30 Jun 2016

What Matters for Thursday, June 30, 2016

We kick off the show talking about education with BEST NC President & CEO, Brenda Berg. She shares her thoughts on the good, bad and ugly of the education portion of the soon to be passed state budget. She says she likes the raises for teachers, especially with the Senate-proposed merit/step raise system remaining in place. Mark mentions that principals are also getting raises. Ms. Berg says we are currently 50th in the nation in terms of what we pay our principals and we have to do better. She says this should involve holding school leaders and teachers accountable for low performing schools because a balance of achievement and academic growth are the key factors in improving education in the state. She also points out a statistic we rarely hear. North Carolina gets an “A” on the Return on Investment it gets from the amount of money spent per pupil. Ms. Berg says the state also needs to continue to focus on elevating educators by providing opportunities for principals and teachers. This is a great interview from which you will learn a lot about how lawmakers are using your tax dollars to better our state’s educational needs.

Next, WBTV Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner joins Mark. He says revisions to HB2 legislation may not be considered in either the House or the Senate even after a visit by the Governor. Nick says Democratic House members have told him not much was said in their meeting with Governor McCrory. Nick tells Mark about an investigation he’s been doing on coal ash ponds and the safety of the water going to surrounding homes. He explains they started their investigation because the whole neighborhood had concerns about the levels of hexavalent chromium – a toxic contaminant – in their water. Nick says the real rub is that Duke Energy says no wells are affected by the coal ash ponds. He adds that chemists with the Southern Environmental Law Center have shown errors in the way Duke conducted its tests. Nick says the Department of Environmental Quality has some wiggle room in legislation to require Duke continue to provide bottled water to all homes within a certain radius of the coal ash ponds. Mark asks how the people whose water tested in dangerous levels felt about the results. Nick says they were pretty upset. We should all be.

In the second hour, Civitas Executive Vice President Brian Balfour shares the three numbers you won’t hear about in the soon to be passed state budget. The first is $5.5 billion. Brian explains this is the amount of the budget just three decades ago. He says even taking into consideration increases in population, going from $5.5 to $22.3 billion is substantial and should be a concern. The second is 42%. That’s how much of each North Carolinian’s tax dollars are spent to meet budget needs. And the final number is 66% or $14.5 billion which goes to pay state workers and their benefits. Those are three pretty large numbers.

Finally, House Speaker Tim Moore shares his thoughts on the budget. Speaker Moore says he is quite happy with the raises they were able to give to teachers and state employees while still being able to provide a bonus to state retirees. Mark asks how lawmakers hopes to balance growing needs of state employee pensions. Speaker Moore says this is something that will have to be addressed just like funding the state healthcare plan. He says when you see a problem, you have to deal with it instead of continuing to kick the can down the road or you end up in a situation like Detroit. Mark asks what he’s most pleased with in the budget. Speaker Moore says the tax cuts that were passed because they help everyone.

USO-NC President & COO Lt. Col. John Falkenbury, Time Warner Cable News Anchor Tim Boyum and “The Federalist” Senior Editor David Harsanyi join us tomorrow.

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29 Jun 2016

What Matters for Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How do North Carolinians feel about the big issues and the candidates up for election this fall? Civitas President Francis De Luca shares some of the results from the latest poll. He says generally voters they spoke to were leaning toward Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry and Treasurer candidate Dan Blue, III as their preference over their competitors. And that’s just a taste of what the poll results show. Francis says it’s all up in the air right now when it comes to the election, both nationally and locally, but what could make a big difference is how many young voters turn up at the polls.

Next, Carolina Plott Hound’s Paul Chesser joins Mark to discuss all the news that’s worth a link. They delve into the latest on HB2, the indictment of Senator Fletcher Hartsell, the end of an era at Belk Department Stores and so much more. You’ll have to listen to find out all the latest.

In the second hour, Associate Director of Concerned Women for America – North Carolina, Mary Frances Forrester, joins Mark. Ms. Forrester will be a delegate at the upcoming Republican National Convention. She tells Mark, she’s currently a committed delegate to Senator Ted Cruz who has not released his delegates to Mr. Trump, so her first vote will have to be for Senator Ted Cruz. She says after that, who knows what will happen. She tells Mark she will still need some convincing to throw her support behind Mr. Trump. She stresses the most important issue for her is the choice of Judges – both on the Supreme Court and across our state – because they make the ultimate decisions on major issues that have an impact on all our lives for years. She says though she has supported some candidates she thought would be good for the nation that were not and did not support some that ended up being superb leaders. Mark asks her thoughts on what is leading to the decline in Christianity in the nation. Ms. Forrester says cafeteria-style churches that allow you to pick and choose what you want to believe and what you don’t instead of following the Bible. She adds what is even more disturbing is what is happening to the electorate. She tells Mark she asked a group of school children the meaning of the word patriotism and they told her it meant “being involved in social change.” She says this is all part of dumbing down the electorate. This is a great interview you will thoroughly enjoy.

Finally, Lead Counsel for the Civitas Center for Law and Freedom, Elliot Engstrom, joins Mark. They delve into the ramifications to North Carolina of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding abortion in Texas. He says our law would have to be compared to Texas’ law to determine if the breadth is the same or similar for it to effect it. Mark asks how the Supreme Court determines which cases it will hear. He says it’s argued before a lower court and approximately 90% of cases do not make it to the Supreme Court. Elliot then shares that he is leaving Civitas to join the faculty at Elon. All of us at the Freedom Action Network will miss Elliot and appreciate the contributions he has made, both as a guest and a host of his own show. We wish him well and are certain we will hear from him again.

Civitas Executive Vice President Brian Balfour, WBTV Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner, House Speaker Tim Moore and BEST NC President and CEO Brenda Berg join us tomorrow.

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28 Jun 2016

What Matters for Tuesday, June 28, 2016

There’s four months until the election, but all eyes are on the two presumptive nominees – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But, as “The Week” Editor, Peter Weber tells Mark, Trump’s campaign is going through a transformation as he “becomes a more palatable candidate.” Mr. Weber says, there are similarities in ideology to the U.K.’s Independence Party which led the way to the success of last week’s Brexit vote when it comes to immigration. Mark asks if Trump will be able to overcome his negatives. Mr. Weber says both candidates have a lot of negatives, but he can definitely overcome them – especially if he selects the right running mate. He adds the frustration Americans are feeling is being expressed through their choices as candidates. He tells Mark the Republican Convention is going to be a good show. This is a fascinating, highly informative interview.

Next, Irish Documentary Filmmaker Phelim McAleer tells Mark about his new project which uses real actors to show the details of the depositions about Hillary Clinton’s emails and the use of her server. He shares that in just one of the films show that Cheryl Mills said “I don’t remember” at least 189 times during her seven hours of testimony and her attorney objected more than 200 times. He explains this is a crowdfunded project. Mark asks why they chose this topic. Mr. McAleer says because a judge wouldn’t allow the public to see the testimonies because he felt they might affect the election and “being Irish, I say the hell with that.” McAleer and his wife Ann McElhinney are also the makers of Gosnell and Frack Nation. He tells Mark they have received enough donations to complete about half the film. If you want to see a small sample of what the film will be like upon its completion, go to www.Clintonemailsonfilm.com.

In the second hour, AFP Communications Director Joseph Kyzer joins Mark. They break down the positives and negatives of the budget including salary hikes for teachers.

Finally, UNC-Chapel Hill is discouraging its staff from using terms like husband/boyfriend, golf outing or Christmas party because these are micro aggressions. And, don’t say you like someone’s shoes because they may think you don’t value their intellect. What?

Civitas President Francis De Luca, Carolina Plott Hound’s Paul Chesser, Concerned women for America of North Carolina State Director Mary Frances Forrester, Rep. Nelson Dollar and Center for Law and Freedom Lead Counsel Elliot Engstrom join us tomorrow.

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27 Jun 2016

What Matters for Monday, June 27, 2016

The EPA is changing rules in the middle of the game after energy companies have already made close to a billion dollars in modifications to clean up power plants. “This is simply another example of government overreach,” explains Kathleen Hartnett-White, Senior Fellow-in-Residence and Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Institute and author of FUELING FREEDOM: Exposing the Mad War on Energy. She says the EPA is so far beyond its authority in these regulations, as a matter of law, it will be hard to undo what they have done. Mark says the average person probably doesn’t think about the clean power plan or the EPA so they wake up to a much higher energy bill. Ms. White says there are two examples that show what happens from the elimination of fossil fuels to green energy – Germany and England – where energy prices have doubled or tripled. She explains it’s gotten so bad there is talk of taking electric tea kettles, hair dryers, wireless routers and even iPhones because of the amount of energy they consume. Say what?

Next, Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden joins us. He tells Mark it’s a beautiful, sunny day at the beach. Mark asks if they are expecting a large crowd this weekend. He says they are seeing an upswing in the number of tourists coming to the area this year and hope it continues. Mark asks if his ancestors had anything to do with the founding of the town. Mayor Holden says his ancestors bought the “piece of sand” straight from the King of England. His family has lived there ever since. When it comes to legislation the town is watching, Mayor Holden says changes to sales tax distribution could affect the town. He was very pleased with changes being made to allow hardening of the waterfront. He explains the state did not allow this for a long time, but now they are allowing permits to be applied for and the town has done so to get a terminal groin on of the east side of the beach. Mayor Holden explains there is a lot of confusion over jetties and terminal groins. He says it’s been a longtime goal to have this accomplished. Mark asks what makes Holden more attractive than others. He says there are mostly signal family homes, they have height restrictions, they are less than ten miles off Highway 17 and they are family-friendly.

In the second hour, Civitas President Francis De Luca joins Mark. They discuss what could be in the House and Senate’s joint budget expected to be released this week. Francis points out some of the amendments that are being discussed including tax rate changes and alterations to how the state can use eminent domain. He gives an example of a heritage furniture store in downtown Raleigh that the state decided it wanted to turn into Marbles Kid’s Museum. The 80-year-old woman who owned it, instead of trying to fight the state in an eminent domain case, accepted the offer instead of fighting the case out in court. They also delve into Private Letter rulings, achievement school districts and other bills that remain to be discussed before the General Assembly looks like it can adjourn for this session. This is an interesting segment that covers a lot of ground.

Finally, Former IMF official and American Enterprise Institute Economist, Desmond Lachman, joins Mark. He delves into the ramifications of the Brexit decision on the financial market. He says Moody’s has already lowered England’s credit rating as the value of the pound sterling has plummeted. He explains the extreme movement to leave the EU is spreading as other countries watch what happens in England during the next few months before they make a decision or push to pull out of EU as well. He explains there has been little growth over the last eight years in most of Europe with double-digit unemployment which has caused the dissatisfaction across the region. If you want to know the details of this situation and how it might affect the U.S., you’ll want to hear this interview.

AFP State Director Donald Bryson, Irish Documentary Filmmaker Phelim McAleer and Rep. Nelson Dollar join us tomorrow.

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24 Jun 2016

What Matters for Friday, June 24, 2016

What does England’s vote to leave the European Union mean to the U.S.? Mark talks to Civitas President Francis De Luca who breaks down the implications of the decision, including the reaction of the stock market. He says over the long run, this is a good thing and we could see more countries discuss leaving as well. Members of the far right in France, Italy and the Netherlands are already talking about leaving the EU.

Next, Daily Signal News Reporter Leah Jessen joins Mark to discuss the case of a veteran who was forcibly removed from a California Air Force Base for using the word God during his speech at a retiree’s flag folding ceremony. She tells him it was pointed out to her while she was researching the article that the Air Force has a policy that religious references can only be used during retirement or funeral ceremonies. But, others have interpreted the same rule as meaning no religious references should be made during a ceremony on a military base. She says there is a video of the ceremony showing the retiree’s invited friend being removed just a few sentences into his speech. Mark questions what the world is coming to when you can drop the “F” bomb, but can’t say God without the risk of being arrested or forcibly removed from a podium even when invited to speak by someone who fought for our country.

In the second hour, Civitas Communications Coordinator Demi Dowdy shares why she is not happy as a woman that Hillary Clinton could be the first female President of the U.S. She explains she can’t be excited because of the way Hillary has not seem to hold women in high regard in her own life. This is a great discussion and article that you’ll want to hear.

You are not alone. Those words can heal in so many ways as we learn from Delaney Henderson, a victim of rape and now ambassador for the group PAVE (Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment). She took the time to reach out to the Stanford rape victim and told her she was a victim, but a survivor. She tells Mark she didn’t know how to get the letter to the woman and finally decided to post it on Facebook Thursday. Her letter was read by the victim. She explains to Mark that she didn’t get much justice in the case. She explains she’ll have to face the man who raped her again in court, but feels she’ll be able to do so as a stronger person because of the support she’s received from the group PAVE. Delaney’s story will be featured Saturday on CBS’ show ’48 Hours.’ This is an interview you don’t want to miss and you’ll want to share with others. Trust me.

Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden, Former IMF official and American Enterprise Institute Economist Desmond Lachman, Civitas President Francis De Luca, and Senior Fellow-in-Residence and Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Institute Kathleen Hartnett-White join us Monday.

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23 Jun 2016

What Matters for Thursday, June 23, 2016

“She has the freedom to say what she believes, but shame on her for not standing up for those who put their lives on the line every day.” That’s what newly appointed NC GOP Communications Director, Kami Mueller, tells Mark about her thoughts on the comments posted by Durham City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson Tuesday on Facebook which said in part “…the most dangerous people with guns are cops and soldiers.” Kami tells Mark she felt so strongly about Johnson’s comments, she put pen to paper. Kami goes on to explain the uphill battle Republicans are facing this year as we head to the polls to elect not only a new President, but cast our vote for Governor, Lt. Governor and members of Congress which could change the entire direction of our nation. Mark asks if Donald Trump will be able to galvanize the public. Kami says she thinks he will.

Still have questions over whether Donald Trump can do the job as President or represent you as a conservative Republican? Mark talks to the Founder and Chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed. Mr. Reed was a part of the group of members from the faith community that recently met with Donald Trump about his plans for the nation’s future if he’s elected. Mr. Reed tells Mark that Trump supports Israel, he’s pro-life, and he’s the only candidate to release the names of the nominees he’d put forward for the Supreme Court and that’s important. Mr. Reed says he remained neutral in the primary and admits Mr. Trump is a friend of his, but even if this wasn’t the case, after meeting and talking with him, he fully supports him for President. Mr. Reed says by not caving into political correctness, Mr. Trump has galvanized people to get out to the polls – 6.5 million of whom were evangelical Christians.

In the second hour, Civitas Senior Education Policy Analyst, Dr. Bob Luebke, joins Mark. They discuss the good education bills being pushed through the GA. One of which is SB867 which compels the State Board of Education to require all candidates for teacher licensure to have a criminal background check. Mark says most people probably thought that was the law already. Another Bob points out is HB1080 which creates Achievement School Districts as a way to turn around some of the state’s worst performing schools by putting them under the management of experienced charter school operators and approved by the SBOE. Bob brings up HB657 which gives students the opportunity to choose the math track which provides an option to Common Core’s Math 1, 2, and 3 with the more traditional Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 track. If you want to know more information about these and other bills concerning education that are being discussed in the General Assembly right now, check out Bob’s article.

Subtly imitating other’s behavior makes others like us more. Did you ever think about that? Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Invisible Influences”, Jonah Berger, tells Mark challenges to compromise often come up because of invisible influences like hanging out with others who have similar opinions to ours. He says the way to take advantage of influence is to see it. By seeing it, we can choose when we want to use this influence or listen to an opinion different than ours.

Rape Victim and ambassador to the advocacy group PAVE Delaney Henderson and Daily Signal News Reporter Leah Jessen join us tomorrow.

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22 Jun 2016

What Matters for Wednesday, June 22, 2016

“Full employment does not mean everyone who wants a job has one.” That’s what Wells Fargo Economist Mark Vitner tells Mark is the definition of full employment. He explains when economists speak of pushing against full employment limits when adding jobs means. He goes on to say, “In order to push the unemployment rate down any further, companies would have to train workers in a town, hire them away from another company in or out of town.” The Fed would like to have the federal funds rate roughly around the federal rate. Mr. Vitner says they’d like to have that rate at 2% now, but they can’t do that without damaging the worldwide market. The most likely time for the fed to raise rates is in July or September. Mark asks if the BREXIT vote will have an effect on North Carolina. Mr. Vitner says if the U.K. decides to leave the EU, then there will be a tangential effect as there will need to immediately be new rules and regulations written up. He compares this vote to the Y2K issue – everyone got ready for it and nothing happened. He says it’s similar to that situation. No matter what the result of the vote, it begs the question, why was this ever an issue? Will other countries follow if the U.K. leaves or is this just a call for reformation?

Next, white women and those who live in suburbs will be the key deciding factor in this election when it comes to the electorate meaning we could see a President Clinton this November and we won’t see a lot of party-splitting on ballots either. That’s what Catawba College Professor of Politics and History, Dr. Michael Bitzer, tells Mark when it comes to what voters will do when they go to the polls in November. Mark asks if he were running the Governor’s or Attorney General’s campaign, would he advise them to show up at their up-party candidate’s events (which neither Governor McCrory nor Attorney General Roy Cooper did for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton). Dr. Bitzer says he thinks their decisions to stay away from the presumptive presidential candidate’s is not a bad idea.

In the second hour, Craven, Carteret and Pamlico County Senator Norman Sanderson explains how the North Carolina Legislative Prayer Caucus came into being and what it’s all about. He tells Mark many times the group will come together on issues of importance and controversy to pray that they, as lawmakers, can come to an agreement that is not only right for the state, but right with the Lord. Mark asks about legislation from the Senate Judiciary Committee that would withhold state dollars from cities or counties that accept identification cards from nonprofit organizations or establish “sanctuary policies” limiting enforcement of federal immigration law. Senator Sanderson explains the identification cards are not legal in the state and lawmakers are trying to bring some sanity to the whole situation. He says they hope to have this finalized by the end of next week.

Finally, NC State University William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Economics, Dr. Mike Walden, joins Mark. He explains there are two reports that come out with the jobs report – household and payroll. The household report reflects who in the household is employed or isn’t while the payroll reflects what companies are hiring, laying off, and how many people are on the payroll. Dr. Walden says one of the worries many economists have are companies not finding skilled workers for their needs and technology outpacing lesser and unskilled workers from their jobs. When it comes to holding interest rates in place, there is concern over a loss in the stock market which has seen gains in recent months. He adds the election year adds fodder to the campaigns of both parties. He harkens back to the 1992 election and allegations that raising interest rates may have been one of the causes of President George H.W. Bush’s loss to President Bill Clinton. Interesting.

Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Invisible Fences” Jonah Berger, Chairman and CEO of Century Strategies Ralph Reed, NCGOP Communications Director Kami Mueller and Civitas Senior Education Policy Analyst Dr. Bob Luebke.

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