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North Carolina editorial roundup

Excerpts from recent editorials in the state:

Winston-Salem Journal on closing proceedings of the Judicial Standards Commission: In 2013, the General Assembly had good intentions in passing a law that closed from public view disciplinary proceedings of the Judicial Standards Commission, protecting judges from bad publicity related to baseless accusations. Under previous law, such charges and hearings before the commission were public.
Unfortunately, we don’t see how the change helps judges or the public and this issue highlights the need for better public access to what should be public records. …
Now all proceedings will be held in secret. The only public notice of such matters will come when, and if, the N.C. Supreme Court actually approves punishment for a judge, the News & Observer of Raleigh reported.
The public will not know when its judges are being investigated and adjudicated through the system and will also be locked out of the proceedings that determine if those judicial officers violated judicial standards. …
Open judicial proceedings are a cherished element of American democracy. The legislature should not have closed these proceedings.

The Citizen-Times of Asheville on regulating drone use in the state:
Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones, have great potential both for good and for bad. North Carolina needs a regulatory system that is strict where it must be and flexible otherwise.
Drones can assess damage from natural disaster at far less cost than entailed from the use of manned aircraft. They can spot disease infestations in crops and check bridges.
They also, if misused, can spy on individuals in what those individuals thought was the privacy of their homes. Think Big Brother in the sky.
Wisely, North Carolina put a moratorium on the use of drones while issues are worked out. The issues now are well enough defined that it’s time to move on with a regulatory framework. …
The immediate task for North Carolina is to see that agencies can use drones without infringing on our liberties.

StarNews of Wilmington on state government imposing regulations on municipalities:
State lawmakers who have embraced deregulation nevertheless seem awfully fond of imposing new rules on local governments. If they’re not careful, the Honorables could undermine the ability of our cities and counties to function.
Most recently, the General Assembly has taken aim at privilege licenses, which cities and counties charge businesses that locate within their jurisdiction. Over the years the legislature has authorized privilege fees for various businesses, while leaving the regulation of other businesses to local governing boards. The result is a hodgepodge of fees.
State Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, is a member of a committee that will soon vote on a bill limiting privilege fees to no more than $100. In other words, the legislature would make decisions now being made at the local level.
While there is good argument to make the system more consistent, some things should be left to local government, where the voices of individual residents carry more weight than at the state level.

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