CALL TO ACTION: This Saturday May 18th, rally with Comunidad Colectiva and others at the Governor's Mansion to call on Governor Cooper to veto HB370, the "Show Me Your Papers" bill that requires sheriffs to comply with ICE. Details here.
CALL TO ACTION: The House has tentatively scheduled an override of Gov. Cooper's veto of the Born-Alive bill May 15 (TODAY). Contact your representative and let them know what you think of this unnecessary bill whose real intent is to intimidate abortion providers.
It's election day for the NC-09 primary, and State Senator Dan Bishop-- he of the Bathroom Bill infamy—has won the Republican nomination. Our friend Stony “Boss Hogg” Rushing is in distant second place with just under 20%. View the official results at the NCBoE website.
On a side note, I wonder if the NC Realtor's Association will want their $1.3 million total back from the 4thplace candidate, Leigh Thomas Brown (she only garnered about 9% of the vote).
The Bladen County Board of Elections building has gotten a few security upgrades, including security cameras, changed locks, and a relocated Veteran's Affairs office, which shared the building space with the BoE and raised concerns that people without authorization could have access to voter records. It's a small step, but a necessary one. Let's hope more election reform follows.
It just might, with a new Executive Director of the NC State Board of Elections. The Board voted on Tuesday to appoint Karen Brinson Bell to replace Kim Strach effective at the end of Ms. Strach's term, which is June 1st. As usual, Republicans are crying foul and claiming that Ms. Strach's “ouster”-- which wasn't an ouster at all; a replacement was chosen to take over at the rightful end of her term-- was strictly politically motivated. While Strach directed a reasonably impartial investigation into the NC-09 absentee ballot fraud, she had several conflicts of interest over her time at the head of the State Board of Elections, from which she refused to recuse herself.
So I suppose it was politically motivated. The motivation was to focus the BoE more on elections administration and more communication with local elections offices, rather than partisanship that plagued it under Strach's leadership.
NC Board of Elections general counsel Josh Lawson has submitted his resignation, effective the same day as Strach's last day: June 1st. Beyond a possible protest, it's not clear why he chose to resign.
SB563, which would have made it illegal to continue to have sex with a person who has revoked their consent has died in a Senate committee. A related bill, HB393 (see my post on May 1st) has already passed the House, but there is no word on when the Senate will hold hearings on HB393.
Unfortunately, anti-gerrymandering legislation is stalling in the NCGA despite bipartisan support in both houses. "Leadership [read: Berger and Moore] hasn't brought those bills to the floor". It could be that they're waiting on a SCOTUS ruling on the gerrymandering case of Rucho v. Common Cause (which isn't expected for another couple of months), or it could be that they just don't want to face the possibility that even some members of their own party realize how broken our democracy is and want to fix it.
The NCGA is done introducing bills; as Patti reported last month, the symbolic crossover deadline (May 9th) has come and gone. This is significant because any bill that has failed to pass either the House or Senate is effectively dead. But the bulk of the work of this session is still in front of the NCGA. They're expected to focus their efforts now on the budget, most keenly the battle for Medicaid expansion. Though the Repubicans no longer have supermajorities in either house, they do still have a great deal of power, which could complicate this session. Let's hope it doesn't end up like last year's, which never seemed to end, with special session after special session.
Common Cause is involved in a case before the NC Court of Appeals this week, challenging just that: “the 2016 special legislative session in which two bills were passed that fundamentally changed the balance of power between governmental branches.” Lawmakers, they said, “provided no notice about the special session, suspended the majority of legislative rules and buried the substantive legislation by filing 26 other bills at the same time.” This goes against North Carolinians' constitutional right to instruct their representatives by mobilizing, sending letters, making calls, holding rallies, and doing what we've been doing this whole time: annoying the snot out of them when they introduce a bill that's bad for North Carolinians. Counsel for Common Cause “pushed for the court to craft a rule requiring notice for special legislative sessions and a reasonable opportunity for members of the public to communicate with their representatives.” Hopefully the three-judge panel will rule in favor of Common Cause and correct this violation of our rights.
According to NC Policy Watch, North Carolina has serious work to do to make sure those with disabilities are treated fairly as they seek, find, and maintain work. Most recently-- and perhaps poignantly-- the new work requirements for Republicans' answer to Medicaid expansion would further complicate this issue. But the report offers several solutions, including doing away with segregated job training (and job opportunities), ending sub-minimum wage (I didn't even know that was a thing until today), and closing “the information gap by providing an overview of the employment services available in North Carolina and offer suggestions on how to improve existing employment services by proposing how they should evolve.”
State Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Republican representing Henderson County, will not seek re-election. He is one of the few moderate Republicans left in the house, and a champion of the environment. While this is a little bit of a loss for us, it presents a much better opportunity: to place a Democrat in that district. It's another deep red one, but incumbents are always more difficult to beat than newcomers. A new Republican going up against a new, fresh, strong Democrat will be a much more even fight. If you know anyone of a blue persuasion in District 117, urge them to run!
Good news: North Carolina will dole out $10 million in grants from the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program to help North Carolina-based companies provide broadband access to rural areas that don't have reliable access.
In case you haven't gotten your fill of North Carolina politics in a convenient weekly summary form, check out NC Policy Watch's top stories this week. Featured are some choice words about our friend Senator Thom Tillis.
Tags: NCGA, NC-09, Board of Elections, Common Cause, Gerrymandering, voter issue: environment, voter issue: disability rights
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