A Conversation with Rep. Paul Stam on Education

January 22nd, 2016 by

Here is a recent podcast that Rep. Stam did with EducationNC!

A true champion for education and a true state man!

New podcast: A conversation with Rep. Paul Stam

For the debut of our new podcast EdTalk, I interviewed Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake. We talked about education policies that came out of the last General Assembly session, what to expect from the upcoming short session, constant efforts by lawmakers to “fix” K-12 education, and more.

Stam Reflects on His Career, Part 1

January 21st, 2016 by

This week, in part one of a two-part series, NC Family president John Rustin talks with Representative Paul “Skip” Stam, who represents the southern portion of Wake County in the N.C. House, about his career as a pro-life attorney and his work in the General Assembly.

Representative Paul Stam


“Family Policy Matters”
Transcript: Stam Reflects On His Career, Part 1

INTRODUCTION: Representative Paul Stam is an attorney based in Apex, North Carolina, who is currently serving his eighth term in the North Carolina House of Representatives, representing the southern portion of Wake County, including Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina, Willow Spring, and other communities.

Over the years, Representative Stam has held a variety of leadership positions in the State House, most recently as Speaker Pro Tempore, but he recently announced that he will not seek re-election to the House in 2016. He has been a stalwart defender of the unborn, Biblical marriage, parental rights, choice in education, and responsible government, just to name a few.

On a personal note, it has been my great privilege and honor to work with Representative Stam for years, and I can personally testify that he is one of the most intelligent, compassionate, and well-respected members to serve in the North Carolina House in the past several decades. And it is not only those who agree with him on policy issues who share this sentiment, but also those who often do not agree with him, because he is a true gentlemen and a great example of a humble public servant.

We’re thrilled to have Rep. Stam on “Family Policy Matters” to talk about his career as an attorney, his time in the North Carolina General Assembly, and what’s next following the conclusion of the 2016 legislative session.

JOHN RUSTIN: Before we talk about your time in the General Assembly, I wonder if you would share with us a little bit about your background. I know you’ve been in Apex for close to 40 years, but where did you grow up and what brought you to North Carolina?

REP. PAUL STAM: Until I was 17, I followed the textile industry—born in Princeton New Jersey, lived in Danville Virginia, Greensboro, Northern New Jersey, but what brought me to North Carolina was the Marine Corps, Camp LeJeune.

JOHN RUSTIN: Tell us a little bit about your family Representative Stam. How long have you been married to your wonderful wife Dottie, and talk about your children and your grandchildren?

REP. PAUL STAM: We’ve been married 42 years, and lived here in Apex almost all that time. We have two grown children and their families, including eight grandchildren. They all live around Apex, get to see them all the time.

JOHN RUSTIN: That’s wonderful. I know family is extremely important to you, and I have seen you out and about town with your grandchildren, and I know you are extremely proud of both your children and your grandchildren.

REP. PAUL STAM: My children and my two oldest grandchildren have been participants in quite a few of our public policy matters. My daughter even lobbied a little bit for the parental consent bill a long time ago. I paid her $50 to lobby on a Monday night one time, and she got two senate votes for it.

JOHN RUSTIN: That was quite a good investment.

REP. PAUL STAM: Right, when she was 16.

JOHN RUSTIN: Representative Stam, you’ve been involved in the pro-life movement for many years, serving as legal counsel for North Carolina Right to Life, and you have been directly involved in a number of key lawsuits on life-related issues. I want to talk about a few of those cases in just a minute, but first, I wonder if you’d tell our listeners what really sparked your interest in the law and also in working so hard, as you have, to defend the sanctity of human life?

REP. PAUL STAM: It’s interesting, when I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, it really was not much of an issue that anybody talked about very much. But I remember two things before Roe v. Wade. First that one of my favorite books growing up was a Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who about how “a person’s a person no matter how small.” Then, after the military, I was in college, and one semester I was taking three courses at the same time, Logic, Biology (human anatomy), and Pre-Law. And in Pre-Law, we were discussing the American Bar Association’s proposals on abortion, and I noticed how completely illogical and unscientific they were, and I wrote some letters to the editor at my college, Michigan State, on that subject. So, it was an academic curiosity; it was not a personal involvement with any particular situation. The pro-choice argument just does not add up if you know any logic or any biology.

JOHN RUSTIN: That’s interesting—and what drew you into the law because you have been an active attorney for years and have really made a name for yourself in the legal arena, not only as a legislator.

REP. PAUL STAM: My grandfather was a lawyer for about 50 years, and he was probably the greatest influence there. He represented many missions’ organizations and was actually the attorney for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for quite a while. And he showed me the joys of a small private practice, and all the things you can do as part of that practice.

JOHN RUSTIN: And I know you do a wide variety of different types of law in your practice, and you concentrate a good deal on real estate law, other areas of business law, but clearly you’ve been involved in a wide variety of different areas of the law throughout your years of legal practice.

REP. PAUL STAM: Mostly real estate, but in small town practice you do a lot of things.

JOHN RUSTIN: No doubt about it. Now, I want to ask you specifically about some of those life-related cases that you’ve worked on over the years. I know in the 1980s you represented a group of pro-life citizens who were protesting abortion clinics around Jacksonville, North Carolina. Tell us about that work, and how you got involved with that.

REP. PAUL STAM: It took about 10 years, not any one case but a series of cases. There was a group of about six protesters, who were sued by Tackey Crist, who is the volume abortionist in Jacksonville, and has been doing it for 40 years, about 2,000 abortions a year. And they had their usual protest signs, and he took quite a bit of umbrage to the fact that they referred to children and killing, and things like that. So he sued them. And in the 10 years, they were never enjoined by a judge from anything they did, and when [the abortion groups] would bring criminal charges occasionally, no criminal charge ever stuck. That’s how I got involved in it. We were taking the deposition of Dr. Takey Crist, and he also fancied himself as a normal OBGYN as well. [In other words] he did not think of himself as always an abortion clinic even though he’s done probably more than anybody in the state. So, he had a fertility practice as well. He published a half-page advertisement in the Raleigh News and Observer that went all over eastern North Carolina for his fertility practice. And he had a picture of an ultrasound with about an eight week-old embryo, unborn child, and the title of this advertisement is, “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson meet their son for the first time.” So, I asked him how he could be so offended by these protestors, talking about children and killings, if in his own advertisement for which he’d paid thousands of dollars, he was talking about the same thing as being sons. And his answer was this, he said, “I never really liked that ad. The ladies in my clinic put it together, but I didn’t like it.” He was under oath at that time.

JOHN RUSTIN: Well that really does defy logic…

Now, Representative Stam, you have represented North Carolina Right to Life in several key cases over the years. I know there are a variety of cases there, but tell us briefly about some of those cases, your role in those lawsuits, and why the outcome of these cases was particularly important to the status of pro-life policies in North Carolina?

REP. PAUL STAM: There were three types of cases, and I’ll address them individually. One, there was a series of cases on “Free Speech,” that is the ability of North Carolina Right to Life and other similar groups to get their message out when for a period of about 10 years the Left was always trying to put campaign finance restrictions, so you couldn’t say certain things as an organization. So that was one series that went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, and we pretty much won that one. A second one involved abortion funding, and this involved more than one case, but we started in 1978, trying to stop North Carolina from being the only state in the South that had a State Abortion Fund when the federal government had cut off Medicaid abortions. And it took almost 17 years for North Carolina to stop doing that as a statutory matter, but we did win one small victory in that case and that was, even though we couldn’t stop the state from doing it legally, we were able to stop the counties. So that 17 years later, when the State stopped doing it, we already had in place the legal precedent that the counties couldn’t take up the slack that the State had done, and we also did a Friend of the Court Brief in the Supreme Court to uphold that decision on stopping state funding. Then, we also worked for another 17-18 years on parental consent, and that bill took 17 years to get passed, but then the abortion clinics filed suit in federal court to try to throw it out, and we did Friends of The Court Briefs to keep it in, and we actually were able to win that case, along with the Attorney General. And that, in my opinion, reduced abortions by about 2,000 per year. More recently we’ve had a lot of legislation pass that’s reducing it even more, and most of that has not involved litigation, although there’s been some litigation.

JOHN RUSTIN: You’ve been very involved in that [pro-life] legislation and those efforts, and we’re very grateful for that. Now, you’ve also been involved in education related cases, and I want to ask you about a lawsuit that was important to North Carolina’s home school community, Delconte v. North Carolina. Tell us about that case, and what the N.C. Supreme Court ultimately decided?

REP. PAUL STAM: Right, well, my role was local counsel for one of the Friend of the Court Briefs, I believe it was for Rutherford Institute, and we also collaborated on a Friend of the Court Brief by the Christian Legal Society. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jim Hunt, the Governor, tried to get control over private schools through various mechanisms and litigation. And some people didn’t like that, the Delcontes were from New York, I believe, and had come down here and were teaching their kids at home. And we were able to convince the state Supreme Court that our statutes allowed that, and four or five years after that, in the late 80s, it was codified in statute about what homeschooling was and how it could be regulated. It’s not regulated as to content or credentials of teachers, or many things, but it is regulated as to health, safety, they have to give nationally-norm tests once a year that’s open to inspection by the governor’s office. There have been a few other changes over the years, but the end result has been that North Carolina is considered as one of the most favorable states for homeschooling, and we have about 110,000 homeschooled students now in North Carolina, out of you know one and a half million total students.

JOHN RUSTIN: That’s great and I know that that the home school community is very tight-knit, very active, and when issues come up related to homeschooling they show up at the legislature, and that’s a great thing.

REP. PAUL STAM: They are very active, and they helped us get a bill passed about four years ago that provided scholarships for children with special needs who wanted to get their instruction at home but also needed money for therapy or medical expenses, things like that, and that program has been a great success.

JOHN RUSTIN: It sure has. Unfortunately, Rep. Stam, we are just about out of time for this week, but we are going to continue our discussion with you next week on Family Policy Matters.

Before we go, I just want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your story with us on Family Policy Matters. And we look forward to talking with you more next week about your work in the North Carolina General Assembly, and what’s next for you after you retire later this year.

– END –

Powerball “Jackpot” at $1.5 Billion

January 12th, 2016 by

Read HERE for my press advisory concerning the powerball jackpot.

Redistricting in North Carolina

November 20th, 2015 by

Speech by Representative Paul Stam                                                            November 11, 2015

Holtzman Public Policy Forum, North Carolina State University

  • Rep. Grier Martin made the point that we may need to leverage uncertainty. I agree.
  • I love maps –In 3rd grade I had behavioral issues. My mother asked my teacher to allow me to trace maps from the encyclopedia in the back of the classroom after I finished my classwork. I learned to love the details of geography.
  • Some important things take time – a long time- in the Legislature
    • It took me 38 years to pass one piece of legislation and 30 years for another
    • I filed my first bill on redistricting reform 26 years ago (1989, HB 1099). In 2019, it will have been 30 years. That may be the year for redistricting reform.

 

  • As minority leader in 2009, I offered independent redistricting to the Democrats (HB252, Horton Independent Redistricting Comm.). They declined. They should not have been surprised that we picked up 16 seats in 2010. Over time the effects of a gerrymander dissipates. Perhaps in 2019 each side will be uncertain who will win in 2020. We can then leverage that uncertainty.

 

  • I support a different method of redistricting for two reasons:
    • Justinian’s Institutes: “No man shall be judge in his own cause.”
    • “Quasi agnum committere lupo ad devorandum,” Blackstone’s commentaries.

 

  • WHEN?
    • No one knows who will be elected in 2020
    • It took over 9 years to complete the litigation after the 2010 census
    • This is the pitch I made to the Democrats when they were in the majority in 2009
    • By 2019 population/demographic shifts will have dissipated the effects of the 2011 maps.

 

  • ISSUES/PROBLEMS/CAVEATS? Even if redistricting reform passes there will always be problems:
    • There will still be goofy looking maps because of the Voting Rights Act
    • No scheme is beyond politics. This year’s bill-HB 92– transfers power to the staff. The original proposal in 1989 would have transferred power to the Chief Justice
    • Address of incumbents can change overnight.
    • The US Supreme Court changes its mind. In the Pender County case in 2009, the courts required majority/minority districts. But in 2015, the Supreme Court has apparently overruled Pender County in the Alabama Case.
    • How do you program the computer when the rules aren’t knowable in advance?
    • An independent or non-partisan redistricting is not immune from the constant legal uncertainty.

 

  • Compactness and contiguity are in our platform. But these criteria are not necessarily consistent with communities of interest. Some complain that their city or county is placed into more than one district. But others relish having the power of having more than one representative. Apex has three.
  • Competitiveness – There were 16 pickups in the House in 2010 in about 20 competitive seats. The cost of campaigning will significantly increase when there are more competitive races.
  • The ultimate irrational districting is the United States Senate. Wyoming has the same number of Senators as California. These “districts” were drawn centuries ago.

Legal Rights of Unborn Children in NC – Revised October 2015

October 6th, 2015 by

Legal Rights of Unborn Children in North Carolina

By: Paul Stam, Representative of the 37th District

Revised October 1, 2015

Abortion and Cloning Law in North Carolina

 The first section summarizes the current legal rights of unborn children in North Carolina.

The second section is the history of the way that legal rights of unborn children have been approached alongside the law of abortion in North Carolina. A longer version appears as “The End of the State Abortion Fund” 22 Campbell Law Review 119 (1999).

The third section includes questions on human cloning. There is no North Carolina case or statutory authority on this subject except that cloning is subject to limits on abortion for clones that are intentionally destroyed.

Anyone with children knows that birth does not usually occur in a particularly private setting. Nor do the vast majority of abortions. These occur at clinics that use group counseling and employ a doctor who rarely knows the patient and certainly has not explored with her patient any existential questions on the meaning and mysteries of her existence.[1] Until October 1, 2013, the physician did not even have to be present in the same room with the woman.[2]

The consequences of an abortion are not limited to those making the decision. One thinks of the father whose opportunities for custody and whose obligations for monthly support obligation can either be zero or a substantial figure multiplied by 12 months times 18 years. His financial interest is in seeing the abortion go forward but he is allowed no say in the decision.[3] On the other, hand, the Social Security Trust Fund is heading toward insolvency because of the rapidly declining ratio of workers to retired people. Whatever the merits of these countervailing fiscal pressures, the consequences of an abortion are anything but private.         

[1] Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992).

[2] S.L. 2013-366 Sec. 4(a). N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-21.82(a).

[3] Planned Parenthood v. Casey, supra, Section VC.

For the full article with footnotes please click here.

Planned Parenthood Revenue

October 2nd, 2015 by

 Planned Parenthood’s Claim that only 3% of its services are abortions

By: Paul Stam

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the largest provider of abortions in the United States, performing 327,653abortions in 2013-2014.[1] According to PPFA’s Annual Report from 2013-2014, only 3% of its total services are for abortion procedures.[2] However, a service is broadly defined by PPFA as “a discrete clinical interaction, such as the administration of a physical exam or STI test or the provision of a birth control method.”[3] If a woman comes to a Planned Parenthood clinic for an abortion, she will be tested for STDs before the procedure and is given aspirin after the procedure.[4] These are counted as three separate services.

But actual abortion accounts for almost 50% of PPFA’s health service revenue.[5] The average abortion price is $451.[6] Multiply that by the number of abortions performed, 327,653 procedures, that equals $147.8 million.[7] That is 48.41% of the total $305.3 million health services revenue reported by PPFA on its annual report.[8]

The 2013-2014 PPFA report also indicates that 41% of Planned Parenthood’s revenue comes from government subsidies.[9] Planned Parenthood reported that its annual revenue for 2013-2014 was $1.303 billion.[10] However, PPFA’s health center income, the amount derived from non-governmental sources for health services, was around $305 million in 2013-2014.[11] Use of government subsidies, such as Medicaid, to pay for abortions is prohibited.[12]

The 3% figure that PPFA has trumpeted for its abortion services is bogus.

If you have any further questions, please contact Rita Dorry at 919.733.2962.

[1] “2013-2014 Annual Report,” Services. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, retrieved September 30, 2015. See pp 17,18. See https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/6714/1996/2641/2013-2014_Annual_Report_FINAL_WEB_VERSION.pdf.
[2] Id. at 17.
[3] Id. at 17.
[4]Planned Parenthood’s 3% Lie” RedState. Streiff. Published August 6, 2015, http://www.redstate.com/2015/08/06/planned-parenthoods-3-lie/.
[5] (Average abortion price $451 * 327,653 abortions = $147.8 million)/($305.3 million health services revenue) = 48.41% See Jones et al 2008, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/psrh/full/4304111.pdf and PPFA Annual Report 2013?2014.
[6] Cost may vary per state and clinic; according to the Guttmacher Institute, an average abortion costs $468.
[7] PPFA Annual Report 2013-2014.
[8] Id. at 21.
[9] Id. at 20.
[10] Id. at 21.
[11] Id. at 21.
[12] There are several Hyde Amendment exceptions, http://e.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_SFAM.pdf.

Pro Life Legislation Budget Update

October 1st, 2015 by

October 1, 2015

2015 NC Pro-Life Legislation Report

Changes Effective On October 1, 2015

  • SL 2015-62 became law on June 5, 2015. But the provision that requires women to talk with a doctor or other qualified professional 72 hours before having an abortion, unless there’s a medical emergency, goes into effect today. Yesterday it was a 24 hour waiting period.
  • The Woman’s Right to Know Website has been revised, updated and is now live. Click on this link to see the new language. DHHS is printing new booklets.
  • October 1 is the effective date of abortion clinic rules required by SL 2013-333. This law required the Department of Health and Human Services to amend its rules pertaining to abortion clinics. The Department was authorized to apply any requirement for ambulatory surgery centers to the standards applicable to clinics. The rules are required to address the following: on-site recovery phase of patient care at the clinic, protection of patient privacy, quality assurance, and receipt of necessary medical attention for patients with complications. Amended rules adopted pursuant to this 2013 law are online here.

Disposition of Unborn Childrens’ Remains

  • Effective October 1, 2015, House Bill 297 prohibits the marketing and sale of the remains of an unborn child resulting from an induced abortion. It will be a Class I felony. In the case of a miscarriage, the mother can donate the remains for research.
  • It also prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from allocating funds to abortion providers for family planning services, pregnancy prevention activities, or adolescent parenting programs. This makes permanent a temporary provision that was part of the budget (Section 12E.13 of SL2015-241).

Abstinence Curriculum

  • Section 3 of Senate Bill 279 expands the list of disciplines that will inform the public school sex education curriculum. Currently, it is just “sexperts.” But for the 2016-17 school year the curriculum will be reviewed and provided by professionals and credentialed experts in the fields of any of the following: sexual health education, adolescent psychology, behavioral counseling, medicine, human anatomy, biology, ethics, or health education. This change is important to the pro-life community because the sex education curriculum now includes instruction on the causes/risks of extremely low birth weight or pre-term birth, which include a prior induced abortion.

Local Health Departments

  • Section 51 of the 2015-17 Budget provides funds for a competitive block grant process for county health departments to increase access to prenatal care and improve birth outcomes. This action increases funding for Maternal and Infant Health to $52.8 million.

Maternity Homes

  • The budget has allocated a total of $1.3 Million to maternity homes for 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Prior budgets have allocated a recurring fund of $375,000 each year with non-recurring grants of $900,000. This year the Legislature made that a recurring fund of $925,000.

High Risk Maternity Clinics

  • The East Carolina University High Risk Maternity Clinic is again funded at $375,000 for 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Eastern North Carolina has extremely highest rates of abortion and consequently prematernity.

Perinatal Quality Collaborative of North Carolina (PQCNC)

  • Section 53 of the 2015-2017 Budget provides funds to sustain PQCNC while it transitions during 2015-17 biennium to become fully receipt-supported effective July 1, 2017. This action maintains funding at $808,172 in FY 2015-16 and $835,000 in FY 2016-17.

Choose Life

  • Once again, section 12I.1.(a) of the 2015-17 budget grants $300,000/year for Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship. We are optimistic that within months “Choose life” license plates will be “unenjoined” so that pro-life supporters can provide additional support for this effort with their own money. The Department of Justice will submit a brief this month to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of this position. A July decision of the U.S. Supreme Court almost guarantees success on this.

Eugenics in North Carolina

September 11th, 2015 by

Eugenics in North Carolina

By: Rep. Paul Stam and Amy O’Neal

Introduction

Over 45 years North Carolina forcibly sterilized approximately 7,600 men, women, and children—the third highest number of sterilizations of any state in the country. Although an apology was issued to sterilization victims in 2002, an apology alone was not a sufficient response. In 2013, the General Assembly passed the Eugenics Compensation Program to provide monetary compensation to the living victims of forced sterilizations. This Program was the first of its kind in the nation. Virginia followed suit.

The North Carolina Eugenics Compensation Program was appropriated $10 million to be divided between the total number of qualified claimants. Since the Program became effective, 220 claimants have qualified for compensation and 60 more have filed an appeal after being denied compensation after the initial eligibility determination. The focus now is to get the compensation to the victims, all of whom are elderly, as soon as possible.

This article explores North Carolina’s journey towards compensation. Section II gives a brief background on the history of the Eugenics Movement in the United States. Section III and IV provides the history of the Eugenics Movement in North Carolina and how the State began to consider providing compensation to sterilization victims. Section V details how North Carolina’s Eugenics Compensation Program operates and where the State is in providing compensation today….

To continue reading, click here. 

Op-Ed Response: NC Opportunity Scholarship Program

August 20th, 2015 by

Op-Ed Response

North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program

August 20, 2015

In July 2015 the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an opinion declaring the Opportunity Scholarship program to be constitutional.

There is strong interest and support for this scholarship program that allows low-income and working class families to send their children to the private school of their choice. A recent study (June 2015) by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice shows strong support nationally for school choice. Support for Opportunity Scholarships (vouchers) was strong with 61% in favor (33% opposed). The study shows significant support across age groups, political affiliation, areas of the country and parental status.

A more recent poll by the Civitas Institute (March 2015) also shows substantial North Carolina support for the Opportunity Scholarship program. Participants were asked the following question: “The Opportunity Scholarship Grant program in North Carolina was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor in July of 2013. The legislation provides eligible low-income students with vouchers of up to $4,200 to attend the school of their choice. Do you favor or oppose the Opportunity Scholarship program?” Overall 68% supported the program (24% opposed) with strong support across multiple demographics, including all parties, races and regions.

During the 2014-15 school year Opportunity Scholarships were awarded to 1,200 students attending 224 private schools. Over 1,100 of these students have reapplied, joining 4,350 new eligible applicants for the 2015-16 school year. In 2014-15 $10.8 million was appropriated for the program. Scholarships worth $5 million were awarded to students. For 2015-16 school year, the Senate and House budgets each propose $17.6 million for scholarships that would serve about 4,400 students. Over 1,000 students would remain on the waitlist so another $4 million is urgently needed for 2015-16.

Since the North Carolina Supreme Court opinion was issued many opponents have kept up a steady drumbeat of inaccurate information and fallacious arguments. Here are just a few:

Opponents say: The Opportunity Scholarship program will destroy public schools.

Counterpoint: I am a strong supporter of traditional public schools. This is not an anti-public school initiative. It is an initiative that supports parents’ right to choose the best educational setting for their child, regardless of address, income, political affiliation or race. Parents should have the right to decide whether a traditional public school, public charter school, private school or home school is the best choice for their child. Parents have a choice where to send their child for pre-K and child care programs and they have a choice of which community college or public or private university best serves their child. North Carolina residents who attend 35 private colleges and universities are eligible for state support totaling $86.4 million/year.

Another study by the Friedman Foundation (April 2013) found 23 empirical studies have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found that choice harms public schools. Six empirical studies have examined school choice’s fiscal impact on taxpayers. All six find that school choice saves money for taxpayers. No empirical study has found a negative fiscal impact. Competition works in education just as it does in the provision of groceries or dining.

Opponents say: The Opportunity Scholarship program will take money away from traditional public schools.

Counterpoint: From 2010-11 thru 2014-15, the state and county appropriation per pupil funding increased from approximately $6,950 to $7,425. The maximum amount for an Opportunity Scholarship is $4,200. The Opportunity Scholarship program saves taxpayers money.

If a student leaves a public school to attend a non-public school the public school does lose the funding for that student. However, it no longer incurs the expense of educating that student. As a result the per student funding is slightly higher – not lower.

Opponents say: Private schools are not required to take the same tests required of the public schools.

Counterpoint: I am puzzled by this argument. Those who make this point are often the ones who state opposition to these tests in public schools. I don’t understand why they would want to require private schools to take the same tests that they oppose in public schools.

Private schools that participate in the Opportunity Scholarship program are required to administer a nationally normed test. The results are open to inspection by a representative of the Governor. The aggregate graduation rates and test scores from the nationally normed tests will be evaluated. State End-of-Grade and End-of-Course tests traditional public schools are required to take are not nationally normed tests.

Opponents say: Public money should not be given to religiously affiliated private schools.

Counterpoint: The money goes to the parent who chooses the school. This is not new public policy. For decades, public money has been provided to students at religiously affiliated pre-K and child care programs as well as students at religiously affiliated colleges and universities. This type of funding has been upheld by federal and state courts time and time again.

Opponents say: Public tax money should not be given to parents who send their children to private schools.

Counterpoint: Parents of students who receive Opportunity Scholarships are also taxpayers.

Opponents say: $4,200 is not enough money to send low income students to elite private academies.

Counterpoint: The average private school tuition in North Carolina is about $6,000. Most have tuition below that figure. Many private schools offer scholarship programs based upon need and will waive the remaining tuition to Opportunity Scholarship students. We never claimed that the program would pay the exorbitant tuition at elite schools. An excellent private education can be had in Raleigh, North Carolina for $5,300/year. Many parents who cannot afford to pay $5,300 will be able to pay $1,100/year.

Opponents say: There is no accountability for student performance in private schools.

Counterpoint: There is accountability in that a nationally normed test must be administered. More importantly, the parents hold the school accountable. If they are happy with the performance of the school, they stay; if they aren’t, they withdraw their children. The aggregate graduation rates and test scores from the nationally normed tests will be evaluated.

Recently the National Merit Scholarship winners were announced. In the Triangle, 7 of the 21 students attended a private school. Private school students account for 6% of the student population and produced 33% of the National Merit Scholarship awardees in the Triangle. They must be doing something right.

Opponents say: The private schools that accept the Opportunity Scholarships don’t have to be accredited.

Counterpoint: There is no requirement for a K-12 public or private school to be accredited. Some private and some public schools choose to seek accreditation. There is no correlation between accreditation and school performance in either sector.

Opponents say: Public schools are only going to be left with low income, low achieving, disadvantaged children and special needs children, and all of the others are going to private schools.

Counterpoint: This statement does not make sense. This will not happen because of the Opportunity Scholarship program.

The scholarship program serves students of low-income, working class families. If they choose to participate in the scholarship program they will be the ones leaving public schools. The Special Needs Scholarship program serves over 700 special needs students out of a total special needs population of approximately 200,000 students.

North Carolinians want students to be able to attend the school of their choice regardless of address, political affiliation, age, income, or race. I will work to expand funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program this legislative session so more parents can choose the right educational setting for their children. I hope that families will take advantage of the program and continue to apply for the upcoming school year.

Information on the Opportunity Scholarship program is available on the State Education Assistance Authority’s website, as well as at this North Carolina school choice site. Families may also contact the SEAA at 855-330-3955 (toll-free). For a PowerPoint explaining the program, visit this link.

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For additional information, please contact Gregg Sinders at 919-715-2644

Stuart v. Camnitz: Setting the Standard of Care

August 14th, 2015 by

Please click on the below link to learn more about the background, court case, and how the case has set a standard of care for abortion providers in North Carolina.

Stuart v Camnitz – Setting the Standard of Care

Stuart v. Camnitz – Setting the Standard of Care_Sources

July 2015 Newsletter

July 24th, 2015 by

July 24, 2015

Friends,

Much has happened since I last wrote to you on June 30, 2015.

Several other budget initiatives address school choice:

  1. Each budget increases funding for Opportunity Scholarships from $10.8M to $17.6M. These scholarships provide school choice for low and moderate income families who switch from public to a private school up to $4,200 per year. These scholarships save taxpayers money. We are waiting for a North Carolina Supreme Court decision on this.

Some legislation I have worked on that involve local government interest:

  1. HB 201: Zoning Protest/Citizen Input. I am the primary sponsor. The Governor has signed this bill into law. This bill amends the process by which city councils receive citizen input in zoning ordinance amendments. It repeals ¾ majority vote requirement triggered by a protest provision. Provides a formal method for citizens to petition the governing board for or against a rezoning.
  2. HB 721:       Subdivision Performance Guarantees will simplify the development process
  3. HB 44: Local Government Regulatory Reform 2015. This reforms law related to local government including compliance requirements for “voluntary” regulations and rules; regulation of signage; riparian buffer reform; and zoning density credits to name a few. It is in a conference committee. Rep. Stam is a conferee.
  4. HB765: Regulatory Reform. The Senate sent a 54 page bill to the House. Rep Stam is on the Conference Committee

With best regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Rep. Paul Stam

Speaker Pro Tem

NC Supreme Court Declares Opportunity Scholarship Program Constitutional

July 23rd, 2015 by

Raleigh, NC – Today, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an opinion declaring the Opportunity Scholarship Program to be constitutional. Today’s ruling is the final decision in this case.  It cannot be appealed to the federal courts. No federal claims were raised.

“Two-hundred and twenty-four schools worked with parents to allow students to attend the school of their choice while awaiting today’s court decision. More families will now have realistic access to educational options for their children,” said Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake).

During the 2014-15 school year Opportunity Scholarships were awarded to 1,200 students attending 224 schools. Over 1,100 of these students have reapplied, joining the 4,800 applicants for the 2015-16 school year. In 2014-15 $10.8 million was appropriated for the program. Scholarships worth a total of $6 million were awarded to students.  For 2015-16 the Senate and House Budgets have each allocated $17.6 million for scholarships that would serve about 4,400 students.

A recent study (June 2014) by the Friedman Foundation shows strong support nationally for school choice.  Support for Opportunity Scholarships (vouchers) was strong with 63% in favor (33% opposed). The South showed the strongest support with 66% in favor (30% opposed). The study shows significant support across age groups, political affiliation, areas of the country and parental status.

A more recent poll by the Civitas Institute (March 2015) also shows substantial state support for the Opportunity Scholarship program. Participants were asked the following question: “The Opportunity Scholarship Grant program in North Carolina was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor in July of 2013.  The legislation provides eligible, low-income students with vouchers of up to $4,200 to attend the school of their choice.  Do you favor or oppose the Opportunity Scholarship Program?” Overall 68% supported the program (24% opposed) with strong support across multiple demographics.

North Carolinians want students to be able to attend the school of their choice regardless of address, political affiliation, age, income, or race. Rep. Stam stated, “We will work to expand funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program this legislative session so more parents can choose the right educational setting for their children. I hope that families will take advantage of the program and continue to apply for the upcoming school year.”

Information on the Opportunity Scholarship program is available on the State Education Assistance Authority’s website, as well as at this North Carolina school choice site. Families may also contact the SEAA at 855-330-3955 (toll-free).  For a PowerPoint explaining the program, visit this link.

Party Platform Comparisons – Not a Dime’s Worth of Difference?

July 16th, 2015 by

Every year I prepare a comparison of NCGOP and NCDEM Party Platforms. I have provided the key points on the attached document.

2015 Party Platform Comparison

The full platforms can be found at the following places:

http://www.ncgop.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2015-NCGOP-Platform.pdf

http://www.ncdp.org/sites/ncdems/files/NCDP%20Resolution%20Booklet%20FINAL%202014.pdf

I hope you find this information useful.

Rep. Paul Stam

800th Anniversary of Magna Carta Speech at John Locke Special Event

June 30th, 2015 by

Representative Paul Stam

Speaker Pro Tempore

House of Representatives

North Carolina General Assembly

 June 25, 2015

(revised October 2015)

 Magna Carta was a deal between the nobility and King John. He was a really bad king. He was in deep trouble and barely kept the crown, and perhaps his life, by making 63 campaign promises.

In 1215 the first and last sections of Magna Carta protected the English church from the King.

Section 1

(1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church’s elections – a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it – and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.

Section 63

(63) IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever. Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit.

Freedom of the church was guaranteed by the barons as well as by the King.  It is no accident that freedom of religion is the First Amendment to our Bill of Rights.

In 2015 when the Little Sisters of the Poor, a charitable order of nuns, is threatened with massive fines by the federal government, we need a restoration of religious freedom.

You Will Be Assimilated by Jonathan V. Last, The Weekly Standard, June 22, 2015, recounts how Catholic Charities have been driven out of adoption and foster care in Illinois, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Tax Exemptions for contributions to (and the property of) most Christian institutions may soon face their greatest test since the Statute of Uses in the 27th year of the reign of Henry VIII.  N.C. Gen. Stat. §41-7. In oral arguments in Obergefell v Hodges, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s “It’s going to be an issue” was ominous. Since same sex marriage has now become nationwide policy by 5-4 vote of the U.S. Supreme Court, then there is precedent (IRS v Bob Jones University, 1983) to remove tax exemption from religious institutions that do not bow to the newly discovered liberty.

Section 2

TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

(2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a ‘relief’, the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of ‘relief’. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl’s barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100s. at most for the entire knight’s ‘fee’, and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of ‘fees’.

After the Norman Conquest (1066) the “death tax,” in an unlimited amount, could be imposed. That is, if William the Conqueror didn’t want to put a new knight in a castle to defend the borders, he would ask the dead knight’s heirs to pay money to remain in the new house to which they had become accustomed.  By 1215 the death tax had been quantified.  In 2013, the General Assembly finally repealed North Carolina’s death tax. The United States still imposes a death tax at a high rate on estates over $5 million.

Section 12

(12) No ‘scutage’ or ‘aid’ may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable ‘aid’ may be levied. ‘Aids’ from the city of London are to be treated similarly.

“No taxation without representation”

Regulatory Fees – But administrative bodies regularly impose penalties. In 1215 these “aids” were limited to these important categories.

  1. negotiating with terrorists, and
  2. royal parties for the eldest prince and princess.

Section 13

(13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.

“Home Rule” or “Dillon’s Rule?”  Every session the General Assembly strikes a new balance on the perennial question:  How much big LOCAL government do our citizens want – Who decides?

The Charlotte Airport, Asheville water system, elections in Greensboro, involuntary annexation of Lake Junaluska.  All these issues take legislative time and energy.

A fascinating article on this subject by Thomas H. Burwell, “A Story of Privileges and Immunities: From Medieval Concept to the Colonies and United States Constitution” is published at 34 Campbell Law Review (Fall 2011).

Section 14

(14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an ‘aid’ – except in the three cases specified above – or a ‘scutage’, we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.

“Due Process” means adequate advance notice to those affected and an opportunity for them to be heard. In the 2015 Session, dozens of bills were introduced that address the question of notice to those affected by government action.

But none of them apply to notice of legislative action which can be extremely short (overnight for proposed committee substitutes or conference reports in the House).

 Section 15

(15) In future we will allow no one to levy an ‘aid’ from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable ‘aid’ may be levied.

If Section 12 applies to the King it should also apply to lesser officials so that there is “equal protection of the law.” This principle is imbedded in the U.S. Constitution Fourteenth Amendment and North Carolina Declaration of Rights Sections 1 and 19.

Section 17

(17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.

Superior Court judges ride the circuit within their division to the fixed location of the courts at county seats. The theory is that judges who rotate throughout a division are less likely to serve “home cooking.” Previous to Magna Carta, litigants would follow the King or his judges from place to place, hoping they might be heard after sufficient fees (bribes) had been paid.

Section 20

(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a villein the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.

Every session the General Assembly determines what fines are reasonable and proportionate to the offense.

Every few years the Assembly adjusts the homestead allowance – that is, what is left to a debtor after an execution or bankruptcy.

More on this in Section 52.

 Section 24

(24) No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices.

The “common law” (in contrast to local or customary law) was that part of the law that was “common” throughout the kingdom.  This “common law” was to be applied by the royal (federal) judges – not by state or local courts.  So too, we have some claims for which exclusive jurisdiction is in the federal courts.

Section 25

(25) Every county, hundred, wapentake, and tithing shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors.

Some issues never die. Tax increases and unfunded mandates were not first imposed last year.  There was, for sure, an English TEA PARTY in Nottingham.

Section 39

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.

This appears as the most ancient part (1776) of the North Carolina Declaration of Rights. Article I Section 19 now reads: “No person shall be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land.”

 A few years ago there was an effort to make the text of our state constitution “gender neutral.”  I could not bear the thought of changing “his” (which was gender neutral in 1215 AD and in 1776 AD) to something more politically correct.  So I noted that to make our constitution “gender neutral” we would refer to the then Chief Executive as Governess Bev Perdue and to then Senatress Kay Hagan.

Section 40

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

Litigation, then and now, requires years to complete. Many of us are working now to realize that promise so that the resolution of criminal charges, at least, may require only months and not years.

 Section 41

(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.

In a day when the principles of free trade and free enterprise are attacked from the right and from the left, this one of King John’s campaign promises favored free trade.  Free trade and free enterprise have many friends – except when its “friends” think it damages their own pocketbooks. 800 years ago, the English realized that free trade and free enterprise are powerful engines of economic growth for the state as a whole. The article by Burwell (cited under Section 13) is extremely helpful on this point.

English (and then American) history has been a constant struggle to free our economy from monopolists, cartels, guilds and unions.

Section 45

(45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.

In 1980, North Carolina amended its constitution to require that judges have a law license. In 1974, Republicans had nominated as Chief Justice a fire extinguisher salesman of dubious abilities.

Every session, including this one, we debate and change the way judges are selected.  Some methods produce those who know the law well.  Some methods produce judges who are minded to keep it well.  We haven’t devised a system that accomplishes both goals.

Section 47

(47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly.

Environmental issues didn’t surface in the “Silent Spring of the 1960’s.”  800 years ago there were those advocating locking up land from use by the public.  Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham came to blows over this question.  Robin Hood won when King John made campaign promise number 47. – Remember that Robin was exiled to the forests and was in trouble for shooting the King’s deer.”  This year the General Assembly revised the regulation of “riparian buffers” –riverbanks which had extended far beyond what hydrology and other environmental sciences require.

Section 52

(52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgment of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgment of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§61). In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgment of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.

I object that some administrative penalties do not rate a jury trial. Some day North Carolina will catch up with this promise of the Great Charter.  This year the General Assembly at least put the burden on the government to impose fines and penalties only by clear and convincing evidence.

Even old scores need to settled. State compensation for eugenics victims of the State of North Carolina was authorized in 2013 (and more recently by Virginia). The SL2015-241 section 6.13, expedited paymenet to those victims already determined to be eligible.

Section 55

(55) All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgment of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§61) together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgment shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five.

Bring the archbishop along if the barons can’t decide. Court ordered mediation and arbitration are now part of the legal landscape.

And a recusal by a conflicted baron is now mirrored in recusal by a conflicted magistrate where authority to marry is given to another (SL2015-75).

Section 61

(61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security: The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter. If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us – or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice – to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us. Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command. If one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were. In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear. The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power. We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.

Magna Carta addresses separation of powers.  North Carolina was the first state to place that principle of separation of powers in its constitution, on instruction from the inhabitants of Orange County to the Provincial Assembly in 1776 (Bayard v Singleton, 1 N.C. 42 (1787)):  But what is the remedy for usurpation of power by an Executive like King John?  Is the remedy a lawsuit?  That is not usually practical.

Magna Carta suggested a unique consequence.  This requires not only the translation from Latin to English but also a paraphrase:

“If we, or our Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, offend in any respect against any man, and offense is made known to the Senate they shall come to us or to the Attorney General – to declare it and claim immediate redress.  If we, or the Attorney General, make no redress within 40 days the Senate may then subpoena every piece of paper in the White House with the support of the Congress and mainstream media, by seizing the White House, Camp David, Air Force One, and anything else, except only our own person and that of Michelle and our children, Malia and Sasha, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. And having secured that redress the Senate may then resume its normal obedience to us.”

That would really turn things around in Washington.

We address new challenges, new technology, new demographics and the ideas of new representatives.  But old disputes will often suggest the way forward.

June 2015 Newsletter

June 30th, 2015 by

June 30, 2015

Friends,

Much has happened since I last wrote to you on May 28, 2015.

The pro-life bill HB 465 is now law. Enhanced conscience protection for health care providers is effective immediately. The increased waiting periods after informed consent has been obtained from 24 hours to 72 hours will be effective October 1, 2015. Statistical reporting changes will be effective January 1, 2016.

Several initiatives regarding K-12 public education that passed the House are in conference with the Senate.

  1. Employee pay: Teachers and State Employees will receive a 2% raise in the House Plan. In the Senate Plan teachers receive an average 4% raise and other state employees zero. I do not agree with that.
  2. The Home budget includes differentiated pay based upon teacher leadership positions, hard to staff subjects and hard to staff schools. The Senate budget does not.

Several other budget initiatives address school choice:

  1. Each budget increases funding for Opportunity Scholarships from $10.8M to $17.6M. These scholarships provide school choice for low and moderate income families who switch from public to a private school up to $4,200 per year. These scholarships save taxpayers money. We are waiting for a North Carolina Supreme Court decision on this.
  2. Each budget increases funding for Special Needs Scholarships from $6,000 per year to $8,000 per year, and provide for payment of tuition at the beginning of the semester rather than as a reimbursement. These two changes make these scholarships much more practical for parents of children with special needs.

Over the Governor’s veto the Senate and the House passed SB 2, Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies. This is a strong statement for freedom. Last fall magistrates were threatened with loss of their jobs, and even criminal prosecution, for those who wouldn’t participate in marriage ceremonies to which they had sincere religious objection. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has mandated same sex marriage nationwide SB2 becomes even more necessary.

Some legislation I have worked on that involve local government interest:

  1. SB 88: Pole Attachment Disputes. I was the primary sponsor of the House version (HB 403) and managed the Senate bill. This act assigns pole attachment disputes to the North Carolina Utilities Commission from the Business Court. It also requires municipalities and certain membership corporations to permit communications service providers to use their poles, ducts, or conduits at just and reasonable rates and conditions pursuant to negotiated or adjudicated agreements. The bill passed both chambers unanimously.
  2. HB 201: Zoning Protest/Citizen Input. I am the primary sponsor. This bill amends the process by which city councils receive citizen input in zoning ordinance amendments. It repeals ¾ majority vote requirement triggered by a protest provision. Provides a formal method for citizens to petition the governing board for or against a rezoning. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Commerce today.
  3. HB 44: Local Government Regulatory Reform 2015. This reforms law related to local government including compliance requirements for “voluntary” regulations and rules; regulation of signage; riparian buffer reform; and zoning density credits to name a few. It is in a conference committee. Rep. Stam is a conferee.

On Thursday, June 25 Rep. Stam participated in a forum at Campbell Law School on the occasion of the 800th birthday of Magna Carta. Click here to read his manuscript.

On June 18 the US Supreme Court decided that Texas did not have to allow license plates for the sons of Confederate Veterans. The rationale is that specialty license plates are government speech. The effect for North Carolina is that we will soon have our “Choose Life” plates to support crisis pregnancy centers. After 4 years of litigation it is almost over. You will soon be able to order your plate.

If you have questions about legislation you can always call me or my legislative staff. Anne Murtha handles constituent issues 919-733-2962; Gregg Sinders covers all educational issues 919-715-2644; Jamie Lassiter covers criminal justice issues, court issues, pro life issues and liberty issues 919-733-2614; Don D’Ambrosi covers land use, environment, regulatory reform and local government 919-733-2962.

With best regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Rep. Paul Stam

Speaker Pro Tem

May 2015 Newsletter

May 28th, 2015 by

May 28, 2015

Friends,

Much has happened since I last wrote to you on April 17, 2015.

Praise God!  The prolife bill HB 465 passed the House 74 to 45.  It increases waiting periods after informed consent has been obtained from 24 hours to 72 hours.  In contrast a Medicaid sterilization requires a 30 day waiting period.  A home refinance requires a 3 day waiting period after every detail has been disclosed and all papers signed.  Today the Senate passed the bill on a vote of  31 to 15.  Third reading will be Monday night.  When this bill becomes law, it will reduce abortions by about 2,000 per year. Legislation over the last 4 years has reduced the number of reported abortions from 31,000/year to 23,000/year.

On May 22 the House passed its appropriations bill for next year by a vote of 94-23. The increase from this year to next depends on how you calculate! The increase in the operating fund is 4.9%. If you include everything like capital and reserves for repairs and renovation the increase is 6.2%.  There was no money for the repairs and renovations fund last year.  Inflation and population growth account for about 2.7% of the increase.  I am advocating to cut more dollars out of the spending plan.  After five straight years of real cuts some areas needed another look.

Several initiatives regarding K-12 public education have now passed the House in the budget:

Employee pay: Teachers and State Employees will receive a 2% raise. Some groups will receive more – e.g. first year teachers and prison   guards. Total compensation, including the local supplement plus retirement and benefits, for a beginning Wake County teacher would be $54,000 per year.

  1. The budget includes differentiated pay based upon teacher leadership positions, hard to staff subjects and hard to staff schools. The budget establishes a teacher scholarship program for these hard to staff positions and schools.

Several other budget initiatives address school choice:

Increased funding for Opportunity Scholarships from $10.8M to $17.6M. These scholarships provide school choice for low and moderate income families who switch from public to a private school up to $4,200 per year. These scholarships save the taxpayers money. The amount is less than what the state and county spend for students in public schools.

  1. The budget increases funding for Special Needs Scholarships from $6,000 per year to $8,000 per year, and it provides for payment of tuition at the beginning of the semester rather than as a reimbursement. These two changes make these scholarships much more practical for the parents of children with special needs.

HB 108, Building and Site Development, has now been funded by the House at $400k for the first year and $1 million the second year.  It provides for site infrastructure, primarily to assist rural and semi rural counties so that they have “pad ready” sites to attract investment.  This is a loan from one level of government to another that will be fully secured by a first lien.  It is not a giveaway to the business that will ultimately be there.

Today the House passed SB 2, Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies on a vote of 67 to 43. This is a strong statement for freedom. Last fall magistrates were threatened with loss of their jobs, and even criminal prosecution, for those who wouldn’t  participate in marriage ceremonies to which they had sincere religious objection. The Governor has threatened a veto. Please call his office at (919) 814-2000 to register your opinion.

If you have questions about legislation you can always call me or my legislative staff. Anne Murtha handles constituent issues 919-733-2962; Gregg Sinders covers all educational issues 919-715-2644; Jamie Lassiter covers criminal justice issues, court issues, pro life issues and liberty issues 919-733-2614; Don D’Ambrosi covers land use, environment, regulatory reform and local government 919-733-2962.

With best regards, I am sincerely yours,

Rep. Paul Stam

Speaker Pro Tem

Indian Gaming Resources

May 4th, 2015 by

Below you will find the 2011 Tribal-State Compact, the Addendum to the 2011 Compact, and transcriptions of the House and Senate debates of Session Law 2012-6, “An Act to Authorize Additional Class III Gambling on Indian Lands Pursuant to a Tribal-State Gaming Compact, to Create the Indian Gaming Education Revenue Fund, and to Appropriate Funds.” I hope that this legislative history will be helpful to you.

2011 Tribal-State Compact

Addendum to 2011 Compact

SB 582 – House Debate 2nd reading

SB 582 – House Debate 3rd reading

SB 582 – Senate Appropriations Base Budget committee

SB 582 – Senate Debate 2nd reading and Concurrence

NC House Passes 72 Hour Waiting Period 74-45

April 24th, 2015 by

From the Office of Rep. Jacqueline M. Schaffer

House of Representatives

District 105 — Mecklenburg County 

PRESS ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

— Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 —

RALEIGH – House Bill 465: 72 Hours Informed Consent by Person or Phone passed the House by a vote of 74 – 45.

While the bill improves data collection on these procedures to ensure proper record keeping, the main provision changes the waiting period for a woman to make her informed decision from 24 to 72 hours. The time period can begin with a telephone call to a qualified person who provides the requisite information.

“This is about respecting women and also saving lives,” said Rep. Susan Martin, a primary sponsor of the bill.

North Carolina will follow Utah, South Dakota and, most recently, Missouri (2014) in lengthening this pivotal time for a woman to process the information she has received regarding her choices. She may receive this information by telephone, online or by a visit depending on her circumstances and preferences.

“Please allow a woman the time to reach out to Pregnancy Support Clinics” stated primary sponsor Rep. Pat McElraft.

Rep. Rena Turner said, “We ought to give as much time for this decision as we do for other important legal matters“.

HB 465 allows the decision-maker time to think through her circumstances. Whether to have an abortion is an irrevocable life or death decision that deserves this time.

Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, the lead sponsor of the bill, stated, “Providing women with 72 hours versus 24 hours, this is empowering to women, this gives women the ability to make an informed decision.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

For further information, contact Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer (919) 733-5886.

###

Attachments: HB 465; HB 465 Bill Summary; Required Waiting Periods

Why Religious Freedom is needed in NC

April 20th, 2015 by

Why is NCRFRA needed now

It is fundamentally a legal issue, but not difficult to follow.  The PowerPoint show covers it in 2:40.
Hope some of you may find it useful.

The April Report

April 17th, 2015 by

April 17, 2015

Friends,

Much has happened since I last wrote you on the Ides of March.

The General Assembly passed and the Governor signed Senate Bill 20 which stabilizes the gas tax for the rest of the year at $.36 /gallon. This is a temporary tax rate decrease followed by a temporary tax rate increase followed by whatever we are able to agree to going forward in 2016. With the low price of oil and the improved gasoline efficiency of cars, without taking some action, road construction, maintenance and repair will be drastically curtailed. I voted yes.

I am the primary sponsor of an Omnibus Criminal Justice procedure bill, HB 173. We have worked on that with all sides of the criminal justice system. Our goal is to ensure that there is not a one or three year wait between arrest and disposition of criminal cases. This bill passed the House almost unanimously. HB 357 passed the House this week which will improve the efficiency of crime labs.

HB 108, Building and Site Development, passed the House. It provides for site infrastructure, primarily to assist rural and semi rural counties so that they have a “pad ready” site to attract investment. This is a loan from one level of government to another that will be fully secured. It is not a giveaway to the business that will ultimately be there.

HB 127, DOT Condemnation Changes passed the House 102-8. It makes 4 changes to the dealings between NCDOT and landowners.

The House passed HB 201 to repeal the super majority effect of zoning protest petitions. Petitions will still be heard and considered by a Town Council, but they will not be given the antidemocratic effect of allowing one or two council members to block the right of the property owner and a majority of the council to determine the appropriate use for property.

Several initiatives regarding K-12 public education are:

  1. Teacher pay – I support maintaining our commitment to raise beginning teacher pay for a Wake County teacher to approximately $40,000 per year. Total compensation, including retirement and benefits, for a beginning Wake County teacher would be approximately $54,000 per year.
  2. Elevating Educators – I support HB 662 which includes differentiated pay based upon teacher leadership positions, hard to staff subjects and hard to staff schools. Teachers should have a career path that allows them to remain in the classroom as a teacher leader for additional pay.
  3. Teacher Recruitment and Scholarship – I support HB 661 which establishes a teacher scholarship program for hard to staff positions and for teaching positions in hard to staff schools.
  4. Later high school start times – There is a body of research that supports later school start times for high school students. Research supports that later school start times for high school students increases student achievement.

Several initiatives addressing school choice are:

  1. I have proposed to increase funding for Opportunity Scholarships from $10.8M to $36M. The program provides school choice for low income families to attend a private school and receive up to $4,200 per year. 5,200 students have applied for the scholarship for next year.
  2. HB 133 increases funding for Special Needs Scholarships from $6,000 per year to $8,000 per year and provides for payment of tuition at the beginning of the school year rather than as a reimbursement. This bill has passed the House K-12 education committee and is awaiting action by the House Appropriations Committee.
  3. HB 557 provides charter schools with an increased share of local funding. It provides for local taxes and funding to follow the student. This bill is awaiting action by the House Appropriations Committee. HB 761 allows counties the option to provide capital to public charter schools.
  4. HB 468 establishes a Special Education Charter School Pilot. The State Board of Education will select an existing charter school in Wake County to provide educational services with an additional $2,000 per student for up to 100 students, if 80% of the students have special needs. This bill is awaiting action by the House K-12 Education and Appropriations Committees.
  5. HB 535 appropriates $1,000,000 for 2015-16 for the Charter School Accelerator (through Parents for Educational Freedom in NC, Inc.). PEFNC would issue up to four $250,000 grants to develop high quality charter schools. The funding would go to the grantees to be used in the initial planning period. This bill is awaiting action by the House Rules Committee.

The pro life bill is HB 465 which will be heard in the House Health Committee next Wednesday. It establishes enhanced waiting periods and restricts UNC-CH from providing abortions

Video Poker has reared its perennial and pernicious head yet again. I will fight it.

HB3 amends the State Constitution to protect private property from abusive condemnations, limiting them to public uses or public utilities. No action yet by the Senate.

If you have questions about legislation you can always call me or my legislative staff. Anne Murtha handles constituent issues 919-733-2962; Gregg Sinders covers all educational issues 919-715-2644; Jamie Lassiter covers criminal justice issues, court issues, pro life issues and liberty issues 919-733-2614; Don D’Ambrosi covers land use, environment, regulatory reform and local government 919-733-2962.

With best regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Paul

    Paul Stam

    Speaker Pro Tem

Beware of the Ides of March… Myth vs. Reality in Raleigh

March 16th, 2015 by

Friends,

Yesterday was the Ides of March. For many years tax returns were due on March 15th.  That had to change when tax preparation became so complicated that nobody could do it by then. This was also the day Julius Caesar was assassinated “Et tu Brute.”  Next Sunday is the Vernal Equinox.  So this seems an appropriate time to report to you what is happening in the Assembly.

HB3 amends the State Constitution to protect private property from abusive condemnations, limiting them to public uses or public utilities. I am optimistic this may be considered by the voters in a referendum next year.

Two weeks ago the House considered and passed two quite controversial bills:

The House version of Senate Bill 20 stabilizes the gas tax for the rest of the year at $.36 /gallon. This is a temporary tax rate decrease followed by a temporary tax rate increase followed by whatever we are able to agree to going forward in 2016. We have a crisis.  With the low price of oil and the improved gasoline efficiency of cars, without taking some action, road construction, maintenance and repair will be drastically curtailed. I voted yes.

House Bill 117 “NC Competes Act,” was a bill I opposed. There were some good features in it (site infrastructure and a change in tax law with regard to the single factor /sales tax apportionment). But the heart of the bill was several hundred million dollars of targeted tax incentives to lure companies to come to North Carolina. I have always opposed that. You can read my basic argument on that at http://paulstam.info/2005/06/targeted-business-incentives-are-not-good-public-policy/.

I am the primary sponsor of an Omnibus Criminal Justice procedure bill, HB 173. We have worked on that with all sides of the criminal justice system, about 50 “stakeholders”. Our goal is to change the culture so that there is not a one or three year wait between arrest and disposition of criminal cases. There is not much deterrence in a system where a guilty defendant can stretch it out for years and not much justice when an innocent defendant has to wait years to clear his or her name. Tomorrow will be the first hearing.

On Wednesday, HB108, Building and Site Development will have its first hearing in Commerce. It provides for site infrastructure, primarily to assist rural and semi rural counties so that they have a “pad ready” site to attract business. This is a loan from one level of government to another that will be fully secured. It is not a giveaway to the business that will ultimately be there.

On Thursday, I hope to have the first hearing on HB201 to repeal the super majority effect of zoning protest petitions. These petitions will still be heard and considered by a Town Council, but will not give them the antidemocratic effect of allowing one or two council members to block the right of the property owner and a majority of the council to determine the appropriate use for property.

I am working on several other measures to protect life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness as set out in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. I will report on these to you next time.

If you have questions about legislation you can always call me or my legislative staff. Anne Murtha handles constituent issues 919-733-2962; Gregg Sinders covers all educational issues 919-715-2644; Jamie Lassiter covers criminal justice issues, court issues, pro-life issues and liberty issues 919-733-2614; Don D’Ambrosi covers land use, environment, regulatory reform and local government 919-733-2962.

With best regards, I am

                                                             Sincerely yours,

                                                    Paul

                Paul Stam

                Speaker Pro Tem

Speaker Pro Tempore Acceptance Speech – Magna Carta in 2015

January 20th, 2015 by

2015 Organizational Session

North Carolina House of Representatives

Rep. Paul Stam – Acceptance Speech

January 14, 2015

(edited for grammar and clarity)

Click HERE to listen to the audio.

Click HERE for a Video of Rep. Stam’s speech on the Magna Carta by Kelly McCullen – Sr. Producer, UNC-TV’s “Legislative Week in Review”

Speaker Pro Tempore Paul Stam acceptance speech (1:08:26):

Members, guests, Justices Edmunds, Newby and Jackson; I am especially pleased that former Speaker Pro Tem Jack Hunt is here today. He and I served together many years ago when I was young and he was distinguished.

I accept your election. Two years ago on this occasion, I thanked my family and I used the examples of my eldest grandsons for some lessons on how we could do legislation better. But they are here today and I am not going to embarrass Aidan and Will.

This is a time to be reminded of first principles.

And 2015 is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.  Members of the House would be shocked – shocked if I did not mention it and draft it into the service of the House.

Magna Carta was a deal between the nobility and King John.  He was in deep trouble and barely kept the crown and perhaps his life by making 63 campaign promises. In Section 25 he promised “Every county shall remain at its ancient rent without increase.”  Some issues never die.  Tax increases and unfunded mandates were not invented last year.

Litigation, then and now, requires years to complete. His campaign promise 40 provides “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay, right or justice”.  Many of us are working now to realize that promise so that the resolution of criminal charges, at least, may require only months and not years.

In a day when the principles of free trade and free enterprise are attacked from the right and the left King John’s campaign promise number 41 provides – and I should say this is all in Latin so this is translated for all of us – “All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions in accordance with ancient and lawful customs.”  Free trade and free enterprise have many friends – except when its friends think it damages their own pocketbooks. 800 years ago the English realized that free trade and free enterprise are powerful engines of economic growth for the state as a whole.

Environmental issues didn’t just surface fifty years ago. 800 years ago there were those advocating locking up of land from use by the public.   Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham came to blows over this question.  Robin Hood won when campaign promise number 47 provided “All forests” – remember he was exiled to the forests and he was in trouble for shooting the King’s deer – “All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested and a similar course shall be followed with regard to river banks.” I am not advocating today that we literally fulfill this campaign promise by eliminating the parks at Grandfather Mountain and places like that. I’m just saying this is not a new issue.

Religious Liberty is always an issue.  In 1215 the first and last sections of Magna Carta protected the church from the government.  In 2015 when the Little Sisters of the Poor, a charitable order of nuns, is threatened with massive fines by the federal government, we need a restoration of religious freedom. When we next reconvene on January 28 there will be a legislative briefing on that subject, open to all.

Magna Carta even addresses separation of powers.  And I am glad Senator Tillis is here today because he may get an idea here from promise number 61. North Carolina was perhaps the first state to place that principle of separation of powers in its constitution, on instruction from the inhabitants, Rep. Insko, of Orange County to the Provincial Assembly in 1776:  But what is the remedy for usurpation of power by an Executive like King John?  Is it lawsuits?  Magna Carta suggested a unique consequence.  This requires not only a translation from Latin to English but a paraphrase so that you may enjoy it. Senator Tillis, take note.

King John made campaign promise number 61:  “If we, or our Attorney General, offend in any respect against any man and offense is made known to the Senate (that is the 25 chosen barons) they shall come to us or to the Attorney General – to declare it and claim immediate redress.  If we, or the Attorney General, make no redress within 40 days – 40 days – the Senate may then distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, our lands, our possessions, and anything else, except only our own person and that of the First Lady and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. And having secured that redress the Senate may then resume its normal obedience to us.”  That would really turn things around in Washington.

Let us enjoy the session as we address new challenges, new technology, new demographics and the ideas of new representatives.  But old principles will often suggest the way forward.

Thank you very much for your election.

North Carolina House of Representatives Prayers 2011-2014

December 31st, 2014 by

Prayers in the North Carolina House of Representatives – 2011 to 2014

The above link takes you to all of the collected prayers offered in the North Carolina House from 2011 to 2014. The impetus for this project was not spiritual but legal. With the legal reasons for this collection no longer relevant I share them with you as review of the heartfelt prayers of my colleagues in the North Carolina House. I hope you enjoy them.

With best regards,

Paul Stam

Stam’s Bills 2013-2014

November 14th, 2014 by
Updated September 2014

At the end of every session I compile a list of bills that I sponsored (or that I managed) in order to see what happened.  Many times a bill that is blocked in one way progresses or becomes law in another measure.  That is part of the legislative process.  If you have questions about any of these bills or laws, please let me know.  There are electronic links to most of them.  The General Assembly website, www.ncleg.net, has a tab for related documents which includes committee summaries, with more appropriate use of the English language, and for some, fiscal memoranda that explain the cost.

This is the final list from the 2013-2014 session. Please see the attached document below for the list of bills I sponsored.

Stam’s Bills 2013-2014

Setting the Record Straight on Privilege Taxes

October 30th, 2014 by

October 29, 2014

Leaders of Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay Varina

Re:       Privilege Taxes/Fiscal Impact

You may have read in Monday’s News and Observer the article entitled “Privilege Tax Repeal Could Cause Property-Tax Hike in Raleigh”.  The link is attached here.

The General Assembly took several measures in 2013/2014 that affect revenues for cities and towns.  For the towns in District 37, Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay Varina, the results are a positive increase in revenue for 2015-2016 as shown on the attached table by the Fiscal Research Division.  The increase in revenue from tax reform (HB 998) which applied the local sales tax to several additional items and the change in taxation on Amazon more than offset the repeal of the privilege license tax.  For Apex (which has no privilege license tax) the net increase is $113,395.  For Holly Springs the net increase is $33,659 and for Fuquay Varina the net increase is $11,241.

The bulk of the revenue lost from the repeal of the privilege license tax is from Charlotte ($17 million) and Raleigh ($7 million) and similar towns.  Charlotte in particular was a major abuser of the system, attempting to tax businesses located in most of the other counties of North Carolina, other states in the nation, and even some in foreign nations.

The article tries to imply that “business taxes” were repealed by the General Assembly, therefore putting the burden on people who own homes.  This is nonsense.  Business owners still pay property tax, corporate income tax, franchise tax, the employer’s portion of Social Security on their employees, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and a host of miscellaneous fees. And their owners pay personal income tax on the dividends. If they are an LLC or sole proprietorship, they pay personal income tax on all the net income.

The “privilege tax” was repealed because it is an absurd and irrational way to collect money.  Good riddance.

Rep. Stam Responds to Outrageous Op-Ed Against Republicans

October 20th, 2014 by

October 17, 2014

Outrageous Op-Ed by UNC Professor

On October 16, 2014 Gene Nichol, who identifies himself as the “Boyd Tinsley distinguished professor at the UNC School of Law,” published in the News & Observer his latest blast at Republicans.  While he claims to “not speak for UNC” he is paid by UNC an annual salary of $212,900, not including retirement, health and other benefits.  His wife, Betty Glenn George, is also paid by UNC School of Medicine an annual salary of $407,410. His accusations against Republicans are so outrageous I cannot list them all.  His attack against Democrats is that they do not complain enough about Republicans.  Let us count the ways in which he is just wrong:

1.      Charge:  “The General Assembly has brutally denied health care to one half million of our most vulnerable citizens.  Many will die as a result.”  Fact:  We spend $13 billion a year of federal and state money on Medicaid alone.  Last year we increased the Medicaid budget by $500M. Most of those referenced were eligible to qualify for the federal health exchange which is heavily subsidized.  Others do receive health care, just not through Medicaid.

2.      Charge:  Republicans have “required women to undergo a coerced medically unnecessary sonogram”.  Fact:  Requirement for ultrasounds at abortion clinics was instituted by Governor Jim Hunt’s Division of Public Health in 1994 without controversy or publicity.  Ultrasound before abortion had become state of the art for safety reasons.  Even Planned Parenthood does it 100% of the time.  The 2011 “Women’s Right to Know” law gave women the OPPORTUNITY to see the ultrasound image of her child and have it explained to her. She was already paying for it.

3.      Charge:  “It’s taken great chunks of our education budget, already among the worst in the nation.”  Fact:  At the university level North Carolina is 4th highest in the nation in state support  per student.  Since Professor Nichol is paid by UNC he really ought to appreciate that.  North Carolina ranks 8th in the nation in state support per student for K-12 education. Since Republicans have had a majority, education funding has increased by a nearly a billion dollars. That is what the General Assembly controls. It is at the local county level that we are toward the bottom.

4.      ChargeTo subsidize unaccountable, discriminatory, often absurd sectarian schools.”  Fact:  He is talking about scholarships for parents of children with special needs and for low-income parents who enroll their children in private schools.  Rather than “great chunks,” it is less than 1/10 of 1% of our education budget.  These scholarships cost the taxpayer nothing. In fact, they save taxpayers approximately $5,000 per student. Gene Nichol cannot count.

5.      Charge:  “It has launched a regime of environmental degradation.”  Fact:  Our air, water and soil are cleaner than they have ever been in the last 100 years.  The new Coal Ash law is the first and toughest in the nation. Absurd advertisements by the National Resources Defense Council state that taxpayers will clean up the Dan River spill.  But it is crystal clear that Duke Energy’s shareholders will pay for that cleanup.

6.      Charge:  “It has raised the (tax) rates of low-income workers.”  Fact: That charge is really ironic.  Yes, the Democrats raised the tax rates on low-income families from 2003-2010. Senator Kay Hagan, budget chair, was leading the effort to raise the regressive sales tax rate.  It was Republicans in 2011 who reduced the sales tax by a penny ($1 billion a year of tax relief) that disproportionally benefited low-income families. Our 2013 tax reform further benefited low-income workers by reducing their income tax rate and calculating their taxes after considering personal exemptions.  In contrast the Democrats determined personal income taxes on low-income workers based on the first dollar earned.

7.      ChargeTo finance tax cuts for the rich”.  Fact:  This apparently refers to Senator Hagan’s constant ads about the sales tax rates on jets and yachts.  North Carolina has capped the sales tax rate on airplanes since 1957 and on boats since 1967. Not one Democrat moved to change that rate in the tax reform of 2011 or 2013 nor did Senator Hagan ever attempt to raise that rate when she was in charge of the budget.

8.      ChargeBy boldly attacking the right to vote.”  What is he talking about?  The end of straight ticket voting?  Shortening the days of early voting but maintaining the same number of hours so it would be more useful to people who work for a living? What eligible voter will be denied the right to vote?

I could go on and on but I have to work. Does he?

Sincerely,

Rep. Paul Stam

Speaker Pro Tem

North Carolina General Assembly

TeenPact Group Photo 2014

October 13th, 2014 by

Rep. Stam with the TeenPact students in April 2014 on the North Carolina General Assembly House of Representatives Chamber floor.

teenpactncga

Dear Editor: A letter to the editor from Rep. Stam

October 12th, 2014 by

Friends,

Please take a moment a read my Letter to the Editor that I sent on Friday, October 10th. It is important to know the facts.

Letter to the Editor

 

October 10, 2014

Dear Editor:

 

Yesterday I received mail from the NC Democratic Party.  While the mailer was directed against Speaker Thom Tillis, every charge in it is really directed at the North Carolina General Assembly.  The Democratic Party is not very good at math.

 

1. They charge that Speaker Tillis cut $500 million in education.  In the year before Speaker Tillis led the House, the budget for K-12 education was $7.3 Billion.  This year the budget is $8.1 Billion.  Fifth graders can figure that this is an increase of $800 Million.  But Democrats say it is a $500 Million “cut”.  The Washington Post awarded this lie “two Pinocchios”.

 

 2. They charge “the wealthy got huge tax breaks” with two big pictures of a yacht and a helicopter.  This mirrors Senator Hagan’s charge about the tax rate for jets and yachts.  North Carolina has capped the sales tax paid on airplanes since 1957 and on boats since 1967.  Speaker Tillis and the current General Assembly had nothing to do with it.  While Senator Hagan was in charge of the Senate Budget Committee for years, she never attempted to change the rate.  And this session not one single Democrat made any motion to change that rate.  WRAL gave this claim a “red light” award as part of its fact check research.

 

3. Democrats say “Thanks to Speaker Thom Tillis, last year Wake schools lost 528 teaching positions”.  The state budget funded 6,788 teachers last year and 6,977 teachers this year.  This represents an increase of 189 teachers for Wake County. Democrats apparently can’t tell the difference between addition or subtraction.

 

Sincerely,

Rep. Paul Stam

714 Hunter Street

Apex, NC   

919-362-8873

A Closer Look at Pro-Life Legislation in N.C. and its Impact on Abortions

October 2nd, 2014 by

Legislation has consequences. While there are many factors involved, it is difficult to say what action caused these results, but cumulatively this is what happened.

Reported abortions have seen approximately a 25% reduction since 2010. With legislation put in place in 2011 and 2013, I felt a closer look at this topic was important.

To see the data and learn more about the legislation, click here.

Contact me at paul.stam@ncleg.net with any inquiries.

2014 “Short Session” Update

August 28th, 2014 by

Revised August 28, 2014

This was the first session in 144 years that a Republican Governor had a Republican majority in the General Assembly. We had a lot to accomplish before adjourning for the year.

Budget and Taxes:    For the fourth straight year we were able to balance the budget without raising tax rates. The state budget for 2013-2014 was $20.631 billion (SB 402). We were able to do the things we said we would with a $21.1 billion budget for 2014-15 (SB 744), an increase of 2.2% which is less than the increase in population plus inflation.

We have provided the largest overall teacher pay raise in nine years by giving public school educators an average 6.92% raise. This investment in education will move our state ahead of fourteen other states in national teacher pay rankings. North Carolina will be more competitive nationally.

Our budget maintains current funding for the state’s university system (while giving the university new flexibility), preserves teacher assistant positions, and allows superintendents broad flexibility in tailoring classroom spending to their districts’ needs.

Our budget retains current Medicaid eligibility, provides most state employees a $1,000 pay raise (plus benefits) and five bankable vacation days. It increases pay by five or six percent for those Highway Patrol Troopers eligible for step increases. With an environment that fosters economic growth, we have been able to provide compensation that, not too long ago, would have only come with a tax hike. There are no tax rate increases in the budget.

Curriculum:    (SB 812) establishes an Academic Standards Review Commission to make recommendations to the State Board of Education on changes to the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards. These standards currently incorporate Common Core standards in the Standard Course of Study. The State Board of Education will not enter into any agreement or contracts that cede control to any other government or agency.

New Educational Opportunities:    (SB 793), “Charter School Modifications,” allows automatic grade increases as charter schools grow as long as appropriate conditions are met. The law also allows for single-sex charter schools and subjects charter schools to the Open Meetings Law and Public Records Act.

Clarifying changes were made to the Special Education Scholarships for Children with Disabilities (HB 712) and Opportunity Scholarships (SB 744, Section 8.25). Changes made to the Special Education Scholarships made the program easier to understand. It clarified the types of services for which parents can be reimbursed, including educational technology.

Changes to Opportunity Scholarships included a section prohibiting participating nonpublic schools from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. The budget adds $840,000 to the program (now totaling $10,840,000) and allows the State Education Assistance Authority to award scholarships for 2015 Spring Semester.

Higher Education:    The budget provided funding to allow both the Community College and University systems to participate in Yellow Ribbon Reserve, a federal matching program that helps reduce tuition costs for non-resident veterans. (SB 719), “Student Organizations/Rights & Recognition,” provides that a religious or political student organization at a community college or university may determine its own core functions. Once an organization is granted recognition, a community college or university may not deny the organization access to programs, funding, facilities, or other privileges.

Economic Development:    (HB 1031) will shift many economic development functions of the Department of Commerce to a partnership. This legislation takes an important step in our “Carolina Comeback” by allowing our economic development efforts to be more focused on customer service and efficiency, as well as job retention and creation. The NC Economic Development Partnership will perform duties that previously functioned under Commerce. The partnership’s role will be to help recruit new business and industry to the state.

Regulatory Reform:    (SB 734) makes changes to the laws relating to business regulation, State and local government regulation, and health and safety regulations. It provides further relief to the citizens of North Carolina through administrative reforms and updates to regulations and statutes. It protects our resources and those who use them.

Transportation:    The Department of Transportation saw various changes that affect its organization.  As recommended by the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee and the Department of Transportation, a few of the changes in (HB 1025) and (HB 272) include: improving efficiency in safety inspections, decreasing traffic burden on DOT statisticians, creating the installation and violation of ramp meter traffic devices, addressing DWI interlock violation and the location of DMV hearings, improving the production of state drivers’ licenses, and bringing interrelated work with Dept. of Agriculture and DOT and additional partnership with private developers in state highway system operations.

Natural Gas and Energy:    The Energy Modernization Act allows for energy exploration. The law extends the deadline for the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) to adopt rules for a regulatory program for the management of oil and gas. (SB 786) makes statutory changes to update the current regulations involving shale gas exploration, development, and production. It authorizes the issuance of permits for oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Alternatives to natural gas are coal and oil. Natural gas is much cleaner.

The law expands the requirements for notice to subsurface owners in regards to initiation of exploration, development, and production activities. It places presumptive liability on an oil and gas operator for any contamination of water supplies near a wellhead. It increases the amount of pre-drilling, drilling, and post-drilling water supply tests, all of which is required through an independent third party. These will be public records.  Any actions that cause damage require compensation.

Environment:    The Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, (SB 729),creates a Commission to oversee the assessment, planning, and clean-up of all coal ash ponds across NC, with an emphasis on the high-risk ponds. High-risk ponds are to close by 2019 and all coal ash ponds are to close by 2029. This law will safeguard our state’s greatest natural resource, our water.

Agriculture:    The North Carolina Farm Act of 2014 (HB 366) makes agricultural and environmental changes. It designates the “Got to Be NC” marketing campaign as the official agricultural marketing campaign for the state. It maintains the confidentiality of investigations within agricultural and environmental operations while formalizing a complaint procedure with DENR. The new law clarifies local government’s ability to adopt ordinances related to the environment and agriculture.

Criminal Justice:    (HB 369) includes changes to the criminal laws. It increases the penalty for cell phone use and possession in prison. It punishes threats of retaliation and assault on a person in retaliation of the duties performed by any legislative, executive, or court officer. It allows forensic and chemical analyst to provide testimony in trials via videoconferencing to help increase our crime labs’ efficiency.

The Business Court:    (SB 853), “Business Court Modernization,” changes procedures for designating complex business cases. This successful court is where businesses may obtain a fair and expert hearing in cases against each other.

Integrity for our elections process:    Changes to election laws in (SB 403) include: clarifying length of party affiliation and filing, updating ballot requirements for primary and general election partisan and nonpartisan races, clarifying hours offered for early voting sites, reiterating the photo identification requirements needed when voting, transferring some responsibilities of the local board of elections to the State Ethics Commission, and establishing a new procedure for voters who move between the first and second primaries.

Health Services:    “Hope 4 Haley and Friends,” (HB 1220),creates a pilot program for the use of hemp extract for intractable epileptic disorders.  We also increased health care options for those needing medical care at their own homes (HB 625). Insurance companies may not set fees for services when those services are not covered under the insurance plan (SB 477).

Please contact me at paul.stam@ncleg.net with any inquiries.

 ###

What Happened During the 2014 Session?

August 27th, 2014 by

1.    Balanced the budget for the fourth straight year without a tax increase (Appropriations Act of 2014,(SB 744)).

2.    Provided the largest overall teacher pay raise in nine years by giving public school educators an average 6.92% raise (Appropriations Act of 2014, (SB 744)).

3.    Funded a $1000 pay raise (plus benefits and 5 extra vacation days) for most state employees (Appropriations Act of 2014, (SB 744)).

4.    Established an Academic Standards Review Commission to make recommendations to the State Board of Education on curriculum (Replace Common Core SS w/NC’s Higher Academ. Standards, (SB 812)).

5.    Clarified changes made to the Special Education Scholarships for Children with Disabilities and Opportunity Scholarships, making the program easier to understand and identifying reimbursement services (Clarifying Changes/Special Ed Scholarships, (HB 712) and Appropriations Act of 2014, (SB 744), Section 8.25).

6.    Modified charter schools by allowing automatic grade increases as charter schools grow and allowing single-sex schools. Charter schools are subject to the Open Meetings and Public Records Act (Charter School Modifications, (SB 793)).

7.    Allowed religious or political student organizations authority to determine their own core functions (Student Organizations/Rights & Recognitions, (SB 719)). 

8.    Community Colleges and the University systems can participate in the Yellow Ribbon Reserve, federal matching program, that helps reduce tuition costs for non-resident veterans (Appropriations Act of 2014, (SB 744), Section 11.12).

9.    Shifted many economic development functions of the Department of Commerce to the NC Economic Development Partnership to better recruit new business and industry to the state through efficiency, job retention and creation (NC Econ. Dev. Partnership Modifications, (HB 1031)).

10. Changed laws relating to regulation by State and local government on health and safety (Regulatory Reform Act of 2014, (SB 734)). 

11. Improved the Department of Transportation affecting efficiency, decreasing traffic burden, and improving state drivers’ licenses (DOT/DMV changes, (HB 1025) and DOT/DMV changes #2, (HB 272)).

12. Required mopeds to be registered (Registration for Mopeds, (HB 1145)). 

13. Updated regulations of the Mining and Energy Commission and its work on rules for oil and gas (Energy Modernization Act, (SB 786)).

14. Created a commission to oversee the assessment, planning and clean-up of coal ash ponds in order to safeguard our state’s greatest natural resource, our water (Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, (SB 729)).

15. Updated agricultural and environmental laws (Farm Act of 2014, (HB 366)).

16. Punished threats to legislative, executive, or court officers. Increased penalties for cell phones in prison. Allowed remote testimony by forensic analysts in criminal trials (Criminal Law Changes, (HB 369)).  

17. Changed procedures for business cases (Business Court Modernization, (SB 853)).

18. Changed election laws by clarifying filing and hours of operation, establishing procedures for primary voters who have moved and updating ballot requirements (Omnibus Election Clarifications, (SB 403)).

19. Created a pilot program for the use of hemp extract for intractable epileptic disorder (Hope 4 Haley and Friends, (HB 1220)).

20. Increased health care options for at home medical care (Zoning/Health Care Structure, (HB 625)).

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Please contact me at paul.stam@ncleg.net with any inquiries.

The 2014 Dispute over Lottery Advertising Raises Some Eyebrows

August 26th, 2014 by

The 2014 Dispute over Lottery Advertising Raises Some Eyebrows

 Representative Paul Stam[1]

During the budget development process, the House proposed to double the quantity of Lottery advertising (from 1% to 2% of revenue), but add the restrictions the House had passed 99-12 in the Honest Lottery Act (HB 156)[2].  The Senate Appropriations Committee met on June 12, 2014 to discuss lottery advertising.  A transcript is attached. 

Executive Director, Alice Garland, stated (page 16) that the Lottery Commission was not consulted when the fiscal note for HB 156 (Honest Lottery Act) was put together.  On page 3 of the attached fiscal note the Fiscal Research Division (FRD) states, “The Lottery Commission does not anticipate any costs from incorporating the changes to statistical probability disclaimers provided in lottery advertisements. No fiscal impact is anticipated.” 

A fiscal memorandum dated June 20, 2014 states that the Lottery Commission claimed that $3.6 million would be needed to fix billboards.  But the spokeswoman for the NC Lottery ”told Dylan Finch on March 13, 2013 that the onetime cost would be $300,000.  His memo is attached. 

Would restrictions on the contents of advertising restrict sales?  The Commission’s position on this has been twofold.  1) That bettors are so attuned to the odds that they know where to look it up on the website and that restrictions would have no impact, or 2) that bettors care nothing about the odds and thus the truth about the odds would have no impact (page 13).  Attached is an email from the General Counsel of the Lottery in September 2013 in which he states that “we really do not know what the impact on sales would be.”  Most of the discussion by the Commission and others about supposed loss of sales is due to the “confusion” associated with having two numbers on billboards for PowerBall and Mega Millions (first, the nominal payment if taken over 20 years and second, the real present value of a lump sum payment.  But ad restrictions in the Honest Lottery Act do not require that two numbers be posted, only the true number.  The bill does not prohibit the Lottery Commission from putting the higher fanciful number on the billboard.  There is no reason to confuse the public with the higher but deceptive number.

Some Senators argued that the House was “gambling on gambling” to pay teachers.  The lottery produces about 4% of the education budget for the State (about 2% of the general fund budget and less than 1% of the total State budget).  Without raising the advertising rate and without the advertising restrictions, the estimate from the FRD was that $520 million would come in next year (14-15) for education.  FRD estimates that raising the advertising rate to 2% in conjunction with the advertising restrictions would bring in $550 million for education. So the question is not whether you are “gambling on gambling” to pay teachers.  The state has used lottery money to pay teachers for almost a decade.  The question is whether you will have more but accurate ads, or instead, have fewer ads that are false and deceptive.

The lottery is the only operation of State government that puts out false and deceptive information on a daily basis to its own citizens.  As Senator Tillman said:

Fools will play the lottery and now if we can attract more fools to play the lottery and they choose that, I’m not sticking a gun to their head. We’re talking about will it produce enough revenue to put something like teacher raises…(page 8).[3]

Senator Robinson asked Ms. Garland (page 12), “do you have statistics on that in terms of who, you know, what segment of the population, or what area…but can you tell us who plays the most?”  Ms. Garland’s ans;wer was “I don’t have statistics.”  I would be shocked if she does not have statistics since they are voluminous and easily accessible.  The report attached that is entitled, “State Lotteries at the Turn of the Century: Report to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission,” provides the statistics that Ms. Garland says the Lottery Commission does not have.  It shows without a doubt that the people who play the most are poor and uneducated.  Government should not have them in their sights to exploit.

Recently a lottery winner was praised for donating $25,000 to Shaw University after she won $2,000,000.  Her contribution was only 1.25% of her winnings and it went to her own employer.  What about all the losers that created the prize Ms. Fields won? Other lottery participants lost $2,000,000 to establish a $25,000 scholarship and provide money in the bank for Ms. Fields.[4]  The July 11, 2014 News and Observer article quoted her, “I talk to people in line and tell them that the lottery is my fun  because I’m helping education while I play.”  If the lottery were not in place today, the same amount of funds that the lottery produces would be available for education.  Studies show that lotteries provide no net new money for education. [5]  Using the term “education” to sell lottery tickets is an advertising ploy.  It is not true.

There is a huge discrepancy between the gambling habits of eastern North Carolina and western North Carolina.  Eastern gamblers are heavily subsidizing the rest of the state.  I estimate that on a yearly basis several hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth are transferred from the East to the West by the Lottery.  Attached is a chart that shows the figures for each county.  The counties in bold in the chart are donor counties.  Some are extreme donor counties such as Nash, Halifax, Vance, Edgecombe, Wilson and Lenoir counties, which all have lottery sales per capita that more than double the State average.  Eastern legislators could spend some time calculating for themselves the losses to the East occasioned by this scheme to redistribute wealth.

We will continue to debate the lottery for years.  It is important that we know the facts.


[1] Dylan Finch, intern for Representative Paul Stam, contributed to research for this article.  He is a student at North Carolina State University in its Economics program.

[2] See http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H156v3.pdf

[3] This article does not address the deceptive nature of NC lottery advertising.  For a full report on this topic, please see the attached summary and the corresponding advertisements.

[4] For more information on how the NC Lottery uses lottery scholarship recipients to deceive players, please see http://paulstam.info/2014/02/lottery-newsletter-spreads-irrelevant-information/.

[5] See http://www.johnlocke.org/acrobat/spotlights/Spotlight405LotteryNotWorthGamble.pdf

Attachments: Lottery Article, SB 744 – Appropriations Act of 2014_Senate Appropriations_Lottery Transcipt, HB 156 Honest Lottery Act Fiscal Note, Memo regarding Jamie King phone call, Quan t. Kirk email, Clotfelter et al. Report to National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Memo_Comparison of Lottery Funding and Sales By County, Fiscal Memo by Barry Boardman

 

Why Voters Should Support the Constitutional Amendment Allowing Criminal Defendants to Waive a Jury and be tried by a Superior Court Judge

August 11th, 2014 by

Revised October 16, 2014

Raleigh, NC – During the 2013 Long Session the North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 399, “Criminal Defendant May Waive Jury Trial.” If approved on November 4, 2014 it will amend the North Carolina Constitution to provide that an accused may, with the consent of the judge, waive the right to a jury trial and be tried by a Superior Court judge (bench trial). It does not apply to capital cases.

Some say the legislation will take away defendants’ constitutional right to a trial by jury. This is not true. Defendants will still have the right to a trial by jury in Superior Court. They can choose to waive that right if they wish to have a trial by a Superior Court Judge. But the accused does not get to pick the judge. District Attorneys, not defense attorneys, are the ones who set criminal cases on the calendar.

The primary sponsor of the bill, Senator Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsyth), says “the amendment follows the well-established right of a defendant in federal court to choose to be tried by a judge, rather than a jury, and this has been upheld by the US Supreme Court.” I understand that 49 other states allow this as well.

There are several benefits to giving defendants the right to waive a jury trial. Victims are more likely to receive a speedy resolution to their cases. District Attorneys will also have more tools to effectively manage their case loads, allowing for swifter resolution of the criminal justice process.

Only 1.84% of all Superior Court cases last year ended with a jury trial. District Attorneys may not plea bargain or dismiss charges as often if defendants can waive a jury. District Attorneys understand that jury trials demand more time and money, which is why they try to avoid them by plea bargaining and dismissing cases. Bench trials would give District Attorneys a faster and much more economical means of trial. Defendants who would otherwise plea bargain would have the opportunity to assert their innocence at a real trial before a judge.

Waiving constitutional rights is neither new nor unusual. Individuals who choose not to possess a gun waive their right to bear arms. Individuals who choose not to practice a religion waive their right to freely exercise a religion. A property owner gives up the right to that property when she conveys land by deed. When a homeowner allows the police to enter and search her home, the homeowner waives her 4th Amendment right to a search warrant. By testifying at his trial a defendant waives his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Most rights are not absolute. Almost all rights may be waived by voluntary acts. However, an individual can never sell himself as a slave. This right is guaranteed by the 13th Amendment.

A person waiving the right to a trial by jury is no different from a person waiving any of the other constitutional rights that are waived every day. By voting for the constitutional amendment on November’s ballot you will make a criminal justice system more expeditious and just.

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Why Voters Should Support the Constitutional Amendment Allowing Criminal Defendants to Waive a Jury and be tried by a Superior Court Judge

August 11th, 2014 by

– Revised October 16, 2014 –

Raleigh, NC – During the 2013 Long Session the North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 399, “Criminal Defendant May Waive Jury Trial.”  If approved on November 4, 2014 it will amend the North Carolina Constitution to provide that an accused may, with the consent of the judge, waive the right to a jury trial and be tried by a Superior Court judge (bench trial). It does not apply to capital cases.

Some say the legislation will take away defendants’ constitutional right to a trial by jury.  This is not true. Defendants will still have the right to a trial by jury in Superior Court. They can choose to waive that right if they wish to have a trial by a Superior Court Judge. But the accused does not get to pick the judge. District Attorneys, not defense attorneys, are the ones who set criminal cases on the calendar.

The primary sponsor of the bill, Senator Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsyth), says “the amendment follows the well-established right of a defendant in federal court to choose to be tried by a judge, rather than a jury, and this has been upheld by the US Supreme Court.”  I understand that 49 other states allow this as well.

There are several benefits to giving defendants the right to waive a jury trial. Victims are more likely to receive a speedy resolution to their cases. District Attorneys will also have more tools to effectively manage their case loads, allowing for swifter resolution of the criminal justice process.

Only 1.84% of all Superior Court cases last year ended with a jury trial. District Attorneys may not plea bargain or dismiss charges as often if defendants can waive a jury. District Attorneys understand that jury trials demand more time and money, which is why they try to avoid them by plea bargaining and dismissing cases. Bench trials would give District Attorneys a faster and much more economical means of trial. Defendants who would otherwise plea bargain would have the opportunity to assert their innocence at a real trial before a judge.

Waiving constitutional rights is neither new nor unusual. Individuals who choose not to possess a gun waive their right to bear arms. Individuals who choose not to practice a religion waive their right to freely exercise a religion. A property owner gives up the right to that property when she conveys land by deed. When a homeowner allows the police to enter and search her home, the homeowner waives her 4th Amendment right to a search warrant. By testifying at his trial a defendant waives his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Most rights are not absolute. Almost all rights may be waived by voluntary acts. However, an individual can never sell himself as a slave. This right is guaranteed by the 13th Amendment.

A person waiving the right to a trial by jury is no different from a person waiving any of the other constitutional rights that are waived every day. By voting for the constitutional amendment on November’s ballot you will make a criminal justice system more expeditious and just.

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2014 “Short Session” Update

August 11th, 2014 by

This was the first session in 144 years that a Republican Governor had a Republican majority in the General Assembly. We had a lot to do:

While the budget has been finalized, the General Assembly still has more business to take up in 2014. We will be back in Raleigh on November 17th for a “Special Session” to look at Medicaid Reform. We will then be gone until the beginning of our 2015 “Long Session.”

Budget and Taxes:    For the fourth straight year we were able to balance the budget without raising tax rates. The state budget for 2013-2014 was $20.631 billion (SB 402). We were able to do the things we said we would with a $21.1 billion budget for 2014-15 (SB 744), an increase less than the increase in population plus inflation.

We have provided the largest teacher pay raise in nine years by giving public school educators an average seven percent raise inclusive of longevity. This investment in education will move our state ahead of fourteen other states in national teacher pay rankings. North Carolina will be more competitive nationally.

Our budget maintains current funding for the state’s university system (while giving the university new flexibility), preserves teacher assistant positions, and allows superintendents broad flexibility in tailoring classroom spending to their districts’ needs.

Our budget retains current Medicaid eligibility, provides most state employees a $1,000 pay raise (plus benefits) and five bankable vacation days.  It increases pay by five or six percent for those Highway Patrol Troopers eligible for step increases. With an environment that fosters economic growth, we have been able to provide compensation that, not too long ago, would have only come with a tax hike. There are no tax rate increases in the budget.

The English Playwright John Heywood said: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour”. The system of laying the bricks is greater than the goal. The General Assembly has laid the proper foundation prior to reaching our goal, in order to have a fiscally efficient and effective implementation of our budget.

Curriculum:    SB 812 establishes an Academic Standards Review Commission to make recommendations to the State Board of Education on changes to the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards. These standards currently incorporate Common Core standards in the Standard Course of Study. The State Board of Education will not enter into any agreement or contracts that cede control to any other government or agency.

New Educational Opportunities:    SB 793, Charter School Modifications allows automatic grade increases as charter schools grow as long as appropriate conditions are met.  The law also allows for single-sex charter schools and subjects charter schools to the Open Meetings Law and Public Records Act.

Clarifying changes were made to the Special Education Scholarships for Children with Disabilities (HB 712) and Opportunity Scholarships (SB 744, Section 8.25). Changes made to the Special Education Scholarships made the program easier to understand. It clarified the types of services for which parents can be reimbursed, including educational technology.

Changes to Opportunity Scholarships included a section prohibiting participating nonpublic schools from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. The budget adds $840,000 to the program (now totaling $10,840,000) and allows the State Education Assistance Authority to award scholarships for 2015 Spring Semester.

Higher Education:    The budget provided funding to allow both the Community College and University systems to participate in Yellow Ribbon Reserve, a federal matching program that helps reduce tuition costs for non-resident veterans. SB 719, Student Organizations/Rights & Recognition, provides that a religious or political student organization at a community college or university may determine its own core functions. Once an organization is granted recognition, a community college or university may not deny the organization access to programs, funding, facilities, or other privileges.

Natural Gas and Energy:    The Energy Modernization Act allows for energy exploration. The law extends the deadline for the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) to adopt rules for a regulatory program for the management of oil and gas. (SB 786) makes statutory changes to update the current regulations involving shale gas exploration, development, and production. It authorizes the issuance of permits for oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Alternatives to natural gas are coal and oil. Natural gas is much cleaner.

The law expands the requirements for notice to subsurface owners in regards to initiation of exploration, development, and production activities. It places presumptive liability on an oil and gas operator for any contamination of water supplies near a wellhead. It increases the amount of pre-drilling, drilling, and post-drilling water supply tests, all of which is required through an independent third party. These will be public records.  Any actions that cause damage require compensation.

Environment:    The Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 is awaiting further action by the assembly in November. (SB 729), it would require all coal ash ponds to be addressed. The bill creates a Coal Ash Management Commission to oversee the assessment, planning, and clean-up of all coal ash ponds across NC, with an emphasis on the high-risk ponds which will be remediated first. North Carolina is the only state that has attempted this type of regulation.

The Business Court:    SB 853, “Business Court Modernization,” changes procedures for designating complex business cases. This successful court is where businesses may obtain a fair and expert hearing in cases against each other.

Health Services:    Hope 4 Haley and Friends (HB 1220) creates a pilot program for the use of hemp extract for intractable epileptic disorders.  We also increased health care options for those needing medical care at their own homes (HB 625). Insurance companies may not set fees for services when those services are not covered under the insurance plan (SB 477). Medicaid reform will most likely be addressed on November 17.

Economic Development:    (HB 1031)  will shift many economic development functions of the Department of Commerce to a partnership. This legislation takes an important step in our “Carolina Comeback” by allowing our economic development efforts to be more focused on customer service and efficiency, as well as job retention and creation. The NC Economic Development Partnership will perform duties that previously functioned under Commerce. The partnership’s role will be to help recruit new business and industry to the state.

Transportation:    There are many road projects in progress in order to meet the needs of local transportation. We received funding from the NC Board of Transportation for intersection improvements at SR 1115 (Avent Ferry Rd) and the Hwy-55 Bypass in Holly Springs. The Towns of Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina have urgently requested this in order to relieve congestion and improve traffic flow for commuters.  (HB 1145) requires mopeds to be registered with DMV and will study insurance as well.

The Department of Transportation saw various changes that affect its organization.  As recommended by the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee and the Department of Transportation, a few of the changes in (HB 1025) and (HB 272) include: improving efficiency in safety inspections, decreasing traffic burden on DOT statisticians, creating the installation and violation of ramp meter traffic devices, addressing DWI interlock violation and the location of DMV hearings, improving the production of state drivers’ licenses, and bringing interrelated work with Dept. of Agriculture and DOT and additional partnership with private developers in state highway system operations.

Agriculture:    The North Carolina Farm Act of 2014 (HB 366) makes agricultural and environmental changes. It designates the “Got to Be NC” marketing campaign as the official agricultural marketing campaign for the state. It maintains the confidentiality of investigations within agricultural and environmental operations while formalizing a complaint procedure with DENR. The new law clarifies local government’s ability to adopt ordinances related to the environment and agriculture.

Integrity for our elections process:    Changes to election laws in (SB 403) include: clarifying length of party affiliation and filing, updating ballot requirements for primary and general election partisan and nonpartisan races, clarifying hours offered for early voting sites, reiterating the photo identification requirements needed when voting, transferring some responsibilities of the local board of elections to the State Ethics Commission, and establishing a new procedure for voters who move between the first and second primaries.

 

If you want further information on these or any other subjects, please contact me at paul.stam@ncleg.net and I will try to get information to you. We can send you electronically the actual bills and committee summaries.

Lottery Newsletter Spreads Irrelevant Information

June 11th, 2014 by

The North Carolina Lottery Commission announced on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, record breaking lottery sales: such sales contribute to State education funding.  However, the release provides no context.  This continues the lottery commission’s attempt to burnish its image despite the facts.  An example of such an attempt is the commission’s October 2013 newsletter.  The headline boasts of the significant impact the NCLC has on education funding in North Carolina.  This is a gross exaggeration.  Second, the newsletter provides a story of a college student who received a scholarship from the NCEL.  A scholarship from the NCLC accounts for a small percentage of the overall subsidy a student receives from State of North Carolina.  This press release illustrates the NCLC’s image control through articles that provide irrelevant information.

The headline states, “Lottery funds to boost education funding this year by $481 million”.  This statement is deceptive on two grounds.  First, some of the money the NCLC provides for the Education Budget (as well as the Health and Human Services budget for NC Pre-K) for FY 2013-14, which is roughly $481 million, would be appropriated if the NCLC were not in place.  State residents, without the NCLC, would spend their money on goods and services in which their transactions would be subject to the state and local sales tax of 6.75%.  Not only would the additional sales tax revenue supplant part of the current revenue from the lottery, but the money saved or spent on useful goods and services would also reduce crime rates and the level of welfare spending.  Jean Baljean would not have stolen that local bread in Les Misérables to feed his family if he had not lost all of his money playing the French lottery.

Second, the amount the NCLC allocates to the overall education budget is almost trivial.  Below you will find a table illustrating the Education budget for FY 2013-14 broken into its various components with lottery funds equaling 4.20 percent of the overall education budget.  But lottery proceeds accounted for 2.34 percent of the total State budget ($20,630,767,645) and only .96 percent of the overall State general fund ($50 billion which includes federal government pass-throughs).  While proceeds from the lottery make up very little of the overall budget, the hype created by the NCLC causes voters to disregard or vote against local education bond issues because they think that their financial contributions through the lottery have alleviated the need for real education spending.

On the next to last page of the lottery newsletter is an article about an N.C. State student who received a scholarship from the NCLC.  The article does not disclose the amount of the student’s scholarship, but it does include information about the great things the student is doing as well as the number of scholarships the NCLC has given to students.  The title for the article states, “Scholarship student at N.C. State aims to help veterans.”  The student appears to be a well-rounded and academically gifted student, but the NCLC is using her to improve its public image so as to encourage people to think that when they play the lottery they have done something significant and praiseworthy.

For the 2013 fall semester, the SEAA (State Education Assistance Authority) reported that the average lottery scholarship was $1,105.  To put this in context, in-state tuition at N.C. State for the same academic year was $8,055.15.  However, the most important fact is that for the average full-time North Carolina resident enrolled at a UNC system school for FY 2012-13, the State of North Carolina spent $13,000 in public funds.  And for this student at N.C. State, the tuition subsidy from the taxpayer is $15,707.  In sum, all full-time North Carolina students at N.C. State receive a subsidy from the State well in excess of the tuition each student has to pay as well as many times over the average scholarship the NCLC has to offer.  Despite this the NCLC only promotes the scholarships it offers to students as a way to increase its public image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1NC Pre-K is a part of the Health and Human Services portion of the budget for FY 2013-14.  It is not included in the education portion.
*This total does not include the allocations for NC Pre-K from the General Fund.
^This total does include the allocations the lottery provides for NC Pre-K.            

The Logic of Toll Roads

May 24th, 2014 by

 “Good tax policy decrees that wherever possible a fee for a service should be assessed against those who directly benefit from that service.”[1]
Ronald Reagan

The Toll Road program is an important tool to be included in the measures for building public infrastructure.

Use of Toll Roads can greatly accelerate the implementation of crucial projects. In the case of 540 in western Wake County it has been estimated that this project was able to be constructed some 20-25 years earlier than it would have been if it followed traditional funding/construction processes.

With the 540 Toll Road in place existing motorists have been provided with an excellent alternative for reaching the RTP, Durham, RDU Airport and eastern NC in far less time and with much greater ease.  Future residents will also be able to enjoy the benefits of this facility immediately upon their arrival.

Traditionally roads have been provided or improved on the basis of existing traffic volumes following the axiom of “Once we have a clear need through severely over loaded facilities we will either widen existing facilities or construct new ones.”

In the 1940’s Governor Kerr Scott implemented his “farm to market” road improvement program  to get  farmers out of the mud with paved roads allowing them to move their products to market more quickly and safely.  North Carolina quickly became a national leader in paved roads networking across the state. As a result North Carolina became nationally known as “The Good Roads State.”

Toll Roads give us the flexibility of following a new axiom which is “ Since we can clearly project the unquestionable need for improvements let’s go ahead and get it in place so it is there before we have a catastrophic failure of the existing , limited, facilities.”

Along with improving mobility (the ability to move safely and efficiently from point A to Point B and back again) having alternative routes in place also helps to meet our requirements to reduce air pollution from vehicle emissions.

Our region has long been under an air quality improvement mandate from the EPA.  Air quality monitoring stations were installed by the federal /and or state agencies at some of the longest standing, highly congested intersections or stretches of roadway, in the region (Crabtree Valley to name one). At these locations during rush hours or heavy shopping times, motorists would sit with the engines idling as they inched their way through multiple cycles of signals to eventually clear the intersection or congested stretch of roadway. With all of these idling engines and no viable alternative routes for those who were simply trying to get through the area to some other destination, air quality would drop drastically as the localized air mass became saturated with engine exhaust. Even with the addition of buses to reduce the number of idling vehicles there was no significant improvement as few people chose to use the bus. Further, the region’s steady population growth added new drivers to the mix at a rate that far outstripped any advantage gained by the limited number of people who chose the transit option.

The only reliable fallback that we could take  has been to expand and add new roadway facilities to provide much needed alternatives and keep vehicles moving so that no single area would be subjected to the long periods of inching vehicles with idling engines that would severely impair the air quality at that given location. Given limited state and federal funding that might provide for a few improvements over a 7 to 10 year time period, local governments have been confronted with having to build new roads completely on their own. This has required approval of bonds by the voters within the respective community, or a tax increase, or both. Even so, our communities still find themselves with the need to improve or construct even more roads.

Even with paying the tolls, most motorists’ save both money and time. For example, prior to the connection of 540 from the NC 55 Holly Springs By-pass to NC 55 at Research Triangle Park (RTP) residents in the Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina, Southwesternmost Wake County and from neighboring areas like Angier or Lillington had the choice of either following NC 55 Bypass and NC 55 through downtown Apex  and continuing on NC 55 to reach RTP at NC 55; or, working their way through back roads (Holly Springs New Hill Road to New Hill Olive Chapel Road) out of Holly Springs to reach NC 751 then O’Kelly Chapel Road and eventually NC 55 at the RTP.

Their first choice through downtown Apex could require  usually at least 30 minutes, and sometimes an hour, just to negotiate the roughly 4 miles from the intersection of the NC 55 By-pass and old NC 55 north of Holly Springs to the intersection of NC 55 and US 64 north of Apex. From there they still needed to negotiate another 6.5 miles and 9 traffic signals at a maximum speed limit of 50 miles per hour (mph) to reach the intersection of NC 55 and 540 at the RTP. It could take 15 minutes or more to negotiate this last 6.5 miles.  Following this route one could have a total commuting time of anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes!!

Now, by getting on 540 at the interchange with the NC 55 By-pass in Holly Springs one can reach the same location at RTP on NC 55 (540 NC 55 intersection) by travelling 13 miles at 70 mph in about 12 minutes. There is a huge fuel savings by negotiating essentially the same distance with the engine running time reduced by anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more!!

The back road route is over 24 miles in length (one way) and in the best of times it would require at least 35 minutes. In rush hour traffic it would take between 45 minutes and an hour. People who used this route said they knew it was significantly longer but they seemed to continuously move (a big psychological plus) and they reached their ultimate destination often in the same, or less, time than it would take to follow NC 55 back through downtown Apex.

If the logic of the 540 toll road saving both time and money even with the payment of the tolls is proven, then the facility is not punitive to those who use it. If the logic is proven that the toll road saves money by reducing fuel costs even after the tolls are accounted for then the facility cannot be discriminatory as the benefit is there for all. Further, if one’s personal time were valued at $10 an hour a reduction in commute time by at least 15 minutes each way is a $5 benefit. If the commute is reduced by 30 minutes each way there is a $10 realization in time. That is much more than the toll.

 

Responses to Specific Points
Recently Raised by
North Carolina Citizens Against Toll Roads
(NCCATR)

Are Toll roads punitive:

At 18.4 cents per gallon, the federal gas tax was last raised in 1993. Since then, it has lost nearly 40 percent of its purchasing power. The gas tax would need to be raised to nearly 30 cents per gallon to give it the purchasing power it had in 1993.

Similarly, while the North Carolina state gas tax is a combination of a flat rate plus a variable rate based on wholesale prices (capped since 2012), North Carolina has seen the power of its highway construction dollars decline 52% between 2002-2013.  This reduction of purchasing power at both the federal and state levels creates challenges to funding our infrastructure systems now and in the future.

The use of tolls is a central component to this nation’s transportation funding system.  Tolls establish a direct connection between the use of the road and payment for that use. For too long, motorists have falsely believed our roads are free. Our highways are not free nor have they ever been. However, it’s easy to see why that misperception persists. There is no direct link between paying the fuel tax and using the roads it funds. Tolling re-establishes that connection.

There are no free roads. There are only toll roads and tax supported roads. A toll is a user fee, not a tax. You only pay for a toll road when you use it. Every road needs maintenance and reconstruction, and that costs money.  No road is ever fully paid for. A road, just like a home, requires ongoing upkeep and maintenance.  Tolls provide a sustainable source of revenue for ongoing road maintenance and improvement.

It is a common misconception that the Interstates are “already paid for.” Infrastructure of all kinds needs routine maintenance, upgrading and eventual replacement. Though it cost $129 billion to construct, it will cost nearly $2.5 trillion over the next 50 years to rebuild the interstate system, largely at state expense. States are looking for new, sustainable revenue streams to support their highways, especially the Interstate highways. A growing number of states are exploring (or revisiting) the benefits of tolling as part of the options for renovating and upgrading their roadways.

Tolls are voluntary user fees. Drivers can choose to pay tolls or take alternative routes, whereas taxes are mandatory and charged to everyone. Yes, customers of toll facilities also pay taxes, but the taxes are used to fund non-toll roads. Since toll roads are primarily self-financed and do not rely on taxes, the customer is not paying twice for the facility. In fact, without tolls, taxes would be higher.

 

Do Toll roads discriminate:

Tolls are a fair and precise way to pay for transportation facilities because there is a clear and direct link between use of the facility and payment for that use.

A toll is a user fee, not a tax. If you don’t use the facility, you don’t pay for it. You only pay a toll when you choose to drive on a toll road for a higher level of convenience, reliability or safety.

Many surveys have shown that drivers of all income levels use tolled facilities and support having the option to use high-quality toll roads. A well-designed pricing plan can be less burdensome to low-income citizens than systems that are based on regressive taxes, such as car registration fees, sales taxes and the gasoline tax.

Do Toll roads alleviate traffic congestion:

Tolls provide money today for projects that can be built in the near future and meet demand for decades to come.

Tolls provide a dedicated and predictable revenue stream that allows toll operators to program capacity improvements as they are needed.

Today, most toll roads, bridges, and tunnels collect tolls electronically, which eliminates the need to stop and pay tolls at a traditional toll plaza.

Toll roads are generally safer than non-tolled roads due to better maintenance, pavement, and technology.  Toll operators employ state-of-the-art technology to monitor road conditions and have a financial incentive to keep their roads running as safely and smoothly as possible.

Toll roads tend to be less congested than tax-funded roads, where unrestricted access often leads to congestion. Toll roads also lead to time savings and congestion relief on nearby roadways by increasing the total road capacity available. Moreover, most toll operators are eliminating toll plazas and expanding their high-speed, automated tolling options. Most new facilities are being built as cashless systems, with no stopping or slowing down to pay a toll.

 

Do Toll roads cost $1.9 million more per mile to build:

Capital costs for the Triangle Expressway included:

  • Roadside Toll Collection System (RTCS) – $11.98M
  • Electronic Toll Collection System (ETCS) – $2.77M
  • Initial Transponder Purchase – $3.59M
  • Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) – $6.05M
  • Back Office System (BOS) – $3.57M
  • Consultants – $7.61M

Including only the RTCS, ETCS,and 60% of the Consultant Labor ($19.32M) which accounts for roadside toll equipment costs specific to the Triangle Expressway (18.8 miles), the roadside toll technology cost is $1.03M/Mile.  These project costs were included in the overall project cost and plan of finance.

 As of March 31, 2014, the Triangle Expressway has delivered $24,180,503.56 in actual revenue.  This is 22% above projections, project to date


[1] Radio Address to the Nation on Proposed Legislation for a Highway and Bridge Repair Program
November 27, 1982  (The President spoke at 9:06 a.m. from Rancho del Cielo, his ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif.)

Who Really Put a Heavy Tax Burden on the Poor?

April 17th, 2014 by

Raleigh – Harry Reid’s PAC ads claim that Republicans raised taxes for most North Carolinians. I attribute that nonsense to his poor research team. But I then get somewhat confused when I hear Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, Senate Minority Whip Josh Stein or Senator Floyd McKissick, Black Caucus Leader claim that Republican Tax Reform advantages the rich to the detriment of the poor.

Attached is the voting record of this trio for their 2009 votes to increase the state portion of the sales tax from 4.75% to 5.75% – a 16% increase amounting to almost $1 billion per year. See SB 202, 3rd reading, Section 27.A2. The disabled, the unemployed, the retired and even homeless veterans pay sales tax. This was the answer of these Senators to the 2009 budget.

The same strange phenomenon has occurred in the House. Attached is the voting record of House Democratic Leader Representative Larry Hall, House Deputy Democratic Leader, Representative Michael Wray and Representative Garland Pierce, Black Caucus Leader for their 2009 votes to increase the state portion of the sales tax from 4.75% to 5.75% – a 16% increase amounting to almost $1 billion per year. See SB 202, 3rd reading, Section 27.A2. They also know that high sales tax rates disproportionally are paid by the poor.

In 2011 these same voices called on Republicans to keep this “temporary sales tax increase.” “It’s only a penny” they claimed. Your readers will recall that Democratic leaders demanded this extra 16% increase in the sales tax rate. Our refusal to do so was the reason Gov. Beverly Perdue tried to veto the 2011-2013 budget.

The refusal by the Republican General Assembly to increase the sales tax rate to the high levels of the Democrats and to continue that policy from 2011 into 2013 is part of the total tax reform package. Poor people do better under the Republican plan than under the Democrats’ actions. That is true at every income level.

But these Democrats think we have a very short memory. Senator Harry Reid will waste his money on ads that prove only a demonstrable lie.

 

Why I Endorsed Thom Tillis For The U.S. Senate

April 10th, 2014 by

In 2011 hardly a day went by without some reporter or pundit decrying the “abrupt turn to the right” of the North Carolina House and Senate.  These cries of alarm were multiplied in 2013 when, for the first time in 144 years, a Republican Governor met a Republican legislative majority upon his inauguration.  When newspaper commentators talked about an “abrupt turn to the right” what they meant was sound conservative government.  They were right.

In 2010, Republicans, including myself as House Minority Leader and Thom Tillis as House Minority Whip, campaigned all over the state telling voters what we would do if we obtained a majority.  We obtained that majority and we accomplished almost everything on our agenda.  What did we do?

The Democrats budgeted by continually increasing tax rates before and during the recession.  We stopped that.  We repealed the temporary sales tax and the temporary income tax surcharge to the tune of $1 billion per year.  Then in 2013, with Gov. McCrory’s support, we passed real tax reform lowering income tax rates for everybody – EVERYBODY – while eliminating dozens of loopholes.  Our overall tax burden went from 6th worst in the country to 17th best.  We are much more competitive now and the jobless rates and job gains reflect it.

We started on regulatory reform in 2011 as much as we could with Governor Perdue in the way.  We took more huge strides in 2013.  Squeals from the left were deafening.  Long-overdue election reform elicited howls from Democratic leaders even though most of their voters approved.

In 2011 we started a major expansion of educational opportunities.  This continued in 2013 after Governor Perdue lost her veto pen.  In 2011 we passed scholarships for children with special needs who needed to attend private schools.  We continued that in 2013 with opportunity scholarships for others.  Public education reform featured Read to Achieve – a major effort designed to make sure that third graders would be taught to read so that by the time they were in fourth grade they could read to learn.

What does Thom Tillis have to do with all of this?  For those who know how Raleigh works, nothing passes the House or Senate without the blessing of the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate.  While the Governor has an official veto it can be overridden and has been.  The Speaker and the President Pro Tem cannot be overridden in any practical way.

A word about Thom Tillis’ competition.  During his term as President of the State Baptist Convention, Mark Harris was an integral part of the referendum campaign to pass the Marriage Amendment.  It passed with 61% of the vote.  He should be thanked for that effort.  But how did the marriage amendment get on the ballot in 2012?  We had been trying without success for 8 years.  Jim Black and Joe Hackney would not allow a vote.  In 2011/2012 there were not 72 Republican members in the House (only 68) and not every Republican was actually in support of putting this on the ballot.  It was Speaker Tillis who worked with enough Democrats to put us over the top and worked with some nervous Republicans to make sure that we had the votes and the right legislative strategy and language.  Look at the actual tasks of a U.S. Senator.  Which role is appropriate to consider in deciding who will effectively defend marriage in Washington?

I respect and thank Dr. Greg Brannon for testifying in favor of the Woman’s Right to Know Act and for reviewing its language along with four other physicians.  In general the organized OB/GYN Community is hostile to prolife legislation.  But what did Speaker Tillis do for the prolife cause?  In 2011 we did not have enough Republicans to pass anything over the veto of Governor Perdue.  The Woman’s Right to Know Act passed over her veto without one vote to spare.  It was up to the Speaker to make the arrangements necessary to get those final votes from four Democrats and to calm the nerves of several Republicans who would have rather not voted.  He also had to clear the legislative hurdles to get it through the House, the Senate and the override of Governor Perdue.  Less remarked that session was the end to state funding of Planned Parenthood, the end of state funding of abortion through the State Health Plan and the passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

In 2013, under the leadership of Speaker Tillis, we were able to pass an end to city and county employee abortions, a prohibition on abortion coverage through policies sold in North Carolina through the federal exchange, an end to sex election abortion, and an expansion of conscience rights for healthcare providers.  Speaker Tillis’ knowledge and commitment was indispensible in getting this landmark legislation through the maze.  In my considered opinion these measures, taken together, will reduce the abortion rate about 30% in North Carolina.  The current decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court do not allow us to stop many more than that. We will make further progress in the next Session.  Because of his efforts, Speaker Tillis has been endorsed by the National Right to Life committee.

Back to the beginning.  There has been a decided turn toward sound conservative government for the last 3 years.  Speaker Tillis has been the chief architect of that turn.  Those who attack him for lack of conservative credentials are disconnected from reality.  I will vote early for Speaker Tillis on April 24, 2014 and encourage you to join me through the final Election Day on May 6.

Sincerely,

Rep. Paul Stam
Apex, NC
Tel:  919-362-8873

District 37 Precinct Meeting at Stars Theatre in Fuquay-Varina

February 26th, 2014 by

Skip Stam speaking view 4

Skip Stam speaking view 16

Photos Courtesy of Ben Herrmann

Jane Levring Stam Miner

February 5th, 2014 by

JANE LEVRING STAM MINER
March 11, 1925 – February 3, 2014 

I am sad to tell you that my mother, Jane Levring Stam Miner, died yesterday at her home in Chatham County at the age of 88.  She was a devoted servant of Jesus Christ. Those interested in her many exploits can click on the links shown below.  All of her children thank the hundreds of her friends who cared for her and visited her in her last year.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at Chapel Hill Bible Church, 206 Erwin Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 followed by a reception.  An interment will follow later at Arlington National Cemetery.

Letters of sympathy may be sent to Karen Stam, 451 University Street, St. Lake City, UT  84102 or by email at karenstam@aol.com.

Articles from website (www.carlstam.org/familyheritage): http://www.carlstam.org/familyheritage/janestam.htmlhttp://www.carlstam.org/familyheritage/rubies.htmlhttp://www.carlstam.org/JaneEasterTestimony.mp3

98 Supporters Attend Rep. Stam’s 2014 Election Kickoff

February 2nd, 2014 by

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Photos courtesy of Ben Herrmann

North Carolina Education Expenditures

February 2nd, 2014 by

Attached is a chart the Fiscal Research Division at the General Assembly put together tracking North Carolina’s Public School and Higher Education Expenditures over the past 8-10 years. For the public schools, it breakdowns the total spent by state, federal, and county funds and uses both current and constant dollars on a per pupil basis. Expenditures track actual money spent while budgets are a plan.

North Carolina Education Expenditures

Lottery Newsletter Spreads Irrelevant Information

February 2nd, 2014 by

Raleigh – The North Carolina Lottery Commission announced on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, record breaking lottery sales: such sales contribute to State education funding. However, the release provides no context. This continues the lottery commission’s attempt to burnish its image despite the facts. An example of such an attempt is the commission’s October 2013 newsletter. The headline boasts of the significant impact the NCLC has on education funding in North Carolina. This is a gross exaggeration. Second, the newsletter provides a story of a college student who received a scholarship from the NCLC. A scholarship from the NCLC accounts for a small percentage of the overall subsidy a student receives from State of North Carolina. This press release illustrates the NCLC’s image control through articles that provide irrelevant information.

The headline of the newsletter states, “Lottery funds to boost education funding this year by $481 million”. This statement is deceptive on two grounds. First, some of the money the NCLC provides for the Education Budget (as well as the Health and Human Services budget for NC Pre-K) for FY 2013-14, which is roughly $481 million, would be appropriated if the NCLC were not in place. State residents, without the NCLC, would spend their money on goods and services in which their transactions would be subject to the state and local sales tax of 6.75%. Not only would the additional sales tax revenue supplant part of the current revenue from the lottery, but the money saved or spent on useful goods and services would also reduce crime rates and the level of welfare spending. Jean Valjean would not have stolen that loaf of bread in Les Misérables to feed his family if he had not lost all of his money (perhaps by playing the French lottery)?

Second, the amount the NCLC allocates to the overall education budget is not significant when considered in context. Below you will find a table illustrating the Education budget for FY 2013-14 broken into its various components with lottery funds equaling 4.20 percent of the overall education budget. But lottery proceeds accounted for only 2.34 percent of the General Fund budget ($20,630,767,645) and only 0.96 percent of overall State spending ($50 billion which includes federal government pass-throughs). While proceeds from the lottery make up very little of the overall budget, the hype created by the NCLC causes voters to disregard or vote against local education bond issues because they think that their financial contributions through the lottery have alleviated the need for real education spending.

On the next to last page of the lottery newsletter is an article about a N.C. State student who received a scholarship from the NCLC. The article does not disclose the amount of the student’s scholarship, but it does include information about the great things the student is doing as well as the number of scholarships the NCLC has given to students. The title for the article states, “Scholarship student at N.C. State aims to help veterans.” The student appears to be a well-rounded and academically gifted student, but the NCLC is using her (and veterans!) to improve its public image so as to encourage us to play the lottery.

For the 2013 fall semester, the SEAA (State Education Assistance Authority) reported that the average lottery scholarship was $803. To put this in context, in-state tuition at N.C. State for the same academic year was $8,055.15. However, the most important fact is that for the average full-time North Carolina resident enrolled at a UNC system school for FY 2012-13, the State of North Carolina spent $13,000 in public funds. And for this student at N.C. State, the tuition subsidy from the taxpayer is $15,918. In sum, all full-time North Carolina students at N.C. State receive a subsidy from the State nineteen times over the average scholarship the NCLC has to offer. Despite this the NCLC only promotes the scholarships it offers to students as a way to increase its public image and continue the myth that it supports education.

Attached: Full Press Release with Table 1Education Lottery Increases SalesLottery Newsletter HeadlineLottery Newsletter

More Crazy Attacks on Opportunity Scholarships

December 19th, 2013 by

Raleigh – Last week saw three attacks on North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarships. These scholarships provide $4,200 for low-income parents who choose private over public education. For a complete description of that program please see my PowerPoint and Misconceptions.

First, on December 9, 2013 the NCAE and the left-wing NC Justice Center filed suit to stop the scholarships.  The suit itself is a long essay on the perceived virtues of public education over private education.  The entire legal argument is that under Article IX, Section 6 of the State Constitution money appropriated to the public schools (K-12) cannot be diverted to private schools. Yet the money for these Opportunity Scholarships was never appropriated to the public schools in the first place but to the State Education Assistance Authority. It has been in business for decades and primarily administers college loans and grants.

Then came NC Policy Watch and its Chris Fitzsimon, aghast that a private school might have its own admission policy.  Fitzsimon’s column was broadcast all over North Carolina and argued that state tax money should never go to schools that discriminate.  That is curious.  For the last 38 years the state has been providing legislative tuition grants and need-based scholarships to 35 private 4-year colleges. These colleges discriminate in their admission policies for all sorts of reasons.  But one stands out.  Three of these schools have always blatantly discriminated against men.  Meredith College, Bennett College and Salem College do not admit men at all. Two other colleges received these funds for decades before admitting men – Queens College and Peace College.  We have not heard a peep out of Fitzsimon and NC Policy Watch claiming that this discrimination based on sex was immoral, illegal or unconstitutional.  Most of us are rather proud that our tax money furthers the education of tens of thousands of young women.

And then the Superintendent of Public Instruction, June Atkinson, spoke to the State School Board Association’s Public Policy Conference in Wilmington. Local NBC affiliate, WECT reported that she stated,

“with the voucher legislation that we have we could be in dangerous territory as far as taxpayer’s dollars going to private schools….There is nothing in the legislation that would prevent someone from establishing a school of terror”.

What would allow and inspire private schools to run schools of terror?  There are hundreds of state and federal laws that prohibit terrorist acts, terrorist training and material support to terrorists.  All of these laws apply to private schools as well as public schools.  There are 700 private schools in North Carolina today.  Does she have information that any one of them is promoting terror, teaching terror or engaging in terror?

Apparently she thinks it is taxpayer funding that will enable some of the 700 private schools to begin classes on suicide bombing for North Carolina’s private schools.  But if it is public funding that enables this kind of training there are thousands of public schools, (including 700 high schools) that get complete funding right now from the taxpayer.  If funding is the missing ingredient does she find terrorist training camps in the public schools? I cannot find them.  Some schools have gangs that terrorize other students but in no case is this the policy or the action of the public school itself. Quite to the contrary. Public schools make every effort to fight terrorism and gang activity. As do private schools, of course.

Expect more wild claims in the days to come.

Whopper Tales from the “Shutdown”

November 25th, 2013 by

Raleigh – Now that some time has passed since the early October “shutdown”/debt limit crisis of the federal government it is time for facts to emerge. Why? The next time this crisis occurs we will know better how to deal with it and how to understand it.

Here are some commons myths:

MYTH ONE: The government “shutdown” in early October 2013.

  1. Not really. State and local governments, with which most citizens have the most direct contact, were humming along at 99%. A few cases of federally funded programs were interrupted briefly.
  2. The federal government was humming along at about 70%. The expenditures that consume most the budget are on automatic pilot. By statute they continue even in the absence of a new appropriations bill. There are some limitations on this. For example, the Constitution specifies that no appropriations for the military may extend more than 2 years. Within that 70% of programs that continued on automatic pilot the matters that affected the people the most are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. . . .

MYTH TWO: During the “shutdown” essential services were shutdown.

The President acting under 31 US code 1341 and 1342, the Antideficiency Act, designated essential services and those persons continued their work unabated. Even those deemed nonessential were protected. When the continuing resolution was approved, which they all knew it would be, the workers were guaranteed to be paid in full. There was a disruption in cash flow to these workers but not to their balance sheet. Federal workers are at the top of the pay scale generally so their ability to handle this was enhanced.

MYTH THREE: October 17th deadline for extending the debt ceiling – that after that day the U.S. would have defaulted on its debt service and payment of treasury bonds.

Not really. The ability to borrow after October 17th would not have been repealed – only a statutory limit at $17 trillion (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the “Borrowing Clause”.) After that date revenues were still coming in at the annual rate of $2.7 trillion a year since there was no moratorium on citizens paying taxes. The “debt ceiling” is a  statutory statement that the total amount of debt will not exceed that figure. Annual debt service this year is $415 billion. Only if the President had violated the law and not paid debt service first would those treasury transactions have been interrupted.

MYTH FOUR: The President wisely chose which government services to halt while continuing essential services.

No. It is widely observed that President Obama chose on the basis of the services that would cause the most pain, disruption and publicity in order to create the atmosphere of crisis. For example, no one is required to monitor the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. It is an open-air exhibit without moving parts. Only President Obama would think to spend money to close it down during the “shutdown”.

MYTH FIVE: The “shutdown” was caused by the irrational opposition of Republicans to the Affordable Care Act.

See the attached October 14, 2013, statement. The shurtdown was in fact caused by th eirational stubborness of President Obama and Senators like Harry Reid and Kay Hagan who refused to allow even a single vote on the slightest change to the Affordable Care Act.

 

Attachments:

10-14-13 The Federal Government Shutdown Separating Fact from Fiction

CRS_Debt Limit

CRS_Economic Effects of Shutdown

CRS_Shutdown Causes and Effects

Article: The Removal of Special Superior Court Judges

October 30th, 2013 by

Below is the introduction to my 2013 article, “Removal of Special Superior Court Judges: An Assault on Separation of Powers.” For the full article please click here.

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I. Introduction

A recent proposal to remove nearly all of the sitting Special Superior Court Judges inspired debate on the constitutionality of the move.  Removing judges during the middle of their terms violates the separation of powers clause of the North Carolina Constitution.  By removing a judge midterm, the legislature would impede judicial independence and expose judges and the judicial branch to retaliatory legislation.  In addition to the separation of powers question, removing a judge from office during his or her term may also violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Even though judges do not have a property right in the office, they may have a property interest in the term of office.  This paper provides a brief historical overview of these issues.

What Happened During the 2013 Session?

August 20th, 2013 by
  1. Balanced the budget for the third straight year without a tax increase.
  2. Enacted historic tax reform that provides tax relief to almost everybody.
  3. The education budget is a slight increase over last year.  It gives flexibility to local school districts in spending state funds.
  4. Overhauled our election laws to require a photo ID to vote.  Other significant changes include an end to straight ticket voting.
  5. Opportunity Scholarships of $4,200 per year for low-income families who choose to send their children to a private school in 2014-15.
  6. Replaced the Tax Credit for Children with Disabilities with a scholarship grant to reimburse tuition and special education services.
  7. Reformed our regulatory climate to ease the burden on small businesses.
  8. Conscience protection for health care providers who object to abortion on moral, ethical or religious grounds; required a doctor to be physically present during an  abortion; protected women’s health by requiring DHHS to amend its rules for abortion clinics, prohibited sex-selective abortions, and ended taxpayer funding of abortions.
  9. Required Sex Ed to include instruction on the preventable causes of preterm birth, including induced abortion, smoking, alcohol consumption, the use of illicit drugs and inadequate prenatal care.
  10. Repealed the “Racial Justice Act”. The last legislative roadblock to execution of first degree murderers is now history.
  11. Enacted serious punishment for human trafficking.
  12. The Strategic Transportation Initiative focused on the critical needs of transportation infrastructure.  Funding decisions will be based on objective data rather than the arbitrary “equity formula”.
  13. Corrected the failed unemployment insurance program by repaying the record debt of $2.8 billion to the federal government and providing for a solvent insurance fund.
  14. Protected the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Rights of the NC Constitution by strengthening and clarifying rights and responsibilities of concealed carry permit holders while increasing the punishment of criminals who use guns.
  15. Hospital billing reformed to reduce costs and provide transparency for consumers.
  16. The Domestic Energy Jobs Act will spur job creation with onshore and offshore energy exploration in North Carolina.
  17. $10 million fund to compensate living victims of the eugenics program.
  18. Private employers may give preference to disabled veterans.
  19. Streamlined process for handling disciplinary matters with state employees.
  20. Tightened punishment for repeat offenders who drive while impaired. More convicted drunk drivers must install ignition locks.
  21. Farmers will no longer be required to use only unionized labor on their farms.

State Education Spending: The Facts

August 9th, 2013 by

From the Office of Representative Tim Moffit
North Carolina House of Representatives

We’ve all heard the dire predictions about the Republican-passed budget: “They’re going to decimate the whole public education system in this state!” and “This proposed budget will set back this state 25 years!” and “Cuts near this magnitude will dramatically eviscerate the ability of this state to provide a constitutionally-sound education to all of the students of our state!”

Do those claims sound familiar? They should — they’re from over two years ago. On February 24, 2011, Democrat representatives Mickey Michaux, Rick Glazier, and Ray Rapp all clucked that under the Republican budget, the sky was falling. Former Governor Perdue, for her part, warned that 20,000 teachers would be fired, class size would double, and the Republican budget would “result in generational damage” to North Carolina’s public schools.

But none of it happened.

Not only were all our teaching positions fully funded, but according to the Department of Public Instruction’s own figures, North Carolina’s public schools actually added 3,198 state-funded education jobs this school year — and 7,811 total teaching jobs since Republicans have held the majority in the General Assembly. And significant education reforms enacted over the last two years have already begun bearing fruit: last year, North Carolina’s high school graduation rate surpassed 80 percent – a first in the state’s history and a 12-point jump from six years ago.

It’s shameful how the hyper-partisan teachers union — the largest and most organized group of paid lobbyists in the state — and their mouthpieces in the media continue to scare hard-working teachers and parents with wild claims that never seem to materialize. Let’s cut through the wild rhetoric and look at the facts.


I heard on the news last week that you cut education by half a billion dollars!

Nope. The amount spent on education programs will actually increase by $400 million next year. Total spending on public schools, community colleges, and universities amounts to $11.5 billion (that’s more than half of the entire state budget) and of that, $7.9 billion will go to K-12 education. That figure is up from the $7.7 billion we spent last year on K-12 (an increase of 2.1%) and the nearly $7.3 billion spent two years ago.

This year’s state budget will spend more money on public education in North Carolina than we have ever spent.

Source: Current Operations and Capital Improvements Appropriations Act of 2013? (Senate Bill 402) and the North Carolina General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division’s report “North Carolina Public Schools Expenditures, FY 2003-04 to FY 2011-12” For a printable PDF of this chart, click here.


But this week, the newspaper said that the increase isn’t even enough to keep pace with inflation or the growth in the number of students.

The new budget keeps pace with both inflation and the growth in the number of students: economists forecast inflation at 1.5% for the coming year and the Department shows stable growth in student enrollment — averaging about a half percent over the last five years. That’s a total of 2%, which is about where we are in terms of the increase in K-12 appropriations over what it was last year. So when you look at it from that perspective, by fully keeping pace with growth, K-12 essentially breaks even next school year.


I hear we rank near the bottom in terms of how much we spend per student. What about the children?

According to the most recent data compiled by the National Education Association (page 55, Chart H-11), North Carolina taxpayers spend $8,757 on each student per year, something bureaucrats call “per-pupil expenditure.” New York state spends the most at $18,616 per-pupil; New Mexico ranks in the middle of the pack at $10,203 per-pupil; and Arizona spends the least at $6,683 per-pupil. The report puts us North Carolina at 45th. Sounds terrible, right?

What the partisan media doesn’t tell you is that North Carolina public schools receive among the highest percentages of their funding from state dollars, ranking 11th in the nation and 2nd in the Southeast (according to that same DPI report).

In the US, K-12 education is funded by three sources: federal dollars, state dollars, and local dollars. Here in North Carolina, the federal government provides only about 16 percent of K-12 funding, with state government picking up most of the tab at 60.1%. Local governments contribute less than a quarter of the cost of educating our children.

State, federal, and local funds combined, North Carolina spends approximately $12 billion on K-12 education every year — and that does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on school buildings and the debt used to build and maintain them.

In other states, education is funded primarily by local governments — with property taxes and bonds — and not with state dollars, as we do in North Carolina. The fact remains that our county and city governments could choose to spend more on educating our children, but they don’t.

Why is this important? It’s not really, except to say that when the media casts blame on the General Assembly for not spending enough on our children’s education, there are many other significant factors to consider. And of course, it’s easy for the media to point fingers, especially at Republicans.


So where does all that state money go?

According to the DPI report, of the $7.2 billion the state spent two years ago on K-12 programs, 90% of the entire amount goes to pay teachers and administrators and provide them benefits. This figure doesn’t include the tens of billions of additional dollars the state pays out to retired teachers and administrators in monthly guaranteed pension checks and lifetime healthcare benefits.


But why did you cut teacher pay?

Contrary to rumors spread by liberal advocacy groups, teacher pay has not been cut. Period.


But you couldn’t give teachers at least a 1% raise?

The legislature sets the base pay for public school teachers in North Carolina. The actual pay level for teachers is determined at the local level. Local governments can always decide to pay teachers more.

But local governments seem to have other priorities than our teachers. For example, in the City of Asheville, the unelected school board gave its retiring superintendent a gift of $175,000. City school board members were under no obligation to pay him anything (he wasn’t owed a buyout payment because he quit his job). That $175,000 gift for a retiring administrator (that’s on top of his generous monthly pension) could have equated to an additional $875 in pay for every teacher in Asheville. (Note: most school superintendents in North Carolina make in excess of $100,000 in annual salary, not including benefits and pension.)

Curiously, also in Asheville, its City Council just voted to give $2 million dollars to a non-profit group that runs a local art museum. That $2 million dollars could have been spent giving every one of Asheville’s teachers an additional $1,000 annual pay raise — every year for the next ten years.

Local governments could do more, but they don’t. And they escape accountability in the media by blaming Raleigh.

Anyway, last year the General Assembly did give teachers a small bump in their base pay — 1.2% and the first one in four years. But there’s a good reason there wasn’t a pay raise this year: it wouldn’t have been financially responsible. It didn’t get widely reported in the media, but this year the General Assembly had to plug a $500 million budget hole created by unexpected Medicaid cost overruns, and wasn’t able to do as much as most legislators wanted to. With nearly 100,000 active teachers and nearly 1,800 central office administrators in North Carolina’s public schools, every 1% raise equates to an extra $180 million in spending — and after paying for the Medicaid cost overruns, there just weren’t any taxpayer dollars left to spend.

What has gone unreported is that the state budget does include a reserve fund for future pay raises for both teachers and state employees. If there isn’t another surprise, House leaders have said that teacher pay raises will be their top priority next year.


How have the teachers pay raises compared to other state employees?

North Carolina’s teachers have done markedly better than other state employees in terms of pay raises. Over the past 20 years, base salary increases for North Carolina’s public school teachers have far outpaced other state employees (see chart below).

While there is no raise for teachers this year, everyone (including teachers) will see larger paychecks. Thanks to this year’s tax reform efforts, everyone’s take-home pay will increase because we’ll all be paying less in state taxes.


But the bottom line is that teachers just don’t make enough.

According to the teachers union, the average annual salary for a North Carolina teacher is $45,947. But like with any job, you can’t just look at base salary — you really have to look at the entire compensation package. In addition to their base salary of $45,947, a teacher receives an average of $4,931 in health insurance benefits, $5,383 in state pension benefits, and $3,139 in Social Security contributions. That’s a total annual compensation package of $59,400 — for working ten months out of the year.


How does this compare to what other people make?

When you divide a teacher’s base salary (not including benefits) of $45,947 by the total number of weeks actually spent working (44), you get an average weekly wage of $1,044. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage across North Carolina is just $673.

This $673 weekly state average wage includes the relatively higher wages in Durham County ($1,225) and Mecklenburg County ($1,103). But the $1,044 average weekly wage of teachers in North Carolina is significantly higher (in most cases $400 higher) than 98 of the 100 counties in the entire state.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a high resolution PDF of this chart, click here.


I read on Twitter that the General Assembly increased class size. Is that true?

Not exactly. The General Assembly removed the one-size-fits-all class size mandate and gave the authority to make these decisions back to the local school district, where it belongs. Local teachers, principals, and superintendents have a much better sense of where available resources should be focused. By selectively increasing class size, for instance, a superintendent might be able to hire an additional teacher if she decides that’s the best fit for her students. This efficient targeting of resources and enhanced flexibility will help protect programs that individual districts consider more essential.


What is the average class size in North Carolina?

According to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics, North Carolina’s average class size was 19 for elementary students and 21 for secondary students. Both are lower than the national average of 20 and 23, respectively.


I heard that you guys ended teacher tenure. That’s why most people enter the teaching profession in the first place!

Ending guaranteed lifetime tenure is a way to ensure that only the best teachers are hired and retained. Tenure for public school teachers doesn’t work the same way it does in higher education, where a professor must wait ten years and then be approved by a majority of his or her academic peers. Under the tenure system in North Carolina, a teacher automatically received guaranteed lifetime tenure after just four years.

In order to keep their tenured status, teachers in north Carolina only needed to receive satisfactory evaluations in just one year out of three. For example, a teacher could receive failing back-to-back evaluations in years one and two — but if they could show adequate improvement in year three, the clock would be reset and their tenure would continue.

Not surprisingly, the system has been abused in many ways, stifling excellence in our classrooms. It also typically took nearly ten years to remove poor teachers from North Carolina’s public schools because of the exhaustive paperwork required, the bureaucratic entanglements, and lengthy court appeals. The teacher tenure system was so broken that only 17 of North Carolina’s 97,184 teachers were fired for cause last year.

The budget replaces this outdated tenure system with a contract system based on job performance and the best teachers will be rewarded through a merit pay system. There is $10.2 million in the budget to reward high-performing teachers with $500 bonuses. These measures will better ensure quality instruction by identifying ineffective teachers who need to be retrained or replaced.


Why did you end the extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees?

The budget does phase-out new pay supplements for teachers who earn a master’s degree, unless that advanced degree is required for their position. If a teacher is already collecting this extra pay, or their master’s degree will be completed by April 1, 2014, they will be grandfathered in and will still collect that supplement. It’s important to note that other state employees don’t get raises just for earning a master’s degree.

Interestingly, research has shown that teacher performance and student outcomes have no bearing on attaining an advanced degree. According to the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy organization, “teachers with master’s degrees … are no more effective, on average, than their counterparts without master’s degrees.”


But I heard from my neighbor, who’s a teacher, that Republicans are cutting 9,000 positions this year.

The General Assembly authorizes a certain number of positions for each school district, and it’s up to the school district to hire people to fill those positions. Sometimes they do, but in many cases they don’t — so the positions remain vacant. Think of it this way: as a business owner, you’d like to hire 100 new employees, but your revenues don’t meet expectations so you only choose to hire 25. Can someone legitimately claim that you fired 75 people?

And under the former Perdue administration, these vacant positions continued to be funded — despite the fact that in many cases there were no actual employees working in the jobs. School boards got to keep the extra cash — nearly $300 million statewide — and spent it however they wanted, often hiding expenditures for items like cars for coaches and administrative assistants. The new budget eliminates this so-called “K-12 flex cut” for local districts to bring more transparency and accountability to the budgeting process.

The point here is that “positions” are different than people. Especially vacant ones.


What about these vouchers I’m hearing about? My tax money will go to send kids to private school?

Yes. The budget expands school choice in North Carolina by creating a new pilot program that awards “opportunity scholarships” to 2,000 low-income students in the 2014-15 school year. Only those children who already qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch program would be eligible for the grants.

Locally-based private scholarships have worked very well in North Carolina, and the Opportunity Scholarship Act aims at replicating these successes at the state level. For example, the Charlotte Children’s Scholarship Fund, which benefits low-income and predominantly African-American children, saw student performance in reading and math increase by six percentage points after just one year in the program.

As we’ve seen, it costs $8,757 a year to educate a child in North Carolina. Opportunity Scholarship grants for 2014-2015 will be in the amount of $4,200 — leaving $4,557 additional money back in the public school and relieving them of the burden of educating the child. For more information on North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Grant program, click here.


OK. What else does the education budget do?

A number of significant new reforms have been enacted. Among some of the highlights:

The budget provides funding to implement critical school safety measures, such as resource officers, and expands the use of technology and innovation in schools. The budget also adds $23.6 million to continue funding the Excellent Public Schools Act, which will strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates and increase accountability. Tuition for out-of-state students at our public universities has been increased in order to keep tuition more affordable for North Carolina families. And the State Board of Education is now required to work with community colleges to create specific programs in high schools (e.g. engineering, technology and other high-employment vocational fields) to better prepare young adults for employment.

Although we might disagree on how to get there, we all want only the best for North Carolina’s students. To be sure, change can be uncomfortable, especially for institutional bureaucracies and certain entrenched liberal special interest groups. But by moving forward together, we can give our students even more opportunities to grow and prosper so they are prepared to lead our state to a brighter future.

Health and Safety Law Changes Passes NC House

July 11th, 2013 by

Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Bill 353, “Health and Safety Law Changes,” passed the House by a vote of 74-41. The bill modifies laws pertaining to abortion. The abortion provisions were added to SB 353 from HB 695 and amended to address the concerns of Secretary Wos of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Let’s go over the pro-life provisions of the bill.

Part I. Health Care Conscience Protection

This part of the bill extends conscience protection to all health care providers who object to abortion on moral, ethical, or religious grounds. “Health care provider” means any person who is licensed or certified to practice a health profession or occupation, a licensed health care facility, and a representative or agent of a health care provider.

In May 2011, The Polling Company found that 77% of American adults surveyed said it is either “very” or “somewhat” important to them “that healthcare professionals in the U.S. are not forced to participate in procedures or practices to which they have moral objections.” 16% said it is not important.

Part II. Limits on Abortion Funding Under Health Insurance Plans Offered Through A Health Insurance Exchange or by Local Governments

Section 2(a) of the bill exercises North Carolina’s right under the Affordable Care Act (signed by President Obama) to opt out of covering abortion services under a qualified health plan offered through an Exchange pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. Coverage is allowed for abortions performed when the life of the mother is endangered, or in the cases of rape or incest. Twenty-two other states have already opted-out of this provision of the Affordable Care Act. In 2009, a Civitas poll found that 69 percent of respondents opposed providing coverage for abortion in a health reform plan.

Sections 2(b) and 2(c) prohibit counties and cities from providing abortion coverage for their employees greater than that provided by the State Health Plan. The State Health Plan does not cover abortion, except when the life of the mother is endangered or in cases of rape or incest. The federal government does not allow any funds appropriated to be available to pay for an abortion for its employees, except in the cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of the mother (H.R. 1105, 111th Congress – signed by President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden).

Part III. Clarify Law/Prohibit Sex-Selective Abortion

Prohibits abortion when a significant factor for the decision of the pregnant woman seeking the abortion is related to the sex of the unborn child. It specifically states that there is no “affirmative duty on the physician to inquire as to whether the sex of the unborn child is a significant factor in the pregnant woman seeking the abortion.” Five other states have already passed similar legislation.

A significant majority of people disagree with sex-selective abortion. Most recently, an April 2013 Civitas poll found that 76 percent of North Carolinians disagreed with the statement, “women in NC should be allowed to have an abortion when their primary reason for the abortion is the sex of the unborn child.”

Part IV. Amend Women’s Right to Know Act

Requires that a physician performing a surgical abortion shall be physically present during the performance of the entire abortion procedure. Ten states require the doctor to be present for a surgical abortion.

For a medical abortion, the physician prescribing the inducing abortion drug shall be physically present in the same room when the first drug or chemical is administered to the patient. This is supported by the label of MIFEPREX®, a drug commonly used to induce abortion. It says, “Mifeprex should be prescribed only in a clinic, medical office, or hospital, by or under the supervision of a physician, able to assess the gestational age of an embryo and to diagnose ectopic pregnancies.”

It requires that DHHS have documents available on its website for women who have received a poor prenatal diagnosis. Due to advances in technology, parents today are able to know whether their child has a birth defect long before the child is actually born. Several organizations across the state serve parents facing these diagnoses. These organizations can give parents more information on their baby’s particular disorder and provide further counseling.

It requires that DHHS amend its rules pertaining to abortion clinics. The Department is authorized to apply any requirement for the licensure of ambulatory surgical centers to the standards applicable to abortion clinics. The new rules must address the on-site recovery phase of patient care, protecting patient privacy, providing quality assurance, and ensuring that patients with complications receive necessary medical attention.

The rules for abortion clinics have not been updated since 1994. There have been several instances of DHHS closing clinics for violations of the rules. Most recently the Baker Clinic for Women in Durham was closed based on the finding that the clinic presented an “imminent danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the clients.” Updating the rules will ensure that abortion clinics are held to modern standards. These provisions are common sense provisions that protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions in North Carolina.

For additional information on these issues, the following documents are attached:

SB 353 “Health and Safety Law Changes”

H.R. 1105 signed by President Obama

Provision of the Affordable Care Act

States that Have Opted-Out of Abortion Coverage in Exchange (National Right to Life)

Fact Sheet on Sex-Selection

Talking Points on the Doctor Being Physically Present

MIFEPREX Label

Letter from DHHS to the Baker Clinic

Abortion Clinic Rules (10A NCAC 14E)

Pro-Life Polling Data