NC NOW Legislative Update #1 – 11 Feb 2018
It is difficult to report on legislative matters because so many of the most important developments take place behind in secret and are never documented. As an article in NC Policy Watch summarizes:
“Whether it’s cutting off debate on legislation, holding surprise, late night sessions, regularly ignoring the committee process, burying new and controversial laws that were never previously discussed in omnibus budget bills that cannot be amended, holding an endless series of “special” legislative sessions, refusing to record and archive all sorts of important proceedings, or even directly and blatantly punishing lawmakers who dare to speak up during debate, Republicans have evidenced little shame. Much as has been the case with gerrymandering, legislative leaders have not so much invented new tactics and tricks as they have cynically perfected and expanded the use of old ones.”
This unhealthy pattern continues.
This week the General Assembly reconvened, and legislators lost no time ramming through complex, multi-issue legislation with almost no discussion. House Bill 90 was voted out of the Appropriations Committee and passed the Senate on the same day. This omnibus bill offers a fix for the unfunded class size mandate, takes away the governor’s control of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline mitigation fund, and reorganizes the State Board of Elections (for the third time)–three unrelated issues in a single bill.
View of 2018 HKonJ rally from stage. Photo Credit: Phil Fonville
The Problems with House Bill 90
Fight back outrageous attacks on Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall. It’s more than intimidation – it’s a witch hunt. NC’s House of Representatives has done some terrible things since 2011, but this is a new level. On June 28th, up pops a new bill – House Bill 925 – Creation of House Select Investigatory Committee, introduced by Rep. Chris Millis. Millis and the House leadership are trying to impeach an outstanding public servant on unsubstantiated charges. As PoliticsNC wrote, “The House Rules Committee voted to begin an investigation into allegations that Marshall illegally commissioned notaries of public who are not citizens. It’s nothing more than political bluster that was debunked during her re-election campaign last year. No state or federal law enforcement agency has suggested any wrong-doing on Marshall’s part.”
NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall Photo Credit: elainemarshall.com
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.
North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #13 – 30 April 2017
As expected, the legislature overrode Governor Cooper’s vetoes of the two bills highlighted in last week’s Legislative Update. The Governor filed suit on Wednesday over Senate Bill 68, which combines the state ethics board and board of elections and changes the composition and method of appointing members of the combined board. This is a new version of a law that the court threw out in 2016. The details are convoluted, but the heart of the matter is that both bills attempt to take away the governor’s control of boards that are under the executive branch. On Friday, a three-judge panel issued a restraining order that prevents the law from going into effect until May 10. The Governor expressed confidence that this law will also be struck down. For more details,
(Retired) Judge Doug McCullough and Governor Roy Cooper Photo Credit: Slate.com
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.
The week ending 15 April 2017 has been another busy week at the NCGA, as captured in North_Carolina_NOW_Legislative_Update_11.v3.16Apr17.
A bill introduced in the legislature again made North Carolina the object of national derision. House Bill 780, Uphold Historical Marriage, declared that the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is null and void in North Carolina and that the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage should be enforced. After a national outcry, Speaker Moore publicly announced that this bill will never be heard in committee, that it is dead. But damage had already been done. See http://www.wral.com/gay-marriage-ban-filed-in-nc-house-/16639157/, 4/11/17.
Then neo-Confederate Rep. Larry Pittman (also a sponsor or HB780) attracted national attention by stating that Abraham Lincoln was the same kind of tyrant as Hitler.
Last year in our pro-choice signature ad packet letter to legislators, NC NOW pointed out that HB2, Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act., has been a disaster for North Carolina. The state was already suffering the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic investments in our state and potentially billions in federal support to the state’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Yet, the law goes way beyond bathrooms and targeting a group of citizens. It removes core worker anti-discrimination protections that state law has provided to workers since the 1970s. It also targets women, whether intentional or not. When HB2 first happened, NC NOW recognized how disastrous HB 2 is for women. But it has been disastrous for the state as well.
And it just continues to cause massive losses. The majority in the NC Legislature don’t seem to care, they keep voting to leave it in place, refusing to repeal it. Just in one weekend in March, the city of Greensboro lost out on an estimated 14.5 MILLION DOLLARS because of House Bill 2! That estimate that the NCAA would have brought in around 14.5 million dollars is from the Greensboro Area Convention and Visitor Bureau.
From an anti-hb2 rally right after HB2 was passed on March 24, 2016.
The tens of thousands of people who should have gone to Greensboro for the NCAA tournament went to Greenville, South Carolina instead. According to ‘S.C. reaping HB2 Bounty‘, 3/15/17, News & Observer,
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
Fayetteville NOW honors Dr. Naveed Aziz at this year’s Susan B. Anthony birthday celebration and fundraiser. Dr. Aziz is a physician in Spring Lake, NC. She spoke about the Affordable Care Act at Fayetteville NOW’s reproductive rights forum on Jan 25, 2017.
This is Fayetteville NOW’s 12th Susan B. Anthony event!
Join us on February 23, 2017, 5:30pm-7:30pm. Tickets are $30 per person. Sponsorship is available for $100 and includes two tickets. The event will be held at the VFW Post 6018, on Chance St., in Fayetteville.
Paid reservations must be received by February 19th, 2017.
The NC Legislature went back in session on Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017, after initiating the legislative long session 2 weeks earlier. The NC NOW Legislative Update #2 talks about lawsuits in process, what the NC Legislature did during its first half week back in session, and what we may expect.
On lawsuits: “Since our Republican-dominated General Assembly has been passing law after law that is being or has been challenged in court, in addition to keeping up with new legislation introduced this session, I believe it is equally important to track the status of the various challenges to laws that have already been passed.”
Elementary School Art Classroom 2008 Photo Credit Gailya Paliga
On the Legislature’s first half-week: “The most significant issue addressed this week in the legislature is a measure to undo unintended consequences of a bill passed last session. This new law reduced class size in early grades without appropriating any funds to hire more teachers—forcing local school districts either to come up with the extra money or to discontinue programs in physical education and the arts in order to hire more classroom teachers. “
See more on those topics and what to expect in NC NOW Legislative Update #2 -28 Jan 17