From an editorial Friday in the Fayetteville Observer:
We have to wonder: Were our lawmakers celebrating the passage of the Brunch Bill a little early when they also passed the Garbage Juice bill? They certainly couldn’t have been thinking clearly.
The brunch legislation lets restaurants and retailers sell alcoholic beverages at 10 a.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than the law currently allows. Cities have to approve the earlier sales too before they are allowed.
But there were no signs of common sense in the legislative approval of a measure that would allow landfill operators to “aerosolize” the contaminated liquids that leak from under landfills. The bill requires the Department of Environmental Quality to approve permits that allow spraying of the “garbage juice” into the air over the landfill, where it will then evaporate. It is likely the cheapest way to take care of a problem that accompanies any garbage-disposal operation. But that liquid is highly toxic and it’s not hard to imagine the fine mist drifting a bit from the landfills to adjoining neighborhoods.
In many cities and counties, landfills tend to be located among poor, often minority, neighborhoods, where residents already must put up with the flies, rodents and heavy truck traffic that are standard features of municipal garbage disposal. Adding the rancid mist of “garbage juice” is more than an insult – it’s an assault.
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the Garbage Juice bill, as he should have. If lawmakers try to override that veto, their drinking privileges, with brunch or otherwise, should be permanently revoked.
N.C.’s visa problem
From an editorial Wednesday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:
Seasonal foreign workers are crucial to North Carolina businesses such as seafood and landscaping, and the H-2B visa program allowed businesses to get seasonal workers. They’re crucial for North Carolina, which has more H-2B visas than all states except for Texas and Colorado.
But Congress has not renewed an exemption that allowed returning workers to keep coming back to the U.S. without their numbers counting against the cap in the program. That means the application process is more daunting for workers and businesses.
And there is the underlying conundrum that involves overall immigration policy: Politicians like to speak against “illegal immigrants” even as businesses that rely on immigrant labor want to protect their low-cost workforce.
President Trump with his “wall” certainly made illegal immigration an issue in his campaign, but the reality on the ground – literally – is that American business needs immigrant labor, and immigrant labor needs the jobs. A better choice here would be to expand the H-2B program, with more oversight of the businesses that use such labor to ensure workers aren’t being exploited. Then, work on a sensible immigration policy that doesn’t force regular immigrant workers to live in the shadows.
North Carolina businesses, such as one seafood market that didn’t open in the state because of a shortage of workers, understand what happens when political rhetoric turns into reality. Everyone, workers and business owners, pays the price. Political leaders need to do better. Much better.