Butterfield Statement on Republican-Passed FY’16 Budget

9WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) issued the following statement after voting against the Republican Fiscal Year 2106 Budget, which passed in the House today:

“I’m dismayed that we find ourselves here yet again.  The Republican majority, moments ago, passed their FY’16 budget which does little to address the concerns and needs of everyday Americans.  Not only does their budget make drastic reductions in funding to important economic drivers such as education, research, and infrastructure, but it also makes the American dream even more unattainable.  Year after year the Republican majority passes budgets that give significant tax breaks to the super wealthy at the expense of stifling the progress of children, women, seniors, and hard-working families.

“What’s even more egregious are the steep $125 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the $913 billion cut to Medicaid.  If implemented, these proposals would have devastating effects on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including many in my home state of North Carolina. 

“I cannot and will not support a measure that does so little for poor, low-income, and middle-class Americans.  We need an alternative budget plan that eases the paths to homeownership, the middle-class, higher wages, college, and retirement—not a plan that reverses it.”

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Fracking in North Carolina may be more problematic than first thought

1Forget about forced pooling and landowner protections, at least for the moment.  Forget about water contamination and the plight of the  Deep River and Dan River basin.  And forget about the many contaminants contained in the chemicals used to frack shale and break it apart or that disclosing what those chemicals contain is a felony in North Carolina thanks to the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly.

Over the last month, I talked with a geophysicist who says that one of the biggest problematic issues that could face fracking in North Carolina—and  one of the least talked about—is the seismic activity produced from the wells as water, sand and chemicals are pumped deep into the earth to break apart the shale allowing the gas to release more easily.

The geophysicist who asked me not to use his name by saying “you can quote me but don’t use my name– I have enough aggravation as it is” points to two specific pieces of information: 1) that North Carolina has deep underground fault lines, mostly dormant for hundreds of years, and 2) a recent study in Ohio that points to 77 specific earthquakes that have been attributed to the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing of shale.

Make no mistake about it, there are fault lines that run up and down North Carolina.  You hear more about it in the mountains because of the media attention and the fact that people actually feel those quakes– but fault lines do exist along the I-95 corridor and in areas close enough to Lee, Chatham and Orange counties to make it potentially problematic to frack for natural gas even though I wouldn’t necessarily call those areas ‘hotspots’,” said the geophysicist in a telephone conversation.

A recent study that was made public points to 77 earthquakes that occurred along a fault line in Ohio. Many of those quakes were between 1.0 – 2.5 on the Richter scale and those were not necessarily felt by the general population in the area.  But at least one quake measuring 3.0 was felt along a fault line in where fracking was being performed less than a half-mile away.

Why do earthquakes matter in fracking

  1. Aside from the ecological impact of drilling in central North Carolina, the wastewater disposal process is a complicated and incomplete process overall. Ohio has some of the toughest regulations on the oil and natural gas companies who drill those areas.  And still 77 earthquakes occurred along impact lines.
  2. Ohio mandates that companies to set up earthquake monitors before drilling within 3 miles of a known fault line – however North Carolina does not have such regulation.

According to the geophysicist, the problem is that North Carolina has fault lines that typically don’t move within a person’s natural lifespan.  So there really is very little documentation as to what could happen when those underlying areas are disturbed.

I asked the geophysicist what would happen if North Carolina experienced an earthquake 3.0 or greater like the one in Ohio. “Well, potentially it could be a non-event with absolutely no damage. But on the other hand it could lead to a catastrophic event if it triggered an older more pronounced fault line to move.  Especially if that quake moved up the line into Northern Virginia and Washington DC.”

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Janice Covington Makes #NCDP History—Elected Precinct Chair of CLT #29

janice photoCharlotte, NC—Saturday, March 21, 2015—This afternoon, Janice Covington was elected Chair of Precinct #29 of the North Carolina Democratic Party in Charlotte. The election marks the first time in North Carolina Democratic Party history that a transgendered person has been elected to that post.
Janice was a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention and was named by the North Carolina Democratic Party to the 2016 Delegate Selection Committee recently.
But, Covington is  also not a stranger to controversy. On March 2nd, during the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance debate – Janice was singled out by many leaders of right-wing Christian organizations calling her “a man in a dress…using the women’s bathroom.”
Janice was escorted out of the women’s restroom by a female Mek/CLT police officer surrounded by applause from members of the “Don’t Do It CLT’ protesters.  One protester videoed Covington in the restroom and posted it to the Charlotte Observer – taking it down only hours later.

The North Carolina Democratic Party denounced the Charlotte City Council for voting down the nondiscrimination ordinance. Some Democrats within the Party leadership have voiced their concern publicly—calling for those Democrats who voted against the ordinance and the amendment striking down the transgender bathroom clause to face Primary opponents in the next election.
Janice was featured in the Charlotte Observer recently where she recounted her life history and her years as an activist and advocate.
Janice Covington will have an opportunity to continue her role as activist and advocate—recently Janice released a statement indicating she will be doing a series of radio pilots hoping to take Transgender issues nationally over the airwaves.

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Butterfield to Join Dept. of Health & Human Services for Panel

butterfieldWASHINGTON, DC — On Monday, March 23rd, Rep. G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) will join Dr. Pamela Roshell, Department of Health and Human Services Director for Region IV, for a roundtable discussion and celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the Patients’ Protections and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Joining in the celebration, which also marks Women’s History Month, will be key government and healthcare leaders who will discuss the Affordable Care Act’s success in North Carolina, and underscore what its passage means to women’s health.

Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act five years ago, about 560,357 North Carolinians selected plans or were automatically re-enrolled through the health insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

In addition to Rep. Butterfield and Dr. Roshell, the panelists for the roundtable on Women’s Health and the ACA will include:

• Kellan Moore, Executive Director, Care Share Health Alliance
• Nicole Dozier, NC Justice Center
• Penny Washington, Wake & Franklin Health Services
• Sorien Schmidt, Enroll America, North Carolina
• Dr. Sharon Elliott Bynum, Healing with CAARE
• Krystal Holman, Project Access
• Sally Wilson, Director, Project Access
• Durham County Commissioner Brenda Howerton
• Dr. Elaine Hart Brothers, Director of the Community Health Coalition

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FRUITS FROM A POISONOUS TREE—DEFENSE ATTY ARBOUR CONTINUES HIS CROSS EXAMINATION

Me George Fisher002The defense attorney for Jonathan Broyhill continues to cross examine the lead detective in the Broyhill murder trial.
Mr. Arbour—one of two public defenders assigned to Broyhill—again motioned the Judge for a mistrial saying that “…this man deserves a fair trial—and he’s not getting one now…”  He also asked for the Judge to step aside or to at least appoint another judge to decide if he should step aside.   The judge denied both.
The point of contention:
Only one of three taped interrogations have been admitted into evidence. Arbour calls into question prosecutorial misconduct and on two other occasions (before Friday’s drama).  Arbour has asked for a mistrial because of this.
Arbour contends that on those other two tapes have exculpatory lines of questioning that could shed light on why his client murdered Jamie Hahn.
By not allowing the jury to hear the other taps—the prosecution is possiblly able to pick fruit from the poisonous tree.
That poisonous tree is relevant to the hearsay rule in where Broyhill was given his Miranda rights but may have been under too much medication to understand those rights.  Information gathered from those interviews would normally be deemed inadmissible and any questions asked at a later date (from the answers to those questions) could be deemed as the fruit from the poisonous tree. 

Arbour says “either use them all – or throw them all out.”

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NEW FCC NET NEUTRALITY RULES ARE FULL OF TAXES

New Fees… #81 Among the costs that consumers may experience are: high upfront device installation fees; long-term contracts and early termination fees; the activation fee when changing service providers

#99 Switching costs may arise due to a number of factors that affect mobile consumers.
#528 Bullet 5 the classification of broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service could trigger certain contributions to support mechanisms or fee payment requirements under the Act and Commission rules
Page 325  New Broadband Taxes.—One avenue for higher bills is the new taxes and fees that will be applied to broadband. Here’s the background. If you look at your phone bill, you’ll see a “Universal Service Fee,” or something like it. These fees (what most Americans would call taxes) are paid by Americans on their telephone service and funnel about $9 billion each year through the FCC—all outside the congressional appropriations process.
Consumers haven’t had to pay these taxes on their broadband bills because broadband Internet access service has never before been a Title II service. But now it is. And so the Order explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband.
As the Order frankly acknowledges, Title II “authorizes the Commission to impose universal service contributions requirements on telecommunications carriers—and, indeed, goes even further to require ‘[e]very telecommunications carrier that provides interstate telecommunications services’ to contribute.”

#36 And so the FCC now has a statutory obligation to make sure that all Internet service providers (and in the end, their customers) contribute to the Universal Service Fund.
Page 329 reclassification will expose many small companies to higher state and local taxes. Tax rates on telecommunications companies are often significantly higher than those imposed on general businesses, and so reclassification threatens Internet service providers with property tax hikes, new transaction-based taxes and fees, and greater income, franchising, and gross receipts taxes.56 And these tax hikes won’t necessarily be de minimis.
In the District of Columbia, for instance, companies will face an instant 11% increase in taxes on their gross receipts. That big bite will leave a welt on Washington consumers’ wallets. broadband taxes like those imposed by the Order have evaded the scope of the Internet Tax Freedom Act so far—because they are “fees,” not “taxes,” and because they’re not exclusively about “Internet access” but more generally applied.
#59 And since Congress has not entrusted the Commission with interpreting the Internet Tax Freedom Act, even our most fervent pronouncements for it to be broader will not make it so. All of these new fees and costs add up. One estimate puts the total at $11 billion a year.60 page 400 the Commission claims that this item does not require broadband providers to contribute to the federal universal service

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PROSECUTION SCHEDULED TO REST IN BROYHILL MURDER TRIAL—DEFENSE WILL CALL THEIR FIRST WITNESS ON MONDAY

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Defense attorney Joseph Arbour pouring over cross examination questions on Thursday. Screenshot from WTVD livestream

In administrative court proceedings Thursday afternoon, defense attorneys for Jonathan Broyhill said they anticipate calling their first witness to the stand Monday morning.
Today is anticipated to be a shorter nondramatic end to a week of courtroom drama that includes two mistrial motions, the defense alluding to prosecutorial misconduct and Nation Hahn (Jamie Hahn’s husband) taking the witness stand.

Defense attorney Joseph Arbour said yesterday that he anticipates another 30 minutes of cross examination of the lead detective currently on the stand. The detective is the 15th witness called by the prosecution.

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