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Carolina Journal Radio No. 770: Voluntary fund stokes N.C. pipeline controversy

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
February 19, 2018 12:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 770: Voluntary fund stokes N.C. pipeline controversy

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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February 19, 2018 12:00 am

Gov. Roy Cooper has generated controversy by announcing a special $58 million fund connected with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. The fund is slated to pay for mitigation work connected with the pipeline, along with other economic development and renewable energy projects. Cooper considers the fund a “voluntary contribution” to the state. Critics say Cooper is trying to get around constitutional requirements that would give the General Assembly control over the money. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, discusses the latest developments in the case. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is drawing fire from state lawmakers. Legislators say DHHS appears to be unwilling to establish a new accountability office established in a 2015 state law. No one has been hired to oversee the planned Office of Program Evaluation Reporting and Accountability, or OPERA. Lawmakers shared their frustrations during a recent meeting with top DHHS officials. After years of delays, North Carolina’s newest state mental hospital is nearly complete. State lawmakers heard a recent update on construction of the new Broughton Hospital in Morganton. They also reviewed lessons learned from their previous mental hospital construction project in Goldsboro. You’ll hear details. State Auditor Beth Wood continues to pursue her goal of ensuring that state agencies spend billions of taxpayer dollars appropriately each year. Wood says her work as taxpayer “watchdog” has revealed patterns of repeated violations of standard accounting practices. She explains her efforts to correct those problems. North Carolina has acted as a national leader in protecting people against civil-asset forfeiture abuse. Now legislation in Alabama could help propel that state past the Tar Heel State in delivering effective protection. Jon Guze, John Locke Foundation director of legal studies, explores the Alabama proposal and explains how North Carolina could improve its own rules against abuse.


From Cherokee to Currituck from the largest city to the smallest and from the statehouse into the schoolhouse Carolina Journal radio your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most public policy events and issues welcome to Carolina Journal radio watch coca during the next hour, Dr. Martines, I will explore some major issues affecting our state. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is drawing fire from some state lawmakers because the department is yet to follow a 2015 state law. It orders a new office focusing on program accountability after years of delay, the state's latest mental hospital is nearly complete. State lawmakers recently heard a construction update North Carolina State auditor Beth Wood serves as a taxpayer watchdog. She says that Robles helped her expose patterns of poor accounting practices across state agencies learn details at will hear what North Carolina could learn from Alabama when it comes to protecting people from civil asset forfeiture abuse. Those topics are just ahead. First, Donna Martin has joined us with the Carolina Journal headline $57.8 million.

That is the amount to be paid into an escrow account by operators of the Atlantic coast pipeline and the payment was announced minutes after the Roy Cooper administration recently authorized permits for the building of the pipeline across Eastern North Carolina as presented by Gov. Cooper's administration will control how the money is spent, money is administration is calling a voluntary contribution and importantly money that the North Carolina Gen. assembly wants to take control of Carolina Journal has been reporting extensively on the many angles of the story.

Rick Henderson is editor-in-chief.

He joins us now. Welcome back. Thank you.

First of all, a voluntary contribution of nearly $58 million from four companies I've not heard of that view.

Up until now, there that's the way that the governor's budget office characterize this with the nonpartisan permanent staff members of the Gen. assembly with top people at all those divisions asked to explain this particular agreement, which was worked out between the developers and operators willing to coast pipeline and the governor's office, but the money would not go into the states general operating fund doesn't envision that all at least that wasn't said that it would do that. That was one of the questions of the five questions of the general assembly staff asked the budget office for somebody to go to zip along to who controls it is a legal precedent for this with the questions Gen. assembly.

Staff asked and the answer that the budget office gave was this was a voluntary contribution and then basically restated language in the memo literally been released so it was so it's it's it's a new area of operations largely for the state. Lots of questions and you brought them up in Carolina Journal is reporting about does the governor any governor of North Carolina have the legal authority of the constitutional authority to essentially negotiate money like this, and taken money like this, and as you and I are talking.

It seems to be an unanswered question that the law seems to be silent about certain sorts of arrangements of the law is very clear about things that are involved called settlements fines and payments. Those that money goes to the general's go to the to the treasury and is supposed to go toward public school fund unless it's arranged through some sort of sub some sort of settlement terms of the agreements are signed off on by all parties, including Gen. assembly, such as the tobacco settlement which then became money for the Golden leaf foundation is one example of how there's another example is currently being litigated. That also involves Roy Cooper indirectly and that his predecessor Mike Easley worked out a deal with Smithfield Foods about cleaning up some of its environmental pollution in which you would pay $25 million of believed NC State to do some research, $2 million a year for a number of years to to a fund that will be controlled by the Atty. Gen. whoever that was 7000 students suit saying that that was unconstitutional and that still incorporate this story has been developing pretty much every day for the past stem at least a week or two that Carolina Journal has been reporting on this and of course it's cottony attention a lot of attention of elected members of the North Carolina Gen. assembly because they want to control this money right and so what is occurred in the debate at the Gen. assembly about this will Gen. assembly was what was going in session to take care of a couple of other matters. One was a providing funding, basically shifting funding so that the mandated class-size reduction in the early grades of school. The school districts would have to actually spend that money on that on hiring teachers for that rather than using the money in a discretionary way which they were able to before, so there will address that and secondly they had been ordered by five courts to come up with a new way of dealing with the state board of elections and the ethics commission because they had tossed out the sprinkler tossed out the most recent iteration of that is so there would have to be with those matters anyway. The election situation, particularly because candidate filing opens February 12 so they needed to get that resolved and when they did those two things anyway.

They also added this $57.8 million fund to the bill and what they basically said was that this money is going to go into the treasury and the money will be spent for improvements in edging public education in the eight counties through which the pipeline will run basically eight counties along the I-95 corridor Eastern North Carolina. These are all counties are covered by the via rather infamous Leandra decision which talked about inadequate funding for schools and some of the poorest areas of the state and so that would be a one-time amount of money but they could use it for things like capital improvements and those sorts of things. So essentially what was happening is that they were pushing back the legislative leaders in the North Carolina Senate saying no governor Cooper. We don't like this idea that we would not have any control over this 57.8 million only wanted to go here and that led to a lot of fascinating debate among some of the Senate will absolutely move the first all of the February 8 there was a very unusual joint meeting of the appropriations committees of the House and Senate. This basically comprises everybody some plus members of the of the Appropriations Committee.

Overall, and they met to discuss this particular measure and what they were doing with that with the Republican senators basically were doing was is an opportunity for them to query governor's new legislative liaison gentleman named Lee Lily, who just happened to get hired five days earlier and you also happen to have been a lobbyist for Dominion energy, which is one of the companies and owns a pipeline and this is generated a whole new angle to the story right that a question exactly whole issues of conflict, what did he know what did me know he was not very responsive to questions and the questions were very aggressive Democrats were furious. They said they were ambushing the guy and suit in which you, my thought was, well, if you want if you don't have a guy face tough questions in our somebody who worked for the company was running the pipe liaison but anyway that was very, that was very testing contentious, but it will last a couple hours and and then of the following day the Senate voted 37 eight to approve that measure after again. More than 90 minutes of debate, which is very unusual for a conference report because look at a conference report it's up or down vote to change the aspect of it and so typically that there only a few comments made in this case was a lengthy debate with Republicans raising the question of Sen. Dan, Bishop of Mecklenburg County said what he said we are tiptoeing toward a constitutional conflict.

If the governor can go out and raise money from outside parties and not subject to delay legislative oversight and control the money and the Democrats and be more concerned about the fact the bill is messy and selects her to try to dodge those three biggest you all rolled into what they they they did no one talk about what the pipeline money will was for what the why it might be troubling to give the governor powers of those who relate on the Constitution.

Once the final outcome of this whole question. Who controls this $57.8 million is determined. Rick is the losing side letter to the Gen. assembly or the governor they willing to sue her for this, possibly because it's very easy to imagine that the governor would veto the measure and that there will be far significant margins to override that veto if the governor goes to court. However, he's going to have to during the discovery process release all the documents involved with this and he's been very hesitant to give any information so far. While it is a continuing really developing story that's worth continuing life and it's being reported on a course at Carolina. we been talking with Rick Henderson who is editor-in-chief. Thanks so much for the update. Thinking same. It is a lot more Carolina Journal radiated 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 tackles those questions every day. The John Locke foundation publishes Carolina Journal imprint each month and on the web each day at Carolina. you'll find exclusive investigative reports on topics. No one else is covering what else a rundown of the best new stories, editorials and opinion columns in North Carolina. John Hood's daily Journal news stories and important public and the voices of the newsmakers themselves at Carolina Journal radio imprint on the air and on the web. You can find the information you welcome back to Carolina Journal radio amateur coca nearly 3 years of past since North Carolina lawmakers ordered the state Health and Human Services department to create a new unit. It was to be called the office of program evaluation, reporting and accountability for Opera legislative staffer Denise Thomas recently reminded lawmakers about Opera's role directed the Sec. to appoint an opera director who has a minimum of 10 years experience in program evaluation.

He specified that the director shall perform the duties of the office independently and can only be removed from the position by the secretary 30 days after written notification. The notification had to include a justification for the removal and it also had to the notification had to come also to the speaker of the House of Representatives. The president pro tem, the state auditor and the director of fiscal research at the duties of the office included evaluating DHHS programs using evidence-based methodologies developing an inventory of all of the DHHS programs and publishing the inventory to a departmental website developing an inventory of all DHS contracts, responding promptly to information requests for program level data and information, and the office was to have access to all data records maintained by the department were authorized to interview employees and to conduct announced or unannounced sections of DHHS facilities, the department's chief financial officer Rod Davis offered lawmakers an update for the director of the office conducted leadership team and HR department. To date we are unable to hire anyone. There have been no expenditure of funds from those appropriations and that officers not been able to do any evaluations under the auspices of that office says the Health and Human Services department has been working on an alternative way to beat lawmakers demands the division budget analysis is an independent agency in the department there currently positions and objectively assess and evaluate programs in the areas of performance across all of our divisions just as with the office of internal audits.

They operate independently. Departmentwide reviews and analysis to follow programs and functions, and budget analysis is positioned to identify and understand how our programs interrelate and how they align with the substance services performed for citizens. Lawmakers are not thrilled about the three years of inaction involving the opera office Republican Sen. Ralph eyes of Mitchell County shared his concerns you understand how frustrating this is for the members of the Gen. assembly. Three years now. We have required the creation of an office. We felt there was a significant deficiency in how programs were evaluated for outcomes and this is across two administrations.

This is, I wouldn't say it's targeted or specific there but I'm actually three administrations. If we come there we filled the programs. Quite frankly, are not evaluated for their outcomes rather inviting population there. How many did we serve are others, but what were saving how were improving health in others.

We spent a lot of time developing this with their own program evaluation division. That's here. We again sessions and we funded him for three years and once again we get another report that for all purposes, the department has done nothing.

It looks to. It looks to me as if there's just certain evaluations are department does want done their programs. They're afraid that that would be a layout of the their expenditures would have transparency and insight into them that go beyond their authority, so she will start with you understand how frustrating it is for third year user I do understand and this is an area we would like to do much better and tend to do much better. The issue we've had is. We went into this thinking we should hire the director for some of them have other staff. We haven't been able to feel the director position.

The candidates talk to afterwords so said the way the position set up way reports is confusing to them and there were basically just uncertain about what would happen. Health and Human Services Sec. Mandy: added to the conversation while we had tried to move forward on hiring the person to run slightly waited on the work and on and so not right outline for you. A lot of the places in which I think everything in our capacity to do evaluations that I think we need to do more and when I left Achilles is down and think about how to use the finding is appropriate for this to beef up the systems that we currently have is supposed to build something new and I think that that is where I would like to see our our focus at going forward. These answers didn't satisfy lawmakers such as state representative Josh Dobson were not getting the quality or there's things that need to be changed in an opera would allow you to more effectively hire the appropriate person I would love to work with you on that statute is not a suggestion, it is in statute and the way our system works. You required to follow the statutes in place was incredibly frustrated. I don't know that offer is the best approach to get to where we want to go but it's in statute and that's that's not a suggestion that's that's what the lawyers saw hope we can work together to see this to fruition. Going forward the public at Sen. Tommy Tucker of Union County used the debate about the opera office to make a more general observation about the state Department of Health and Human Services.

We are sitting numerous times with Department of HHS over three administrations is totally and completely ignored the statutes just didn't do it not know it. No response. Now grant you the information that staff is getting over the years is better than it used to be a mug on this job done on better job but Dobson says this is here for a reason and it's not the best way and we we need to do something different but the reporting directly to the secretary when nobody else to report this individual in this department and independence. It needs and remove concern that there is a reluctance to want to be transparent with what we have to do, so I will leave this I come back to us, forget about it. This is accountability is very difficult in our society and nobody wants to be accountable and numbers and data hold you accountable in my business and department Republican representative Nelson dollar wants to see some sign that state officials are addressing the opera offices goals comment that the war was ongoing, that although the office had not been set up the work was ongoing so I guess my question is, and apologize for this being pointed, but so is her particular work product along this line that can be shared that is directly in line with the with what was being requested in the budget.

These last several years.

The short answer is yes. There's a long list of different types of activities that folks are hoping number today give you on what product that's state Health and Human Services Sec. Mandy: she's addressing state lawmakers frustrations go once department is yet to set up an independent accountability office nearly 3 years after it was ordered and state law term with North Carolina journal radio in a moment if you the freedom we got great news to share with you now.

You can find the latest news, views, and research from conservative groups all across the state. All in one place North Carolina one-stop shopping for North Carolina St. movement North Carolina You'll find links to John Locke foundation blogs on the days news Carolina reporting and quick takes Carolina journal radio interviews TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and Locke foundation analyst plus opinion pieces and reports on higher education. All of that from the Pope Center for higher education policy commentary and polling data from the same tax Institute and news and views from the North Carolina family policy Council. That's right, all of that, all in one place North Carolina that's North Carolina spelled out North Carolina Log on 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.

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Support the John Locke foundation will get back to Carolina journal radio why Muskoka after years of delays, North Carolina's newest state mental hospital is nearly complete Mark Benson that the state Department of Health and Human Services recently updated lawmakers on the hospital in Morganton, the original contract was awarded contractor was given permission to proceed with their work back in April 2012 it was hoped at that time that the hospital also construction would be completed. A little more than two years later in September 2014 states have changed and the why states were now looking at is between March and May of this calendar year. What went wrong. There was a lack of adequate project management. There was certainly a lack of quality control and sufficient manpower, at least up until recently in a lack of site management and protection of the soils around the hospital campus. Some of the evidence of particularly the lack of project management are adequate frontage, project management, quality control, left us with dealing with them contractor doing with having to correct 60% of the floors for description description and be out in the elevation of those floors having to remove and replace nearly 40% of all the fireproofing in the facility having to rework for the misalignment of the pedestrian bridge that links to the staff entrance of the building also. We work that needed to be done to remove and replace improper floor toppings that's on terrazzo flooring because on top and then also on having to rework and correct the anchoring of a major curtainwall in one of the wings of the hospital and finally there was also additional work that need to be done to remove and replace framing and soil around the hospital. Proper state mental hospitals have been replaced out in recent years, Republican representative Josh Dobson asked state Health and Human Services Sec. Mandy: about the impact the addition of the 85 bids enrolled in the 97 Cherry how much does this move the needle help close help which further decision on this is a broad question. But how far is this move the needle to get us to where we need to go out and about what is really important about our state hospitals. In general, if not just the number of important and we need to to open all this bad.

But it's also our ability to move patients through the hospital and meaning when they're ready for discharge to able to discharge in right now. Anyone of our hospitals on the third of our patients are waiting for discharge back to the community.

The issue is that there is nowhere for us to discharge them. There's not community services that are ready and able to catch them but we have a lot of work on going to think about how to get better at listening to it. Update on North Carolina's state mental hospitals will return with more Carolina journal radio really influence you either have it or you don't and at the John Locke foundation. We do not bluster in a private survey of more than 250 North Carolina political insiders 87% said we influence them either a great deal a good amount. So while others talk and complain. We get to work providing research solutions and help our team analyzes the pressing issues of the day jobs, healthcare, education, and more. We look for effective ways to give you more freedom, more options, more control. Our goal is to transform North Carolina into a growing, thriving economic powerhouse that is the envy of every other state are researchers actually help policymakers make decisions and ensure you keep more of what you earn. Expand your choice of schools for your kids. Widen your job opportunities and improve your access to doctors. The recipe for stability and a bright future. The John Locke foundation were dedicated to making North Carolina first in freedom were dedicated to you. Welcome back Carolina journal radio why Muskoka you could consider our next guest to be the taxpayers watchdog that's the title she used for recent presentation to the John Locke foundation's Shaftesbury society.

Our guest is Beth would Carolina's state auditor to the program. Thank you, thank you so first of all a lot of people are really with the concept of an auditor they might have one for their business. But how is the state auditor in the state auditor's office differed from state standard business auditor well for most part the state auditor's office is working for the people we spent $43 billion a year and your tax dollars to run state government and state auditor's office is responsible for making sure those dollars are reported right transactions are recorded properly, but more importantly that your tax dollars are not wasted to not only are we doing a financial statement audit.

Like many businesses are accustomed to having were also doing performance audits to look at duplicative efforts. Looking at your tax dollars being wasted.

We are doing information technology audits and we have an investigative unit so if someone suspects that federal dollars a past state North Carolina or state dollars are being misappropriated will go out take a look at that were looking for illegal activity. At that point, and those are some of the activities that you're involved in that would make you a taxpayers watchdog absolutely causes your tax dollars that were looking at number one to make sure they're not wasted or abused and I tell people all the time.

That's not against the law but probably should be and then from an illegal perspective were looking at those issues. Also, as reported, our office as you go about this and your auditors are doing their work. What are some of the main things that that you're finding that are important for the public to all absolutely first and foremost, two things to issues not talk to the general simile about this on a couple of occasions, but when the biggest issues that were finding is contracting practices in the state of North Carolina.

We simply as an agency as a state government. We are entering into contracts written by the vendor. We don't necessarily have the talent for going through their making sure we've got a contract written in the best interest of state North Carolina and time after time after time, and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The state of North Carolina has been taken to the cleaners by vendors because of poorly written contracts and when I say poorly written. I'm talking about something as fundamental as a contract not having a nonperformance clause in it or know nine performance penalties. We have tried to fire vendors. They sued us and a one because of the poorly written contracts that we had in place and then the other piece I would tell you is lack of accountability people think all the time. I tax dollars and Raleigh VM in a corrupted lease spent that night.

Again I tell people all the time. There is the biggest risk for your tax dollars is there is a lack of accountability in our state government for how they're being spent. We are chatting with North Carolina's state auditor Beth would list the return to both of those topics.

First of all, you mentioned these poorly written contracts. What has been done or is there anything in the works to help address this, there has been. We've taken these findings to the general assembly three times in my in and over the course of my administration and they have tried to fix the law that would make somebody look at these contracts and make sure they're written in the best interests of state North Carolina before we ever put our name on the bottom line it's steel, not fixed we have in place right now.

Certain laws that say if a contract is to be for 5 million or more DLA department administration has to take a look at it and review it. If it's going to be for 10 million or more than the contract was entered into will be looked at by the Atty. Gen.'s office, but I just explained to the Gen. assembly in 2016 that if I as an agency had enters into a contract and is the worst contract written in the history of North Carolina. If I do that as an agency head, and I don't run it by the Atty. Gen.'s office and I don't run it by the Department of ministration. That contract is binding and there's nothing anybody can do to me for not going through the process that's carved in stone. In our statute, so there's still a whole big enough to drive a truck with our contracting practices so something the general assembly could still address a list and they are trying they absolutely are within a week of me making that presentation to them. They were looking at ways to fix that law and make it better. How about on the accountability front, you mentioned that is another big piece of the things being done to build in more accountability, not as we speak. I've had a conversation with the director of budget in this administration and we all know that we need accountability for. Here's the budget that you get each year in your agency. Here are the things that your agency should be accomplishing.

Here's how much it should cost to accomplish those things and how well are not did you do and so there is a lot of conversation around that. But I would say the state auditor's office is the only agency thus far that I'm aware of this actually put metrics into practice with what you are getting in a budget, how you're supposed to be spending that money and how you measure against that as you just described. That sounds like something that any operation, including a business or government agency should want were spending this money.

Let's make sure word getting what we spending it on your absolutely right. And there's new business that I can think of that can stay in business, particularly now in these tough economic times work every dollar counts every man our accounts so I don't understand that this concept is not being taken up more statewide in our state government. Now what we've focused on some sort of structural issues. How much of a problem. Do we have with something you alluded to earlier, of actually people trying to do something nefarious or behind-the-scenes to be have that happen very often in government that you find we have a lot of calls on the hotline, probably about 800 a year but when we get down into it and we look at issues that really need to be looked into and then we get down to how many things we substantiate usually about 20 to 30 reports a year to go from 100 phone calls and down to 30 that are really substantiated and then the dollars are not tremendously big course I've always heard since I've worked with state government that is not the big pots of money, where the theft occurs, it really is a smaller pot of money where nobody is really looking and we have an example of that in wake County look at the Registry of Deeds. When I've gone back and looked at the work that the auditors their external auditors. D8 the cash that runs through the Registry of Deeds office is insignificant to the amount of cash that runs through the wake County.

Totally so.

The auditors never looked at the cash they are, so again is there smaller pots of money. So again, it's still not a huge impact. But in this day and time, every dollar counts, so none of it needs to be stolen away.

We know the one person who is interested in making sure that every one of those dollars is spent in a way that it was appropriated to be spent is Beth Wood. She is the elected North Carolina state auditor speaking recently to the John Locke foundation Shaftesbury society under the theme taxpayers watchdog. Thanks much for doing this. Thank you for having me up on Carolina journal radio just full color throughout every issue more visual storytelling. We've revamped Carolina journal to make it easier to read a new look and a new feel.

But one thing hasn't changed and it never will. That is our commitment to truth and transparency in government, you can still count on Carolina journal for investigations into government spending revelations about boondoggles and vetting of corruption.

No permission to shine the light on what North Carolina government and the bureaucrats who run it are doing in your name and with your money will never wane and because of that our reach and influence are growing through all of our distribution outlets we reach more than 1 million N. Carolinians every month so make sure you stay informed. Read the monthly print edition of Carolina journal. Then check in several times a day, Carolina that's where you'll find fresh stories, opinion pieces and updates on government politics and your money.

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Welcome back to Carolina journal radio I'm Donna Martinez. Well, it's called the civil asset forfeiture and abusive process that empowers law enforcement agencies to confiscate property from people who never been charged with, let alone convicted of a crime. Our next guest says that North Carolina has been a leader in protecting North Carolinians from this abuse, but that the state of Alabama is poised to do something that could put that state ahead of our own John Bizet is the John Locke foundation's director of legal studies.

He joins us now. Welcome back to the shelf that you gotta explain how this whole thing works in North Carolina. What is it that law enforcement agencies can and can't do well. Unlike most states, North Carolina has never really gotten on the civil asset forfeiture bandwagon and for good reason. Just as you say it it's it's just abusive due process and abuses peoples property rights. Fortunately in North Carolina almost always in order to take somebody's property, even if you suspect it was used or derived from corrective you have to prove that that person not only just to prove that person committed a crime, just to prove that the property was actually derived from that crime best criminal forfeiture is a different thing and it's it's much more fair and reasonable and that's most of the time what you have to do in North Carolina when you say property what kinds of things we talking it could be cash it could be vehicles. It could even be a house or other forms of realistic North Carolina has been trying to protect its citizens from this type of things that you have to be convicted of criminal activity.

In order for that to go forward and do other states handle this the same way. Well, up until recently almost every other state in the union didn't have it this way. In fact, they log their pleas fall forces to take property through this process called civil asset forfeiture of the advantages from the police from the police department's point of view is to civil forfeiture. They don't have to prove that there was a crime there is a charge of her with the crime.

It's a civil civil action. It's against the property itself.

That means firstly that you don't have to convict the owner and furthermore you don't have to use the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt which is what applies to criminal cases because it's a civil proceeding. You'll have to show that it's more likely than not that the property was used for Christ. John you been writing about this for a number of weeks now and you been watching what's been happening in other states and as you and I are talking the state of Alabama has a champion for essentially getting rid of this whole type of thing. That's right now about the one of the worst states. Until recently, but right now there's a bill before the legislature that would as I said in my updated when actually put Alabama probably the top the list. The Institute for Justice ranks all the states every few years in terms of how well or badly. They're doing when it comes to asset forfeiture.

North Carolina has always been at the top of the list, but I think of Alabama passes are still there to supersede is correct. The class why is that for a couple reasons. One reason is that I like North Carolina where there are a few exceptions, there are some circumstances. For instance, driving while under the influence. Under certain circumstances, you could lose your vehicle through civil asset forfeiture so there are some exceptions in North Carolina but the Alabama legislature would eliminate all exceptions. It would simply be no more civil asset forfeiture under Alabama law.

That's interesting but I don't think that's the main reason why this going to send them to the top.

The question is not the main reason why we are to be interested in this legislation. What Alabama also does is it prevents what we call anticircumvention in many states, including North Carolina local law enforcement agencies and state law enforcement agencies can use federal law to circumvent state protections against civil asset forfeiture. They do that by either something called the adoptions program which they simply a pure circumvention policy that allows them to take property process it through the federal courts under federal law and then get back 80% of assets for their own use. Before you go ahead and talk about the other way that that's done I want to make sure that that I understand what you're saying here so North Carolina has been trying to protect its its citizens from this, but you're saying that in North Carolina and in other states. In some states that law enforcement can still get around the state law essentially by going to a federal law that's exactly right. So for instance in North Carolina if if a state trooper pulled over motorist finds cashing suspects it was drug proceeds if they go under North Carolina law, they still have to charge that person with some cut of drug-related offense they have to have them convicted under North Carolina law and all they have to show that it actually was. Proceeds that that cash wasn't something that they got legitimate way I want to go back and mention another protection we have in North Carolina law if they do this under North Carolina law about cash that they took to get it forfeited through Fred Tuesday criminal forfeiture statutes by constitutional buyer by under our Constitution that cash has to be used for public education, the police agency that took the money to keep it and use it if they go through the federal adoptions program. However, they take it to a federal judge or magistrate and they get under federal drug control laws. When that money eventually comes back to them after being processed by the feds. Percent of it comes back they get to keep go find a lot enforcement agency. This is a revenue stream for me absolutely should be something that I can understand the rationale for them to pursue this to go around North Carolina law and use the federal law.

Of course it's a perverse incentive because even though most police officers and state troopers are honest and most departments will use that money for the good of the public it.

It's not a constitutional way they should get their revenue by having it allocated by the Gen. assembly, not by take it directly from the citizens.

He said that there is a second way that law enforcement can actually use this federal law. The first when you just described is what's called adoptions that process whereafter 80% comes back to them.

There's something called joint task forces. How does that work well, that's the other way that asset forfeiture federal forfeiture can result in money from forfeiture is getting to the police departments North Carolina if they participate in some kind of joint task force or joint operation with federal law enforcement agencies, vendors, equitable sharing process by which a portion of the proceeds from any forfeited assets come back to whichever department or to all the departments that were involved in the seizure now.

Unlike I like adoptions. There's some legitimacy to the survey. We do one on law enforcement agencies to participate with federal law enforcement when it makes sense, but we don't want them to be tempted to do this simply for the hope of getting the revenue, John, how does North Carolina compare with other states you. We mentioned several times that we are a leader in trying to protect North Carolinians. What other states did well.

This is where is the one area where were not a leader because we don't do anything to prevent that kind circumvention under North Carolina law. It is about going to the feds and use my Outlook true throughout equitable sharing even through adoptions or under joint or as part of joint task force operations so that's the one area where we actually are at the back of the pack with other states, and this is where Alabama is going to rise to the top and really give us a lesson that we can learn because one of the great things about Alabama statute would do if it passes, as it would eliminate what we talked about in the first place, which is the adoption program altogether in Alabama state and local law enforcement wouldn't be allowed to engage in wouldn't be allowed to use adoptions program tall and would also put some limits on what they could do a joint task force so they can certainly participate in joint task force, but the cast share in the revenues less the total amount of fees is over hundred thousand dollars and that's a good number because it Olympic means that most of the time they are getting money and big seizure like that chances are it's going to be legitimate and people go think twice before they just casually take somebody's property you actually detailed agencies in North Carolina that law enforcement agencies that are participating in this set asset sharing what kind of money are we talking about here.

John is in a million bucks is it 50 million bucks. Millions of dollars and if you look at the table that we provide their witches list of the 50 agencies to get the most. Many of them are getting millions of dollars just on the wrong time to say this, director of legal studies for John that's all the time we have for the program this week. Thank you for listening Donna Martines come back again next week for another edition of the Carolina Journal radio Carolina Journal radio is a program of the job.

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