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Why Do Senate Liberals Want To Look Through JLF’s Files?

JLF President and CEO Kory Swanson has received a fascinating letter in the mail. It should both amuse you and alarm you — and it telegraphs the influence of the John Locke Foundation in the world of research, policy, and analysis.

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, last week accused committee Democrats of an “attempt to silence” the John Locke Foundation — and 106 other organizations that have expressed skepticism over apocalyptic claims of the role of human activity regarding climate change — by demanding the groups surrender 10 years of detailed funding source data.

Inhofe and the other 10 committee Republicans sent a letter in response supporting “scientific inquiry and discovery” to the nearly nine dozen universities, private companies, trade groups, and nonprofit organizations that received the earlier letter they called “a wholly inappropriate effort” to limit climate science research.

Read the letter for yourself here and then ask yourself why liberal Democrats on the Senate committee want this information. Thoughts? How would you react if a Senate committee “requested” 10 years of information from your files?


One Hand Tied Behind His Back

Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports here on a North Carolina regulatory issue that makes the state the arbiter of what is “fair” competition. 

Distilleries across North Carolina are hoping to follow in the footsteps of the state’s growing winery and craft beer industries, but the law places distilleries at a competitive disadvantage — and they’re asking the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing them to sell small quantities of spirits to visitors.

Scott Maitland, founder of Top of the Hill Restaurant and Top of the Hill Distillery in Chapel Hill, calls microdistilling a “burgeoning industry” in North Carolina that would get a boost from the proposed law.

“We need to take a look at regulations from time to time and update them according to new opportunities or economic need,” Maitland said.

The lead sponsor of Senate Bill 24, Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, calls his legislation permitting distilleries to sell a single container of spirits once a year to distillery visitors “a very restrictive way to promote a new and growing business in our state” and “a logical step to give these entrepreneurs.”

But there is opposition to the proposal. Local Alcoholic Beverage Control boards would lose out on revenues from those modest sales at distilleries. Some religious groups say the change could signal the first step toward the eventual demise of state controls over the sale of all alcoholic beverages.

Well, we should jettison the control system. Here’s how:

Privatize liquor sales in North Carolina.
Sell the state warehouses and local ABC stores.
Set a flexible formula of sales and excise taxes to keep privatized liquor sales revenue-neutral.

Let people compete for customers. Consumers will benefit through lower prices and more choices. Regardless of what occurs with the legislation discussed in the Carolina Journal story, North Carolina policymakers should rethink the regulatory approach to alcohol.

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Why Should a Doctor Need Government Permission To Compete?

Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports on North Carolina’s anti-competitive “Certificate of Need” laws.

North Carolina has fewer hospital beds and MRI scanners than other states, and restrains psychiatric services because of a regulatory process that protects legacy health care providers, says a new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia.

According to Christopher Koopman, a Mercatus Center research fellow and co-author of “Certificate-of-Need Laws: Implications for North Carolina,” the Tar Heel State regulates 25 separate medical services or devices through its certificate-of-need law — the fourth-highest number in the United States. The national average of regulated practices (among those states with CON laws) is 14.

“The easiest way to think about certificate of need is it’s a permission slip to compete from the government” in a particular market, Koopman said. That approval is layered atop standard licensing and training requirements.

“These programs are all about restricting competition, and they’ve been done so in the name of lowering costs or increasing care to the poor,” Koopman said.

“But we have quite a bit of evidence now that suggests neither of those have been achieved,” he said. “What is achieved is reduced competition, and reduced choice for those seeking care in North Carolina and other states that enforce certificate of need programs.”

The report was released as state Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, is working on certificate of need law reform legislation she plans to submit this session. She and state Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, authored CON reform bills in 2013 that failed to move out of the committee process.

Certificate of Need is a law that should have been repealed long ago, as many states have done. For more background, here’s JLF’s Katherine Restrepo discussing the law with me on Carolina Journal Radio.

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Leftist Screed On Wheels

More intolerance this weekend from a Leftist driving in front of me on a North Carolina highway. The vehicle –driven by a female — was plastered with no less than 10 bumper stickers, several of which were rude anti-religious messages. And there was the predictable support of abortion as well. But here are two of the bumper stickers I found particularly ironic — irony I suspect is lost on the driver.

Practice Random Acts of Kindness & Senseless Acts of Beauty


Doing My Best to P**s Off The Religious Right



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Scott Maitland of Top Of The Hill Distillery To Discuss Unfair ABC Laws

North Carolina distilleries face serious competitive barriers and regulatory challenges, thanks to our ABC laws. Unlike craft breweries and wineries, which are allowed to sell their products to customers who tour their facilities, distillers are prevented from selling directly to customers.

Scott Maitland is calling for reform.

In this presentation, he will share his experience as a distillery proprietor, discuss the state of distilling across the country, compare the birth of North Carolina’s craft brewing industry with the birth of the spirits industry, and make his recommendations for change.

Please join us Monday, February 23 at Noon at the downtown office of the John Locke Foundation for Scott’s remarks and discussion.

Details here. 

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Heartbreaking: Liberals Pushing To Take Away This Child’s Opportunity

Delicia Hare is trying so hard to help her son, Christian. She applied for and received an Opportunity Scholarship so Christian can thrive in a school that meets his needs, which wasn’t the case in a traditional public school classroom. And now, North Carolina liberals and their powerful allies are using the courts to try and deny Delicia and Christian this opportunity. It’s heartbreaking.

Whether Hare’s son and about 1,200 other children in North Carolina can continue to use vouchers from the Opportunity Scholarship Program will come before the N.C. Supreme Court in the coming days. The state’s highest court is scheduled to hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that the Opportunity Scholarship Program violates the N.C. Constitution. The hearing is slated for Feb. 24.

Last August, Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the Opportunity Scholarship Program violated a number of the provisions of the N.C. Constitution. He said that providing taxpayer money for the vouchers without curriculum or teacher certification requirements “does not accomplish a public purpose.”

He also said the program ran afoul of the state’s landmark Leandro decision, which required the state to provide every child with the opportunity to have a “sound, basic education.”

Representatives from two plaintiff groups who brought the lawsuits, the N.C. Association of Educators and the N.C. School Boards Association, did not respond to requests for comment.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, NCAE President Rodney Ellis said, “Vouchers for private schools are an affront to a state that has a long and cherished history of public education. … Using public money to pay for private schools is part of a broad assault on public schools — and on the constitution of our state.”

Will the Supreme Court let the powerful liberal elite in this state prevent this mom from helping her child? We await their decision.

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We’re #23, But We Should Be #1

Freedom is more than a slogan. It’s a very set of principles that should guide our lawmakers. Thankfully, we’re blessed with many reform-minded legislators who are working hard to protect and expand our freedoms. To help guide the conversation, we’ve created the First in Freedom Index. John Locke Foundation Chairman John Hood unveiled the new Index during JLF’s 25th anniversary dinner celebration on Feb 7, 2015. North Carolina ranks No. 23 in freedom among the 50 states and No. 5 in the Southeast.

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“Don’t their daughters’ struggles count, too?”

Over at sister blog The Locker Room, Julie Gilstrap points out a great commentary by Brian Lewis, formerly a teachers union lobbyist. Lewis writes about his new embrace of giving education options to all parents and kids.

Congratulations, Mr. Lewis. We welcome you into North Carolina’s Education Freedom Movement, where we believe every child should have the opportunities that children of means already enjoy.

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“Food Systems Consultant” Looks To Control What You Eat

Writing for the Independent Women’s Forum, Julie Gunlock explains what’s to come as we await the new government guidelines for what we should and shouldn’t eat. All sorts of folks have weighed in — no pun intended — on your personal eating habits, including someone deemed a “food systems consultant.”

If ever there was an area best left to individuals, it is what we eat.


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Join Us: Something Special For School Choice Supporters

The last decade in North Carolina has been one of much-needed advances for parents looking for a fair shake for their children — a school and/or environment that works for THEM, not for the status-quo system. And now, as National School Choice Week nears, the John Locke Foundation invites you to a very special breakfast to discuss choice and options, and where North Carolina goes from here. We hope you’ll join us. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
7:30 a.m.

Raleigh City Club, 28th Floor Wells Fargo Building, 150 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NC

Price: The Breakfast is Free, but we do need your registration

As American’s largest annual celebration of educational opportunity, National School Choice Week (January 25-31) illustrates the inclusiveness and diversity of the school choice movement. In honor of this week, the John Locke Foundation is hosting a breakfast event highlighting all types of education options for families.

Mr. Bob Bowdon, Founder of Choice Media, and Director of the documentary film, “The Ticket: The Many Faces of School Choice” will give his view from a national perspective. Representative Paul (Skip) Stam, Pro Temper of the North Carolina House of Representatives, will share a view from the General Assembly. Dr. Michael Fedewa, Superintendent of Schools for the Raleigh Diocese, will provide us with a perspective on working with the families currently receiving a North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship. Mrs. Jeannie Metcalfe Vice Chair of the Winston Salem/Forsyth County School Board, will share their District’s choice plan for traditional public school families.

Charter schools, home schools, and virtual schools, will be highlighted. A screening of the documentary, “The Ticket: The Many Faces of School Choice,” will also be included in this timely program. The film focuses on different forms of school choice while traveling on a whistle stop train tour across America.

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