Since I've gotten all you dear readers into a frenzy with my pointed critiques this legislative season, I thought I'd offer some updates on where we are on these crucial issues. First, you all know, the transfer tax option made it into the final budget. Only one Senate Dem, John Snow, voted against it after all their earlier holding out. It's up to the counties now, but several are anxious to get the tax before voters as soon as possible. Union County, for one, hopes to have a vote on it in November, says commissioners chair Kevin Pressley (R).
Next, the stem cell research bill I praised has been effectively neutered. If the new version passes the Senate, it will set up a committee to establish guidelines for the research. However, no money was appropriated to actually offer the grants for said research. Bill sponsor Rep. Earl Jones said the money was removed because it could take up to a year to work out the research rules. Time will tell if this state of science and medicine can actually make this cutting-edge research a reality.
Finally, those pesky tree-cutting billboarders may soon be allowed to cut more greenery than ever to improve the view of their beautiful signs. In spite of opposition from DOT and DENR, the Senate bill is now wending its way through the House, soon to become a reality for outdoor advertisers, who were kind enough to agree to larger permit fees and penalties for the illegal cutting they plan to continue. (They didn't put it that way, that's my take.) Sen. David Hoyle explained the approval of a measure that interested state agencies opposed on the basis of preserving NC's green bounty, saying "Green is what pays the bills." Ahh, just so, Senator, and well put, I might add.
Finally, everyone's favorite whipping boy (well, mine, anyway), the Education Lottery is looking to get more of your dough in the coming year. How? By upping the percentage of profits offered as prizes. Risible though the predictions are, especially in light of the first year's shortfall, the lottery law tinkering continues,with virtually no debate. I guess it's fun to keep writing about it, but I really wouldn't miss it if the whole thing just went away. Neither would the schools since they aren't getting the money budgeted for the first year and almost certainly won't get what's promised for the coming year, changes notwithstanding. NC would be the first state in history to make the kind of profit leaps the guv predicts. Let's see, we were the last state on the East Coast to get a lottery, three people have been convicted of wrongdoing in the creation process, and the first year's revenue is more than 25% less than expected. Why do I not have a good feeling about this?
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