Another “Special Session” Ambush, 3 Actions To Take

Shocking power grab from the Republicans already in charge of both sides of the NC General Assembly, being carried out during a fourth special session they called with no emergencies to address. They are using this fourth session to further their own agendas, in this case for a massive partisan power grab of the Governor-elect’s powers and interference with historic privileges associated with that position. This session is in many ways like the one that brought us HB 2, the bathroom law, which also took away state law remedies to discrimination and interfered with existing local ordinances. Read about what is happening and three actions you can take.

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Small part of citizens with signs in Senate Gallery on Dec 13, 2016. Photo credit: Gailya Paliga

We just got back from the NC Legislative Building again. Today is the third day in a row that people have gathered there in protest of potential and realized bad behavior by the majority leadership of the NC General Assembly, led by House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger.  This extra ‘special session’ was called on Dec 14, immediately following a special session that had been formally called to happen on Dec 13 to address the serious needs of those devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Matthew left a path of destruction from the Caribbean to the Southeast U.S. It hit NC on Oct 8, 2016 and caused initial damage and further flooding damage over the next few weeks. There was a valid need to address the disaster. However, many individuals and organizations were ready because the same leadership tried caused the economic and personal disaster of the first HB 2, also known as Hate Bill 2 and ‘the bathroom bill.’ HB 2 was horrible for the state, with economic losses alone a staggering $400 million and still increasing, and also is terrible for women and terrible for all NC residents.

Within a few hours on Dec 14, over two dozen bills were filed, affecting just about everyone in this state in some manner. It seems the emergency to our unethical leadership is having a Democrat win the Governorship, and many of the 28 bills filed in the House and the Senate are to strip powers from Governor-elect Roy Cooper or cripple his ability to do the historic job of Governor. In fact, the house and senate are proposing sweeping changes to state government, interfering with state and local boards of elections and inventing new hurdles to Cooper’s ability to do his job.

The New York Times summarized as follows in “North Carolina G.O.P. Moves to Curb Power of New Democratic Governor,” 12/14/16.

“Republicans in the North Carolina legislature on Wednesday took the highly unusual step of moving to strip power from the incoming Democratic governor after a bitter election that extended years of fierce ideological battles in the state.”

Raleigh’s News and Observer went in to a lot of detail in “Lawmakers look to limit Cooper’s power as governor,” 12/14/16. First, they summarized the power grabbing bills filed as follows. 

“Lawmakers want to hobble the incoming Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, before he takes office Jan. 1 by making his Cabinet appointments subject to approval by the state Senate and cutting his ability to appoint members to UNC schools’ boards of trustees and the state Board of Education.”

“Another proposal in the mix would equally divide election boards between the two major political parties, ending control by the governor’s party.”

“Yet another provision would cut the number of employees who serve at the governor’s pleasure from 1,500 to 300, reversing an expansion approved for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory at the start of his term.”

NC NOW members from around the state have been attending various days. Fayetteville NOW, Raleigh NOW, Asheville NOW and Triad NOW were all represented on Dec 13. On Dec 15, while the NAACP-NC held a press conference, and hall outside the press conference room was full of people, some Raleigh NOW members went outside to hold their signs to passing traffic. Other people joined us. The legislature is making big news again, and a new HBO channel (Vice) came by to interview protesters as did someone from the NY Times!

What you can still do today – If you can, go now to the Legislative Building (16 W. Jones St) and hold your lawmakers accountable. Make them face you. They are back in session, and the House and Senate galleries are open (3rd floor). They may continue through tomorrow/Friday. Be a witness. 

Press Conference and Protest at 4:30pm today! Our partner, the NC-NAACP, will be gathering for a “People’s Assembly” at the General Assembly at 4:30 today, Dec 15, 2016, for a press conference and protest. Go early! There will likely be arrests, but that would be your explicit choice. Being there will not cause you to get arrested. The NAACP will be holding a non-violence training at 3:30 p.m. Go there if you would like to participate in a non-violence and direct action training before the People’s Assembly. Email tyler.swanson@naacpnc.org for more information.

Call them and/or email them. This outrageous behavior should appall citizens of all backgrounds and political parties. Make your anger known. See Take Action On Special Session NOW! on contacting your reps and the NCGA leaders Moore and Berger. To Berger and Moore, you could say something like ‘”I am appalled at this blatant power grab. Special sessions exist to address emergencies and losing the governorship does not constitute an emergency situation.”

Regardless of personal political party, we all deserve leadership that respects us enough not to govern by ambush and circumvent the outcomes of elections. 

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