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Letters to the editor: Taxes, fracking and high-speed chases

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Here's a batch of letters that got overrun by the news or other issues

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This is an important time for our state and economy. North Carolina is competing globally for jobs. Our students and teachers are striving for higher levels of learning to better prepare students to succeed, whether they go on to post-secondary education or enter the workforce after graduating from high school.

On behalf of our 35,000 members, we want to encourage everyone to join the business community in supporting the important work underway in our classrooms. This is hard work – but work that must be done for our students to be career- and workforce-ready. Employers need students who are equipped with real-world learning, problem-solving and a genuine understanding of the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce.

We congratulate our teachers and students for tackling this challenge and want them to know they have the support of their business community in building a better future for us all.

We commend and support Gov. Pat McCrory for embracing higher standards and his firm commitment to measuring results. Allowing teachers to focus on supporting all North Carolina students to be globally competitive is paramount.

S. Lewis Ebert
President and CEO, North Carolina Chamber
Raleigh
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I am appalled and distressed by what I understand to be the consequences of Senate Bill 328 if it passes the state legislature.

My primary concern is how the cleanliness of our groundwater could be significantly compromised by the bill’s proposals. From what I’ve read, this unnecessary bill would allow groundwater contamination to stay in place until it actually contaminates neighboring property. It is unnerving to think that any leader of our state would overlook how passing such a bill could jeopardize the health and safety of countless lives.

I hope that N.C. decision-makers stand up and protect the citizens of their districts by opposing Senate Bill 328 and unsafe landfills in N.C. Clean water is not a commodity, it is a necessity that should be protected as much as the lives it affects.

Preference L. Evans
Raleigh
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Why would our state’s General Assembly draft a bill that would bring harm to North Carolina’s beautiful coast?

Senate Bill 328, the Solid Waste Management Reform Act of 2013, would allow waste disposal immediately next to wetlands and allow construction of landfills next to our wetlands. It’s irresponsible and reckless for legislators to allow the placement of landfills in such an ecologically sensitive area. Wetlands are an essential part of our coast that filter, clean and store water and provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and plants.

If the legislators of this state can’t be won over by the health of their constituents or the importance of the environment, perhaps they can be won over by the millions in tourist dollars that our state’s pristine coastal region brings every year. Please keep it clean and beautiful.

l hope my state legislators oppose Senate Bill 328 when it comes up for a vote.

Jessica Heironimus
Raleigh

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The N&O has provided information and comparisons of the three Republican-proposed tax reforms. My understanding is that North Carolina in the 17th most-heavily taxed of the states. Assuming that any of the proposed plans was passed in totality, where would North Carolina then rank and which income group is most abused?

The three plans appear on the surface to be more tax-burden redistribution than tax reform. If the state is to tax Social Security, prescription drugs and food and exclude as deductions from state taxes home mortgage interest and property taxes, the target group is those making $60,000 or less. Does not applying the same “sales tax” rate to smaller incomes in effect result in that group paying proportionally more taxes because more of that group’s taxable income is “consumption,” which has been increased by the exclusion of mortgage interest and property taxes?

I assume the Republicans are content with one term.

Harry Richardson
Pittsboro
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The State House passed a revised version of Senate Bill 76 this week. Several of the more troubling provisions in the original bill that came from the Senate have been removed or improved upon with this substitute bill addressing fracking.

The major improvements in the substitute version of the bill are: Permits may be issued starting March 1, 2015, however, these permits will not be effective “until the General Assembly takes legislative action.” Permitting deep-well injection of oil and gas wastes that causes earthquakes has been removed from the bill; and the bill no longer prohibits local governments from assessing taxes to pay for increased costs from gas development impacts.

We should thank Reps. Mike Hager, Mike Stone and Jamie Boles for restoring sanity by developing this substitute bill. Now the bill will go to back to the Senate, which can either “concur” (accept the changed version) or reject the new version and have to negotiate with the House in a conference committee.

Progress can be lost in negotiations, so let’s hope it stays as is.

Charles Ritter
Cary
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In two recent news articles about the two young men killed by an officer in a chase, Raleigh Police Department officials have stated that it is department policy not to activate blue lights and siren when a chase is started, but wait until they have gotten close to the suspect. They say this is to avoid alerting the suspect any earlier than necessary that they are being pursued.

Thus we have Officer D.H. Crews topping a very blind hill on 35-mph Skycrest Drive doing 76 mph with no lights and siren. I’m not trained in law enforcement, but even I know the primary purpose of lights and sirens are to alert the public that the officer is in pursuit, exceeding the speed limit, and to get out of the way! This is for the protection of both the public and the officer.

Any time a police vehicle is exceeding the speed limit (by some reasonable amount, say 15 mph), the policy should require blue lights and siren. I call upon Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown to change this (fatally) flawed policy immediately

Chris Simes
Raleigh
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Your June 6 story “House panel keeps fracking ban” should give us pause. Let’s not lose focus on what has happened in the fracking debate over time.

Legislation to approve fracking has evolved quickly, starting with Senate Bill 709 in 2011 that was vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue and sustained by the legislature. Then came Senate Bill 820 in 2012 that removed offshore drilling from the previous bill but set a date of March 2015 for onshore shale gas mining (fracking) to begin. Even after the House overrode the governor’s veto (by one errant vote), from legislative left field came Senate Bill 76 that proposed both onshore and offshore oil and gas development – again. Now, both onshore and offshore drilling for natural gas and oil are being rushed through committees again and likely to be approved soon by the General Assembly.

So, where do we stand today? The Republican majority has done a wonderful job of pushing a radical agenda and then, in the 11th hour, pulling back to what looks like a compromise.

Don’t be fooled by this legislative ruse.

David Streifford
Cary
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The legislature did consumers a favor by not allowing Tesla to sell vehicles circumventing our franchise laws. Not that Tesla, a novelty toy for the rich, would be a threat to the dealer franchises in the marketplace.

The problem is the precedent it would set for future automakers, allowing them to avoid providing ample competent service outlets and holding them responsible for following our laws when they are not really doing business “in” our state but over the Internet.

The franchise dealer, on the other hand, helps consumer with purchases, service and product issues, and if the need arises, help in the resolution of disputes with the manufacturer. Anyone who has had a product issue with a major corporation can tell you of the difficulty of coming to a mutually acceptable resolution.

Rather than spending valuable capital on attorney fees and wining and dining politicians to overturn the franchise model, perhaps Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, would be further ahead to spend these funds on product and infrastructure for his electric vehicles.

It would be a shame to see him fail as a result of his crusade against the auto franchise system.

George Toth
Raleigh

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As a practicing dentist for 13 years, I was shocked to read your June 13 news article “Fluoride foes get hearing Thursday.”

I was shocked that local municipalities in Orange and Durham counties would even listen to the ignorant and outdated ideas of a very, very small minority. At the same time, I was overwhelmed with pride that my city of Raleigh basically turned a deaf ear to these people’s bizarre, antiquated thinking.

In my practice, I have seen the benefits of water fluoridation firsthand, as well as the disadvantage that people, especially children, can be at without access to fluoridated water.

As Dr. Gary Slade alluded to in the article, if you don’t want to consume fluoridated water, there are simple steps you can take to avoid consuming it. I urge Orange and Durham counties not to allow a small, misguided minority to take away a great benefit for the rest of us.

Edward A. Wenda
Raleigh

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About the blogger

Burgetta Eplin Wheeler is the associate editor of the Editorial pages, responsible for the Other Opinion page. She occasionally writes editorials. She can be reached at bwheeler@newsobserver.com or 829-4825.
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