drone with camera

New drone laws to take effect in North Carolina on December 1

Raleigh, NC – As drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), become more common, North Carolina’s laws are changing to stay up-to-date with this fast-growing industry.  Governor Roy Cooper has signed two bills sent to his desk by the General Assembly, one revising existing laws and one new law to ensure that drone operation remains safe.

drone with camera

House Bill 128 prohibits drone use near prisons. Near is defined as a horizontal distance of 500 feet or a vertical distance of 250 feet. NCDOT will place signs marking these boundaries. The law goes into effect Dec. 1.

House Bill 337 revises existing state drone laws. The language of the law has been changed to clarify that UAS laws will now apply to model aircraft as well. This part of the law also goes into effect on Dec. 1. Model aircraft users are still exempt from the state’s permitting requirements.

Other changes in the law serve to streamline North Carolina regulations with federal regulations. The minimum age for getting a commercial permit to operate UAS will now be the age federal law stipulates, which is currently 16. Additionally, people wishing to obtain a commercial permit can use any government-issued form of photo identification allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. This section of the law became effective immediately.

The revisions also loosen restrictions on the use of UAS in emergency management. The law permits emergency management agencies to use drones for all activities related to emergency management and removes the restriction on the use of special imaging technology. The use of technologies such as thermal and infrared was previously only permitted for scientific purposes. The removal of the restriction allows private and commercial operators to assist law enforcement with emergency management efforts such as search and rescue operations.

The UAS Knowledge Test Study Guide has been updated to reflect these changes and is available on the N.C. Division of Aviation website, along with information on how to ensure you are compliant with current regulations.

 

Dangers of the blame game

by D.G. Martin

D.G. MartinChapel Hill, NC – Reactions to the so-called repeal of HB2 show one reason why Democrats are already in trouble for the 2018 and 2020 elections. They had hoped this year would be a time of unity to mobilize opposition to the “mis-administration” of the other party in Washington and the state legislature.

Instead of strengthening their party and bringing it together for successfully ridding the state of much of the damage from HB2, the repeal has brought about more disappointment and disunity. Instead of unifying and celebrating the achievement of their party’s leader, Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrats have broken into angry factions.

Many of the state’s more important and influential figures have attacked the governor for “selling out” by accepting a compromise, which is, so they say, worse than HB2 itself.

Mark Joseph Stern, writing for Slate, noted, “As soon as the ‘compromise’ bill was revealed, however, LGBTQ groups lined up against it, arguing, in essence, that the cure would be worse than the disease. They are absolutely correct. The measure, HB142, would be an unmitigated disaster for LGBTQ rights. It substitutes the old anti-trans policy for new, equally cruel one—and prevents cities from protecting their own LGBTQ residents. This bill is not a compromise. It is a capitulation.”

The editorial board of The Charlotte Observer joined the chorus criticizing Cooper, calling his actions “a betrayal of the promises the governor made to the LGBT community.”

Continuing its harsh attack, the Observer wrote, “This was the first real test of leadership for Gov. Cooper, a Democrat, and he failed spectacularly by inexplicably discarding his earlier promise not to accept any deal that left people vulnerable to discrimination.”

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, wrote “Bitterly disappointed in a man I truly believed was the future of North Carolina.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote that while Cooper was taking credit for HB2’s repeal, “He did no such thing. Instead he signed a new version of HB2 and betrayed [his] campaign promise.”

One radio caller, angry with Cooper and the compromise, said she would rather carry the burden of HB2 for a lifetime than accept a compromise or anything other than the law’s unconditional repeal.

At least this caller recognized the choices that were then available to Cooper:

  1. Negotiate a compromise with the legislators who passed HB2 in the first place, who still supported it, and who still had control of the legislature, or
  2. Live with HB2 indefinitely, at least until, when and if, the political situation in North Carolina changes.

Most Republicans were not eager to repeal HB2. Lt. Gov. Dan Forrest defended it and opposed the compromise: “I’m proud of the stance we’ve taken. I’m proud of the work we did to protect women and kids in bathrooms. I’m proud of the work we did to uphold the Constitution. I think that the only thing that was wrong with HB2 was the false narrative and the negative narrative from the left, from the media, from the leftist groups out there who were coming against North Carolina and boycotting North Carolina.”

Forrest’s comments are a reminder that legislative supporters of a full repeal were a minority against a steadfast majority that was unwilling to support and vote for an unconditional appeal.

To get HB2 repealed, there had to be a compromise.

It is certainly fair to criticize the compromise and work for an expansion of protections for gay and transgender rights.

But now is not the time to turn on Cooper just because he did not get it all.

There will be other chances, after elections in coming years.  But Democrats who are trashing Cooper and those who supported the compromise are jeopardizing their party’s unity and its chances to do well in those upcoming elections.

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D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. Preview the upcoming program on Preview the upcoming program on UNC-TV’s North Carolina digital channel  (Spectrum #1276) on Fridays at 8 p.m.

This Thursday’s (April 27) guests ware Richard Rosen and Joseph Mosnier, authors of “Julius Chambers: A Life in the Legal Struggle for Civil Rights.”

 Next week’s (April 30, May 4) guest is Matthew Griffin, author of “Hide.”

To view prior programs: http://video.unctv.org/program/nc-bookwatch/episodes/

For upcoming programs: www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch

Upcoming guests: 

Sunday noon May 7 and Thursday 5pm May 11 Randall Kenan, editor of “The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food “ 

Sunday noon May 14 and Thursday 5pm May 18 Donna Everhart, author of “The Education of Dixie Dupree” 

Sunday noon May 21 and Thursday 5pm May 25 John Claude Bemis author of “Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince” 

Sunday noon May 28 and Thursday 5pm June 1 John Semonche, author of “Pick Nick: The Political Odyssey of Nick Galifianakis from Immigrant Son to Congressman” 

NC Governor Roy Cooper visits Central Carolina Community College

Sanford, NC – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper visited Central Carolina Community College on Wednesday, April 12, to discuss his NC GROW scholarship for free community college that he proposed in his budget and how to prepare North Carolinians for high-paying jobs. The governor’s visit is the latest in a series of visits to community colleges across the state that began earlier this year.

His stop at CCCC’s Lee Main Campus began at a roundtable discussion with college officials, faculty, and students before continuing with a tour of several career-based academic programs.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (holding shield) gets an up-close view of a robotic welding demonstration on Wednesday, April 12, at the Central Carolina Community College Lee Main Campus.
CCCC photo by Neil McGowan.

Cooper has promoted a proposal that would provide free community college tuition for students meeting certain academic criteria. While his NC GROW scholarship proposal came up in Sanford, other topics were also discussed.

The 20-minute roundtable, which included CCCC President Dr. T. Eston Marchant, touched on a wide range of topics — beginning with job training.

“The first question I get when I meet with corporate leaders is not, ‘What is your corporate tax rate?'” Cooper told the college officials. “The question I get is, ‘Do you have a skilled workforce?’ You are the key to that.

“Now, I want to hear from you.”

Topics included the need to enhance faculty recruitment and compensation to make community colleges more attractive to the best teachers. Bianka Stumpf, CCCC’s social sciences lead instructor, said that is a particular concern when much of the policy debates center on K-12 education and state universities.

“We’ve got to get the business community telling the legislators that we already have the tax cuts,” Cooper said. “Now we’ve got to invest in education.”

The governor also heard from two students — Carson Rosser in nursing and Nickolas Jorgenson in laser and photonics — about their college experiences.

Jorgenson said he was living in Arizona when he quit his job and sold his car to cross the country and study at CCCC, which offers the only laser and photonics program among North Carolina community colleges. Though he also holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, Jorgenson went in a new direction to take advantage of job prospects he described as “out of this world.”

After the 20-minute roundtable concluded, Cooper left for a brief campus tour, including college leaders and media. Along the way, he stopped for a robotic welding demonstration and a brief look at the college’s computer-integrated machining facility.

But it wasn’t all business.

While crossing campus, Cooper visited with some veterinary medical technology students outside with dogs. Cooper, who created an animal welfare hotline during his tenure as attorney general and maintains First Pets of North Carolina, a Facebook page for his own family’s pets, didn’t miss the opportunity.

After shaking hands with the VMT students and faculty/staff, he made a second pass down the line, holding each of the animals and pausing for photos.

That fact didn’t escape Marchant. “For those of you who were not on the tour, he shook hands with people in welding,” Marchant told a public gathering later. “He shook hands with the people in machining. But he hugged the puppy dogs.”

Though it was a quick visit, about an hour from start to finish, Cooper said he was impressed with what he saw in Sanford and that community colleges like CCCC were essential to how he wants to shape the state.

Cooper said that what he wants out of being governor is to make sure that North Carolina’s people are better educated, that they are healthier and that they have more money in their pockets.

One year after HB2 passed North Carolina economy is booming

Raleigh, NC – Despite dire predictions, one year after HB2 passed, the sky has not fallen and North Carolina remains a regional and national powerhouse. With a projected half-billion surplus and record-setting hotel occupancy and tourism, Governor Cooper and Democratic lawmakers remain committed to their script that HB2 is hurting the economy. That is a bit ironic and hypocritical, because it was Roy Cooper who was caught red-handed last spring recruiting CEO’s in Silicon Valley to boycott North Carolina and smear its reputation. Indeed, nearly all news reports advance his micro-economic narrative without considering all the facts.

HB2 law“If you look at the most extreme instances of economic impact, by the media and by the universities and the people who come out and say ‘This is the impact,’ that most extreme impact equates to one-tenth of 1 percent of our annual GDP,” said Lt Gov. Dan Forest. He shared these comments while testifying at a Texas Senate hearing.

Fact Check: Dan Forest is right! North Carolina’s economy and population is BOOMING and unemployment rates remaining unchanged from a year ago, HB2 has had no substantial economic impact here. All indicators point to the state’s economy as one of the healthiest in the nation! Just look at the rankings we have earned by the country’s leading business indicators:

  • #1 Fastest Growing Economy since 2013 (Politifact 2016)
  • #1 Lowest State & Local Business Taxes (Ernst & Young 2016)
  • #1 Governor’s Cup ranking for South Atlantic States (Site Selection 2017)
  • #2 Best Business Climate (Site Selection 2016)#2 Best State for Business (Forbes 2016)
  • #3 Best State for Business (Chief Executive 2016)
  • #4 Best Government Fiscal Stability (US News & World Report 2017)
  • #5 America’s Top States for Business (CNBC 2016)

Indicators across the state point to a promising trendline: When recognizing North Carolina 4th Best for new and expanded corporate facilities this month, Site Selection Magazine again cited capital investors’ very favorable outlook on the State’s workforce, climate and transportation and regulatory climates. In 2016, Wake County recorded the highest number of single family homes sold since 1994, and Charlotte’s Uptown continues to boom with five new hotels, eight mixed use towers, and four office towers under construction in addition to a massive $683 million Brooklyn Village redevelopment project. According to the just released Triangle Commercial Real Estate Conference the healthy trends in 2016 are poised to continue throughout 2017. All of these positive results are not exactly the bleak economic picture Governor Cooper and the news media like to paint.

Fact Check: Not one company doing business in the State before HB2 has pulled out of North Carolina because of HB2. In fact, it’s just the opposite, Bank of America, Apple, Google, Corning, CSX, Lance, LendingTree, Pepsi, Yokohama Tire, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals and over 289 other businesses expanded or reinvested here despite some of their CEOs voicing angsts over HB2. Former Commerce Secretary John Skvarla told the Observer in October, “HB2 hasn’t moved the needle one iota.” He’s right! Even when considering the most outrageous estimates produced by LGBTQ advocates, or the AP’s 3.7 Billion 12-year impact, the harm to NC’s economy has been less than .001 percent of our annual $550B economy.

 

HB2 is about privacy and safety. It is about ensuring that when your daughter, or your wife enter a bathroom, locker room or changing facility owned and operated by taxpayers, she can feel confident that her privacy and safety will not be violated, because biological men and sexual predators don’t have a legal right to access to those private spaces.

HB2 is also about promoting business and reducing regulations by assuring statewide consistency in laws relating to employment, contracting, and public accommodations. Historically the State, not cities and counties, has preferred to set laws related to commerce and public places, and a High Point University poll in February found 80% of state residents prefer this uniform approach.

When North Carolina passed HB2, it aligned itself with nondiscrimination laws in 28 other states and the federal government, hardly a bizarre or uncommon policy. More importantly, HB2 repealed a dangerous City of Charlotte ordinance mandating all private and public bathrooms and other private facilities like locker rooms and showers be opened to members of the opposite sex based on how an individual “identifies” their own sex. The now repealed Charlotte ordinance also halted overregulation of private businesses that would have caused frivolous lawsuits and violated conscience.

Multi-million dollar non-profit organizations like the NBA, the NCAA, and the ACC have tried to coerce North Carolina lawmakers to repeal HB2 by relocating games and threats of future boycotts to levy economic harm. These practices are questionable from a legal standpoint for nonprofits and end up hurting local athletes and sports fans. Apparently, their policy, as well as Governor Roy Cooper’s, would be to allow grown men to shower and use the bathroom with little girls and to force private business owners to choose between their family’s livelihoods or following their conscience.  Shame on them!

Disrupters and dissenters are still refusing to grapple with the reality that HB2 is law, much like those who refuse to accept Donald Trump as President. The economic success of North Carolina and the privacy, safety and conscience concerns of North Carolinians should make us all glad that our leaders are standing strongly behind HB2.  They should also make us question why Governor Cooper, the mainstream press, and sports organizations like the NCAA are still calling for a repeal of a common-sense, law most North Carolinas strongly support.

Founded in 2011, the N.C. Values Coalition is a non-partisan, statewide grassroots network of North Carolinians who support and advocate for pro-family positions.

Phil Berger

The facts being covered up by the press

by Phil Berger

Phil BergerRaleigh, NC – Below is some very important background and historical context we’ve shared with members of the North Carolina and national press about legislation being considered in this week. Unfortunately, the vast majority of media outlets have chosen to ignore these hard facts because they do not fit the narrative that sells newspapers or TV advertisements. Overt media bias and an unwillingness to tell both sides of the story is precisely the reason why so many Americans no longer have faith in the mainstream media.
Confirmation of Cabinet Secretaries
Article III, Section 5 of the North Carolina Constitution states: the Governor shall nominate and by and with the advice and consent of a majority of the Senators appoint all officers whose appointments are not otherwise provided for.
Full Appellate Court Panel Review
We are adopting the same standard used by our federal judicial system to allow cases to be heard “en banc” – by the full state Court of Appeals. This bipartisan idea – which was championed by Gov.-elect Roy Cooper in 1999 and high-ranking Democrat senators in 2001 and 2005 – will ensure at least one full appellate court can review trial court decisions in North Carolina.
Employee Status
We recognize Roy Cooper is our state’s next governor and has the right to hire his own staff. That’s why we’ve authorized 400+ positions he can fill with whoever he wants. But the changes to how state government operates that were desperately needed in 2012 are no longer needed now. When Gov. McCrory took office, he inherited a Department of Health and Human Services with massive Medicaid shortfalls. He inherited a Division of Employment Security that owed more than $2.5 billion to the federal government. And he inherited a bloated bureaucracy whose lack of fiscal discipline contributed to the outrageous $2.5 billion budget shortfall legislative Republicans were saddled with.
In contrast, under Gov. McCrory’s reformed executive branch, North Carolina is thriving. Our economy is booming. We have budget surpluses not shortfalls. Our debt to the federal government is paid off. Our Medicaid system is finally operating within budget. And North Carolina is consistently listed at the top of many national rankings. So, why does it make sense to enable the mass political firing of people who have been doing a wonderful job for the state?
Restoring Administrative Authority to the State Superintendent
We are restoring the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s authority – stripped away by Roy Cooper and his fellow Democrats – to make staffing decisions as the elected head of the Department of Public Instruction. (Article IX, Section 4 of the North Carolina Constitution establishes that the Superintendent of Public Instruction is the secretary and Chief Administrative Officer of the State Board of Education.)
Board of Trustees at UNC Institutions Appointed by Legislature
The North Carolina Constitution (Article IX, Section 8) is crystal clear on this issue:
The General Assembly shall maintain a public system of higher education, comprising The University of North Carolina and such other institutions of higher education as the General Assembly may deem wise. The General Assembly shall provide for the selection of trustees of The University of North Carolina and of the other institutions of higher education, in whom shall be vested all the privileges, rights, franchises, and endowments heretofore granted to or conferred upon the trustees of these institutions. The General Assembly may enact laws necessary and expedient for the maintenance and management of The University of North Carolina and the other public institutions of higher education.
State Ethics and Elections Enforcement Board
We are restructuring the State Board of Elections, Lobbying Compliance Division of the N.C. Secretary of State’s office, and N.C. Ethics Commission into a consolidated State Ethics and Elections Enforcement Board with an even split in partisan membership. This board will be responsible for oversight of campaign finance, lobbying and ethics investigations, ensuring that similar functions are regulated by the same agency and helping avoid situations where separate entities issue conflicting interpretations of the law. It follows the model of the Federal Elections Commission and the current model of the State Ethics Commission by requiring the board’s eight members to be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and by requiring at least six votes for an official action.
Clarifying General Assembly’s Authority to Draw Congressional and Legislative Maps
Our state constitution gives the General Assembly alone the authority to draw congressional and legislative districts. If a constitutional violation is alleged, then the courts can step in and order a remedy.
Partisan Appellate Court Elections
One of the easiest ways for voters to identify who shares their philosophies on the role of the judiciary is through partisan affiliation. This is a much better way for voters to select candidates in lower profile races than by relying on name ID and ballot order. That’s why this bill creates partisan elections for state Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court candidates.
Even the liberal tabloid INDY Week highlighted the problem with our current system, noting that a newly-elected Supreme Court Justice may have won “because conservative voters, knowing little to nothing about these candidates but having seen Republican judges on top elsewhere on the ballot, assumed [he] was a Republican.”
Historical Context on changes to N.C. state government following previous elections
Below are key events from Gov.-elect Cooper’s tenure as a former state senator to keep in mind when considering his feedback on recently proposed policy changes in North Carolina:
· 1995 laws supported by Sen. Cooper stripping away the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s authority: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/1995/Bills/House/PDF/H7v4.pdf,
· 1999 bill sponsored by Majority Leader Cooper creating an ‘en banc’/full appellate court review procedure: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=1999&BillID=sb800&submitButton=Go
· Gov.-elect Cooper was in the legislature when it stripped Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner of most of his authority. What were his thoughts on that change?
· Gov.-elect Cooper’s support for packing the appellate court in 2000 has been well-documented.
· What are Gov.-elect Cooper’s thoughts on his self-described mentor, former Gov. Jim Hunt, demanding scores of resignations before he was even sworn in to his first term, which is now referred to as the ‘Christmas Massacre?’ Does Gov.-elect Cooper plan to follow in his mentor’s footsteps?
· Given that Gov.-elect Cooper has stated on the record his intention to emulate President Obama and circumvent the legislative process by governing through rule-making and executive orders, why is he surprised the legislature is taking steps to protect its constitutional authority?
Past actions are often predictors of future actions, and Gov.-elect Cooper has done nothing to give the expectation that he will behave any differently in his new role.