North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-District 1) was among 70 House members who signed a letter informing President George W. Bush they would support appropriating additional funds for the War in Iraq only if troops are withdrawn before Bush leaves office in 544 days. (Yes, we’re counting.) Butterfield was the only representative from North Carolina to sign the letter. His district includes Wilson and much of the eastern and northeastern parts of the state.

State Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford), whose legislative proposals have included a ban on fundraising by lobbyists, opening hearings of the State Ethics Commission and limiting the number of terms the House Speaker and President Pro Tem of the Senate can serve, has championed government transparency. Perhaps he’ll eliminate “legislative immunity,” which is preventing the public from knowing the truth about former state Rep. David Almond. A Republican, Almond mysteriously resigned earlier this month amid allegations by a former legislative aide of … well, without a public record, it would be speculation. Hmm, a woman subordinate files a complaint against a powerful, elected male leader, and resigns from her esteemed position. What could it be?

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has proposed to keep gassing pets legal in North Carolina but would require some training for the “euthanasia technicians.” Nationwide, many shelters have switched to lethal injection to avoid causing animals pain or distress. Alas, lethal injection is more expensive and “hands-on.” Why pay extra when you can dump the animals in a room, turn on the carbon monoxide and walk away? Toss another zero to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which has endorsed death by carbon monoxide as humane.

Gov. Mike Easley had the cojones to stand up to the real estate lobby and state lawmakers who oppose a land transfer tax option for counties. “I think that a lot of the legislators are scared of the Realtors and they’ve got to decide: Do they stand with the Realtors or do they stand with the people they represent?” he said.

If county voters pass the levy, property owners would pay a 0.4 percent tax on the sales price. The Realtor lobby opposes the tax, contending it would unfairly burden property sellers, while proponents say the money is necessary to pay for growth, including roads and schools. (See this week’s Back Talk.)

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