative session. No lawmakers offered to amend the portion of the law addressed in this article. ~ jd]
Jun 4, 2018 (Raleigh) — Tonight at the Legislature, North Carolina’s lower chamber will conduct a third vote on an election reform bill that’s full of surprises, but one quiet little $10 million nugget will effectively mandate a single source for our state’s election machines, forcing all 100 counties to buy the same brand of equipment at non-competitive prices.
Peeling back the bill’s hidden meaning.
While common sense says that companies selling election equipment should warranty their work, up to the cost of a new election. The bone of contention involves how big an election.
For decades, North Carolina has required competing companies to post a bond covering the cost of a “statewide” election, specifically $10 million. While that all seems fair at first blush, it’s a red herring designed to drive out all competition. The failure of a voting machine in any given county would never require a new statewide election. Such a failure usually results in a manual recount. At worst, it forces a new county-wide election.
Vendors [must post a] bond or letter of credit …in the amount determined by the State Board as sufficient for the cost of a new statewide election or in the amount of ten million dollars ($10,000,000),
whichever is greater.” (SECTION 3.6A. G.S. 163A-1115(a)(1))
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Speaker Tim Moore – Raleigh, N.C. – The first meeting of the state House Select Committee on School Safety will include presentations from students, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the Center for Safer Schools, according to a tentative agenda released by the committee’s chairs Monday.
The offices of state House Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and John Torbett (R-Gaston) released the preliminary agenda that also includes personnel from the N.C. Emergency Management Division, the Task Force for Safer Schools, the N.C. School Psychology Association and Meridian Behavioral Health Services.
The committee will start at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 and work until 12:00 p.m., then reconvene from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. for committee discussion in the afternoon.
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Also, check out National School Shield
Raleigh, N.C. – Employment figures released by the state Department of Commerce this week show North Carolina added 85,879 jobs over the last year.
The number of people unemployed decreased by 20,263 over the year.
The employment growth data follows a positive revenue outlook released by the state legislature’s Fiscal Research Division in January showing tax collections on track and an economy in a stable growth pattern.
State House Speaker Tim Moore released a statement:
“The General Assembly kept a commitment to North Carolina families to put their needs first,” Moore said. “The result is sustained economic success and a state on solid financial footing.”
“It’s more good news that tens of thousands of new jobs opened across North Carolina over the last year. We will maintain our proven approach to building a state economy that benefits working people and businesses.”
The North Carolina General Assembly enacted historic tax relief this decade to save state taxpayers billions of dollars, encourage economic growth and spur job creation.
Since 2011 the General Assembly has levied a lower sales tax rate, income tax rate and corporate tax rate on North Carolina families and businesses, while raising the standard deduction for low-income earners.
The New American – On March 14, 2018, one month after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, activist groups are planning walk-outs and protests around the country to demand gun control, especially banning “assault weapons,” to avoid a repeat of last month’s murders.
While the concern for life is notable, if the protesters get their way, America will see more murders, not less. Here’s why:
• 98 percent of all mass shootings in the United States have occurred in gun-free zones, and new laws emphasizing increased gun control will almost certainly mean that little is done so that people in these zones can defend themselves, leaving them targets.
• Both the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control — anti-gun groups — scrutinized the world’s gun-control laws and found that no gun-control measure in the world actually reduced violent crime and murders. None. The New York Post had this to say about the report by the Academy of the Sciences: The 328-page report entitled Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, which was “based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, a survey that covered 80 different gun-control measures and some of its own empirical work … couldn’t identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide, or accidents.”
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What makes people think that the insane and criminal will obey laws?
Most every man, woman and child in North Carolina is impacted directly or indirectly by the Office of
State Treasurer so on this special edition of NC SPIN we asked State Treasurer Dale Folwell to come report
to the people of our state and discuss some of the relevant issues impacting North Carolina.
Topics: Overview, Investments, State Health Plan, State Retirement System, and Other Duties and Responsibilities.
Speaker Tim Moore, Raleigh, N.C. – The chairmen of the state House Select Committee on School Safety have announced the committee’s first meeting is planned for Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 9:00 am in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building.
The committee plans to meet until noon, break for a two-hour lunch and resume at 2 p.m.
North Carolina House Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and John Torbett (R-Gaston), co-chairs of the House Select Committee on School Safety, released a joint statement:
“This committee’s proactive process will produce a valuable resource for North Carolina citizens, educators and law enforcement,” Lewis and Torbett said in a statement. “We hope the committee record can serve as a centralized and comprehensive overview of school safety in our state.”
“Our first mission is to provide data, reports and expert input from state and local officials who are trained and experienced in school safety to the committee members. Next, we can consider new policy recommendations, hear innovative ideas and review which current procedures are effectively protecting students and educators.”
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NewsMax – As I write this column in mid-February 2018, immigration reform has taken center stage in Washington, D.C.
Two North Carolina lawmakers, each with competing visions on how to handle illegal immigration, are in the thick of the debate. Respectfully they are Rep. Mark Meadows and Sen. Thom Tillis.
Tillis is an advocate of The Secure and Succeed Act, which is backed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and endorsed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
In a nutshell, the Secure and Succeed Act calls for merit based immigration legislation designed to resolve the legal uncertainty facing illegal, undocumented minors. It would include provisions to help deter illegal immigration, prevent chain migration, end the diversity lottery and bar benefits for parents/of children. It also calls for twenty five billion dollars to bolster defenses along the border with Mexico and it provides an eventual path to citizenship for approximately 2 million Dreamers. See Senator Tillis’ Senate office Webpage.
Over in the U.S. House — Rep. Mark Meadows, R- N.C., who is chairman of the Freedom Caucus, supports the legislation of House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Essentially that legislation would lead with security and enforcement first and does not offer amnesty.
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by Reps. Michael McCaul and Mark Meadows | Mar 7, 2018, 12:01 AM
The Russians are employing a Soviet-derived disinformation strategy against us. Their latest target? The tragic Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
During the decadeslong Cold War, the Soviet Union spread false information throughout the U.S. to deceive the public about our government. This deceiving tactic was known as “dezinformatsiya.”
Almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and many attempts by the U.S. to become international partners with Russia, Moscow is once again embracing its role as an American adversary.
Through the exploitation of social media, the Russian government is recycling yesterday’s tactics with today’s technology. Its goal is to sow discord within our country and undermine trust in our public institutions. By pursuing a strategy of chaos, they are attempting to create division among our people and allies.
This is the same objective outlined in the Department of Justice’s indictment of the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, which sought to create internal conflict through information warfare that targeted anyone with a political or social agenda.
Ironically, their conduits were the very platforms we created — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Our efforts to promote an open, secure, and reliable information and communications infrastructure to foster free expression is being abused by a country that espouses the opposite.
In June 2017, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued their Russia Military Power report, a revival of their Soviet Military Power report that was distributed annually in the 1980s. It identified Russia’s updated Soviet disinformation strategy as “information confrontation,” which includes diplomatic, economic, military, political, cultural, social, and religious information arenas to shape perceptions and manipulate the behavior of target audiences.
Russia targets these audiences in cyberspace through the use of bots, trolls, hacktivists, and other malicious cyber actors. This state-backed cyber apparatus also targeted our friends in Ukraine, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, and others across Europe. More personally, this apparatus targeted our election, our voting systems, and created counter-protests between our people. According to the German Marshall Fund, this strategy was deployed during the impassioned national debate about the NFL anthem protests with the intent to stir national divisions.
The Alliance for Democracy tracks a network of 600 Russian-linked Twitter accounts that have been connected to influence operations in the United States. At the end of January, these accounts were promoting narratives and attacks against the FBI, the DOJ, and the release of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act memo.
Immediately following the recent massacre in Parkland, their Twitter posts included contradictory hashtags on both sides of the gun control debate. They even falsely claimed the shooter searched Arabic phrases on Google before the shooting.
This follows the same pattern of other Russian online activities to stoke public doubt about American institutions like the police, the FBI, our intelligence community, and our media. These are pillars upon which our republic stands, upon which our democracy relies — pillars the Russians are attempting to destroy.
We cannot allow this assault to continue.
Fortunately, we have begun to take action. Last year our election systems were designated as critical infrastructure. This year, the Department of Homeland Security has provided important briefings to state election officials. NATO modernized its command structure to emphasize a greater focus on cyber, and the State Department created the Global Engagement Center to counter state and nonstate propaganda.
These are very important steps, but we must do more to counter Russian and other nations’ disinformation efforts that are attacking our way of life, and exploiting the technology our nation’s ingenuity created.
That is why we as a nation, as a society, must work together to resist this Russian manipulation.
It is quite clear Russia is trying to reclaim its superpower status from the last half of the 20th century by weakening the U.S.
If America is to remain that “shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere,” as former President Ronald Reagan said, we must do more to promote our values and way of life against the autocratic repression spreading across our globe.
Turning against one another and losing faith in the institutions established to protect us not only weakens our resolve as a nation, but moves us dangerously close to becoming the victims of a poisonous Russian agenda.
Consider the prescient farewell address of President George Washington, in which he warned that “[the agitation] of the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption.”
We must be alert to Russian disinformation. We must be alert to the division and discord it is intended to sow. And we must join together with our European friends to be the vanguard of freedom and prevent Russian aggression from rising out of the “ash heap of history.”
Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican, is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. He represents the 10th Congressional District of Texas. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican, represents North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.