AARP North Carolina weighs in against putting spending limits in state constitution

AARP North Carolina today weighed in against a constitutional amendment arbitrarily limiting state spending. The proposal, misnamed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR),  passed the Senate last year even though several states have rejected a similar plan that would make it all but impossible for future lawmakers to make important investments in education, human services, and environmental protections.

Colorado is the only state with strict TABOR limits in its constitution and the state has suffered mightily as a result. Rob Schofield explained the problems in a piece two weeks ago that was aptly titled “The HB2 of state budget and tax policy.”

Here is how the AARP North Carolina release put it.

AARP State Director Doug Dickerson explains, “Although lower income taxes sounds pretty attractive, it’s deceiving. Every state that has considered TABOR ended up rejecting the concept because the theory fails in the long run.  It does more harm than good.  It is essential that North Carolina has the flexibility it needs to provide basic services to our people, such as law enforcement, road repair, public libraries, and senior services. TABOR results in a falling apart of these essential services, which then affects job stability, future job creation and individual financial security.”



Gov. McCrory makes up his own facts in lame defense of HB2

Pat McCrory 4Gov. Pat McCrory is acting more and more like a desperate politician, trying everything to escape responsibility for HB2, the sweeping anti-LGBT law he signed in March that prompted corporations to cancel plans to create jobs in North Carolina and cost the state millions in lost tourism revenue.

McCrory has lashed out at the media, attacked companies that oppose HB2, and even tried to laugh off the backlash to the law that has hurt the state and sent his approval ratings plummeting.

Tuesday McCrory went on a local Charlotte radio show in full cynical mode as a News & Observer editorial pointed out, misrepresenting what the law actually does and even making up facts, claiming that Bruce Springsteen may have canceled his Greensboro concert because only 8,000 tickets were sold, not because of HB2.

But as the News & Record’s Doug Clark pointed out this morning, that is simply not true. A spokesman with the Greensboro Coliseum says 15,000 tickets were sold to Springsteen’s concert and only 100 were left when he canceled the show.

Where is McCrory getting this stuff? Is it bad staff work or is he just making it up like when he said a few years ago that he had waded out among the Moral Monday protesters?

Clark has it exactly right that McCrory needs to give it up and climb out of the hole he is digging for himself—and for North Carolina.


HB2, the tourism industry, and the “more progressive state of South Carolina”

While Gov. Pat McCrory continues to attack opponents of HB2 and blame the media for how it is covering the damage caused by his anti-LGBT law, leaders in the tourism industry in North Carolina have a clear message for McCrory and the General Assembly—repeal the law that is hurting their businesses.

The Lumina News reports that Mary Baggett, owner of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach, didn’t mince any words at a recent meeting of the N.C. Tourism & Travel Coalition in Wilmington.

At an industry event Monday, Mary Baggett, owner of Wrightsville Beach’s Blockade Runner Beach Resort, said the state’s legislature needed to take immediate action to repeal the bill and that the NC State Tourism Coalition should be lobbying that message to state’s General Assembly that is currently in session.

“We fought hard to become a destination state. Now it’s all undone,” Baggett said. “I hope your organization comes forth to rally us.”

Baggett also shared a recent story about an interaction with a potential tourist that includes a line that many North Carolinians never thought they would hear.

Baggett described an email she received from a family from Massachusetts traveling through the region who had planned a stay at the Blockade Runner. The family will be staying in the “more progressive state of South Carolina”, said Baggett referencing the email cancelling the four-night booking, because they would “rather go to a state that’s not judgmental” of people’s lifestyles.

The more progressive state of South Carolina? It is hard to believe where McCrory and his pals in the General Assembly have taken us.


Senator cites secret conference calls about HB2 to defend rushed special session

RandlemanGiven the national firestorm about the sweeping anti-LGBT law HB2 signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, many local papers are checking in with their legislators who voted for it to see if they are having second thoughts.

The folks representing Wilkes County don’t seem to regret their support of the law that has cost the state thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in tourism revenue.

But Senator Shirley Randleman had an revealing answer in the Wilkes Journal-Patriot to questions about the way HB2 was passed, in a rushed one-day special session with little debate and where many lawmakers and the public only saw the proposal right before it was considered by a House committee.

“I would have to say that I stand by my vote (in support) of this bill (HB2)…. People keep saying that we acted hastily in enacting it. It was worked on for weeks” in conference calls, she said.

Apparently Senator Randleman believes that a few secret conference calls between Republican Senators is plenty of discussion. No need for the public to weigh in or for legislators to hear testimony from officials in cities that have ordinances similar to the one that Charlotte enacted that she voted to overturn.

Not to mention all the other non-bathroom parts of the bill, the statewide nondiscrimination standard that excludes LGBT people and the provision that bans workers fired because of their race or religion from suing in state court.

HB2 is damaging North Carolina more every day. It’s too bad that Senator Randleman can’t acknowledge that reality and that she seems not to understand that legislating by private conference call is not how our democracy is supposed to function.


Leading HB2 supporter says banning discrimination against LGBT people “undermines freedom”

The head of the misnamed NC Values Coalition confirmed again this week what we already knew about the real motivation behind HB2.

Coalition head Tammy Fitzgerald said in an absurd column run on the Daily Signal, part of the Heritage Foundation, that any effort to add discrimination protections for LGBT people to state law was an effort to “undermine freedom and empower the state to punish and silence its citizens for peacefully living and working according to their core convictions.”

Got that? Making it illegal to fire or deny services to a gay person simply because they are gay somehow undermines freedom and punishes and silences citizens.

Wonder if Fitzgerald thinks that making it illegal to refuse to serve African-Americans at a restaurant undermines freedom too?  Maybe it’s time for signs in windows saying “Only Straights Served Here.”

Her offensive claims are the latest reminder that HB2 is not really about bathrooms, as offensive as those provisions in the law are. It is about denying basic civil rights to LGBT people in North Carolina. Period.

That’s why the nondiscrimination standard in HB2 includes protections for “biological sex,” not simply sex like the federal law. The U.S. Equal Employment  Commission and federal courts have interpreted sex in the federal law as providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fitzgerald and other supporters of HB2 couldn’t have that, so they added biological sex to HB2. They went of their way to discriminate.

Sorry, HB2 has nothing to do with freedom. It is about discrimination and bigotry, pure and simple.