Now They Have Spies?!?!

On Saturday, The Carolina Journal posted an article about a recent occurrence at a North Carolina restaurant.

The article reports:

A reservation at a Raleigh restaurant for a group of women and men celebrating the end of the school year was canceled after the restaurant found out some of those attending were associated with the Wake County group Moms for Liberty.

Kari Donovan, a member and spokesperson for the Wake County Chapter of Moms for Liberty, told Carolina Journal in a phone interview that Julie Page, chair of the local chapter, made the reservation at Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing as a happy hour for moms she knew to celebrate the end of the school year.

She posted the invitation Tuesday on the group’s Facebook page without mentioning the location. Donovan said attendees needed to send an inquiry to find out where it would take place on Friday. Page sent the invite to members of the group directly.

In total, 30 people responded, including men, some women who were not affiliated with the Moms for Liberty group, and the rest who were members. Unbeknownst to Page, one of those members went by an assumed name. The imposter is actually a Durham woman named Katherine Johnson, who recently started a progressive far-left group and is raising money through social media for a “Summer of Rage for the Triangle area of North Carolina.”

In a Tik-Tok video, Johnson took credit for complaining to the restaurant about the attendees’ association with Moms for Liberty. In another video, Johnson addresses Page directly.

“Stay vigilant big girl because we are coming for you,” Johnson said in the video. Donovan said Johnson was removed from the group.

Good grief! How in the world is a “Summer of Rage” helpful to anyone? Unfortunately, this is only one example of the targeting of parents who are trying to improve their children’s schools and get unnecessary garbage removed from the curriculum. Ms. Johnson might be better served by putting her efforts into improving North Carolina’s schools rather than preventing mothers from celebrating the end of the school year.

In 2018, The Triangle Business Journal reported:

North Carolina’s public education system falls short of the state’s prestigious university reputations, says WalletHub. The Tar Heel State’s K-12 public school systems and overall education level are below average compared to the nation, despite having some of the most renowned universities in the country.  

North Carolina was rated to have the 32nd best K-12 public school system in the nation, based on quality and safety. The quality rating was based on metrics including high school graduation rate, math and reading scores, median SAT and ACT scores, and the pupil-teacher ratio.  

Stopping mothers from celebrating or planning a “Summer of Rage” does nothing to address this situation.

 

Challenging Admission Policies

On Sunday, The Daily Caller reported the following:

  • University of Michigan professor Mark Perry told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he filed a Title VI complaint over a program application at the University of South Carolina that was restricted to students of certain race and ethnicities. 
  • Following his complaint, the application was updated stating the program is  “Open to all Rising High School Juniors and Seniors in South Carolina,” but highlighted students “who are in support of the advancement of business students from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply,” Perry told TheDCNF. 
  • “They’re so corrupt and they’re so unprincipled, that they do this all the time,” Perry said. “They might not even realize they’re violating federal civil rights laws or they know that it’s illegal, but they do it anyway because they’ve done it in the past (and) they’ve always gotten away with it because no one has ever challenged them.”

On Monday, The Carolina Journal reported:

The N.C. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Virginia Lt. Gov Winsome Sears, each the first black lieutenant governor of their respective state, have joined forces to pen a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Asian-American students suing Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill. Carolina Journal was present at the Lieutenant Governor’s Mansion on May 19 at a press conference where the North Carolina Asian American Coalition (NCAAC) thanked Robinson for his support.

The students in the lawsuit accuse the institutions of discriminatory admissions practices, where they are held to a higher standard during consideration because of their race. The Robinson/Sears Amicus brief was filed May 9th.  

“While it can be argued that these policies had a role in helping many Americans overcome the persistent effects of historical and past discriminations in higher education, those effects are becoming less impactful the further we travel from the dark days of state-sanctioned discrimination,” said Robinson at the event. “Instead, they now function to unfairly discriminate against and deny opportunity to other ethnic and racial groups. Discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity is immoral in all of its forms, and we can do better. We must do better.”

The nonprofit group Students for Fair Admissions filed the original suit in 2014, but when it was ruled in November 2021 that Chapel Hill could continue to use affirmative action in their admissions, the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

College admissions should be based on merit. If a student is admitted because of race or ethnicity and does not have the ability to do college work, the student is being set up to fail. No one gains by doing that. I hope the lawsuit is successful and we go back to rewarding people who work hard and stop rewarding people or punishing people for something they have no control over.

An Interesting Turn Of Events

North Carolina residents have voted for some form of voter ID twice. Both times the courts have overturned the will of the people. The second time we voted for voter ID, the vote was for an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would require voter ID. The court struck that amendment down as unconstitutional. Wow. Well, on Tuesday there was some good news about the citizens of North Carolina’s quest for voter ID.

On Tuesday, The Carolina Journal reported the following:

North Carolina’s 2018 voter ID law complies with the state constitution and should survive a legal challenge. That’s according to briefs submitted in the N.C. Supreme Court from state legislative leaders and the N.C. Justice Department.

Both briefs urge the Supreme Court to reverse a trial court’s 2-1 ruling from September 2021 in the case titled Holmes v. Moore. Two Democratic judges overruled a Republican colleague in deciding that the law, originally Senate Bill 824, violated the N.C. Constitution.

“Election legislation in North Carolina is often contentious,” wrote attorney Nicole Moss, representing Republican state legislative leaders. “In the fall of 2018, the People of North Carolina — by a 55.49% to 44.51% margin — adopted a constitutional amendment requiring photo voter ID and directing the General Assembly to enact implementing legislation.”

“The General Assembly at that time could have enacted a voter-ID law without any Democratic votes or any Democratic input whatsoever,” wrote Moss, referencing Republicans’ veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly in 2018. “But that is not what the General Assembly did with S.B. 824. Instead, the Republican supermajority worked closely with Senator Joel Ford, an African American Democrat, who co-sponsored the bill; adopted the majority of amendments offered by Democrats; obtained several Democratic votes for the bill; and otherwise engaged with Democrats every step of the way, garnering thanks even from the bill’s opponents.”

The article notes:

The state’s brief also criticizes the trial court. “Contrary to what Plaintiffs contend in their brief, throughout the trial court majority’s analysis in this case, it shifted the burden of proof to Defendants and failed to adhere to the presumption of legislative good faith,” Steed wrote.

Nothing presented during a trial showed that the ID law would block any eligible votes. “Plaintiffs failed to establish any of the Plaintiffs would be unable to vote under S.B. 824, and in fact, the evidence at trial showed they would have multiple ways to vote under S.B. 824,” Steed added. “Even more telling, … they have never identified a form of ID, or any combination of IDs for that matter, which would create a lesser disparate impact than S.B. 824.”

“In Plaintiff’s view, no form of a voter ID law, no matter how ameliorative, would ever be acceptable to them. This evinces a fundamental flaw with Plaintiffs’ position, given the legislature is under a constitutional mandate to pass a voter-ID law.”

Voter ID will not solve all of our voter integrity problems, but it is a step in the right direction.

When The Courts Play Politics

We need to remember that the U.S. Constitution gives the responsibility of setting the manner of holding congressional elections to the state legislators. That responsibility includes redistricting based on the census. In North Carolina the courts decided that the map of the districts provided by the Republican-led legislature were not acceptable. Then the court appointed three “special masters” to inspect the map and make corrections. That in itself is questionable, but they did it. The redrawn maps do not reflect the political demographic of the state–they represent a serious effort to gerrymander the districts in favor of the Democrats.

The Carolina Journal reported the following on Friday:

Gerrymanders are not always apparent when looking at a map, but the special masters’ gerrymander is clearest when looking at two parts of the state. The first and most obvious is that they cleaved Charlotte in half, grafting one-half of the city to suburbs in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties and the other half to Gaston County. That move violated two basic redistricting principles by not creating a congressional district that is wholly contained in Mecklenburg County and by dividing clear communities of interest.

The special masters could have easily preserved communities of interest by drawing central Charlotte in one districting and linking suburban communities of Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, and Gaston Counties. In doing so, they would have created one safe Democratic district and one relatively competitive Democratic-leaning district. Instead, they made two safe Democratic districts by unnecessarily grafting urban and suburban areas in both districts.

State Senator Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) has already expressed interest in running in the new safely Democratic 14th District. Bob Orr, the so-called “unaffiliated” special master appointed by the trial court in the redistricting case, is a fan of Jackson’s. According to Federal Election Commission records, he donated to Jackson’s campaign committee in 2021. In recent years, the “unaffiliated” special master has also donated to other Democratic candidates such as Joe Biden and Dan McCready.

The special masters also gerrymandered the Wake County districts. They split southeastern Raleigh from the rest of the city to put it in the 13th District. Splitting was unnecessary; the special masters could have easily kept Raleigh whole by adding rural and suburban eastern Wake County to the 13th.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. Unfortunately, this is what happens when a partisan court oversteps its bounds. When we lived in Massachusetts, our voting district was shaped like a sea horse in order to dilute the Republican votes of a conservative area. Gerrymandering, unfortunately, is a way of life in America. However, it should not be done by supposedly neutral courts.

When Lawlessness Begins At The Top

President Biden has a unique style as President. Laws that should be voted on by Congress are simply passed by edict. On January 24th, CNN reported that President Biden had signed 30 executive orders in his first three days in office. There was no attempt made to get any of his policy changes through Congress. Unfortunately, other Democrats have followed his example of ruling by edict rather than ruling by law.

On November 1, The Carolina Journal posted an opinion piece titled, “How long will we allow a dictator to rule?” That is a really good question both on the federal and state level. Some of the actions of President Biden are impeachable offenses, but impeachment will never happen as long as the Democrats control the House of Representatives. Some of the actions of Governor Cooper are impeachable, but until the Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives develop a spine, impeachment will not happen in the state.

The opinion piece reminds us:

On March 10, 2020, Gov. Roy Cooper declared what became an unlawful state of emergency that has now lasted over 19 months with no end in sight. For those who think the term dictator is hyperbole, consider the following. To date, he has issued 83 executive orders that have limited the free exercise of religion by forbidding gatherings, the right to free speech by curtailing the operation of government, the right to peaceably assemble unless you were doing so for one of his favored causes (e.g. BLM protests), the right to personal property by forcing business closures or restrictions, and the right to bodily autonomy with mask and vaccine mandates, all without legislative input, due process, or equal protection. In addition, Cooper has issued a record 64 vetoes, more than all other N.C. governors combined (35), while politically intimidating Democratic members of the legislature to prevent a veto override. Finally, under state law, “A state of emergency declared pursuant to this section shall expire when it is rescinded by the authority that issued it.” Therefore, Cooper has absolute rule as the head of the executive branch, can block any bill he does not like from the legislative branch, and has the protection of a Democrat majority on the State Supreme Court in the judicial branch.

We the people are responsible

Having learned the lessons of tyranny under British rule, our state forefathers and their successors intentionally made our governor one of the weakest in the nation. In the first N.C. state constitution of 1776, the governor was elected by the legislature for one-year terms with very little authority. But like the nation of Israel in the Old Testament who wanted a king, over time, we too wanted to be like other states. Since then, we began popular elections in 1836 with single two-year terms, expanded to single four-year terms in 1868, allowed governors to serve two successive terms starting in 1971, first passed the Emergency Management Act in 1977, and was the last state in the union to give our governor veto power in 1997.

We the people are sovereign

According to Article I, Section 2 of our state constitution, “All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.” Therefore, as a government instituted by the consent of the governed, we do not have to accept this state of tyranny, nor should we.

Recently the North Carolina legislature passed a bill that would limit the duration of a declared emergency and therefore the governor’s power to continue to abuse the declared emergency. As expected, the governor vetoed the bill.

The opinion piece concludes with a possible solution:

Now before you dismiss the idea due to the lack of a two-thirds majority of senate Republicans needed to convict, you need to know that state law on impeachment has one critically important wrinkle from the presidential impeachment process. As Dallas Woodhouse pointed out in his recent article on the State Supreme Court recusal issue, once a state official is impeached by a simple majority vote in the House, state law stipulates that “every officer impeached shall be suspended from the exercise of his office until his acquittal.” In other words, once the Republican-controlled House votes to impeach Gov. Cooper, Lt. Governor Mark Robinson would become acting governor until the Senate trial is over. And that is how we end this. We impeach Cooper, have Robinson end the state of emergency, and sign the Emergency Powers Accountability Act Rep. Bell mentioned, and the dictatorship is over.

I realize some will consider this the nuclear option and one that should be avoided at all costs. But how much more of our freedom must we lose? Must more lives be ruined? How many more children must be abused before we draw the line? Failure to resist tyranny is an open invitation for more. We the people are sovereign, and we will live under this dictator for only as long as we are willing.

I think it’s time that we the people put some pressure on our elected Republicans to end the current dictatorship.

 

Working Hard To Ignore The Will Of The Voters

On September 8th, The Carolina Journal posted an article about some recent shenanigans in the North Carolina Supreme Court. In 2018, North Carolina voters passed a referendum to require voter ID. Logically that should have been the end of it–the voters have spoken, the people in charge need to listen. Well, it wasn’t the end of it. Later that year, the North Carolina legislature passed (and overrode a governor’s veto) another voter ID law. The law passed by the legislature was struck down in 2019 by a District Court. In 2020, the federal appeals court overrode the lower court’s decision allowing voter ID in North Carolina. As things stand now, the 2022 elections will require voter ID. Actually voter ID was used in one North Carolina primary election while the legal maneuvering was going on. That election showed increased voter turnout (disproving the argument that voter ID laws decrease turnout), and made the job of the people handing out ballots much easier. Voter ID made the election run much more smoothly. So where are we now?

The Carolina Journal reports:

In an astonishing and unprecedented power grab that will overturn 200 years of case law and prior precedents, Democrats on the state Supreme Court are preparing to disqualify and remove two duly-elected Republican Supreme Court justices from a case so they can nullify voters’ decision to amend the Constitution.

The case is NAACP v. Moore and the state Supreme Court’s Democrats are trying to remove two Republican members from the bench, so a new temporary four-to-one Democrat majority can erase two constitutional amendments – the cap on income tax, and the voter I.D. requirement – which were overwhelmingly passed by more than four million votes.

In a plan already underway, Democrats Anita Earls, Robin Hudson, and Mike Morgan would conspire to remove the justices while allowing Associate Justice Jimmy Ervin to vote AGAINST the move because he is the one Democrat currently on the court who will face re-election in 2022.

This is not just an inside-baseball rumor. It is in motion. On July 23, 2021, lawyers for the NAACP filed a motion to have two Republican members, Justice Tamara Barringer and Justice Phil Berger, Jr., both sitting members of the state Supreme Court, removed in the case.

The lawyers argue that they have a conflict of interest because Berger is the son of Senate Leader Phil Berger and Barringer was a lawmaker during the time these constitutional amendments passed the legislature by a 3/5ths majority.

After a while you have to wonder why Democrats are so threatened by voter ID. Picture identification is required for a lot of activities not related to voting–cashing a check, boarding a plane, entering a federal or state building, opening a bank account, buying a car, etc. There are very few people among us that do not have some sort of picture identification. Also, I believe that the voter ID law makes photo ID’s available at no cost. The only reason to oppose voter ID laws is that they make it more difficult to cheat. Do the Democrats think we are too stupid to figure that out?

Getting Past The CON Laws

According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, as of 2016, 35 states have Certificate of Need (CON) Laws.

The website notes:

This means that 35 states and the District of Columbia currently prohibit entry or expansion of healthcare facilities through CON programs.

North Carolina is one of those states with CON programs. The Carolina Journal posted an article about how those programs impact medical care in those states.

The Carolina Journal states:

It’s especially bad when government encourages health care providers to act more like bullies than healers. But that’s exactly what can happen with North Carolina’s certificate-of-need regime.

A recent court case highlights the problem. On July 6, a unanimous three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals agreed to grant a certificate of need to InSight Health Corp. The ruling affirmed earlier decisions from state regulators and an administrative law judge. In that sense, the ruling was unremarkable.

But details of the case, spelled out in Judge John Tyson’s 17-page opinion, highlight CON’s unsavory impact on N.C. health care.

The certificate of need is a government permission slip. Without it, health care providers are banned from opening new facilities, adding beds to existing hospitals, or even purchasing larger pieces of medical equipment. A government-appointed board working with state bureaucrats decides when and where to issue a CON.

One piece of equipment subject to a state CON is the positron emission tomography, or PET, scanner. It offers images that show how patients’ tissues and organs are functioning. In 2018 state government decreed that N.C. health consumers needed exactly one new mobile PET scanner across the state.

Without CON restrictions, health care providers would have been free to make their own decisions about adding new PET scanners. One or more providers might have put new scanners into operation in 2018, giving patients more options.

Instead the state forced interested providers to compete for a single CON. The certificate would grant the winner the exclusive right to purchase a new PET scanner. The winner would reap all financial benefits from additional scans.

The article explains that when the winner was named, one of the other competitors filed a complaint.

The article notes:

Now, three years after the state decided to offer a CON and two years after awarding it, there’s still no new PET scanner. All we have is a ruling from North Carolina’s second-highest court. It’s not even clear that the legal fight is over.

Bureaucratic and legal delays would be bad enough. But Tyson’s opinion highlighted evidence of behavior no one should expect from organizations devoted to boosting people’s health.

The article concludes:

InSight was able to secure supporting documents from hospitals in Caldwell and Jackson counties. But Mobile Imaging later approached leaders of both hospitals. Mobile’s team had drafted letters that would rescind support for InSight’s application. One hospital official signed the letter, leaving InSight with a single hospital willing to go on record supporting its CON application.

Despite having signed the letter, the hospital president who went along with Mobile Imaging’s scheme later testified that she still would have considered working with InSight if it won the CON.

In other words, the only objection to InSight’s bid was active opposition from a competitor with an “effective monopoly” on existing services. Tyson noted “ample evidence” of Mobile Imaging’s “anti-competitive behavior.”

Nothing looks good about Mobile Imaging Partners’ actions in this case. Its behind-the-scenes maneuvers look especially bad when one considers the CON’s purported goal: increased access to health care. You’ll search in vain to find bullying and scare tactics among the skills taught to health care professionals.

This entire problem (including the court case) could be settled by ending the CON Laws in North Carolina. There has been a bill brought up in the North Carolina legislature to end CON Laws in at least one recent session The problem is that the bill has been traditionally sent to a committee where it dies. CON laws cost consumers and health insurance complanies money. CON Laws need to end.

Why Elections Matter

Yesterday The Carolina Journal posted an article about North Carolina spending policies in recent years.

The article reports:

At $6 trillion, President Joe Biden’s first budget calls for an unprecedented level of federal spending. Republican members of Congress who criticize the president’s plan are understandably reminded by Democrats that the GOP did not do much to resist—and even contributed to—excessive government spending during President Donald Trump’s time in office. During those four years, rampant spending led to nearly $8 trillion in more federal debt, though this included pandemic-related funding approved with bipartisan support. Still, this represents a 40% jump in mortgaging the future of ourselves, our kids, and our grandkids. It’s time for responsible budgeting at every level of government.

Republicans in Washington don’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing the profligacy of congressional Democrats and the Biden administration. But Republicans in many state capitals across the country, however, do. That’s because Republican governors and lawmakers in several states are getting government spending under control by passing conservative budgets which remain below population growth plus inflation. North Carolina is among the most prominent examples of this phenomenon—but is not the only one.

Since Republicans took control of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time in a century a decade ago, they have kept growth in state spending on a conservative budget trajectory that keeps government growth within the average taxpayer’s ability to fund it. Since 2013, North Carolina state spending has grown by an average of 2.24% annually, which is below the population growth plus inflation rate of 2.58%.

These fiscal policies in North Carolina have resulted in budget surpluses and the lowering of the state income tax.

The article notes:

North Carolina lawmakers are now working to enact a new conservative budget that provides further tax relief. Those who want to continue the sustainable budgeting of recent years received good news in early June as legislative leaders from both chambers of the General Assembly announced a consensus spending figure that, if the new budget does not exceed it, would have state spending continue to grow slower than the combined rate of population growth plus inflation. More recently, the North Carolina Senate unveiled its version of the budget, which, in addition to spending less than the figure agreed to with the House in early June, cuts the personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 3.99% while phasing out the corporate income tax by 2028. That budget was approved with a bipartisan, veto-proof majority in the North Carolina Senate on June 24.

“We are pleased to see that the fiscal restraint the General Assembly has shown over the last ten years will continue,” said Brian Balfour, senior vice president of research at the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based think tank. “It’s a strategy we would like to see added to the state constitution in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.”

These policies have had the following results (reported in Global Trade):

NORTH CAROLINA

The second-largest food and beverage manufacturing state and the overall fifth-largest manufacturing state in America, North Carolina is home to the largest manufacturing workforce in the Southeast. The manufacturing industry employs 460,000 skilled workers in North Carolina–nearly 11 percent of the state’s workforce. North Carolina manufacturing makes up about 20 percent of the state’s gross state product, to the tune of $102.48 billion in 2017 and $31.06 billion in exports in 2018. North Carolina has experienced tremendous growth in manufacturing goods in recent years, with a nearly 35 percent increase in exports from 2010 to 2018. North Carolina’s pro-business climate and expert workforce make it an ideal state for manufacturers.

North Carolina has set an example Washington, D.C. needs to follow.

When Medical Facilities Have Monopolies

The Carolina Journal posted an article today about the Certificate of Need (CON) laws in North Carolina.

The article notes:

In theory, the system is supposed to guard patients’ access to health care.  

But the system offers a wealth of opportunities to crush unwanted competition and hamstring smaller doctors’ practices. Under CON laws, incumbent providers can take their competitors to court and force them to bleed money for months, years, or even decades.  

It may be easy to praise the system on the record. But those who criticize it do so quietly, and they fear retribution. Many declined to publish their names in this story or to speak on the record.  

“It’s human nature, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I have clients who think it’s unconstitutional, it’s terrible, it’s an unfair restraint on trade,” said a CON attorney. “But once they get it, CON is great, it’s saving money, it’s good for the people. It’s incredible the metamorphosis they undergo.” 

According to the article, the fight against the CON laws began with Dr. Gajendra Singh, a surgeon who tried to treat poor patients. He watched patients put off medical tests only to find that they had terminal cancer that might have been checked if detected earlier.

The article reports:

Singh began the fight Singleton (Dr. Jay Singleton) carries on. 

Singh watched his patients being crushed by medical bills or catching cancer too late. One man put off getting an MRI for more than a year. What he found was worse than any medical bill. 

“So, I saw it,” Singh told WFDD. “He had a cancer spread everywhere. And that was a Stage 4 cancer. And I felt guilty. Like you know, that as a society we had failed him.” 

Singh founded his own imaging center in Forsyth County a year later, and sued to overthrow the CON regime. He is something of a legend now, at least in pockets of the medical community. 

Singh saved his patients thousands of dollars. Some drove for hours; some came from other states. Some came because of mysterious pain, and others because these were the only scans they could afford. 

“Singh, man, gotta hand it to him. But he bit off a lot,” Singleton said. “He went after the MRIs, the ‘Shangri La,’ the temple.” 

But Singh’s practice collapsed under the stress inflicted by CON laws and the COVID-19 pandemic. His patients have lost their access to affordable medical scans, and Singh has stopped talking to the press.  

“Trailblazers are usually found dead on the trail,” Singleton said. “You want to be the second guy, the third guy. Not the first guy.” 

Please follow the link to read the entire article. The article cites other examples of doctors who tried to treat patients in need and were blocked by CON laws. Thirty-five states currently have CON laws.

The article concludes:

Even former council members can’t agree on whether the CON process is driven by data or swayed by politics.  

The 25-member State Health Coordinating Council is dominated by hospital systems, which control at least 10 seats. Two business advocates, two elected lawmakers, and one insurer are tasked with representing small and large businesses.  

The critics accuse the state of playing politics with patients’ access to health care. They point to studies showing that CON states have fewer rural hospitals. 

“It’s very political. You can look at the council, see who’s there, and whose interests they’re protecting,” said a former council member who feared retribution. “Reality is, there’s an oligopoly. There’s a few big medical centers. They have all the money and all the clout.” 

CON’s supporters say the council protects the state from a destructive medical arms race. They warn that rural hospitals will close if exposed to uncontrolled competition. 

“When hospitals had to shut down electives, rural hospitals really struggled,” said Cody Hand, lobbyist for the N.C. Healthcare Association. “Without the CON laws, those hospitals couldn’t make it financially. …. Our fear is that, without CON, someone could come in and easily pick those profitable services off.” 

Another former council member believes CON laws have created monopolies. He supports parts of CON, but its process forced him to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on CON’s legal battles. 

“If they keep filing lawsuits, they can delay that competitor from coming in, and they’ll make up the legal fees,” the former council member said. “That’s been a nasty battle, there’s still bad blood between the two parties. The scars are still there.” 

He believes there has to be a legal recourse for providers. But he also acknowledged the dangers of the current system. 

“It’s crazy, crazy stuff,” he said. “The small guys, the hospital can beat them down.” 

CON reform is notoriously difficult to move in the legislature. But the N.C. Healthcare Association does support reforming the litigation that dogs the CON process, Hand said.  

Hand said he wouldn’t oppose raising the bond — or the $50,000 competitors must stake to sue over CONs — to create a “good faith scenario.” But he rejected any repeal efforts.  

“It’s a burden on my members as well,” Hand said. “But [repeal] for us is a baby with the bathwater issue.” 

Singleton is less charmed. If he heard Hand’s comment, he would likely accuse him of drowning the baby. 

“In the face of CON, you find out who the true predators are,” Singleton said. “Small hospitals have to fear our larger hospitals, kind of like fish.” 

Long before I moved to North Carolina, I had cataract surgery. Because there was a time lag between when each eye needed the surgery, the first surgery was done at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital in Boston, the second at Surgisite Boston, a modern ambulatory surgery center that is used by 70 ophthalmologists from throughout the region, located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Aside from the ease of getting to the site and the available parking, the Surgisite had the most up-to-date equipment and was amazingly efficient (as well as cheaper for my insurance company). There are some medical procedures that can be done very safely outside of a hospital at a much lower cost. Unfortunately CON laws prevent that from happening. CON laws create a very unproductive monopoly.

One Small Step Toward Election Integrity In North Carolina

On September 4, 2020, The Carolina Journal reported the following:

A three-judge panel has rejected a plea to block absentee ballot witness requirements for North Carolina’s fall election. The decision in N.C. Superior Court generated praise from the state Senate’s leader on election issues.

“The judges were right to reject this dangerous attempt to eliminate basic protections against fraudulent activity that took place in the most recent federal election, and I hope they do the same with the multiple other lawsuits filed by Washington Democrats this year,” said Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, in a news release. Hise co-chairs the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee. He also leads a Senate committee on election and redistricting issues.

The judges agreed not to grant a preliminary injunction in the case of Chambers v. State of North Carolina. Filed July 10 by four individual plaintiffs working with the American Civil Liberties Union, the case challenges an absentee ballot witness requirement in state law. The law requires one adult to witness an absentee ballot. It places limits on who can serve as a ballot witness.

The lawsuit alleges violations of four sections of the N.C. Constitution. But Judges Alma Hinton, Robert Bell, and Thomas Lock disagreed with the plaintiffs’ arguments. The judges found that “there is not a substantial likelihood” that the plaintiffs would win the case.

The article concludes:

“Washington Democrats sued to overturn an election security law passed with bipartisan support in the wake of widespread absentee ballot fraud uncovered in the 2018 Congressional election for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District,” according to Hise’s news release.

“Witness signatures on absentee ballots helped uncover the fraudulent activity that took place in the 2018 Congressional election and is suspected to have taken place for many other elections before 2018,” the release continued.

“The court upheld the election integrity law that passed with broad bipartisan support after the NC-9 absentee ballot fraud,” Hise said.

Both state and federal courts have upheld the witness requirement, according to Hise’s release.

On September 1, I posted an article detailing some of the methods of voter fraud. Two of the targets of those who engage in voter fraud are absentee ballots and mail-in ballots. We do not need to do anything to make those ballots less secure, in fact, we need to do anything we can to make them more secure.