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@NCCapitol

House OKs tougher penalties for meth production

Posted February 20, 2013

— The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to enact stiffer penalties for people who cook up batches of methamphetamine.

House Bill 29 passed by a 116-1 vote and was sent to the Senate.

Under the bill, anyone previously convicted of manufacturing or possessing meth would be barred from obtaining any product that contains pseudoephedrine. The chemical, which is common in cold medications, is the primary ingredient used to make meth.

The legislation also calls for longer prison sentences for people convicted of making meth if a child, disabled person or elderly person lives in the house where the drug was being made.

"We're fighting one of the most insidious drug issues in this state," said bill sponsor Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union. "Every county in this state has a meth problem."

State Bureau of Investigation agents cleaned up 460 meth labs across North Carolina last year, up from 344 the preceding year and 235 in 2010. More than 70 labs have been located so far this year, according to the state Department of Justice.

Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, another bill sponsor, said the drug is difficult to combat because it is so addictive and so easy to make.

"Go to the drugstore, stop in the aisle at the local Walmart, pick up a few things, step back to the back of the building and mix them in a bottle and either a bomb goes off or another group of people is using drugs," Faircloth said.

Attorney General Roy Cooper applauded the bill, noting that the "one-pot method" of cooking meth is widespread and requires only a small amount of pseudoephedrine and a plastic bottle.

"Meth labs of any size can be especially dangerous for kids and other vulnerable people. Too often, our agents find innocent children and seniors living in homes where meth is being made,” Cooper said in a statement.

Statewide, 120 children were removed from homes last year where meth was being manufactured, up from 82 in 2011, according to the Department of Justice. So far this year, 14 children have been found living around meth labs.

When anyone is removed from a meth lab home, their clothing and other belongings usually have to be destroyed because of the hazardous fumes given off during the cooking process.

Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, cast the lone vote against the bill, saying he thought punishing anyone who previously possessed meth for having cold medicine goes too far.

“What if somebody really has cleaned up their life, and years later, they go get some cold medicine and suddenly they’re in jail?” Speciale said. “If it had been just (penalties for) manufacture, I might have voted for it.”

Tax credit for working poor to expire

The House also voted 80-36 to give final approval to a bill that allows the state earned-income tax credit expire at the end of 2013 and updates North Carolina tax codes to match changes in the federal code.

Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, acknowledged the bill's passage was "a fait accompli," but he still argued vehemently against the bill, saying it would hurt the working poor.

"All I'm asking is that you let those poor people who get this little bit of money keep the little bit of money and not go out on the poverty lines," Michaux said.

Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, called the end of the EITC "another nail in the coffin of poor people."

Defeating the bill also would cost taxpayers who take deductions for student loan interest, mortgage insurance and other items, said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.

House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes noted that Democrats approved the expiration of the EITC when they controlled the legislature in 2007. It was supposed to end last year, but lawmakers extended it for one year.

"For too long, we've used our tax code to implement social policy as opposed to using the tax code to promote economic growth,"  said Starnes, R-Caldwell.

Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, said 30 percent of the claims for the EITC are fraudulent.

"Anyone who wants to extend the fraudulent earned-income tax program ... is free to do so" by filing a separate bill, Howard said.

36 Comments

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  • Crumps Br0ther Feb 21, 6:12 p.m.

    while making the process / auditing so complicated not even the people who work there understand it! Please see the DMV renewal offices for proof ;)
    WooHoo2You

    Same thing for Barrycare, ask any HR rep. But that is gonna be the best thing ever right?

  • WooHoo2You Feb 21, 2:25 p.m.

    Obama sold out the rich by suggesting they follow the same rules and pay the same percentages of the middle class…how unfair! WooHoo2You

    Crumps Br0ther,

    -No. He took money from them. But go ahead and spin that. Its always OK when a lib says one thing and does another.

    So they tax me and you (like always) but doing the same to them is ‘taking?’ Talk about spin!

    -Im not asking yopu to be spiteful Im asking you to support more oversight so the system doesnt get played, but everytime that gets brought your ilk cry racism.

    Oversight is conservative word for hiring an outside contractor and paying them twice the amount of money you save while making the process / auditing so complicated not even the people who work there understand it! Please see the DMV renewal offices for proof ;)

  • Grand Union Feb 21, 2:22 p.m.

    "Im not asking yopu to be spiteful Im asking you to support more oversight so the system doesnt get played, but everytime that gets brought your ilk cry racism."

    who ever complained on here about more oversight???? The GOP has not asked for or attempted to add more oversight, all they have done is make blanket cuts for everyone.

  • Crumps Br0ther Feb 21, 1:49 p.m.

    Obama sold out the rich by suggesting they follow the same rules and pay the same percentages of the middle class…how unfair!
    WooHoo2You

    No. He took money from them. But go ahead and spin that. Its always OK when a lib says one thing and does another.

    Im not asking yopu to be spiteful Im asking you to support more oversight so the system doesnt get played, but everytime that gets brought your ilk cry racism.

  • WooHoo2You Feb 21, 1:14 p.m.

    Funny, all this complaining about the “47 percent” from a Bush tax year ;) WooHoo2You

    Crumps Br0ther,

    -why do you not care that your tax money is being wasted on people playing the system who flat out refuse to take care of themselves even though they are able.

    I do care but refuse to forsake the other 90 percent of the people need the help out of pure spitefulness.

    -Besides that, your savior Barry has sold out the rich and got one over on the middle class again and you willful ignore it. I guess its ok when one of your own is messing you over

    Obama sold out the rich by suggesting they follow the same rules and pay the same percentages of the middle class…how unfair!

  • Grand Union Feb 21, 12:50 p.m.

    "As a veteran of the Army he wasnt talking about me. But you can keep being the kind of victim he did mention"

    so you take no Federal entitlements......and never will. Can we have that tattooed on your forehead so we can help you not change your mind when you are old or sick?

  • Crumps Br0ther Feb 21, 12:34 p.m.

    Funny, all this complaining about the “47 percent” from a Bush tax year ;)
    WooHoo2You

    why do you not care that your tax money is being wasted on people playing the system who flat out refuse to take care of themselves even though they are able.

    Besides that, your savior Barry has sold out the rich and got one over on the middle class again and you willful ignore it. I guess its ok when one of your own is messing you over

  • flyNC Feb 21, 12:28 p.m.

    I thought we had budget problems??? Please tell me we are not cutting education to spend money on courts and prisons.

  • NotUrTypicalAmerican Feb 21, 12:26 p.m.

    Man, the prisons are gonna get ever fuller than they are now. Get ready to see newer prisons open up, folks, meaning more money in politician's pockets. Probably the same guys who are proposing the heavier penalties.

  • WooHoo2You Feb 21, 12:16 p.m.

    Probably the same way Romney came up with his claim that 47% of the American public are moochers.

    You didnt build that

    All taken out of context. No one belives, well the logical ones of us dont, that Romney was talking about the eldery, handicapped, veterans and the like.- Crumps Br0ther

    So the rest of the “47 percent” then? Because almost HALF of them are elderly, then add the vets, troops serving in combat zones, handicapped, business owners who claimed a loss for the year etc….that does not leave much room for moochers. BTW, to be “taken out of context” you pretend the entire tape is not available, that you can’t hear the tone of his voice (you can feel the distain), and when taken in context is suddenly sounds okay?

    Funny, all this complaining about the “47 percent” from a Bush tax year ;)

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