How Estonia—Yes, Estonia—Became One of the Wealthiest Countries in Eastern Europe

FEE – Estonia is the living example that human progress is closely linked to economic freedom. The question of why some countries are rich and prosperous whereas others seem to be condemned to the scourge of poverty has been around for centuries. Many factors have been argued to be the determinants of prosperity: geographical, cultural, historical, etc.

Yet, since at least the publication in 1776 of The Wealth of Nations, we know that political and economic institutions play a decisive role in this respect. Free trade, a reliable legal framework that protects private property and enforces contracts, and sound money are necessary conditions for countries to thrive.

The emergence and consolidation of growth-boosting institutions took hundreds of years in countries like the UK and the US. However, in recent decades we have seen that the right policies can significantly speed up economic development.

Estonia is a paradigmatic example of this.  Click here to read: The Story of Estonia.

Why One Economist Abhors Earth Hour

FEE – We are quickly approaching the annual one-hour event in energy self-flagellation and green nitwittery known as Earth Hour, which takes place tomorrow on Saturday, March 24, at 8:30 p.m (local time). Our friends at Earth Hour are asking people around the world to “set aside an hour to host events, switch off their lights, and make noise for the Earth Hour movement.”

In 2009, Canadian economist Ross McKitrick was asked by a journalist for his thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour. Here is his excellent response on why he “abhors” Earth Hour, reprinted below in its entirety (my emphasis):

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Click here to read more.

Political Activism Training Camp

The New American – Family Visits Gun Range — Their Kids Get Suspended From School. You wouldn’t think your kids could get suspended from school just because you exercised your constitutionally guaranteed rights off campus, but this is apparently what happened to one New Jersey family. It’s not that the school district jumped the gun, either — rather, the punitive action was prescribed by official policy. As Fox News reported Sunday:

A New Jersey high school came under fire Friday after it allegedly suspended two students over a gun photo taken during a family visit to a shooting range.

News of the unnamed students’ suspension circulated through a Lacey Township Facebook group, according to NJ.com.

Amanda Buron, a Lacey resident and family friend of one of the suspended students said one of the photos shared on SnapChat featured four rifles, magazines, and a gun duffel with the caption “fun day at the range,” NJ.com reported.

Buron said the two students received a five-day in-school suspension after the picture drew the attention of Lacey Township High School officials, who argued that it violated the school’s policy on weapons possession.

The school district shortly faced community backlash for the alleged suspension, with many calling for people to appear at the school board’s next meeting on Monday to protest the decision.

Click here to read more.

School Safety Committee Agenda Includes Students, State Bureau of Investigation, Center for Safer Schools

Speaker Tim Moore – Raleigh, N.C. – The first meeting of the state House Select Committee on School Safety will include presentations from students, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the Center for Safer Schools, according to a tentative agenda released by the committee’s chairs Monday.

The offices of state House Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and John Torbett (R-Gaston) released the preliminary agenda that also includes personnel from the N.C. Emergency Management Division, the Task Force for Safer Schools, the N.C. School Psychology Association and Meridian Behavioral Health Services.

The committee will start at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 and work until 12:00 p.m., then reconvene from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. for committee discussion in the afternoon.

Click here to read more.

Also, check out National School Shield

Gun-Free Zones Are Not Evil People-Free Zones

American Thinker – The horrific Parkland, Florida H.S. massacre tears at the conscience of us all. It also predictably invited the tired, unworkable policy fix from the left: let’s just ban guns! How the left imagines that this might fix these awful tragedies is beyond reason. Worse, leftists obnoxiously claim that NRA members and others who disagree with them don’t care. Incredible. Of course, raw emotion always clouds good judgment.

We should dissect this tragic event with critical thinking, not emotion. The scripted prescriptions offered at the CNN town hall meeting hours later contributed nothing to this effort. Shame on CNN and all the adults who conspired with that fake news giant creating that circus TV moment. And more shame on those who manipulated traumatized children to promote their agenda.

Let’s admit: psychologically disturbed people (of any age) are a danger to their community, their families, and themselves. Some sort of intervention into their failing paths is essential. We rarely hear this because political correctness censors it, but most of us know that this is the root of these horrors. Pull a weed’s leaves from your lawn, and it just returns. We must dig deeper and get dirty hands if we truly want to rid our lawn of this weed.

Let’s also admit: tortured souls will utilize any device to wreak their havoc, including cars, trucks, knives, baseball bats, IEDS, poisons (like anthrax), and of course guns.

Click here to read more.

‘Uneducated’: The Left’s Favorite Pejorative

It is no secret that leftists are big supporters of a politically correct culture. They see no issue with constantly stifling the free speech of anyone who disagrees with the narrative of the mainstream. They regularly clamp down on free speech in the name of protecting the sensibilities of all those who happen to disagree. This policy has become so widespread on college campuses throughout the nation that it goes beyond merely condemning what people happen to say or feel, to physically placing the potential “victims” of your speech into so-called “safe spaces” in order to shield them from the dark and scary world of differing opinions.

Now we have a situation where students graduate with not only mounting debt and no discernible job skills, but also a juvenile fear of a different worldview being expressed to them. These are the future leaders of our country, and their situation perfectly illustrates the madness of the modern regressive left.

Despite all this lofty rhetoric of protecting people’s feelings and sensibilities, the left has not actually given up on degrading or insulting language. Leftists require only that their ideological opponents adhere to these rules – to themselves, the rules do not apply. Thus, if they want to insult you or force their own ridiculous opinions down your throat, you must oblige them.

One of the left’s favorite tactics is calling opponents “uneducated.”

The term perfectly encapsulates the idea that those who are “uneducated” are in fact “stupid” or “dumb” without actually saying as much. It is a brilliantly smug and indirect tactic to demean the opposition’s intelligence and, consequently, whatever opinion the opposition happens to hold.

Click here to read more.

North Carolina Adds 85,000 Jobs Over Year

Raleigh, N.C.  – Employment figures released by the state Department of Commerce this week show North Carolina added 85,879 jobs over the last year.

The number of people unemployed decreased by 20,263 over the year.

The employment growth data follows a positive revenue outlook released by the state legislature’s Fiscal Research Division in January showing tax collections on track and an economy in a stable growth pattern.

State House Speaker Tim Moore released a statement:

“The General Assembly kept a commitment to North Carolina families to put their needs first,” Moore said.  “The result is sustained economic success and a state on solid financial footing.”

“It’s more good news that tens of thousands of new jobs opened across North Carolina over the last year.  We will maintain our proven approach to building a state economy that benefits working people and businesses.”  

The North Carolina General Assembly enacted historic tax relief this decade to save state taxpayers billions of dollars, encourage economic growth and spur job creation.

Since 2011 the General Assembly has levied a lower sales tax rate, income tax rate and corporate tax rate on North Carolina families and businesses, while raising the standard deduction for low-income earners.

Sens. Cruz, Lee, Reps. Meadows, Jordan: We must end the ObamaCare bailout now!

By Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Mark Meadows, Rep. Jim Jordan

Today we are closer than ever to sending ObamaCare to the ash heap of history and opening the door for much-needed market-based solutions to health insurance.

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Republicans banded together to eliminate the unpopular ObamaCare individual mandate. Now the Trump administration is determined to find a better way to address our nation’s health-care needs.

But despite these positive developments, both Democrats and Republicans in Washington are considering policies that would not only retain ObamaCare for the indefinite future, but also expand this health-care disaster beyond even President Obama’s ambitions.

These proposals would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by shoveling billions of additional dollars in deficit spending into the pockets of insurance companies, which have been losing money on ObamaCare’s exchanges because of the law’s misguided one-size-fits-all approach.

The real solution is obvious: we need to do away with this massive, expensive and unfair government program, instead of throwing money at a handful of corporations to tolerate it. But few have accused Washington of ever recognizing the obvious.

Several competing proposals appear to be on the table. One would direct the Obama-created bailout known as cost-sharing-reduction (CSR) payments to go to ObamaCare insurance companies. Another would create an entirely new reinsurance program to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars directly to insurers in order to convince them to stick with ObamaCare.

Republicans should reject both approaches.

Before now, Republicans correctly saw CSR payments for what they were – flagrant bailouts of favored ObamaCare insurance companies – and refused to be complicit in that bailout.

Republicans also recognized that CSR payments lacked sufficient pro-life protections, allowing taxpayer funding for abortions. These problems with CSR payments still remain – but the attitude among some Republicans has strangely and suddenly changed.

The reinsurance program proposals under consideration today would create a new backdoor bailout similar to one originally found in ObamaCare.

ObamaCare created a three-year reinsurance program, tantamount to a bailout, which thankfully ended in 2016. The Obama administration mismanaged this bailout so badly that it failed to collect enough insurance slush money, and then sought to fudge its mistakes by taking money from the Treasury and redirecting it into the pockets of insurance companies.

Back in 2016, top GOP committee chairmen from both the House and Senate called this scheme “the great Obamacare heist.” And now some would seek to reproduce it.

This Frankenstein combination of a new Republican-created insurance bailout plus funding ObamaCare’s existing pro-abortion CSR bailout is exactly what we counseled against in March last year. If we ignore the years of promises we made to the people on ObamaCare, the voters would, quite rightly, distrust Republicans for years to come.

Fortunately, there’s another way. We can treat health insurance as the product it is and allow the principles of choice and competition to provide cheap, effective options, as we do for almost every other purchase in our society. Consumer freedom is the most effective way to lower premiums and make health insurance more affordable.

We should expand health savings accounts so Americans get a tax-free way to pay for health expenses, allow people to purchase plans that work for them, and make these plans portable between jobs. These three simple things will go a long way toward promoting market competition that benefits consumers and reduces the cost of health care for everyday Americans.

Republicans stand at a moment of great opportunity, one we’ve been promising to seize for over eight years. We can listen to the American people – who delivered historic Republican majorities that promised to move our nation past broken government intrusions into the health insurance market – or we can double down on this failed system by bailing out ObamaCare. We know which one we choose.

Sen. Mike Lee represents Utah

 

 

 

 

Rep. Mark Meadows represents North Carolina

 

 

 

 

Rep. Jim Jordan represents Ohio.

 

 

 

 

Ted Cruz is a Senator for the State of Texas, and together with his wife Heidi, and their daughters Caroline and Catherine, is proud to call Texas home.

 

 

 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/03/14/sens-cruz-lee-reps-meadows-jordan-must-end-obamacare-bailout-now.html

Will Gun Control Work to Stop the Shootings?

The New American – On March 14, 2018, one month after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, activist groups are planning walk-outs and protests around the country to demand gun control, especially banning “assault weapons,” to avoid a repeat of last month’s murders.

While the concern for life is notable, if the protesters get their way, America will see more murders, not less. Here’s why:

• 98 percent of all mass shootings in the United States have occurred in gun-free zones, and new laws emphasizing increased gun control will almost certainly mean that little is done so that people in these zones can defend themselves, leaving them targets.

• Both the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control — anti-gun groups — scrutinized the world’s gun-control laws and found that no gun-control measure in the world actually reduced violent crime and murders. None. The New York Post had this to say about the report by the Academy of the Sciences: The 328-page report entitled Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, which was “based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, a survey that covered 80 different gun-control measures and some of its own empirical work … couldn’t identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide, or accidents.”

Click here to read more.

What makes people think that the insane and criminal will obey laws?

Interview with North Carolina Barbara A Jackson of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

From a meeting with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Republican Women for their January Luncheon with NC Supreme Court Justice Barbara A Jackson and NC GOP Chairman Robin Hayes. Thanks to Leo Phillips for the invitation. Here’s a short interview conducted by Leo with Justice Barbara Jackson. Click here to visit her website.

Click here to watch video.

Red Flag Warning: States Confiscating Guns by Ignoring Fourth Amendment

The New American – An assortment of new restrictions on the Second Amendment in Florida also launched an attack on the Fourth Amendment, as well. As The New American noted last week, Florida’s new “red flag” law abrogates the Fourth Amendment on the way to violating the Second Amendment:

Simply put, someone who thinks someone else might be a danger to himself or others can present his arguments to a judge who then, based upon those arguments, is free to decide whether the state (police armed with guns and badges) can forcibly remove privately and legally owned firearms from that person’s possession. The “red flag” provisions do not allow the person charged to defend himself or even to know who his accuser might be. Further, he must prove his innocence in order to get his confiscated firearms returned to him. He is “guilty until he proves himself innocent.”

All in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Click here to read more.

The Hidden Cost of Electric Cars: Government Subsidies and Manipulated Markets

The New American – In the past few years of heavy marketing and media attention in the form of favorable media coverage that amounts to a combination of free advertising and incessant pressure, one would expect that the electric car market would have taken off. It hasn’t, though. It survives on government handouts.

In fact, in areas without heavy-handed government pressure, less than one percent of new cars sold are electric, according to a report by Reuters last September. That report also said that the Norwegian island of Finnøy has the highest density of electric cars anywhere in the world — where about one in five cars is electric. The article gives a good reason for those numbers: Those driving electric cars are exempt from the $6,000-a-year toll charges for the tunnel to the mainland. So over the life of the car, those traveling back and forth to the mainland may wind up actually profiting from buying a car they would not likely have otherwise elected to purchase.

In other words, those electric cars are actually paid for not by the owner, but by those who do pay the $6,000-a-year toll charges and higher taxes that go to line the pockets of electric-car buyers. Far from being an endorsement of the joys of electric car ownership, this proves that in the absence of government handouts in the form of tax and toll breaks, the electric-car market would die of natural causes.

And while Norway is an extreme example of that principle, it is perhaps the perfect example. As the article explains, “State subsidies support sales of electric cars around the world, and Norway has the most electric cars per capita thanks to the most generous handouts. It offers nationwide tax breaks for users of electric cars that can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, plus various local incentives like exemptions from road tolls and parking fees.”

Former Norwegian central bank governor Svein Gjedrem put it this way: “Economic incentives work, especially if they are very, very, very strong as in Finnøy.” What this means is that when the free market rejects a product — in this case, an overpriced, under-performing car that has higher maintenance costs, a vastly limited range, and requires hours of charge before being able to travel that limited distance — the Big Government answer is to use taxpayer funds to artificially prop it up.

Click here to read more.

NC SPIN Guest State Treasurer Dale Folwell Video

Most every man, woman and child in North Carolina is impacted directly or indirectly by the Office of
State Treasurer so on this special edition of NC SPIN we asked State Treasurer Dale Folwell to come report
to the people of our state and discuss some of the relevant issues impacting North Carolina.
Topics: Overview, Investments, State Health Plan, State Retirement System, and Other Duties and Responsibilities.

2018 03 02 Delegate Nick Freitas Speech on Floor of House of Delegates on Gun Control

7 Points a Virginia Lawmaker Made in a Speech on Guns That Went Viral

An Iraq combat veteran is getting attention for a fiery speech to fellow members of the Virginia House of Delegates defending the Second Amendment and its supporters.

Delegate Nick Freitas, a Republican elected in 2016 to represent Culpeper, Madison, and Orange counties, is a business consultant and former Green Beret who served two combat tours in Iraq.

After asking permission to make remarks on the House floor, Freitas spoke for seven minutes March 2. A video of his speech went viral after the lawmaker shared it on his Facebook page, and now has more than 13 million views.

Click here to read more.

School Safety Committee Announces First Meeting

Speaker Tim Moore, Raleigh, N.C. – The chairmen of the state House Select Committee on School Safety have announced the committee’s first meeting is planned for Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 9:00 am in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building.

The committee plans to meet until noon, break for a two-hour lunch and resume at 2 p.m.

North Carolina House Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and John Torbett (R-Gaston), co-chairs of the House Select Committee on School Safety, released a joint statement:

“This committee’s proactive process will produce a valuable resource for North Carolina citizens, educators and law enforcement,” Lewis and Torbett said in a statement. “We hope the committee record can serve as a centralized and comprehensive overview of school safety in our state.”

“Our first mission is to provide data, reports and expert input from state and local officials who are trained and experienced in school safety to the committee members. Next, we can consider new policy recommendations, hear innovative ideas and review which current procedures are effectively protecting students and educators.”

Click here to read more.

Two NC Lawmakers Front and Center in Immigration Debate

NewsMax – As I write this column in mid-February 2018, immigration reform has taken center stage in Washington, D.C.

Two North Carolina lawmakers, each with competing visions on how to handle illegal immigration, are in the thick of the debate. Respectfully they are Rep. Mark Meadows and Sen. Thom Tillis.

Tillis is an advocate of The Secure and Succeed Act, which is backed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and endorsed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

In a nutshell, the Secure and Succeed Act calls for merit based immigration legislation designed to resolve the legal uncertainty facing illegal, undocumented minors. It would include provisions to help deter illegal immigration, prevent chain migration, end the diversity lottery and bar benefits for parents/of children. It also calls for twenty five billion dollars to bolster defenses along the border with Mexico and it provides an eventual path to citizenship for approximately 2 million Dreamers. See Senator Tillis’ Senate office Webpage.

Over in the U.S. House — Rep. Mark Meadows, R- N.C., who is chairman of the Freedom Caucus, supports the legislation of House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Essentially that legislation would lead with security and enforcement first and does not offer amnesty.

Click here to read more.

SCOTUS Takes Up Case of Private Property Forced to Become Public

The Washington Free Beacon – Knick v. Scott Township raises questions of which courts protect property.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would hear arguments in the case of a Pennsylvania farm owner whose case could potentially overturn part of a previous ruling that critics have attacked as making it much harder for property owners to protect their rights in federal court.

The case, Knick v. Scott Township, Pennsylvania, concerns Rose Mary Knick, who owns a 90-acre property in rural eastern Pennsylvania, where she and her family have lived since 1970. Knick found herself subjected to a township ordinance which allowed anyone—including township employees—to freely pass on her private property. Knick v. Scott Township concerns Knick’s attempt to secure her property rights in both state and federal court, and the unexpected procedural stoppages that have kept her normally private farm free and open to the public.

“Property owners are treated differently, and more poorly, than other classes of citizens when it comes to having a day in court. Mrs. Knick’s catch-22 case, where she’s yanked around from state to federal to state court without a hearing is an example of that,” said J. David Breemer, a senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing Knick.

Knick’s story begins in 2008, when someone made a public inquiry suggesting that there was an “ancient burial ground” on her land. Knick denied any such burial ground’s existence, which further was not documented either on her title or in any official state registry or documentation.

In 2012, the township created a first-of-its-kind ordinance mandating that owners of cemeteries allow right-of-way and access to the sites during daylight hours, even if said cemeteries are on private property. That regulation was called “extraordinary and constitutionally suspect” by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard Knick’s case before it went to the Supreme Court.

What the ordinance meant was that members of the public could enter Knick’s otherwise-private property with abandon, based on the alleged but seemingly non-existent cemetery. The ordinance also meant that a township code enforcement officer entered Knick’s property without permission, in what may constitute a violation of Knick’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search.

Click here to read more.

Michael McCaul and Mark Meadows: Resist Russian manipulation and stay united

by Reps. Michael McCaul and Mark Meadows | Mar 7, 2018, 12:01 AM
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/michael-mccaul-and-mark-meadows-resist-russian-manipulation-and-stay-united/article/2650862
The Russians are employing a Soviet-derived disinformation strategy against us. Their latest target? The tragic Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

During the decadeslong Cold War, the Soviet Union spread false information throughout the U.S. to deceive the public about our government. This deceiving tactic was known as “dezinformatsiya.”

Almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and many attempts by the U.S. to become international partners with Russia, Moscow is once again embracing its role as an American adversary.

Through the exploitation of social media, the Russian government is recycling yesterday’s tactics with today’s technology. Its goal is to sow discord within our country and undermine trust in our public institutions. By pursuing a strategy of chaos, they are attempting to create division among our people and allies.

This is the same objective outlined in the Department of Justice’s indictment of the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, which sought to create internal conflict through information warfare that targeted anyone with a political or social agenda.

Ironically, their conduits were the very platforms we created — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Our efforts to promote an open, secure, and reliable information and communications infrastructure to foster free expression is being abused by a country that espouses the opposite.

In June 2017, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued their Russia Military Power report, a revival of their Soviet Military Power report that was distributed annually in the 1980s. It identified Russia’s updated Soviet disinformation strategy as “information confrontation,” which includes diplomatic, economic, military, political, cultural, social, and religious information arenas to shape perceptions and manipulate the behavior of target audiences.

Russia targets these audiences in cyberspace through the use of bots, trolls, hacktivists, and other malicious cyber actors. This state-backed cyber apparatus also targeted our friends in Ukraine, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, and others across Europe. More personally, this apparatus targeted our election, our voting systems, and created counter-protests between our people. According to the German Marshall Fund, this strategy was deployed during the impassioned national debate about the NFL anthem protests with the intent to stir national divisions.

The Alliance for Democracy tracks a network of 600 Russian-linked Twitter accounts that have been connected to influence operations in the United States. At the end of January, these accounts were promoting narratives and attacks against the FBI, the DOJ, and the release of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act memo.

Immediately following the recent massacre in Parkland, their Twitter posts included contradictory hashtags on both sides of the gun control debate. They even falsely claimed the shooter searched Arabic phrases on Google before the shooting.

This follows the same pattern of other Russian online activities to stoke public doubt about American institutions like the police, the FBI, our intelligence community, and our media. These are pillars upon which our republic stands, upon which our democracy relies — pillars the Russians are attempting to destroy.

We cannot allow this assault to continue.

Fortunately, we have begun to take action. Last year our election systems were designated as critical infrastructure. This year, the Department of Homeland Security has provided important briefings to state election officials. NATO modernized its command structure to emphasize a greater focus on cyber, and the State Department created the Global Engagement Center to counter state and nonstate propaganda.

These are very important steps, but we must do more to counter Russian and other nations’ disinformation efforts that are attacking our way of life, and exploiting the technology our nation’s ingenuity created.

That is why we as a nation, as a society, must work together to resist this Russian manipulation.

It is quite clear Russia is trying to reclaim its superpower status from the last half of the 20th century by weakening the U.S.

If America is to remain that “shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere,” as former President Ronald Reagan said, we must do more to promote our values and way of life against the autocratic repression spreading across our globe.

Turning against one another and losing faith in the institutions established to protect us not only weakens our resolve as a nation, but moves us dangerously close to becoming the victims of a poisonous Russian agenda.

Consider the prescient farewell address of President George Washington, in which he warned that “[the agitation] of the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption.”

We must be alert to Russian disinformation. We must be alert to the division and discord it is intended to sow. And we must join together with our European friends to be the vanguard of freedom and prevent Russian aggression from rising out of the “ash heap of history.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican, is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. He represents the 10th Congressional District of Texas. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican, represents North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.

Treasurer Folwell’s State Health Plan Saves Taxpayers $35 Million


State Health Plan Saves $35 Million through Medicare Advantage Enrollment
Treasurer Dale Folwell
3/6/2018
LINK

“State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, announced today that the State Health Plan (SHP) will generate $35 million in savings as a result of the increase in members enrolled in the UnitedHealthcare (UHC) Medicare Advantage plans. Treasurer Folwell released the numbers during his monthly “Ask Me Anything” conference call, part of his initiative to promote transparency.

“In an effort to improve member satisfaction and generate additional savings, the State Health Plan automatically enrolled its Medicare-eligible members in a premium-free Medicare Advantage Base Plan during open enrollment in October 2017.

“Approximately 86 percent of Medicare-eligible members remained enrolled in a UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Base Plan for the 2018 benefit year.

“‘The move to UHC’s Medicare Advantage products are a win-win for members and taxpayers,’ said Folwell. ‘Members love the simplicity and value offered by the UHC plans. They have one plan and one card for both medical and drug coverage as well as access to great programs like SilverSneakers, while providing substantial savings for taxpayers.’

“During open enrollment, members were given the opportunity to opt out if they preferred another health plan option. This effort aligns with a 2015 report from the North Carolina General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division, which suggested that the plan require Medicare-eligible members to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans in order to reduce costs.

“The $35 million in savings follows the renegotiation of the contract between the SHP and UHC to provide Medicare-eligible retirees with Medicare Advantage health insurance plans in 2018. The rate for the basic plan decreased to $120 a month for 2018, down from $120.65 a month in 2017, despite increasing health care costs.

“In 2017 approximately 125,000 of 166,000 Medicare-eligible members (75 percent) were enrolled in one of the two fully insured Medicare Advantage plans offered by UHC.  The other 41,000 Medicare-eligible members were enrolled in a different plan option, where the plan is responsible for claims costs after Medicare has paid its share.

“The State Health Plan, a division of the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, is the largest purchaser of health care in North Carolina. The plan provides coverage to nearly 730,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, and their dependents.​”

Click HERE to view the press release.

Rep. Meadows Introduces Two Bills to Secure America’s Schools

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced two bills to provide resources for enhancing school security and keeping students safe.

The first, the Protect America’s Schools Act, would provide $1.5 billion in supplemental appropriations to the Community Oriented Policing Services’ School Resource Officer program. The second, the Veterans Securing Schools Act, would allow Veterans hired by a state or local agency to serve as School Resource Officers. This bill gives state and local law enforcement agencies greater flexibility in hiring Veterans to protect school campuses.

These two bills are the direct results of input from sheriffs and law enforcement officers across Western North Carolina.

Rep. Meadows released the following statement:

“Our country is in the midst of a defining moment where we have an opportunity to come together and develop common sense solutions to safeguard our children in school. While gun control is not the answer, the best and most effective path forward, I believe, is one that safeguards our schools from becoming “soft targets,” or areas with little to stand in the way of someone with bad intentions. The two bills I’m introducing today—one to commit $1.5 billion to the school resource officer program, and one to allow state and local employed veterans to serve as school security officers—will go a long way in helping provide schools both adequate resources and trained personnel to protect our kids.

In particular, I want to thank our local law enforcement officials in my district—their input and expertise have been invaluable as we look to find solutions on how to keep our children safe in school. No matter where you stand on the issue of gun safety, one principle remains true: when the people closest to the issues at home are directly involved in the conversation, it produces good results. I thank them for their willingness to engage.”

Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald, who recently attended a school safety roundtable at the White House hosted by President Trump, gave the following statement regarding the process in developing this legislation:

“As the discussion about our need to properly secure our schools continues, once again we see the benefit an advocate for our district like Congressman Mark Meadows brings to the table. I supported Congressman Meadows’ original Protect America’s Schools Act in 2013, as he tried to assist local law enforcement in delivering a safer school environment for our children, and I have seen his unwavering support for securing our communities ever since. As counties like ours look at the myriad of options to improve school safety, this initial funding for School Resource Officers is a great step to ensure that our local governments have access to the funding they need should they determine that increased officer presence is one facet of the strategy they want to adopt. I appreciate Congressman Meadows for once again taking the lead in this area and join him in supporting this critical effort.”

For more information, click here.

Environmental group may have to register as foreign agents

Washington Examiner – U.S. environmental activists who are working to halt the production and use of fossil fuels could be required to register as foreign agents if Congress gets serious about enforcing an existing law.

There was some potential movement in that direction last October when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced legislation that would put some teeth into the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law, which was first passed in 1938, calls for individuals and organizations to provide full disclosure when they are working to advance the public policy interests of a foreign government.

As the Washington Examiner has reported, Grassley’s proposed legislation would close off an exemption that has allowed lobbyists for foreign interests to avoid registration while providing the U.S. attorney general with additional authority to conduct investigations.

While the media remains largely focused on ongoing investigations into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, the connection between Vladimir Putin’s government and U.S. environmental groups deserves more scrutiny.

Klein Ltd., a Bermuda-based shell corporation run by executives with strong ties to longtime Putin friend Leonid Reiman and Russian energy investment groups including Firebird New Russia Fund and Vimpelcom Ltd., reportedly funneled $23 million to the Sea Change Foundation, according to a detailed 2014 U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report.

Click here to read more.


More on the Russia Connection:  Natalie Grant was an expert in Soviet propaganda (see here). Way back in 1998, she wrote “Gorbachev and Global Enviro-Communism”— which is about the Marxist roots of the Global Warming issue, which in-turn spawned the renewable energy craze. – John Droz, Jr., physicist and citizen advocate


Remember: the word “sustainability” is code for extracting the rights from unwitting citizens.

Rep. Mark Meadows Scores 100 Percent on FRC Action’s New Scorecard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council (FRC) Action recently released its annual scorecard for the First Session of the 115th Congress. U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is among a new record of 245 Members of Congress who scored a perfect 100 percent for votes cast last year. He was recently presented with FRC Action’s “True Blue” award for displaying unwavering commitment and consistent support of faith, family, and freedom.

Votes in the U.S. House and Senate included:

  • No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion
  • Disapproval of Obama’s HHS Title X Rule
  • Obamacare Repeal and Replace
  • Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
  • DOD Transgender Funding (Blocking Funding for Sex-Reassignment Surgeries)
  • D.C. Budget Autonomy
  • D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment
  • Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
  • Independent Payment Advisory Board Repeal
  • Confirmation of Amy Barrett to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Tax Cuts & Jobs Act

Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins made the following comment:

“We thank Rep. Meadows for consistently voting to defend and advance faith, family and freedom. As a ‘True Blue Member’ he voted 100 percent on FRC Action’s Scorecard including votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, deliver long-needed tax cuts that are already providing much needed relief to working families, stand for religious liberty, overturn President Obama’s transgender military policy, end the forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood, and protect pain capable babies.

“Rep. Meadows deserves praise for his unwavering commitment to stand for life, family, marriage, and religious liberty. North Carolinians should be encouraged to know that they have a Member of Congress such as Rep. Meadows who has come alongside other members and our president to begin the work of rebuilding our nation, and protecting the very values that made America great,” concluded Perkins.

Click here to download a copy of the Vote Scorecard.