Empowering County Commissioners and Town Councils
Nearly every single community engagement meeting over a new development, be it a 300 home development or a new dollar store, is met with near universal objection from the locals effected, yet all of them slide on through the permit process with near unanimous approval from the planning board and the county board of commissioners.
Its no secret I have been supporting the effort to incorporate Denver, its not because I believe in more government, it's because I believe its the only way for Denver to control is own destiny. Denver is effectively a victim of taxation without representation. State law also prevents many of the planning and zoning changes most folks in Denver would like to see happen.
The main benefits of incorporation revolve around road funding and control over planning and zoning. The only reason I ever considered support an incorporation effort is for those reasons. Nearly everyone I speak with has complaints about traffic and how it keeps getting worse every time another massive development goes up. Many people have brought up these concerns to the county commissioners, and while they sympathize, their hands are tied. They simply have no legal avenue to impose moratoriums to curb explosive growth.
Even more troubling is our sewer system is at capacity in some areas and if we do not expand that capacity, at the taxpayers expense, the state will expand it for us and send us the bill. This is effectively the state making us that live here build a new water treatment plant, so developers can continue to develop, whether we like it or not.
The people should have a say in whether they are going to be taxed to build a new water treatment plant they may not want for the benefit of out of county or even out of state to developers.
If I can make the changes happen in Raleigh that would nullify the benefits of Denver incorporating that would be ideal. Whether you want Denver to remain the same quiet community, or become a boom-town, I think we can all agree its best to let the folks in Lincoln County decided how to run Lincoln County, not the folks in Raleigh.
On October 31st, 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly passed into law an act to introduce Industrial Hemp as a legalized crop for North Carolina farmers. While a start in the right direction, the law is bogged down by government interference – a $200K funding requirement to even begin the project, the assembly of a Commission to oversee and report on the project, required licensing by farmers with the Sheriff’s department, and an initial limitation to the number of acres, with slow expansion. This government intervention into agriculture needlessly delays the development of a much needed source of revenue for farmers who seek to replace lost income from tobacco farming or the expense of failed vineyards, with a relatively inexpensive hemp crop that is well suited to the regional climate.
Much of the government hedging is due to fears from an uneducated public that industrial hemp and recreational marijuana are the same thing, as the plants have physical resemblance. Indeed they are not the same. Advocates of industrial hemp have a saying: “think rope, not dope”. Industrial hemp (cannabis sativa) contains a delta-9 tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3%. To put that in a more comprehensive reference, one would have to smoke a joint of industrial hemp the size of a telephone pole to obtain any kind of a “high”.
Industrial hemp has numerous uses, including, but not limited to, rope, cord, cloth, fiber, bio-fuel, paint, paper, particleboard, plastic, wax, resin, face/skin creams, shampoos/conditioners, and consumables such as seed, milk, meal, juice, tea and oil. Next time you wander the aisles of your local supermarket, you can find examples of the gaining popularity of hemp – hemp seeds located next to chia seeds, and hemp oil next to the olive oils.
North Carolina is one of only 14 states where hemp seeds can currently be produced. It is also home to one of the largest industrial hemp processing plants in the country - Hemp, Inc., located in Spring Hope. The company hopes to employ at least 200 North Carolinians when at full production.
Bogging down the crop in government commissions and permits slows agricultural growth and delays potential jobs for the North Carolina economy. I believe these kinds of agricultural restrictions should be removed, allowing for the market to grow freely.
I don't think we should have to ask the government permission to grow a harmless and in many cases beneficial plant on our own property. While I am glad the state is moving in the right direction, there is absolutely no reason to restrict hemp cultivation in any way what so ever.
Free Market Economy
A basic free market belief is the government and the economy should be separate. In North Carolina there are a few economic issues that stand out to me as blatantly wrong, issues that I would rectify immediately. Those issues being: occupational licensing schemes, the ABC spirits monopoly, and state sponsored gaming.
North Carolina has over 50 occupational licensing boards. These boards grant government permission slips for anyone wishing to earn a living in certain industries. Everything from landscape architects and auctioneers to dog groomers and funeral directors, are subject to such licensing requirements. The licensing boards wield tremendous power as they decide how many people in North Carolina are allowed to do a certain job. In several cases the Supreme Court has deemed North Carolina's licensing boards unconstitutional. In one such egregious case, the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners was sued for antitrust violations by the Federal Trade Commission and lost. The North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners is a group of practicing North Carolina dentists that decide who has permission to be a dentist in the state. This restricts the supply of licensed dentists, as the dentists on the board do not want to approve any new dentists that may move into their territory and poach their customers. North Carolina has in effect created a state sponsored dental cartel. This cartel is then allowed to raise prices much higher than would otherwise exist in a truly competitive marketplace. There are several other industries that are also essentially cartels, like the Midwifery Cartel, Auctioneer Cartel, and Locksmiths Cartel. The Supreme Court declared it illegal for North Carolina licensing boards to be granted the authority to regulate their own competition. Yet North Carolina still maintains this system despite the court order to end it.
Occupational licensing is a thinly veiled scheme at creating monopolistic power to a few entrenchment entities at the expense of free market competition. These entities can charge high prices, offer horrible goods or services, and exploit their customers with impunity, as they know the government can legally limit their competition. If you are the only dentist in town, what incentive do you have to appease your customers? Competition keeps everyone honest, as people can give their business to the best dentist, but North Carolina would prefer to protect political cronies at the expense of our freedom of choice. This is a horrendous perversion of government power and regulatory authority. I will fight to my dying breath to end this anti-American practice.
The North Carolina ABC commission is another abomination of government authority. North Carolina is one of seventeen states that impose direct government control over the sale of spirits. All spirits purchases in the North Carolina must take place at a locally government operated ABC store. Do we really want the same government responsible for the DMV and the IRS running a retail business? All ABC stores can only be stocked with spirits approved by the state commission, to which distilleries must request permission for consideration.
This is why ABC stores are mainly stocked with generic and national brands. They devote entire walls to name brand flavored vodkas, yet more specialized artisanal spirits are nonexistent. Smaller craft distilleries outside of North Carolina rarely go through the trouble to sell here. In my view, this cripples an entire industry and robs the people of being able to partake in such exotic luxuries.
Why should the people of North Carolina have to choose from the approved government list as to what they can buy? In North Carolina local distilleries are not even allowed to sell their products in their own gifts shops, they have to point people down the street to the ABC store. Tourists visiting for the weekend are in for an even larger shock when they realize that while they can tour and taste craft spirits on Sunday, state laws disallows all sales.
It is my position that the ABC commission is dissolved and the sale of spirits be given the opportunity to enter the free markets. This includes giving local distilleries their autonomy to sell back. All of the states that have done away with state alcohol control boards have experienced no upticks in alcohol related crime and many even bring in more tax revenue. I see no problem with being able to purchase liquor at your local gas station or even in the grocery store. You can buy wine and beer, why not whisky and gin?
Why is gambling illegal for the people, but okay for the government? Gambling should not be illegal at all, who is the government to tell us how to spend what we earn? Why does the government enforce a gaming prohibition yet sponsor the lottery and scratch off tickets? This is a blatant hypocrisy in my view. If revenue generation is the goal, more money could be brought in if we outright legalized all gaming.
Gambling many people believe is a form of entertainment, the government should not be dictating what type of harmless entertainment is allowed. The argument that gambling is addictive, and the government needs to protect people from their own impulses implies the government is your parent. It is not the role of government to protect people from themselves. Much like seat belt laws, we are only truly free, if we are free to make our own mistakes.
While North Carolina legislatures have taken another step in the right direction by converting the state income tax to a flat tax, there are still too many unnecessary, antiquated and ridiculous taxes added to the residents. I seek to eliminate those, starting with the annual vehicle tax. A vehicle property tax implies you do not even own your own vehicle but are essentially paying for the "right" to drive. In my view the government has basically taken your right to freedom of movement, and is selling it back to you. We should not have to "rent" our own vehicles from the government.