News

Republican state legislators frustrated by a lack of progress on immigration reform on the federal level demonstrated Tuesday just how hard it can be to reach a compromise.

Members of the House Finance Committee were deeply divided over a provision in House Bill 328 that would offer a restricted drivers permit to undocumented immigrants who are willing to undergo a background check and be fingerprinted.

Rep. John Blust, R- Guilford, worried the bill would be an incentive for more immigrants to come to North Carolina.

Republican Rep. Bert Jones went a step further saying if immigrants were for the bill, that was all the proof he needed that committee members should oppose the measure.

Bill sponsor Rep. Harry, R-Rowan, was clearly frustrated by the direction of the debate telling his fellow Republicans:

“If you’ll step away from the politics of this for a minute, and look at the logic behind it, you’ll see this is the right thing to do,” explained Warren.

Warren says the Highway Safety/Citizens Protection Act would help law enforcement, and ensure undocumented drivers actually carry insurance before getting behind the wheel.

Rep. Jones would not be persuaded:

“We should not be encouraging, should not be endorsing, should not be accepting illegal immigration in any way.”

For now, HB 382 remains in committee with the finance chair promising a vote at a future meeting.

To watch part of Tuesday’s debate, click below.

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News

The State Board of Elections holds nine public hearings across the state starting this Wednesday on the proposed rules that will apply to everyone next year when a voter ID is required to cast a ballot.

As the good folks at Democracy NC explain, part of the language in that law is a bit fuzzy:

The law says the ID must “reasonably resemble” the voter. But what does rule highlightsthat mean?

To clear up any confusion, the State Board of Elections has written preliminary rules that tell precinct officials how to decide if the ID “reasonably resembles” the voter.

Unfortunately, some anti-voter groups want to make those rules so strict that they would disenfranchise a lot of people — as the rules have done in Texas and other states.

For example, a voter named “Mary Brown” on the registration rolls who has a driver’s license saying “Mary Brown Smith” could be rejected. Or Freddy Davis with an ID saying Frederick J. Davis could be rejected.

We can’t let that happen. We must show up at these public hearings and insist that the rules protect the voter’s right to vote.

s_Isela1To learn more about the Voter ID hearings, listen to Chris Fitzsimon’s recent radio interview with Democracy NC’s Associate Research Director Isela Gutierrez.

 

Voter ID Hearing Schedule:
Raleigh, Wednesday June 3, 5-7PM
Manteo, Thursday June 4,5-7PM
Wilmington, Friday June 5, 5-7PM
Charlotte, Monday, June 8, 5-7PM
Winston-Salem, Tuesday, June 9, 5-7PM
Boone, Wednesday, June 10, 5-7PM
Sylva, Thursday, June 11, 5-7PM
Fayetteville, Friday, June 12, 5-7PM
Tarboro, Monday, June 15, 5-7PM

News

The state Senate wasted little time on Monday in overriding (32-16 ) Governor Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2. The magistrate recusal bill now heads to the the NC House, where three-fifths of the members present must vote in favor of the override in order to overturn the governor’s veto stamp.

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Here’s what marriage equality activists are saying about that Senate override:

“I am deeply disappointed by the state Senate’s vote tonight. This discriminatory and unconstitutional bill treats gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens and distorts the true meaning of religious freedom. I fully anticipate this bill will end up in the courts if the state House also votes to override Governor McCrory’s veto of SB2,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“We are disappointed to see that the N.C. Senate voted tonight against the best interests of LGBT North Carolinians and the entire state. From the business community to faith leaders to the governor, North Carolinians have stood up and said Senate Bill 2 is deeply problematic legislation,” said Equality NC executive director Chris Sgro. “Its aim is to discriminate against same-sex couples, and in doing so, it creates hardships for all North Carolinians seeking taxpayer-funded public services.”

“It is shameful that this bill has passed our legislature. It is nothing more than state sanctioned discrimination and a naked attempt to make a political statement without much care for how it hurts and demeans others. To be certain, if this bill becomes law, it will invite a new round of court challenges. Ultimately, like Amendment 1, this law will fail,” said Luke Largess of Charlotte-based Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in General Synod of the UCC v. Reisinger, the lawsuit that struck down Amendment One last October.

 

News

Abortion waiting period extended – The Senate reconvenes today where members will take up a few amendments on House Bill 465 before taking the third and final vote on legislation that would require women in North Carolina to wait 72 hours before getting an abortion. The bill entitled the ‘Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015‘ would also require any abortion provider have board certification in
obstetrics or gynecology.Women's-health

After Monday’s vote in the Senate, HB 465 returns to the House where a conference committee will work out the differences before sending this bill to Governor Pat McCrory.

Click here for today’s Senate calendar.
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Mecklenburg Moral Monday – The NC NAACP and the Forward Together Movement will be in Charlotte this evening for the 4th local Moral Monday this summer. Each Moral Monday will focus on extreme legislators who are voting against the best interests of their constituents.

Protest organizers will induct area-legislators (Rep. William Brawley, Rep. Rob Bryan, Rep. Charles Jeter, Rep. Jacqueline Michelle Schaffer,  Sen. Bob Rucho, and Sen. Jeff Tarte) into the Hall of Shame for what
organizers say is their ‘regressive and extreme’ voting history.

The Mecklenburg Moral Monday runs from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at Little Rock AME Zion Church Fellowship Hall.
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Final public hearing on new UNC-system president – If you happen to be in the Charlotte-area this evening, don’t miss your chance to weigh-in on what type of leader should be at the helm of NorthCarolina’s public university system.

Tonight marks the fourth and final public hearing on who will replace Tom Ross and lead the university-system into the future.

Rep. Verla Insko, who represents Orange County, joined NC Policy Watch over the weekend to share her
thoughts about the Board of Governor’s decision to oust Ross last January in favor of a new, yet-to-be
named successor:

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Tonight’s public hearing begins at 7:00pm at UNC-Charlotte in the Harris Alumni Center.

(You can also send your thoughts to uncsearch@northcarolina.edu, or mail to UNC Presidential Search, P.O. Box 2688, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27515.)
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Gun Violence Awareness Day at the General Assembly – North Carolina Moms Demand Action will be at the North Carolina General Assembly tomorrow to deliver petition signatures urging lawmakers to vote No on HB 562.

Tuesday is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and moms, dads and kids will be wearing orange to support gun violence awareness and the role that NC’s Pistol Purchase Permit plays in keeping handguns out of the hands of dangerous people.
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State Board of Education — The NC State Board of Education holds its June meeting this Wednesday and Thursday. The Board is expected to give final approval to 18 additional charter schools to open in 2016.

For more on those schools, read Lindsay Wagner’s latest piece.
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Public hearings on Voter ID Rules – In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Voter
Information Verification Act, which requires photo identification for in-person voting starting in 2016.
The law mandates that the State Board of Elections adopt Rules to administer these new laws.

Beginning this Wednesday, the State Board of Elections will hold a series of public hearings to hear from
the public on the proposed rules. Three meetings are on tap this week:Voter ID

Wednesday, June 3
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
State Board of Elections Office, Board Room
441 North Harrington Avenue, Raleigh

Thursday, June 4
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Dare County Administration Building, Room 168
954 Marshall C. Collins Drive, Manteo, NC

Friday, June 5
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
New Hanover County Human Resources Department, Conference Room 401
230 Government Center Drive, Suite 135, Wilmington, NC
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Town hall meeting on race & racial attitudes – The Raleigh Martin Luther King Committee in
conjunction with the Raleigh’s Human Relations Commission and the Raleigh-Wake Citizen’s Association are jointly sponsoring a public town hall meeting on race and racial attitudes, Wednesday, June 3, 7:00 pm at Martin Street Baptist Church’s Family Life Auditorium.

Panelist for the town hall include: Senator Dan Blue, N.C. Senate; Horace McCormick, Director, UNC Kenan-Flager School of Business; Ned Barnett, Editorial Editor, News & Observer; Cassandra Deck-Brown, Raleigh Police Chief; Donnie Harrison, Wake County Sheriff; Abe Jones, Wake County Superior Court Judge; Michael Leach, Chairman, Raleigh Human Relations Commission; Norma Marti, Vice President, Hispanic LAPSE, Portia Rochelle, President, Raleigh-Apex Chapter NAACP; Jeanne Tedrow, Passage Home Community Development Corporation; Brad Thompson, President, Thompson Public Relations Associates; Greg Warren, Director, Downtown Raleigh Housing Authority; and Frank White, President, Raleigh Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

The event is free and open to the public.
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NCGOP 2015 State Convention – The North Carolina Republican Party will holds their 2015 State Convention in Raleigh this weekend with presidential hopefuls Senator Ted Cruz,  Gov. Scott Walker, and Dr. Ben Carson as featured speakers.

Donald Trump and Ambassador John Bolton will also be on hand discussing conservative principles and economic growth. The convention runs Friday-Sunday at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Commentary, News

1. So much for the charade of moderation in the General Assembly  

When the state House passed its budget last week, Rep. Chuck McGrady noted its bipartisan support in a tweet that captured what the House leadership wanted people to think was happening in the General Assembly.

“Sounds like the Speaker is leading from the middle,” McGrady wrote, extolling the allegedly moderate leadership of House Speaker Tim Moore. Folks can disagree about the virtues and flaws in the House budget—which falls well short of making the investments the state needs—but it is indeed less radical than budgets passed by either chamber of the legislature in recent years.

All signs of moderation vanished this week. [Continue reading…]

2. Mixed messages for whistleblowers?
“Ag Gag” proposal, “Burt’s Law” push in opposite directions

Editor’s note: Governor Pat McCrory issued a veto for HB 405 (the so-called Ag-Gag bill) on Friday urging lawmakers to add protections for employees who report illegal activities to authorities.

Governor McCrory signed a bill yesterday that is designed to spur action from would-be whistleblowers who work in the group home and nursing home industries. The new statute, which has been dubbed “Burt’s Law” in recognition of a developmentally disabled man who was sexually abused by a manager in a Catawba County group home, would make it a crime for employees or volunteers in such facilities not to report such information. [Continue Reading…]

3. Latest batch of prospective charter schools moves forward with concerns
State Board of Education meets next week to grant final approval

Back in 2013, when members of a state board tasked with reviewing charter school applications only greenlighted a handful of schools out of many hopefuls to open in the following year, they found themselves in the middle of a political firestorm.

“The plan was to have [charter] operators come into the state like they did in Louisiana and other states and quickly affect the public school choice landscape for the better and in quantity,” said Charter School Advisory Board member Alan Hawkes in an email to fellow CSAB board members in late 2013. [Continue Reading….]

4. Next up in the House: Another lawsuit waiting to happen
North Carolina poised to become the nation’s first state with a law allowing public officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples on religious objection grounds

Editor’s note: Governor Pat McCrory issued a veto for SB 2 on Thursday, May 28th. The Legislature may attempt to override his veto.

The bill allowing magistrates to refuse to perform otherwise lawful marriages based upon religious objections moves on in the House today after passing the Senate in February, set for a hearing in Judiciary Committee I just after noon.

Senate Bill 2 — a product of the dust-up over federal court rulings allowing same-sex marriages to proceed in North Carolina – would give refuge to magistrates who refuse to comply with those rulings under color of their professed faith.

Though lawmakers couched their text in broad and vague terms, their intent in pushing the bill was clear: Stop gay marriages. [Continue Reading….]

****Bonus video: Watch House members debate SB2:

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5. Head of North Carolina’s charter school office leaving, taking job with controversial virtual charter school

The head of North Carolina’s office overseeing charter schools is leaving for a job with a controversial virtual charter school opening up this year.

Joel Medley, who had headed the N.C. Department of Public Instruction since 2011, is leaving his state job to become the head of school for the N.C Virtual Academy. The school is a new online charter school opening this summer that will be run by the Wall Street-traded for-profit education company K12, Inc. (NYSE:LRN).

“I have accepted a position at the NC Virtual Academy in June and will serve as the head of school — returning back to my roots as a school administrator,” Medley wrote Thursday in an email to N.C Policy Watch. “It has been an honor to serve here in the Department and I look forward to this new opportunity.” [Continue Reading.…]