Remind leaders that we are tired of political games

op frBy Kathy Ross • Guest Columnist

In the last few weeks, I’ve been stuck between speaking my mind and doing what is best for my community. I hate it when systems operate that way, always believing wide-open debate is the best and most honest way to run government. But the remake of the Pigeon River Fund’s board put me up against that principle.

In 1997 the fund was created when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a license for what was then Carolina Power & Light, later Progress Energy, to use the Pigeon River to generate power at its Walters Plant. In exchange, the owner, now Duke Power, is to set aside money each year, building a fund to improve water quality, access and education. 

Tax trade-off: New tax law brings bevy of sales tax expansions, eliminates business fees

Consumers will start seeing some extras added to their subtotals as a result of a state law adding sales tax to a variety of items that had previously not been taxed, or were taxed at a lower level. Among them are mobile and manufactured homes, electric bills and “service contracts,” which is basically a catch-all entailing labor costs for everything from car repairs to plumbing. 

Petition drive steers toward education funding

fr teachersAdvocates calling for increased state education funding made a stop in Haywood County Monday as part of a statewide tour en route to Raleigh, where they will deliver a stack of petitions signed by 61,000 state residents later this week.

New state tax hits entertainment venues

art frWhen the clock struck midnight this past New Year’s Eve, a new North Carolina state tax took effect.

“This isn’t a tax reform, it’s a tax shift,” said Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville. “It’s just part of the shift by the Republican legislature on revenues. They cut taxes on big business, then entertainment, tourism and nonprofits, who do so much with so little, and are the engine of our economy, get taxed while those huge tax breaks are given to those who contribute to the call.” 

State law eliminates business license fees

Business license fees will disappear in North Carolina following the recent passage of the Omnibus Tax Law Changes. Currently, towns and cities use any of a number of schemes for calculating how much a business must pay for the privilege of doing business in municipal limits. The majority of legislators agreed that this patchwork of regulations was too inconsistent, led to exorbitant taxes and needed to be addressed.  

Raleigh boots midterm members off Pigeon River Fund board

fr pigeonfundIt’s been more than a month since seven of the Pigeon River Fund Board’s nine members learned that a dictum from Raleigh was booting them off midterm, but the restructured board is still raising eyebrows and ire. Typically, the board recommends replacements to fill vacancies when a member’s three-year term ends in August, and the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources approves them. This go-around, however, that didn’t happen. 

Drilling, fracking bill speeds through legislature

fr frackingNatural gas drilling is one step closer to becoming reality after the North Carolina General Assembly delivered a newly ratified bill to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk on Friday, May 30.

GOP to get relaxing respite from Raleigh rallies

When North Carolina Republicans arrive at Harrah’s in Cherokee the first week of June for their annual convention, they will likely leave the din of discontent far behind. The rallies — the restless and the rowdies — and the realities of Raleigh will fade in the rearview. 

Obstacles to voting and fair elections are intolerable

op frBy Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist

Occasions such as Memorial Day and the D-Day anniversary remind us of the fallen and the freedoms they died to protect. Speeches and commentaries extol the rights specified in the Constitution, religion, speech, assembly and press among them.

But the right to vote is rarely mentioned. If you’re crafting remarks based on the Bill of Rights, voting is nowhere to be found. The architects of the United States left it to the states.

NCCAT searches for salvation in Raleigh

fr nccatThe North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching is sweating out the legislative short session. Gov. Pat McCrory didn’t include any funding for the Cullowhee-based center in his proposed budget, and unless legislators carve out a place in the final budget, the center will close June 30. 

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