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Chris Fitzsimon: Trying to understand the NC tea party

Chris Fitzsimon, who blogs with the liberal NC Policy Watch weighs in on the shutdown in Washington and the GOP convention that will be held next year at Harrah's at Cherokee.

"Just when you think things couldn’t get any more absurd in Washington, where a small group of radical tea partiers in Congress is holding the country hostage, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows weighs in.

"Meadows has received some notoriety for drafting the letter that was signed by roughly 80 House members promising to oppose any effort to keep the government running that did not defund the Affordable Care Act—the law that was passed by Congress and signed by the president who was then handily reelected last year."

Chris Fitzsimon: Senate GOP condescending to Democrats

"The state budget debate shifts to the House (this) week even as more details buried in the 413-page budget bill that passed the Senate this week are coming to light,'' writes Chris Fitzsimon in his blog The Fitzsimon file for the NC Policy Watch.

"One provision that was reported earlier in the week but sparked another round of controversy Thursday would remove the requirement in the law that directs lottery proceeds to specific education programs.

"Chief budget-writer Senator Pete Brunstetter told the News & Observer that “he doesn’t believe Republican colleagues are inclined to spend the money on non-education needs.” Apparently, we’ll just have to trust them. That’s reassuring."

Chris Fitzsimon: Senate budget is mean and snarling

"Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s office issued a press release Sunday night about the Senate budget a few hours before the actual budget itself was online for reporters and citizens to read,'' writes Chris Fitzsimon on his blog NC Policy Watch.

"Berger’s Chief of Staff Jim Blaine couldn’t understand why reporters also wanted to see the actual budget document at the same time, to fully understand the decisions the Senate leaders made in secret in the last few weeks about how to spend more than $20 billion of taxpayer money.

"Blaine even accused one reporter of whining because he insisted on the seeing the budget, not just the official spin."

Chris Fitzsimon on Senate tax plan: bad policy, bad politics

Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch writes on his blog that the Senate's tax plan is not only bad public policy but is bombing politically.

"If Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and his colleagues in the Senate get their way, you will pay more for bread and milk at the grocery store and the cost of a getting a haircut and having the brakes on your car repaired will increase too," Fitzsimon writes on his blog that can be found at ncpolicywatch.com.

That’s a key part of the Senate GOP tax proposal released this week, to expand the state sales tax base by applying it to food, non-prescription drugs, and dozens of services that are currently not taxed.

Chris Fitzsimon on voter ID and Wake redistricting

"Who cares about the rights of 130,000 people?'' asks Chris Fitzsimon on his blog which can be found at weekend Follies column at www.ncpolicywatch.com.

Apparently it is ok to make it more difficult for 100,000 registered voters in North Carolina to cast their ballots. That was one of the interesting outcomes of the debate this week about the unnecessary voter ID bill making its way through the House.

Lawmakers heard from DMV officials that 318,000 of the state’s more than 6.4 million registered voters could not be matched with DMV records and that 171,000 of those people did not vote in the last two elections.

That information followed reports last year that more 600,000 people did not have a government-issued photo ID, though most people understood at the time that number was high because of confusion about name changes due to marriage and other factors.

Fitzsimon: McCrory privitization kick is a bad idea

"Governor Pat McCrory appears to be on a privatization spree that could have serious implications for jobs and health care in North Carolina,'' writes Chris Fitzsimon on his blog at NC Policy Watch. "And none of it seems very well thought out.'

McCrory announced a plan Monday that would turn over the state’s economic development efforts to a private non-profit corporation he would chair, essentially abolishing the Department of Commerce.

McCrory claims the plan would “leverage existing state funds,” which sounds like political speak for letting private interests manage public resources with little accountability.

Chris Fitzsimon: Voter ID proven to be partisan

One of the most illustrative moments of this legislative session came during this week’s debate on the legislation to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls before casting a ballot,'' writes Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch which can be found at ncpolicywatch.com.

The bill has been a top priority of Republican legislative leaders since they assumed control of the General Assembly in 2011. They initially said that we needed voter ID laws to stop voter impersonation fraud in the state but wild claims about fraud from right-wing groups have been disproven again and again.

Chris Fitzsimon: Voter ID proven to be partisan

One of the most illustrative moments of this legislative session came during this week’s debate on the legislation to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls before casting a ballot,'' writes Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch which can be found at ncpolicywatch.com.

The bill has been a top priority of Republican legislative leaders since they assumed control of the General Assembly in 2011. They initially said that we needed voter ID laws to stop voter impersonation fraud in the state but wild claims about fraud from right-wing groups have been disproven again and again.

Art Pope is worried about Chris Fitzsimon's health

An interview with Art Pope shows up in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek magazine with some interesting new details about the governor’s new budget director.

The wealthy and influential conservative financier tells the magazine he turned the job down at first because his wife didn’t like it that he had become a favorite target of liberal groups, and had even received a death threat on an anonymous blog post.

Fitzsimon: Time for Perdue to pardon Wilmington 10

Chris Fitzsimon in his blog N.C. Policy Watch writes that Gov. Bev Perdue should pardon the Wilmington 10 before she leaves office.

"Beverly Perdue is the duly elected Governor of North Carolina for almost another three weeks regardless of the difficulty Republican legislative leaders seem to be having coming to grips with that," writes Fitzsimon.

Perdue has been busy lately, leading the effort to turn the Dorothea Dix property into a destination park, working on a plan to keep people with a mental illness from being kicked out of group homes, and weighing possible judicial appointments.

Perdue, like every outgoing governor or president, also faces a stack of hundreds of requests for pardons.

One needs to rise to the top soon and demands her serious attention, the case of the Wilmington 10.

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