For the week ending 14 May 2017
The Senate passed its $22.9 billion budget after 3am on Friday morning. The 800 page document (SB257, Appropriations Act of 2017) was presented during a press conference on Tuesday, May 9, and posted online late Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the proposed budget cleared a series of committees and the required two votes in the Senate began on Thursday and wrapped up early Friday morning. The two votes cannot be held on the same day; therefore, the Senate went into recess after the first vote and reconvened after midnight for the final vote. Amendments offered by Democratic Senators were all voted down, and the budget passed 32-15 in a party line vote.
Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore of the NC Senate, defending HB2, 4/20/16. Photo Credit News and Observer
But in the process, the Republican leadership made a move of unparalleled pettiness and vindictiveness that hits a new political low. Frustrated by the delay created by the budget amendments offered by Democrats, the Republican leadership retaliated by slashing a million dollars in education funds from two poverty-stricken Democratic districts. See: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150397682.html, 5/13/17.
Read more about the Senate’s budget, which includes a billion-dollar tax cut package, and next steps for the budget, at NC NOW Legislative Update #15. You’ll also find updates on ERA, Lawsuits, and our bill tracking.
23 April 2017
Governor Cooper vetoed two bills. House Bill 239 would reduce the number of appeals court judges from 15 to 12. It was prompted by three Republican judges nearing mandatory retirement age. If the number of seats were not reduced, the Governor would be able to make appointments to fill the vacant seats. In his veto message, Cooper noted that this move is a partisan attempt to pack the appeals court with Republican judges. The legislature is expected to override the veto, just as it overrode the veto of a bill requiring party labels on all judicial races. Clearly, our state courts at all levels are being politicized.
NC Governor Roy Cooper, Photo Credit: roycooper.com
The Governor also vetoed Senate Bill 68, which altered the party affiliation of both state and local election boards.
Legislative Update for the week ending March 19, 2017, by NC NOW’s lobbyist, Robin Davis
Governor Cooper has issued his first veto. He vetoed the bill that would make elections of District and Superior Court judges partisan. Cooper, who led the fight to make judicial elections nonpartisan in 1990 when he was a state senator, said that judges should be elected based on their experience and ability, not on their political party. He also noted that candidates not affiliated with a party would have a very difficult time getting on the ballot because they would be required to get signatures of 2 percent of the voters in their districts. A three-fifths vote in both houses will be required to overturn the Governor’s veto, which is the expected outcome because Republicans have veto-proof majorities in both houses.
Both the House and the Senate have turned their attention to their respective budgets. The budgets differ in details, but both houses are proposing plans that will benefit business and the wealthy through changes in the tax laws with the Senate plan more drastic than the plan being considered in the House. For more details and a comparison of the proposed plans, see http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article138891468.html
As protest at the legislative building increases, the General Assembly police are studying ways to increase security. This is an issue we need to keep an eye on.
Videoing protesters in NC Legislative Building during protests of ‘Special Sessions’ in December. 12/15/16. Photo Credit: Susan Eder
NC NOW Officer and Lobbyist Robin Davis summarizes the start of the 2017 legislative session for us. She really knows how to break it down!
Robin includes Governor Roy Cooper’s Legislative Agenda, the failed attempt to repeal HB 2 during an extra legislative special session, the 2017 election to address the gerrymandered districts, the role and importance of the courts in many of these areas. Robin also talks about what to expect in the long session and our role.
Our role is as follows.
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.
Small part of citizens with signs in Senate Gallery on Dec 13, 2016. Photo credit: Gailya Paliga
We can’t afford another HB 2 disaster. Few people realize the other damage it continues to do, including the harm HB 2 does to women. Take action NOW to tell YOUR REPS to keep the special session focused on disaster relief. Oppose the partisan power grab (especially of NC Supreme Court) and any other interference in our state. Join Moral Monday at Legislature on 12/13/16 and maybe other days as well. This session may last a few days.
These actions with details were sent via mailchimp email to members of NC NOW and others on our email list. To get on the list, fill in volunteer info on the NC NOW website.
Moral Monday at the NC Legislative Building from Feb 16, 2014. Photo Credit: Vicki Boyer
Two things to do NOW, the first can be done from anywhere –
There is a lot going on with the fallout from the law known as HB 2 continuing to batter NC, the second primary that was Jun 7, the NCGA trying to change so much during the short session, protests at the legislature, continued stonewalling of African American women for federal positions (by Senator Richard Burr), teachers in the streets! Read about some of it in the NC NOW newsletter May-June 2016.
Photo credit: Judy Lotas
The newsletter mentions to tragic mass shooting that happened at a gay nightclub at 2am on June 12, 2016, in Orlando, FL. A gunman “carried out the worst mass shooting in United States history, leaving 50 people dead and 53 wounded.” It does not include the Charleston 9 hate crime shooting that was the following week (after the newsletter was published). On Jun 18, 2016, nine people were murdered at a historic African-American Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where they were doing bible study. The victims included the female pastor and a Democratic Senator, also female. These two hate crimes happened within a week of each other, both in the Southeastern US.
Also read about how you can get involved. Note that chapter meetings are listed on front page of the newsletter.
Special treat: the Wisdom from the Internet on page 5.
Posted in clinic violence, Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, HB 2, public education, state budget issues, State interference (NC), voting, women
Tagged attacks on public education, Courts, Equal Rights Amendment, HB 2, stonewalling qualified candidate, teachers, voting, women
This op-ed went from the Asheville Citizen-Times on 5/27/16 to USA-Today!! The USA-Today link is here!
“North Carolina’s two Republican senators say they have no interest in considering President Barack Obama’s nomination” of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the US Supreme Court, according to Citizen-Times article, “Burr, Tillis say they won’t consider high court nominee,” 3/16/16.
In this, both NC Senators are stubbornly refusing to do their jobs. I refer to the US Senate’s job of advice and consent. Under the Constitution, presidential nominations for executive and judicial posts take effect only when confirmed by the Senate. The Senate’s job is to make sure the nominee is qualified, and if so, vote yes. If not, that will come out during the hearings.
Yet Burr and Tillis are refusing to allow hearings on the US Supreme Court nomination. According to “Supreme Court Vacancies in Presidential Election Years,” (2/13/16), there have been several nominations and confirmations of Justices during presidential election years. Clearly the hearings are the valid and constitutionally sanctioned place and time to find problems with nominees. Why are they blocking the process?
Back to NC. Judge Garland is not the first nominee for important federal positions that Burr and Tillis have blocked. They both voted against NC native Loretta Lynch when she was nominated for US Attorney General.
This is the full article NC NOW President Gailya Paliga had submitted to the News & Observer, 5/11/16, 1:10pm. Part of it ran as an LTE on 5/18/16.
I was impressed to see that one of NC’s own extremely well qualified former (NC) Supreme Court Justices was nominated on April 28, 2016, to fill a long time vacancy on the federal court bench in Eastern North Carolina. Timmons-Goodson served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of North Carolina from 2006 to 2012. She also served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and as a District Court Judge. In fact, Patricia Timmons-Goodson was a judge in North Carolina from 1997 through 2012!
I was appalled to read that Senator Richard Burr vowed to block her the same day! According to “Burr vows to block Obama nomination to NC federal court seat,” 4/28/16, “The U.S. Eastern District of North Carolina has the longest-running vacancy, a post that has gone unfilled since Jan. 1, 2006 – the day after federal District Court Judge Malcolm Jones Howard semi-retired.”
NC NOW Lobbyist Robin Davis has some unusual insight into HB 2 and the emerging battle between NC Leadership and the Federal Government.
“This emerging battle between North Carolina and the federal government has eerie echoes of the battle to desegregate Southern schools. For ten years many Southern school districts refused to implement desegregation and capitulated only after the federal government threatened to withhold federal education funds. Ironically, Governor McCrory is invoking the Constitutional right to privacy in his defense of HB2—the same provision that arch-conservatives have always declared mythical because it is used to defend a woman’s right to choose abortion.”
See the whole legislative update #2 at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update.7 May 2016