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April 8, 2019 12:00 am
North Carolina’s ongoing congressional redistricting dispute returned to the U.S. Supreme Court recently. As justices decide whether Republicans engaged in too much partisanship when they drew election maps, a case challenging state legislative district maps is proceeding to trial in state court later this year. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, analyzes the latest developments in both sets of legal challenges. School choice has boomed in North Carolina in recent years. Advocates hope to build on choice options in the coming year. Mike Long, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, shares his group’s top priorities. Some N.C. lawmakers hope to improve the state’s health care options through new legislation. It focuses on association health plans. AHPs would allow more small employers and self-employed workers to band together for insurance. They could seek insurance options that have been available only to large companies in recent years. During a recent Capitol Hill hearing on crumbling school buildings across the country, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th District, highlighted another pressing issue. Foxx reminded her colleagues that education spending has increased substantially in recent years. But she says much of that increased spending has funded administrative bloat instead of teacher salaries and other high-priority items. North Carolina has one of the nation’s best laws limiting civil asset forfeiture abuse. But the state still could be open to problems if local law enforcement agencies circumvent that law when working with the federal government. Jon Guze, John Locke Foundation director of legal studies, discusses how other states have addressed the circumvention problem.
From Cherokee to current attack from the largest city to the smallest town and from the statehouse into the schoolhouse Carolina Journal radio your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most of public policy events and issues welcome to Carolina Journal radio I Mitch coca during the next hour Donna Martinez that I will explore some major issues affecting our state school choice has boomed in North Carolina in recent years will hear from advocates from parents for educational freedom of North Carolina.
He wants to see even more choice options in the years ahead.
So North Carolina lawmakers endorse something called Association health plans.
They say these plans will help more small businesses provide affordable insurance options for their workers. One high profile North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Fox is drawing attention to the amount of public education spending that pays for administrative bloat and will discuss ways North Carolina could add even more protections in state law against civil asset forfeiture abuse. Those topics are just ahead. First, Donna Martinez joins us with the Carolina Journal headline North Carolina's battle over the drying of election districts has now made its way to the United States Supreme Court in late March. The justices heard oral arguments in the case known as a rich LV common cause. At the heart of the case is this question how much partisan advantage is too much partisan advantage when it comes to the drying of election districts. Carolina Journal editor-in-chief Rick Henderson is following the case closely. He joins us now. Rick went back to the shell that you give us a brief synopsis of the challenge to the districts in which maps are we talking about talking congressional district maps. This case was joined by case from Merrill and one of the interesting things about this was that the case, the common cause brought in North Carolina was challenging maps drawn by Republicans in the case in Maryland was challenging maps drawn by Democrats, and so you got both parties involved in competing circuit opinions about this and so this is one that's attempting to draw everybody and perhaps set some rules that could be applied nationally or perhaps not so were not really sure about right now. But these are congressional maps that were grown by Republicans I North Carolina that were declared unconstitutional before the 2018 election cycle. Originally they had been declared unconstitutional for 26 election cycle news that came up in the course of okay those are fine. These were declared unconstitutional for the 2018 election cycle, but also the courts ruled so late in the process that the Supreme Court said abilities maps standard 2018. Because if we were to change this now to talk about September October decision.
If we change these maps at this point through the election system. The chaos is with the federal election, which is not going to do that right mouse will hear the arguments in war, or really matter if you will. After the elections of which they did just a few days ago.
Yes, what is the challenge by the people who believe that these maps are unconstitutional. Why they are arguing that by allowing legislators to draw the maps themselves, and to have a process that is run by partisan politicians that is possible that they could draw the maps in such a strongly partisan fashion that people of the minority party in a political district where there is a democratic district or a Republican district can effectively be just disenfranchised that their voices will not count will not be heard making an argument under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment Constitution and saying that basically, their votes don't count at all and this violates their rights and that's yard with her, making both in Maryland and North Carolina and in the past, the justices have not considered equal protection challenge of this nature so previously you have been largely defined by things like racial animus and things like that but this is not a challenge based on a kind of civil rights based on the 13th amendment or something like that so common cause is challenging the North Carolina maps now who is defending the maps.
Republicans drew them based on laws and rules right right that's right Republicans are Republicans in the Gen. assembly are being challenged here and they are using as their justification for drawing the maps. First of all, the fact that the federal courts have never said that too much partisanship is in any way infringe on anyone's rights that never made that that that that statement definitively before they've hinted that there's a possibility that it may happen, but they haven't figured out what standard you would use to determine how much is too much and how you would remedy it.
Even if you found a standard and that also there, noting that these particular maps, even the ones drawn from 2018 cycle had received clearance from the Department of Justice, which basically said these maps don't violate the federal voting rights act. These guarantee one person one vote. They don't violate any frictions against racial discrimination, that sort of ethics of these. These are all these are all acceptable for that purpose inside the maps themselves were acceptable, but they said the criteria used for drawing the maps were acceptable Rick in the oral argument. Time one of the newest justices. In fact, the newest Justice Sabra Cavanagh made some comments asked some questions and getting a lot of attention.
Yeah he he actually brought up the notion window was talking to, because Attorney was our biggest Southern coalition for social justice. One of the plaintiff's attorney said something about well. Proportional representation may be the answer to this. In other words, rather than having a single member represent each district you would elect somehow like the slate of candidates so that the partisan balance between Democrats, Republicans, and even third parties would somehow be honored in the total size the congressional delegation. So what's a North Carolina you might have seven Democrats and six Republicans always in the Gen. assembly and Justice Cavanagh basically said that's an interesting question we've got something that's that that is worthy of further consideration or something along those lines. And, because people started turning cartwheels that happen because that's exactly what they been asking for for some time was that we change federal law that went into effect in 1967, which says members of Congress have to be elected from single-member districts. You can't have people elected at large in Congress.
You can have multiple people representing the same district and that was a move that was made. Interestingly enough to prevent Southerners largely Southern Democrats from setting up district make it almost impossible to elect African-Americans to Congress. This was weighted to maintain Jim Crow through the electoral system in 1967 Congress ago you get are we anticipating that there will be a ruling that somehow sets out some sort of just a a general law or or ruling by a formula of some sort, by which districts would be drawn. I mean how would we possibly go about trying to achieve this. This idea of competitiveness and fairness. Well, that's going to be the big challenge for the court, the court may just simply say what we've heard these cases now for going on 30 years regularly people bringing up cases challenging whether or not these districts are fair and from before the founding the basic theory was these are matters that are best left to the political branches of government.
The court's job is to simply make sure that constitutional rights are violated and that this doesn't rise the level of violating constitutional rights, what you can do is you could say well you know what, there are more Republicans.
The Democrats in the state congressional delegation. But guess what Republicans have the ability to draw maps to their advantage so long as they abide by one person, one vote.
They don't discriminate based on race. The districts all are all are joined to their not you don't have representative elected from Charlotte who also represents simply say in Greenville or something like that that you do have the districts maintaining some subsets of contiguity they touch but basically this is a political question because there's no way to figure out anything that would maintain the level of actual code, but of keeping people's constitutional rights in place and at the same time not having us back here every times what it is like a map to try to guess Ronnie for these maps and North Carolina have been challenged in court. Just year after year after year after year. No matter who draws that we have been in this sort of battles continuously pretty much since 1992, one way or another by maps drawn by Democrats before 2011 and now by maps from my Republicans and they're the only way out. It seems to be is to first of all site have the court say we were not going to address this on the basis of equal protection, and secondly, to say a few states want to come up with measures that take some of the partisanship out of the process. Go for it and that's what's there are some reformers in North Carolina were trying to write out when to expect a decision. It should be, probably, as the justices are getting on their planes to leave for the summer so I don't have to tilt botulism only lasted the session which was right around the right will have you back to assess exactly what they decide. Rick Henderson, editor-in-chief of Carolina Jeremy, thank you Rick thank you stay with us much more Carolina journal radio to come in just a moment government plays a key role in your life affecting your paycheck the way you educate your kids the way you do business. How can you tell if government is doing a good job making the right choices.
Spending tax dollars wisely.
Carolina journal.com tackles those questions every day. The John Locke foundation publishes Carolina journal in print each month and on the web each email@example.com you'll find exclusive investigative reports on topics. No one else is covering what else a rundown of the best news stories, editorials and opinion columns in North Carolina. John Hood's daily Journal news stories and important public firstname.lastname@example.org and the voices of the newsmakers themselves at Carolina journal radio in print on the air and on the web. You can find the information you email@example.com welcome back to Carolina journal radio I Michiko got school choice has been booming and North Carolina in recent years, and one group that's played an important role in that boom is parents for educational freedom and North Carolina DEF NC that groups president Mike Long joins us now and he's going to discuss what lies ahead in the new year.
Welcome back to the program.
It's great to be back to first of all, before we get into what PEF and she's going to be doing in 2019, remind us why school choice is so important to be player, North Carolina empowers parents to make the right decisions for their children. As far as their education. Nick is concerned it it gives them the freedom to choose what is best for their child and who knows better what is best for their child. So PNF and C is out there engaging them in the community to help them understand that there are all kinds of choices were strong advocates of the public schools.
We want them to improve and get better but also charter schools, private schools, homeschooled whatever the choice of that parent is is one that we should build in and in North Carolina and were doing that quite well.
We are educating parents of all of the options that are available and and also empowering them to make the best decision were grateful for the impact that we've had from the legislature as far as the funds that have been made available in scholarship opportunities for parents so I love the fact that it's educational freedom. It frees parents to make the right choices for their children, and I will loop back to something you said earlier because I think some people may hear about school choice and school choice movement and think that this is some sort of attack on the public will you mentioned very early on that you are interested in the traditional district schools succeeding. How does choice help with that. I'm a product of the public schools.
I grew up in the Durham public schools I taught in the public schools but also taught in the print private schools of been a principal of the head of school there.
The beautiful thing about it is there all kinds of options in our educational system was built during the Industrial Revolution. It's it's it's archaic and we talk about reform it. It scares a lot of people a lot of time performed means do away with. And that's not what were talking about it all were talking about making it better. In the age of technology and where we are in the 21st-century. So we want public schools to succeed. We want them to get better. We want to pay good teachers to be in those classrooms. We won't reduce class size, but we also know that not every traditional public school works well for every family that lives in the ZIP Code that they're required to attend and so we feel like they should have the freedom as well to choose what school works best for their child. As parents we are chatting with Mike Long. He is president of parents for educational freedom in North Carolina you might know the group by the acronym PEF NC so parents for educational freedom has been involved in the school choice movement on a number of different levels.
What are some of the priorities for this year. I have well I want to see it expand because not only does it improve the traditional public schools that it gives everyone options and it also grows the economy. This is one thing that I'm really looking into when you have failed schools in a particular community. Parents are generally going to gravitate to where the good schools are, and so a lot of them will leave that community, particularly the middle class who can perhaps still leave that community and along with them goes businesses and other things and so the community tends to fail and a lot of and a lot of these areas. So when we offer school choice and it is in those areas. We find that not only do they come back they're going to gravitate to where that good school is and that's where they want to live.
That's where businesses will come back to but if you're out of that community and your trap because you don't have the economic ability to make that move. Then we got a big problem and therefore there's the poverty there's the fit unit of the communities on the decline.
So, school choice grows, the economy, school choice builds a better community and that's one thing that we want to focus on as well.
In North Carolina, particularly in communities that do have failed schools how can we improve them and how can we give parents the freedom to come back to that area were good schools are and grow the community grow the economy. That's a benefit for everybody that's nothing but win-win across the board. It sounds as if you're going to be focusing attention on this may be studying the issue to find out little bit more about the links between choice and the account of that's right what what we're finding is wherever the good schools are. That's where families want to be and they want to live near the good schools of the other thing to if if the good schools are outside of the city. Let's say many will move out to that area, but yet they still work in the city so they have to drive back and forth and we wonder why our highways are so crowded you know there's one person in every car we wonder why you know that that the CO2 emissions are growing so much school choice helps the environment so if if you're able to have good schools in a community where people will gravitate live grow and then businesses come back to that community because that's where people are and then you don't have to be out there on the highways going back and forth so many miles because of where you work again that's that's a benefit for everyone that's benefiting parents. It's benefiting children. It's benefiting the economy and is benefiting the environment and that's all about school choice parents for educational freedom has been involved in a number of the choice programs in North Carolina has the disability student scholarship the opportunity scholarship the education savings account right do you hope to see these programs say expanded or tweaked in any way.
We do hope to see them expanded because again, the more they expanded benefits all and and and that includes the traditional public school because they will need to improve as well and we want to help them improve as well. So when you talk about the disability scholarship you talk about the children who need to be in six schools that can meet their needs and what were hearing from principles of now it all across the state. They're saying because this child. This particular student is been able to come to our school. Yes were able to help that student.
But you would not believe how much that student has helped are the remainder of our student body for them to have a better acknowledgment of special needs handicap and and and and develop that with other children to go so that it's not a bullying situation which can often occur and and and they have more caring of that individual's we've had parents to tell us because of the disabilities, a learning disability. Scholarship those kids that have come into their student body.
It's not that they have helped them so much, which they do it is how much those students have helped the rest of the student body. So that's a win-win. Again we got the opportunity scholarship cells of the education savings accounts in the brief amount of time that we have left is there a particular challenge that you want to work on to me.
We know that school choice faced set the basis of attacking. Are there challenges that you're good to be focusing on as well.
Continuing to L educate legislators those in the you know in the general assembly. You know, I've never seen an issue Mitch that brings both sides of the aisle together so much as this one as well because again it's benefiting all people. It's definitely helping those that are poor. It's helping those that are in need those that feel trapped.
It frees them from that and it gives them the same opportunity as others may have who have the means to move to a school that can be the best school for their child. So we're finding that we are able to reach across the aisle on this issue very well and were finding bipartisan support in all of the scholarship so interesting and no end in a political environment that so polarized. I know of no other issue that brings people together than school choice education reform will everyone wants to see what's best for their kids, whether it's in the traditional schools or in one of these options that parents increasingly have a North Carolina as school choice continues to grow.
We know that one group it's going to be paying attention and helping to drive that change his parents for educational freedom in North Carolina and we thank its president Mike Long for joining us. Thank you for having me will have more on Carolina drone radio just about if you have freedom we 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. North Carolina's freedom movement and North Carolina conservative.com. You'll find links to John Locke foundation blogs on the days 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 James G. Martin Center for academic renewal, commentary and polling data from the scimitar's Institute and news and views from the North Carolina family policy Council. That's right, all in one place North Carolina conservative.com that's North Carolina spelled out conservative.com North Carolina conservative.com. Try it today. North Carolina is changing not just day-to-day but outward to our minute to minute and 2nd to 2nd, how can 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 in C and at Carolina journal news, insights and analysis you'll find nowhere else. Thanks to the experts at the John Locke foundation and thanks to the first-class investigative reporting of Carolina journal.
Don't wait for the morning newspaper wait for the evening news if it's happening now it's happening here the John Locke foundation and Carolina journal had 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 did you know you can now advance freedom and free markets just by shopping with Amazon it's true online shopping is now a great way to support the John Locke foundation just shot using the Amazon smile program and designate the work foundation to receive a portion of your purchase amount that's right you shop and Amazon donates money to ask the John Locke foundation. So here's how it works a lot aren't to smile.amazon.com Amazon smile. It's the same Amazon you know same products same prices is much better. Amazon donates .5% of the price of your eligible purchases to pass the John Locke foundation to try to be sure to designate the work foundation is a nonprofit, you want to support. It's that easy. So now not only will you enjoy what you buy will also support freedom. Don't forget log on to smile.amazon.com today by something nice and help defend freedom. Support the John Locke foundation book about Carolina journal radio I Mitch co-guy some North Carolina lawmakers want to make it easier for small business owners to offer their workers health insurance Republican State Sen. Dan Bishop explains how offering high quality health insurance to employees of small business especially is something that many small business owners simply cannot afford small businesses with fewer than 51 employees are not required to offer health benefits, but of course we'd like them to. As often as possible. Study showed half of the don't offer coverage because of the cost. Historically this is because small businesses don't enjoy the same regulatory advantages of large corporations when it comes offering health benefits for their employees. We will file the small business healthcare act gives small businesses a cost-effective option to offer their employees high quality health insurance plan. The main thing that the small business healthcare act does is loosen current restrictions on Association health plan for HP's which allow a group of small businesses to band together and form a large group which can then receive many of the same benefits that large corporations receive when it comes to offering health benefits to employees report 2010 HP's were an option that small businesses around the country used offer insurance for their employees.
But the Obama administration guidance change.
This, shortly after the passage of Obama care in 2010. A slew more expensive restrictions burden small group insurance market regulators were concerned that in order to escape these expensive and burdensome Obama care restricting on the small group market more small businesses returned to HP to force these businesses under the small, the Obama administration guidance required each small business within HP to have at least 51, unless all businesses within the agency or in the same industry and located in the same geographic area.
New legislation takes advantage of a trump administration order reverses those Obama era restrictions Sen. Joyce Coppock discusses the potential benefits by making these changes. This bill will open up an entirely new avenue for small business owners to offer insurance to their employees and so proprietors to ensure themselves and their families.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office these modifications to North Carolina's code could potentially benefit of 210,000 N. Carolinians you been listening to highlights from a recent news conference about Association health plans supporters tell those plans as a way to help or North Carolina small businesses provide health insurance to workers will return with more Carolina journal radio and about where dabbling down on freedom at Carolina journal radio were 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 headlock available on iTunes firstname.lastname@example.org/podcast headlock is a little bit different. It's a no holds barred discussion that challenges softheaded ideas from the left and the right light. Carolina journal radio headlock is smart and timely but with headlock you'll hear more about the culture wars get some more humor as well.
We guarantee great information and a good time double down the best, listen to Carolina journal radio each week and listen to headlock to remember, you can listen to head email@example.com/podcast or subscriber download each week iTunes Carolina journal radio and headlock 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 Mitch co-kind Democrats in charge of the US houses education committee recently focused attention on crumbling American schools during the hearing, the committee's ranking Republican highlighted her own ideas. Virginia Fox represents North Carolina's fifth congressional district.
Teachers work hard on behalf of American students and families, and they deserve paychecks that reflect their tireless efforts in all students deserve access to safe and clean and healthy school facilities regardless of ZIP Code to dispute these two facts would make anyone out of touch with reality. Over the past year is been a steady stream of well-publicized strikes across the country. Teachers unions in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, Los Angeles, and most recently Denver all called attention to these matters. So, given the recent uptick in teachers union strikes a reasonable person would assume that state and local governments are cutting budgets and is investing in public schools. Quite the contrary. In fact most states eventually increase public school spending.
But instead of increasing salaries improving structures and investing in classroom equipment. Many school districts have ended up pouring taxpayer funds into administrative bloat that leaves students and teachers IN dry Fox question, the most common response to complaints about underfunded public schools. It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results when it comes to these two issues teacher pay and school construction. Democrats have not had a new idea in decades. Anytime a challenge arises. Democrats look to refill this same prescription more money, more bureaucracy and more power hunted to distant figures in Washington is the answer more control from Washington will having just emerged from a government shutdown. I think most Americans would agree that the less politicians can control and leverage the better teachers and students deserve more than the same tired fights over money.
We need to find new and innovative approaches to public school success. Republican still, and will always believe that the best solutions for serving children emerge from the communities in which they live and grow. That's US representative Virginia Fox Republican from North Carolina's fifth congressional district, Fox used part of her time at a recent House education committee to question Ben's graffiti economics professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. I appreciate that your testimony backs up my impression, which is that teacher salaries have not kept pace with the cost of living. I can understand my teachers were upset.
Unfortunately, your research shows that all the activism from teachers is generating public education spending, which is largely directed away from instruction.
If you are advising teachers how they should approach negotiations with state and local leaders. What would you suggest they advocate for to ensure that new resources benefit them. There are powerful forces in the public education system driving this increase in all other staff of teachers there priority should be what their priorities are and if their priorities salaries. They should focus on that issue because my kids are in public school, and in Georgia. I wrote a paper about what I called a 13 layer cake. There are 13 layers of public officials that have a say in what goes on in my children's classroom Congress. The president search of education US farm education Gov. state house with a bunch of state education agencies, school board, all of them have policy priorities and all those policy parties might be great, but what it's led to over many decades is increase all of our staff, teachers want salary increases, they should focus like a laser beam on that representative Virginia Fox pointed to another element of skip ED's research into education spending. You've pointed out that since 1992. Public education is received a 37% increase in real resources and you've pointed out that student performance has significantly changed over that time and yet were constantly tell that we just if we just spend a little more will unlock the secret of vast improvements in performance you think you could highlight for me.
The level of magical spending. We need to see an increase in performance. You can always grab a study that says if we increase spending by X. We can achieve an increase of why write some of the studies are well done by great researchers with great data great methods great research designs. What have you.
But then when you look at the spending increases that they say will lead to this increase in achievement in the real world we typically increase spending by even more than that the cheesemaking so materialize.
Perhaps ironically, the economists and we look at the real world infant in the real world, spending increases our translator team against me.
Got a question that research so there is no magic number. Fox also asked Skippy to compare pay of K-12 public school teachers with that of college professors elementary and secondary education teachers should be paid more and college professor should be paid less because the teachers at the elementary and secondary have have the tougher job.
I believe K-12 teachers have a harder job but I also know the post secondary salaries are much more market driven. Are there steps that state and local policymakers could take it would make teacher salaries more market responsive yes and higher-end arch our salaries are largely market-driven disciplines like business law, medicine, engineering that have good outside options even economics were paid quite well on disciplines like the humanities and have less good. Outside options. Actually, they probably would be financially would've been better off being K-12 teachers and of spending all that time and money getting a PhD for Jimenez professors that it's it's rough. So how can we make teacher salaries more market-driven all the rage in policy debates is about monopolistic labor markets. One buyer of labor the most monopolistic labor market in the United States is the public education system is in a community or even a county you have one buyer of labor that that's the big player when is one buyer of labor in any walk of life. The workers can be exploited. We need to have a more market-driven education system. Then teachers will get paid more and will be treated lot better. Fox returned to her key theme that education spending increases need to focus on teachers, teachers and students deserve the best working and learning environments money and by and if the money we're spending at every level of government isn't buying what students need to answer isn't more money.
What about policies that boost economic growth. We've barely touched in this hearing on the historic economic growth. Communities are experiencing and what that means for local revenues. You know there's more to Main Street and small businesses. There are lawful Lotta schools on Main Street to perhaps we need to spend more time thinking about how to reform the system to better use the resources we already have. I'm certain that if we put our heads together we can find a new idea. That would actually work for students just might enter the realm of fiscal responsibility. That's US representative Virginia Fox Republican from North Carolina's district.
She's responding to recent concerns from her Democratic colleagues about crumbling American schools will return with more Carolina German radio. What about commitment to truth and transparency in government. That is the mission of Carolina journal and we are proud to deliver and now proud to tell you the North Carolina press Association has honored to members of our team with awards reporting and writing, that's right, we really do deliver award-winning journalism we shine the light on government spending, reveal the truth about boondoggles and dig deep into programs paid for with your tax money. We keep you in the know in a way other media outlets don't in our reach and influence are growing to all of our outlets.
We reach more than 1 million N. Carolinians each month so make sure you're one of them. Our monthly print edition arrives in your mailbox every month. Our online daily news site Carolina journal.com has fresh stories, opinion pieces, and more. The award-winning Carolina journal team I reporters make government accountable to you. Call 1866 JL FINFO for your free subscription, welcome back to Carolina journal radio I'm Donna Martinez depriving criminals of their ill-gotten gains is clearly a desirable goal for society. The challenge, however, says our next guest is to do that in a way that protects the rights of innocent property owners and discourages abuse by law enforcement agencies.
Fact is, that can be a problem but some states are leading the way in trying to prevent it down to say, is director of legal studies at the John Mott foundation and he has just released a new report on what is technically known as asset forfeiture. John welcome back to the program. Thanks.1st of all, North Carolina does have a law about this issue and it protects us. Might do you say that that's not enough help us understand where where North Carolina is on this issue are asset forfeiture laws are actually among the very best in the country under North Carolina's criminal forfeiture statute. If you before property can be taken from somebody who suspected of having used it or acquired through a crime. That person has to be accused and convicted and has to be shown that the property really was connected with the crime in some way. That's very good that protects the incident also discourages abuse at another factor that discourages abuse North Carolina's best law enforcement agencies cannot keep the property or the proceeds of from property that they acquire through forfeiture under North Carolina law. Instead, the proceeds go have to be used for public education that's very good because it takes away the incentive to abuse the system, which is been a huge problem in many other states. In fact in your report you do point out that North Carolina actually leads in terms of protections but that the federal government has some other laws and some other ways of doing things that allow in some cases law enforcement agencies depend skirt North Carolina law. That's right, is called circumvention in the way it works is this under a program called equable sharing state and local law enforcement agencies can use federal law to processes data sets and then they get to keep all or part of the proceeds from those forfeitures.
John is this a problem in North Carolina. Well, I don't think it's a problem. At least if it is a start and start a huge problem. We've looked at. We haven't really found very many instances in which this process has been abused by North Carolina law enforcement is to suspend a few but overall all law enforcement agencies have maintain their integrity and part of the reason they have. Where other states and are slipped into abusive police practices is because we have these good protection of the North Carolina law we think is important is to ensure that law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are tempted to use this federal anticircumvention process as a way to get around North Carolina protections and that would be led into that abusive practices help us understand how the federal law works under what circumstances it can a law enforcement agency in a state actually work with the feds. What is actually true. Ways state and local law enforcement agencies can take advantage of equitable sharing. The first way is if they're involved in some kind of a joint task force or joint investigation with a federal agency. When that happens, if property is forfeited under federal law.
That property gets shared during the proceeds from sale so that proper data gets shared between the feds and the state agencies. According to a formula that's based on how many hours each department is working so I that's one way the other way is through a process called adoptions. Now the adoptions program really exist only for one purpose and that is to circumvent state laws away adoptions works is a state law enforcement agencies can seize property instead of processing under state law, with all the protections provided there, they can simply have an adopted by federal agency pressed by the Department of Justice or the Department of the Treasury get processed under federal law, and then they get 80% of the proceeds back. The feds weren't involved in this law enforcement operation all their only job was basically to launder the proceeds through the federal system, and they keep 20% for their services. Now I'm not an attorney and and I am not in law enforcement but when I hear you describe those two ways to John. The first one the joint investigations frankly sounds okay to me it sounds like you've had the federal government in a state or local law enforcement agency work together to try to get a bad guy off the street and then the assets that were used as part of that criminal activity. They've split the the proceeds to that, it seems fair. It is really look at it a different way.
Certainly everybody want state law enforcement agencies to be able to cooperate with the feds whether the law enforcement purpose in doing so, and one of the difficulties that states of having trying to frame anticircumvention legislation is to do it in a way that doesn't prevent that.
So everybody agrees.
We do when joint investigations.
We do want our agencies to work with the feds. The question is what happens if there's assets seized in the process. What we don't.
What is that for a joint investigation to be an opportunity for state and local law enforcement to circumvent the state laws and that's what some of these other states have come up with ways to avoid that. Let's talk a little bit about that because I know you're going to be writing another report here. I'm shortly about North Carolina and how we can address this issue in our state. What we learn from other states have you come up with three particular lessons and one is this to ban or severely restrict federal adoptions because that really are zeroing in on that adoptions process I have for a couple of reasons. The main one is that there's simply no legitimate purpose for the adoptions serve only one purpose, and that's a circumvent state law so that we don't need him if if somebody suspects the property has been used for crime.
They can they can see that property and they can forfeited under state law is no reason to go through federal law, other than the fact that if they go through federal law.
They don't have to charge or convict the property owner. They don't have to show a nexus with the crime and they get to keep the proceeds that's very important if they process it under state law in North Carolina. The proceeds go to public education if they process it through the federal system they get to keep those proceeds and no one would want a profit motive to become high on the priority list when you're talking about public safety and law enforcement. Absolutely not what we seen in other states were they don't have the protections we have here is we end up with what I call predatory policing that turns the police into predators and it turns the public into their prey that that that the opposite of what we want from law enforcement.
That's lesson number one. You also write about at this recommendation that don't divert forfeiture proceeds away want force. Yes, the reason we don't want to do that. I made my first glance you might just think, well let's just insist that the same thing happens it happens in the North Carolina law, even if they process it through federal law, they still have to turn it over to public education that will work.
Unfortunately because there's federal rules that say forfeiture proceeds can only be used for law enforcement purposes. Now I'm sure that that rule was put in place, thinking that it was a good idea, but what it does is it prevents the best way of protecting the public in North Carolina so other states have done this and found it once it went for put that kind of rule in place. The feds will cooperate with them enjoyed investigations.
We don't want that and John.
You also write that some states have been trying to experiment with that.
What are known as minimum thresholds in order to figure out exactly when when to get involved in this type of thing and when not to house at work. That seems to be the most promising approach to continuing to cooperate with the feds enjoyed investigations, but avoiding the possibility of abuse in the way the specials work as they say. If the if the forfeited about is below a certain threshold. Either you can send it to the feds or you can keep the proceeds both ways have their advantages and disadvantages. But since the vast majority of forfeitures artwork for small amounts, putting a threshold protects a lot of people, but because most of the actual revenue comes from a large forfeitures it doesn't jeopardize the process we been talking with John to say he is the director of legal studies for the John Mott foundation John, thank you.that's all the time we have for the program this week. Thank you for listening on behalf of my cohost misspoke. I am Donna Martinez hope you'll join us again next week for more Carolina journal radio Carolina journal radio is a program of the John Locke foundation to learn more about the John Locke foundation including donations support programs like Carolina journal radio send email to development John Locke done or call 66 jail left info 166-553-4636 Carolina journal radio is the John line foundation airline is maintaining an Carolina broadcasting system, Inc. all opinions expressed on this program and are selling those did not merely reflect the opinion organization information about the show or other programs and services of the John line foundation John Locke.toll-free at 866 JL and would like to thank our wonderful radio affiliates across Carolina and our sponsors. Carolina journal radio. Thank you for listening. Please join us again next week