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Carolina Journal Radio No. 902: Democrats make Biden nomination official as campaign heats up

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
August 31, 2020 8:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 902: Democrats make Biden nomination official as campaign heats up

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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August 31, 2020 8:00 am

Joe Biden has officially accepted the nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, analyzes the impact of the recent Democratic National Convention on the 2020 presidential race. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated questions about North Carolina’s housing supply. A recent online forum from the John Locke Foundation highlighted housing issues tied to the pandemic. State legislative staffer Brent Woodcox, founder of a group called YIMBY Raleigh, offered ideas about policy changes that could help residents deal with housing challenges. Mark Zimmerman, senior vice president of NC REALTORS, offered additional perspective. During the midst of the pandemic, the University of North Carolina System welcomed Peter Hans as its new president. Hans delivered a first-day-on-the-job message to UNC campuses across the state. He focused on addressing the university’s priorities during difficult times. North Carolina awaits the next step in the long-running Leandro school funding lawsuit. Jeanette Doran, president and general counsel at the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, dissects key constitutional concerns surrounding a case that involves courts in policy decisions that usually reside within the General Assembly. In the midst of a pandemic, one western N.C. hospital is battling a campaign to unionize nurses. Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation senior vice president, discusses the conflict between HCA Healthcare, the largest hospital system in America, and the National Nurses Organizing Committee, the nation’s largest registered nurses’ union.

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From Cherokee to Kuretuk, from the largest city to the smallest town, and from the statehouse to the schoolhouse, it's Carolina Journal Radio, your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most important public policy events and issues. Welcome to Carolina Journal Radio, I'm Mitch Kocke. During the next hour, Donna Martinez and I will explore some major issues affecting our state.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions about housing challenges in North Carolina. We'll hear from two experts. They took part in a recent John Locke Foundation Forum on the topic. During the midst of the pandemic, the University of North Carolina system welcomed a new president.

You'll hear from Peter Hans. He delivered an opening day message to the university community. A constitutional law expert shares thoughts about lingering issues linked to North Carolina's long-running Leandro school funding lawsuit. And will analyze a union fight. It involves nurses at a major Western North Carolina hospital.

Those topics are just ahead. But first, Donna Martinez joins us and she has the Carolina Journal headline. Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are hoping that the American public liked what they saw at the Democratic National Convention and liked it enough to send the pair to the White House and send Donald Trump back to New York. Now the Democrats see their path to the Oval Office coming right through North Carolina. Rick Henderson is editor-in-chief of Carolina Journal. Carolina Journal, of course, is covering all of the key races, including all sorts of races, statewide races here in North Carolina.

You can find that coverage at CarolinaJournal.com. Rick, welcome back to the program. Thank you, Donna.

All right. So the former vice president, Joe Biden, there had been a lot of speculation, particularly with President Trump, referring to Mr. Biden as Sleepy Joe and Slow Joe. But he delivered Biden.

Yeah, he did. The thing that was interesting is that the appearances that he made during the convention, if you actually look at the text of his prepared remarks, they were typically very, very short sentences, very straightforward, very direct. And that's the way he generally talks when he's at a teleprompter.

And so they played to his strengths. When he's on the stump being spontaneous about things, he's very chatty and very glib, but he was very focused and very direct in his talk. And if you noticed Kamala Harris's address for accepting the nomination as vice president, it was much more expansive. Her prepared remarks had, you know, longer complicated sentences and things like that. And so, again, playing to her strength as former prosecutor, if you will. And so it was each one seemed to be well suited to the other. Indicative of very good speech writers. They've already picked up on the cadence and the strengths and weaknesses of their two customers. That's correct. They really have.

They really have. And I think the thing about Kamala Harris that we're finding out more and more after her selection and now that she's been at it for a couple of weeks now is that she is now coming to see her role, I think, as the prosecutor for the Biden campaign, if you will. She is the person who, of course, experienced prosecutor in California, former attorney general, is the trial lawyer right now who's up there making the case for the jury that Joe Biden's the guy who should be elected president. And that's probably going to play to her strength as well, because she doesn't have to actually come up with a program of her own. She can simply go out there and argue for the platform that the Democrats are going to run on. Your description in and of itself is pretty interesting, considering that Kamala Harris's candidacy is historic in a number of ways, but yet she's filling a very traditional role for a vice presidential candidate, the attack dog on the stump. Right.

And I think she's probably well suited for that. If you had, I guess, what top line takeaways from the entire convention, we can probably talk about the Zoom call aspects of things. But the top line was that the Democrats are sort of running on three main themes. You have sort of empathy, which you've got personified in Vice President Biden. And you saw this in almost every address of how much Joe cares, how much Joe likes people and understands people's needs. And then next, we're going to talk about competence, about how they say that Donald Trump has not handled things well in the Oval Office and that Joe Biden has done things well and has been effective. And then you've got a longer thing that's sort of like the end of the disclaimer at the end of the used car commercials, which, you know, they say at one and a half times speed.

So you can't hear all the fine primitives, basically. And besides that, we're going to grow big. It's going to have a lot of higher taxes and regulations and stuff like that. But we don't care about that right now. Just vote for us. It's not like that.

That's really interesting, Rick, because that was my impression as well. Right now, it seems like the message, at least for the convention, was Donald Trump, a bad man, Joe Biden, a good man, America, all sorts of problems. And it's only the wealthy who are doing well here. And we're going to fix that. And that seemed to be really the extent of how deeply they went into public policy.

Right. You saw a few mentions of specific issues that are going to go forward. I mean, they're going to the vice president says we're going to have a national mask wearing mandate that we're going to have a 15 dollar an hour at least minimum wage. You're going to see some changes in the way of the energy policy is done.

He has not endorsed the Green New Deal, but he's endorsed something very close to it, at least as far as expanding renewables and getting away from fossil fuels. You're going to see higher taxes on the wealthy. I mean, you get all these sorts of things are going to be part of the of the Biden Harris ticket and their platform. Now, again, the situation is it's easy to say this when you're on the campaign trail is another thing entirely to get it done, even if you had a Democratic Congress behind it. You know, it took President Obama two years to get the Affordable Care Act through Congress at great cost to his own party, as it turned out.

But it was a hard slog. And so some of these things that the Democrats are talking about are quite are quite complicated issues that other than just tax policy, which are you going to actually go for that right out of the gate, especially in the middle of a pandemic, is it's going to be going on no matter who is elected president in November. One imagines that in January 2020, we're still going to be dealing with some of the of the of the aftereffects or the continuing effects of the pandemic. That's a lot on your plate and it's going to be hard to accomplish. And so that's why you the laundry list of policy objectives doesn't seem to be that big.

But even the ones that are out there are going to be hard to get into effect. Rick, it was billed as a unity convention done virtually for obvious reasons. And as you mentioned, a lot about Joe Biden is empathetic and he's a good person.

And Donald Trump is a bad person. Is it unifying or was it optimistic enough considering that one of the key phrases and themes out of Joe Biden's speech was season of darkness? You know, that was a hard needle to thread.

I mean, that was a tough one to do. And I think that overall, the message as much as possible was some was sort of OK, we are in a bad time, but we're going to get better. It's going to improve. We're going to the something that the vice president has said many times on the stump before.

I'm going to be the president of everybody, not just the base, not just the people who voted for me. And you see that. I think what you also saw, though, was in some of the of the moments that not by the principles, for instance, the the bit that was with the seven candidates who ran against Joe Biden and lost that Cory Booker sort of moderated what he called the survivor after show would after everyone's been kicked off the island. I think that was I don't think that was as scripted as some of the others.

I think that came across as fairly entertaining, if you can imagine that. And so there were some uplifting bits, but it largely yes, it was a we're in a really tough time. There's a bad person in charge right now.

And the only way to get out of this is to kick him out and have us in there. The Trump campaign is likely to continue talking about their view that Joe Biden is really a placeholder of sorts for a younger radical wing of the Democrat Party. To that point, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York only had one minute, 36 seconds.

That was her only exposure in this campaign. Does that tell us something calculated, very calculated? This was the idea was America. We've gone through a turbulent four years. Let's bring back boring. You know, let's have let's not have all these kids over here making all this noise and rousing all this rabble. Let's let's put the adults back in charge again. And that seemed to be a lot that was going on, that the the talk was very, very centrist and moderate.

A lot of the actual policies are extremely progressive and quite the left of center. But they framed it in a way that made it sound very calming. And because it was done by videotape, they can repurpose a lot of these things again and again and again on the campaign trail. So expect some ads to come out of that. Most likely. And then, of course, we look forward to the debates.

It's going to be fascinating. Carolina Journal, of course, covering all sorts of election related races here in North Carolina. You can find all of that at Carolina Journal dot com. Rick Henderson is editor in chief. Thank you, Rick.

Thank you. Stay with us. Much more Carolina Journal radio to come in just a moment. Tired of fake news?

Tired of reporters with political axes to grind? Well, you need to be reading Carolina Journal. Honest, uncompromising old school journalism you expect and you need. Even better, the monthly Carolina Journal is free to subscribers. Sign up at Carolina Journal dot com. You'll receive Carolina Journal newspaper in your mailbox each month. Investigations into government spending, revelations about boondoggles, who the powerful leaders are and what they're doing in your name and with your money. We shine the light on it all with the stories and angles other outlets barely cover.

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I'm Mitch Kochein. The COVID-19 pandemic is raising questions about North Carolina's housing supply. The John Locke Foundation tackled the topic in a recent online forum. One participant, Brent Woodcox.

He's a full time legislative staffer, but outside that role, he formed Yimby Raleigh, a group interested in new development in the capital city. Woodcox supports the notion that welcoming more neighbors won't make neighborhoods worse. Yeah, I think that that's a tremendous key to a lot of things. One, if you look at inequality, one of the greatest sources of inequality is wealth inequality and wealth is typically built up in housing. A lot of the middle class has most of their wealth tied into their single family home.

That is not going to change generation to generation until you fix that problem. A big part of what that means is having a variety of types of housing within neighborhoods so that people can move up on the ladder. When I first bought, I lived in an apartment for a long time when I was in college. Then I bought a town then I bought a single family home and now I've moved up to another single family home. And that's just as I've accumulated wealth throughout my career, I've been able to move up and got married and we combined our assets and all the rest of it. That's a story of progress.

That's a story of getting up on the economic ladder from the bottom wrongs and moving. And until you have that, you're going to have other problems throughout your economy and you're going to have other problems throughout politics. Because when people don't live together, live in proximity, one of the things they say at my church is prejudice cannot overcome proximity.

And when you have people that are living together, they find ways to work things out. And some of the problems we see in our current politics could be solved a lot if we could fix that issue, too. What does Woodcocks think about surveys that suggest more people would like to work from home, not an office if they can in the future?

From my philosophical perspective, I just prefer freedom. You know, I prefer people being free to make their own choices about where they want to live. And if they can be more disconnected from the job, I think that actually will help them. Because a big part of the problem is we have a lot of our jobs in our urban cores and then we have all the most expensive housing there as well. And so then you have this lack of filtering effect.

And the other problem is we had a problem building density. And that's really usually about nimbyism. I mean, it's usually about saying, I don't want my neighborhood to change.

And that's a primal, normal human emotion. People live in places that they like and they moved there for a reason and they don't want them to change. I totally understand that. But I also think that our housing market is going to change. It has constantly changed and evolved. Is it going to change for the better?

Is it going to change for the worse? And that's why we have to have policymakers that are trying to direct it in a positive direction for people. What about the role of neighbors in blocking new developments?

Woodcocks has some thoughts about that topic. You want to make sure that people have a say-so in their government, for sure. You obviously want people to be able to be heard to position their representatives. However, you don't want to empower people to dictate what happens on someone else's property.

You want to make sure that you have property rights that extend to yourself and to the things that you own. And the negotiations that you have between developers and citizens sometimes drive up the cost of housing because it's harder to build that way. And even if it's not outright banned, it becomes so difficult to navigate this red tape and this discussion with neighbors that you essentially drive people out of the market. And as they're trying to buy in, you've got people that are at the bottom rung who just can't enter the market at all.

That's Brent Woodcocks, founder of YIMBY Raleigh, a group supporting new development in Raleigh. He delivered these remarks during a recent online forum sponsored by the John Locke Foundation. Folks discussed the potential negative impact of higher property taxes in the wake of COVID-19. You can't make housing more affordable by making it more expensive to pay your property tax bill.

It just doesn't work that way. And so I think it is an impediment. The other thing is you have a lot of folks that maybe a lot of their wealth is built up in the house. Like I said, a lot of folks in the middle class that might be without a job now or might be older and on fixed income, and that might be their biggest asset. And as that property tax bill goes up, it's the thing that's driving them out of house. And so there is a cap on that if you're going to have any kind of tax fairness.

What does it take to reach these worthwhile housing goals? It definitely takes political change. It takes a group of people. I mean, one of the reasons I started YIMBY Raleigh is I felt like we were having a conversation where people were talking past each other. And a lot of our politics, like many cities across the country is very blue. And that's fine.

There's no problem with that. But when folks are just saying, well, I'm for affordable housing, so am I. I'm for better transit, so am I. We're not having the actual political debate that we needed to be having. And the debate was, are we going to look at these market-oriented solutions that we can open up supply, we can deregulate, that we can make sure that we have a healthy housing market? When you talk about affordability, I've always shorthanded it as you're not paying more than 30 percent of your income for your housing every month.

If you're not doing that, then you have something that's affordable. The problem becomes when you have a lot of folks that are lower income or middle income and they're having to go above 30 percent because there's just not the supply on the market, then you don't have a healthy housing market. You should have a housing market that is set up to serve the people who live in your community.

If it doesn't serve the people who live in your community, you need to start asking policy questions about why that is. Also participating in the John Locke Foundation's online forum on housing, Mark Zimmerman, Senior Vice President of North Carolina's Realtors Group. One of the issues that we've touched on here, though, is having available housing when people are coming to North Carolina. North Carolina has for years had a net in migration. This has been a place, it's a great place to live, it's an economic engine and people are coming here. Those folks that are on Zillow who are looking to get out in New York, this may be accelerated by the pandemic, but that was going on before this. And unfortunately, our building has not kept pace.

We have, our supply has lagged year after year after year. That's going to be exacerbated by the situation right now. And what that means is we are finding, especially in the urban and suburban areas, that housing affordability is getting worse and worse. We've for a long time in our major metro areas had affordable housing issues.

Low income housing just kind of requires subsidies of one form or another. What we're seeing is we're headed down the path toward a lot of communities around the country on the West Coast and the Northeast where middle class affordability is going to become a problem. And we're going to have to deal with that unless we change the local land use regulations to allow more density and more building in there. Unfortunately, the trend has been to add more regulation. Zoning is very unfriendly to adding homes and options for housing. And ironically, that was the conversation that was going to be at the top of our priority this year until the pandemic hit.

But we're going to have to get back to it. More people will probably come to North Carolina now than had been, which means those situations are going to get worse, particularly where most of the population lives. Zimmerman noted one of Realtors biggest problems during the pandemic. We were fortunate that the governor included real estate as essential real estate brokerage. And so our folks could operate that way in a safe manner.

But unfortunately, his order didn't supersede local governments. So we had well over a dozen communities, including the largest and the largest ones in the state. It severely hampered the ability for people to list and show homes and no consistency, a lot of arbitrary rules there, a lot of battles across the state in order to get this back, not for the realtors, but for those folks who need to buy and sell for all the normal life reasons that that has to happen. It's Mark Zimmerman of North Carolina Realtors, one of the participants in a recent John Locke Foundation forum on housing issues linked to COVID-19. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. If you love freedom, we've got great news to share with you. Now you can find the latest news, views and research from conservative groups across North Carolina all in one place. North Carolina conservative.com.

It's one stop shopping for North Carolina's freedom movement. At North Carolina conservative.com, you'll find links to John Locke Foundation blogs on the day's news. Carolina journal.com reporting and quick takes. Carolina Journal radio interviews, TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and Locke Foundation analysts, opinion pieces and reports on higher education from the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. Commentary and polling data from the Civitas Institute and news and views from the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

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Try it today. North Carolina is changing not just day to day, but hour to hour, minute to minute, even second to second. How could you keep up with the changes, especially the ones that affect you, your family, your home, your job? Make the John Locke Foundation and Carolina Journal part of your social media diet. On Facebook, like the John Locke Foundation, like Carolina Journal. Follow us on Twitter at John Locke NC and at Carolina Journal.

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If it's happening now, it's happening here. The John Locke Foundation and Carolina Journal have you covered with up to the second information. Like us on Facebook, the John Locke Foundation and Carolina Journal. Follow us on Twitter at John Locke NC and at Carolina Journal. Who knew you could shop and invest in freedom at the same time?

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I'm Mitch Kocay. The new president of the University of North Carolina, Peter Hans, started his first day on the job with a message to the UNC community. We're facing a moment like no other in American higher education, a pandemic that has disrupted every aspect of our lives and work. Protests that speak to the ideals of our nation, an economic downturn that will deepen the value of our work while also making it harder. Lives, livelihoods are under threat. All of us are under immense stress.

Many are in grief. The tests in front of us are daunting. But this university was not built for easy things. It was built for the hard and worthy work of public service. In planning for the months ahead, we're asked to balance public health with our core mission of public education. We must do right by our students while also protecting our communities and our colleagues. There are no easy answers to those tensions, but they mirror the complex challenges our entire society is facing right now. And I think it's our duty to help chart a path forward. I'll be here each and every day with an open heart, open mind, doing my best to offer steady, stable leadership and support your best work.

We will encounter more than enough turbulence without creating any of our own. I'll be an effective and responsible advocate for funding and public support upholding this university's twin commitments to affordability and excellence. Now, we all know that the cost of a degree has risen too far, too fast.

We've got to change that. It's vital for our economy, our democracy and our culture. I'll work to make higher education trusted, accessible and relevant for the people of this state. I'll embrace the public schools, community colleges and private institutions as full partners in our mission. And I'll testify anywhere and everywhere I can to the redemptive power of education. Because education is the most potent medicine we have for the health of our people and the surest route to shared prosperity. Knowledge is the antidote for what ails us, whether it's a virus, racism or an absence of opportunity. No matter who you are, where you live, who you love, what you look like, what you believe, where you came from, we are all imperfect and striving, all linked by a common fate, all deserving of respect and dignity.

Those are the truths we're called upon to defend. That's Peter Hans, new president of the University of North Carolina System, in a message to the UNC community. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. We're doubling down on freedom.

At Carolina Journal Radio, we're proud to bring you stories that impact your life and your wallet. And now, get twice as much freedom when you also listen to our podcast, Head Lock, available on iTunes and at johnlock.org slash podcast. Now, Head Lock is a little bit different.

It's a no-holds-barred discussion that challenges soft-headed ideas from the left and the right. But like Carolina Journal Radio, Head Lock is smart and timely. But with Head Lock, you'll hear more about the culture wars and you'll get some more humor as well. We guarantee great information and a good time. Double down with us, listen to Carolina Journal Radio each week and listen to Head Lock, too. Remember, you can listen to Head Lock at johnlock.org slash podcast or subscribe or download each week at iTunes, Carolina Journal Radio and Head Lock.

Just what you need to stay informed and stay entertained. Both brought to you in the name of freedom by the John Locke Foundation. Welcome back to Carolina Journal Radio.

I'm Mitch Kokay. The Leandro court case has raised a number of important public policy questions over more than a quarter century. The case involves school systems trying to get more funding from state government. During a recent online forum for the John Locke Foundation, Jeanette Doran discussed the case.

She's president and general counsel at the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law. I think it's essential for the public to understand that the Leandro case is all about money. We talk about it as if it's an education case. It's really not.

It's all about the dollars and cents. And the Constitution clearly assigns the responsibility of enacting the budget to the General Assembly. The Constitution also is very specific.

No money may be drawn from the public treasury except in consequence of an appropriation made by law. A lot of judges forget that they don't actually get to make the law. They sometimes act like they do. And they certainly have for a quarter century in this case. But we really need to make sure that the public is aware that this is all about funding and the essential constitutional issues are really who enacts the budget and who gets to appropriate the money. And that is clearly, unequivocally, the role of the legislature.

Doran says past court cases offer good guidance. We have some case law where courts have attempted to order that money be spent or appropriated and those have been shot down as unconstitutional. I think at this point it's safe to assume that the legislature will not just follow whatever edict comes out of the court. It's not the role of the courts to rewrite the state budget.

The case law is on point for Leandro. I'm actually talking about North Carolina case law. Once the court orders the money appropriated or orders a particular remedy to a lawsuit, that's where it ends. They have no ability to really enforce that. It's not as if they can haul in the legislature and put them in jail for contempt. So the court can issue whatever order it wants to and the General Assembly could simply ignore it. Now there would certainly be political consequences to that, but in terms of the law, I think they have every right to do that. And again, we've got case law, even from just a few years ago, where the court of appeals said once the court issues an order, that's it.

Its role is done. It's Jeanette Doran, president and CEO of the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law. She's speaking during a recent John Locke Foundation online forum. Doran cites Leandro as one example of a troubling form of litigation. Leandro is just one example of what's called collusive litigation. What we see, and we see it in education law, we see it in environmental law, we've seen it recently in a wave of cases over redistricting and election law, you get activist groups who cannot achieve what they want through the political process, so they sue friendly governments or cherry pick the particular agencies within government to sue, and that's how we end up with reports and consent orders that are so damaging.

This is a great example of that. The General Assembly is not and has never been a part of this litigation. If you go through the party's report, what you'll find is that for each of the specific action items in that report, there is a description of the action step itself, but then there are two other components. One is a cost estimate, and the other is a list of responsible parties. We see repeatedly through that report the General Assembly listed as a responsible party. Well, the General Assembly is not engaged in this litigation, so what you see is a list of attorneys from the Attorney General's office, Josh Stein's crew, representing the state and the Board of Education.

You've got Roy Cooper involved in this. They're always asking for more money, more and more and more and more and more, and they're supposedly the defendants in this case. Well, no one's really standing up for the Constitution. No one's really standing up for the taxpayers, and that's a problem, and it's happened not just in the end row, as I said. We've seen it in a wave of lawsuits over election law and environmental law, so this is just one example.

This happens to be, I think, among the most epic in terms of its complexity and its duration. Remember, like I said, it started as a question about school funding. Part of the discussion was whether unequal funding from district to district was unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court rightly pointed out that the Constitution explicitly allows for local government to add to or supplement whatever money they get from the state, which means that we don't have a constitutional requirement that the funding be equal. We just have a constitutional requirement that children, that there be sufficient resources to provide the opportunity for sound basic education. So, again, this all goes back to the money. This is far less about education policy when it began. It's morphed in that direction, but it's also continuing to really emphasize money. Doran says her group plans to publicize the Leandro case's constitutional issues.

We're certainly going to make sure that the public is aware of the constitutional architecture of government, and that's not just the education components, but also budget and tax and appropriation issues, because they're all at play here. It's a very complex lab. It's grown more complex under the dynamics of protracted litigation, and certainly even under the current shutdown orders and budget crisis that's been created by all of those closure orders and the governor basically shutting down the economy, which is why we ended up with about a $4.2 billion projected shortfall.

So all of those things have made it even more complicated. Doran says judges shouldn't try to dictate how the North Carolina General Assembly decides to spend money. It would certainly set a dangerous precedent. We don't want to start a precedent where the courts get to rewrite the state budget. We don't want them empowered to set policy.

That's not what they're equipped to do. If the court does go in and try to force this enormous $427 million short-term additional funding, how detailed will the court order be? Will the court order try to specify exactly which funds that comes from?

There are some who are a little concerned that the court could try to identify specific funds over which the governor has more discretion so that they can circumvent the constitutional restrictions on who gets to appropriate money, which branch appropriates money. That's Jeanette Doran, president and general counsel of the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law. She's speaking at a recent online forum sponsored by the John Locke Foundation. The topic, the long-running Leandro School Funding lawsuit. We'll return with more Carolina Journal radio in a moment. Real influence.

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I'm Donna Martinis. A hospital in western North Carolina is now ground zero over whether or not nurses will unionize. National Nurses United, the nation's largest nurses union, is hoping for a victory when the vote tally is announced in mid-September. But if the union succeeds, it could be the start of a rejuvenated union movement in North Carolina. We are, of course, a right-to-work state, and any victory of a union should have folks concerned, according to our next guest. Becky Gray is senior vice president with the John Locke Foundation. She has been following this union issue very closely, writing about it at CarolinaJournal.com. Becky, welcome back to the show. Thank you, Donna.

It's always a pleasure. First of all, let's clarify for everyone who's listening, what does it mean to be a right-to-work state, which North Carolina is? Well, the first thing is, I mean, we have a long, long tradition of being a right-to-work state.

This isn't anything new. This goes back generations and really sort of had its origins in the manufacturing that we did and the agribusiness that we did here in North Carolina, you know, with the chicken processing plants, with the furniture industry, with the textile industry, with all of the mills and the mill workers and those kind of things. You know, always a strong tradition of workers having rights to be able to work as they want to, you know, without the interference of unions. There have been efforts to unionize workers in North Carolina in the private sector for probably as long as we've been a right-to-work state.

But North Carolinians have very wisely said no to that. And the reason why is because in those highly unionized states that we see, unemployment is higher, wages tend to be higher, but the cost of everything else goes up as well. And when you have collective bargaining with the public sector workers, then you're talking about your property taxes and taxes going way up as those things escalate. So, you know, we've just seen over the years, and when you compare highly unionized states like New York, New Jersey, New York City, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, to low unionized states, right-to-work states, if you will, North Carolina, South Carolina, we're at either, depending on which way you do that ranking, we're either at the top or the bottom of anti-union pro-worker status. And so, but another distinction that's important to make with this, too, is there are public sector collective bargaining. And that's where you have, you know, the North Carolina Association of Educators here in North Carolina, we have seen increased union-like activity. They have referred to themselves as a union over the last several years.

Teachers are public employees. That's called collective bargaining. And in North Carolina, collective bargaining is illegal. On the other hand, or another facet of this, is you have unionization within the public or the private sector. And that's where a private company, workers within a private company, would unionize within just that company. And that really is a worker's contract kind of thing. Think of it that way. So the Western North Carolina situation with the hospital there, tell us which category that fits into and what's happening there.

Okay. That is a private sector unionization movement. What happened on it is the Mission Hospital, which serves the western part of North Carolina, was bought in February of 2019 by a large for-profit hospital company called HCA Healthcare. HCA Healthcare has hospitals around the U.S. and in the UK.

So they are a large operator. They came in and bought Mission Hospital. There are a few of those HCA hospitals that are unionized, that do have a union presence. I think it's maybe, you know, a dozen or so of those hospitals have this National Nurses Union, which is the largest nurses union in the country. So when they bought Mission Hospital, which had never been unionized, and what I know and never thought about it, you know, with that came this movement with some of the nurses, some of the staff there to join the National Nurses Union. And of course, the National Nurses Union has come in to advocate and to try to organize these nurses to unionize. Now, what we see with this is, and I've learned a lot about labor law and how these things work.

I'm certainly not an expert. But the way these things work is there is enough of a petition, enough of the nurses would say, we'd like to consider being a union. And so they send out ballots where the nurses actually vote as to whether or not they want to join the union. And those ballots are out now? Those ballots have gone out now.

They will be returned by September 16th, or they'll be counted on September 16th. And so we'll know at that point whether or not the majority of the nurses at Mission, now HCA Healthcare, want to be unionized. The issue in the red flag for me was, as we were watching this and seeing some of the news reports and, you know, how this was evolving, there were people that were involved in this. And by people, I mean the union organizers and some of the nurses who are very pro-union with this were saying, our intent is to get a foothold at Mission Hospital, and then we intend to grow and unionize in hospitals all across North Carolina. So this would essentially be, what's the phrase, the camel's nose under the tent here if this succeeds.

And by no means is this a done deal. There is a group that is opposed to the idea, a group of nurses opposed to the idea of unionizing in their hospital. What are their main arguments against the union effort? Well, you know, I mean, what we've seen with union activity in other states is the unions collect dues from their members, and, you know, the premise is those dues will be used to protect their rights and to advocate for them. What we've seen in other states, and historically what we've seen with this, is the union collects dues, and then they begin to sponsor very progressive ideas. And so they're very involved politically.

Now, we've seen that here in North Carolina. We've seen the influence of union money coming in over the last several elections. And it's like any group that you have. I mean, if you're part of a nurse's group, you may be neutral politically, or you may be a conservative political leaning nurse. You come in, your dues are used to advocate for very progressive and, in many cases, just radical ideas that the unions support. And so that's one of the concerns. The other thing is the unions have been rife with corruption, with, you know, all kinds of problems that we've seen of using the money not the way that it certainly was intended to be used. And I think that one reason why North Carolina is being targeted is, number one, as you mentioned at the beginning of this, we've always been a right-to-work state. So I think many of us think, well, you know, we're not a union state, and so there's nothing to worry about here. What we've seen over the last several decades is as people are leaving those highly unionized, highly taxed states, and moving to North Carolina, there's a different culture that's begun to move in and to think. I mean, many of these people, we have folks right here on our John Locke Foundation staff who have come from other parts of the country whose family members were union members over the years. And so, you know, where we in North Carolina, those of us that have been here longer, seem to think, you know, I mean, the right-to-work is what makes sense to us. That's what our culture is. But as we have people moving in from other parts of the country, which, by the way, they're moving to North Carolina not just because of our beautiful coastline and our mountains, but also because of the cost of living and the taxes and, you know, the freedoms and the right-to-work that we have here. But they're bringing with them that culture of unions are not a big deal, you know, it's always been a part of things, they just accept it.

So that's part of what we're seeing with this. Mid-September is when the vote will be tallied in western North Carolina and it will determine whether or not this effort by the major nurses union in the country to unionize is successful or not. We're going to have you back on at that point. Becky, thank you very much. Thank you.

That's all the time we have for the program this week. Thank you for listening. On behalf of Mitch Kokai, I'm Donna Martinez. Hope you'll join us again next week for another edition of Carolina Journal Radio. Carolina Journal Radio is a program of the John Locke Foundation. To learn more about the John Locke Foundation, including donations that support programs like Carolina Journal Radio, send email to development at johnlock.org or call 1-866-JLF-INFO.

That's 1-866-553-4636. Carolina Journal Radio is a co-production of the John Locke Foundation, North Carolina's free market think tank, and Carolina Broadcasting System Incorporated. All opinions expressed on this program are solely those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of advertisers or the station. For more information about the show or other programs and services of the John Locke Foundation, visit johnlock.org or call us toll-free at 1-866-JLF-INFO. We'd like to thank our wonderful radio affiliates across North Carolina and our sponsors from all of us at Carolina Journal Radio. Thank you for listening and please join us again next week.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-21 03:09:08 / 2024-03-21 03:26:39 / 18

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