Budget, ALEC, Bad Vouchers Ruling, Redistricting – 24th Legislative Update

NC NOW’s Legislative Update #24 Summary – July 25, 2015

Here is a summary of NC NOW’s legislative update with a few other points, which was emailed to members last Sunday, 7/26/15.

Senate adds all Republicans to Budget Conference Committee
The Senate has appointed its budget conference committee members—the 32 Republican Senators who voted for the Senate budget (only Sen. Bob Rucho was excluded). There are already 82 House members on the conference committee making a grand total of 114 members.  Clearly, a core group of leaders will be meeting separately to write the actual budget.  The Senate has ended committee meetings in order to concentrate on the budget.
 
ALEC Wields More Influence in NC Than Almost Any Other State
But the budget was on the back burner this week since Speaker Moore, Sen. Bob Rucho, and eight other Republican House members left Raleigh for San Diego to attend the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Follow this link to see their names and the ALEC proposals that have been introduced in North Carolina: http://www.wral.com/lawmakers-leave-budget-behind-head-to-california-conference/14789185/  

ALEC - legislator per corp

Now that our state Supreme Court has given a green light to school vouchers, the obvious next step is to follow ALEC’s plan to extend  vouchers to middle-class students (see http://www.alternet.org/education/right-wing-alec-now-says-school-vouchers-are-kids-suburbia-not-poor).  ALEC wields more influence in North Carolina than almost any other state.

Vouchers bad – Taxpayer Funds Meant for Only Public Purposes 
The NC Supreme Court ruled that vouchers are constitutional despite Associate Justice Robin Hudson’s point in her dissent “that the Opportunity Scholarship program does not meet the requirement that taxpayer funds be used for only public purposes.”  More on the decision at http://www.wral.com/nc-supreme-court-says-vouchers-are-constitutional/14791349/.  This is a devastating ruling for public education, as explained in “No victory in NC school voucher ruling” at http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article28649449.html

Governor Signed Bill to Preserve Confederate Battle Flag and More
Senate Bill 22 that protects Confederate monuments and the battle flag by prohibiting local governments from removing or relocating “objects of remembrance” from public land easily passed the House and has been signed into law by Governor McCrory.  In the future, it will be necessary to obtain permission from the legislature to move or remove these monuments or flags.

Good News: Injunction stopping Greensboro Redistricting for This Year
But there is good news, too.  A federal court has issued an injunction that will stop the Greensboro redistricting law from taking effect in time for this year’s elections.  No one showed up in court to defend the law.  The Attorney General’s office informed the legislature that it would not get involved since the state was not being sued (the Guilford County Board of Elections, which would have to enforce the law, is being sued) and added that their resources are already stretched thin defending other laws.  The General Assembly recently passed a law giving itself standing to defend contested laws in court, but did not do so in this case.  The case will be tried in time for the 2017 elections, but prospects don’t look good for the law since U. S. District Judge Catherine Eagles has said that the law has no rational basis and is likely to be permanently overturned.  For a fuller account, see:  http://www.wral.com/no-one-comes-to-defense-of-greensboro-redistricting/14793336/

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