Joe Sinsheimer, the former Democratic consultant who pressured his party to oust former House Speaker Jim Black, continues to urge the Democrats to be clean, open and honest. Sinsheimer recently asked Joe Hackney, the new speaker of the House, to investigate the potential role that campaign contributions played in blocking legislation that would have been harmful to nurse anesthetists last session. Reps. Black, William Wainwright and Thomas Wright received contributions from nurse anesthetists after the measure was delayed.
Last week, Sinsheimer also called on Rep. Alma Adams, the chair of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus, to release a list of donors to the group's nonprofit foundation. The foundation is designed to give scholarships, but only $50,000 of the $245,000 it raised in 2005 went to scholarships. Special interests could give unlimited amounts to the foundation without disclosing them to the public.
Both Hackney and Adams rebuffed Sinsheimer's request, but the attention he brings promotes open government.
Earlier this month, Orange County Democrat Verla Insko filed legislation that would ensure that all children in North Carolina have health insurance. House Bill 1476 would provide comprehensive health insurance to kids who are not eligible for Medicaid, Medicare, the state's Health Insurance Program for Children or other federal or state programs. It would protect those children who are slipping through the cracks by providing coverage equivalent to other programs.
The Recording Industry Association of America filed 23 "John Doe lawsuits" against unknown music downloaders at N.C. State University in an attempt to pressure school administrators to name names. The lawsuits came after the students failed to accept offers of a $3,000 settlement to pay for the illegally downloaded songs. Most universities identify the network users using their IP addresses, but Pam Gerace, the director of Student Legal Services at the university, is fighting the intimidation tactics and forcing the RIAA to subpoena the names. That could take as long as a year.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole joined the chorus of voices who are speaking out against building a navy landing field near a national wildlife refuge in Washington and Beaufort counties. We've been tough on Dole, and we'd be remiss not to commend her for coming around. She joins U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, Gov. Mike Easley, a majority of the state's U.S. House reps and others who say that the landing field would harm birds and hurt local farmers. Dole, who sits on the Senate's Armed Services Committee, even threatened to block the $10 million in funding for the site.
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