NC NOW Legislative Update #17 – Rep. War on Media in NC – 27 May 2019

The toxic games around scheduling a House vote on SB359, Born Alive—Abortion Survivors Protection Act, continued another week. The bill is presently on the House calendar for May 29 after being scheduled and rescheduled over and over again for weeks. Democratic House members are making heroic efforts to be present whenever the bill is scheduled for a vote, sometimes at great personal sacrifice. One representative has been leaving her husband’s hospital bedside to be present to vote, and Rep. Sydney Batch, a breast cancer patient who is recovering from a mastectomy, has always been present to vote: “I was hoping to take three weeks off to recover, but unfortunately I did not have that ability,” Batch told TPM about the GOP’s latest effort. “When I realized that Monday, [Republicans were] planning to hold the vote it was worth physical sacrifice and pain to come in to vote. It was extremely important for me to vote.” For more information, see: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/north-carolina-republicans-abortion-restrictions

Republicans do not have a veto-proof majority in the House—the Republicans have 65 seats and Democrats have 55. To override a veto requires a 2/3 majority (72 votes if all members are present and voting) or 2/3 of those present and voting. In order to override a veto, Republicans must either win some votes from Democratic members or call for a vote when some Democrats are absent. A veto override vote was scheduled for 05/02/2019, then rescheduled for 05/03/2019. The vote was then rescheduled for 05/06/2019, 05/07/2019, 05/15/2019, 05/16/ 2019, and 05/20/2019. Now the vote is on the calendar for 05/28/2019.

The Republican war on the media has reached North Carolina. A few weeks ago the press covering the legislature was moved away from the press room that was centrally located on the first floor to a small room in the corner of the basement. The former press room was transformed into a members-only lounge. But there is an even larger problem. While dwindling resources are causing traditional outlets to pull back their coverage of the legislature, representatives of on-line publications such as the liberal-leaning NC Policy Watch and the conservative Carolina Journal, encounter unnecessary roadblocks. Even though both publications are award-winning members of the North Carolina Press Association and occupy press seats in other locations, the antiquated rules of the General Assembly force them to jump through bureaucratic hoops simply to enjoy routine privileges granted to other press representatives. The legislature allows a small and exclusive group, the Capital Press Corps, to be the gatekeeper controlling who is officially recognized as press in the legislative building. This situation must be reformed so that the general public can be kept informed of the actions of our legislators. For more details, see: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2019/05/21/the-general-assemblys-obsolete-press-rules-are-limiting-public-access-to-information/

Meanwhile, there is no progress to report in major unresolved issues, including the budget, Medicaid expansion, and court-ordered re-drawing of legislative districts in the Triangle area.

See the full NC NOW Legislative Update 17 (27 May 19).

Shortlink: https://wp.me/p22b2e-26g

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