HB2, News

Top GOP lawmakers can’t agree on Governor’s place in HB2 negotiations

Last night N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) vented his frustration with HB2 repeal talks to WBTV.

Most interesting in Moore’s assessment of the ongoing stalemate over the controversial law’s repeal: he thinks newly elected Gov. Roy Cooper should stay out of the negotiations.

From the story:

Moore accused Cooper of violating the separation of powers doctrine, which contemplates three co-equal branches of government. In North Carolina, Cooper runs the Executive Branch while Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger run the Legislative Branch.

Moore said his caucus is unwilling to agree to Cooper’s demand that the referendum provision be taken out.

“That seems to be the sticking point where the Governor seems to have drawn some kind of line in the sand. But, in all candor, the Governor should not be involved. This should be members of the legislature doing this,” Moore said. “I think the Governor knows the referendum provision is something that’s very important to a number of members of the House; to, not only some Republicans but some Democrats. Because there are a number of members who believe there needs to be a check against a runaway city council.”

While Moore and GOP legislators did not did not always have the warmest of relationships with Cooper’s Republican predecessor, Pat McCrory, the assertion that the governor talking with lawmakers about legislation he will ultimately have to sign or veto in some ways violates the separation of powers is…a  new one.

It’s also the opposite of what Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) said in a press conference held just yesterday.

McGrady, sponsor of House Bill 186, called on the governor to become more involved – to rally Democrats to get the votes needed to pass the compromise bill and to come to the table for further negotiations.

“You can’t negotiate with yourself,” McGrady said. “And right now I haven’t heard from the governor.”

To clarify:

The head of the House GOP is saying the governor should not be involved and his involvement is a violation of state government principles.

The GOP sponsor of a compromise bill is calling on the governor to roll up his sleeves, begin negotiating and whipping votes on the proposed compromise bill.


2018 Fiscal Year State Budget, News

N.C. Senate Republicans on Cooper budget: “Spendsanity”

Gov. Roy Cooper released his proposed state budget this morning.

So far, the Republican response has been a bit muted. There’s a lot to digest.

This meme has been circulated by the N.C. Senate Republicans on social media, though – and is being retweeted and re-posted by GOP lawmakers including Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham).

Not exactly nuanced criticism…but there you are.

Have a look at what the N.C. Budget and Tax Center has to say about the budget here, have a look at what it may mean for education here and get an overview from N.C. Policy Watch’s Lisa Sorg here.


Lawmakers, advocates hold dueling press conferences on HB2 repeal

Democratic and Republican lawmakers, business and LGBT advocacy groups held dueling press conferences Tuesday as the struggle continues over a compromise to repeal the controversial House Bill 2.

The press events came as pressure mounts to prevent the loss of a number of highly lucrative sporting events – including six years of NCAA championships – due to the law. A number of repeal bills have been filed, but none seem to have broad bi-partisan support. Last week Republican and Democratic state representatives filed House Bill 186, touted by its sponsors as a compromise bill.

The bill would repeal HB2 but replace with a law that would constrain local governments that want to pass nondiscrimination ordinances like the one passed last year that extended protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Charlotte. The law would limit which restrooms local governments could regulate, add stiffer penalties for crimes committed in restrooms and changing areas and require a public referendum if opponents of such local laws gather enough signatures.

Any such ordinances would also not apply to religious or non-profit organizations, including schools and hospitals.

Opponents of the bill – including top Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper – say the referendum provision would ignite fierce HB2-like campaigns across the state rather than solve the problem created by the state law.

The day began with a morning event at which LGBT advocacy group Equality North Carolina brought together Democratic lawmakers, Triangle area business owners and parents of transgender children to express their opposition to the bill.

Sen. Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe) said HB186 would lead to North Carolinians “waging culture wars in our communities indefinitely.”

“The referendum idea is just a bad idea,” Van Duyn said. “We do not put the right of the minority to a vote of the majority.”

Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) headlined a press conference later in the day that brought together Democratic and Republican lawmakers, business leaders and trade group associations and even two Democratic members of the Charlotte City Council.

McGrady said the Republican votes don’t exist to pass a repeal without the referendum provision. About 35 Republican and 35 Democratic votes are needed for HB186 to pass, McGrady said – and he called on Gov. Cooper to help him rally the votes. Read more


Hall faces subpoena in Senate confirmation fight

Former N.C. Rep. Larry Hall will face a subpoena to appear before the N.C. Senate Commerce committee for a confirmation hearing.

The committee voted to issue the subpoena Thursday after Hall, who has been acting as Secretary of Military and Veteran’s affairs, did not appear at a scheduled hearing. It was the third time the committee has convened a hearing without him. The subpoena calls for Hall to appear  March 2.

Gov. Roy Cooper is locked in an ongoing legal battle with the North Carolina General Assembly over its authority to confirm his cabinet appointments. The assembly’s Republican majority passed a law granting themselves that power when Cooper, a Democrat, defeated Republican Pat McCrory in last year’s gubernatorial election.

A state three judge panel initially prevented the hearings from moving forward but then ruled they could proceed ahead of the case’s next court date on March 7. However, Cooper technically must submit the names of his nominees to the Senate before they can be confirmed – and Cooper has yet to submit any names.

Republican Senators called that “a game” Thursday and denounced the governor and Hall for defying the committee. They said Thursday that Hall’s appointment happened while the Senate was in recess and so the Senate can move forward on his confirmation immediately. Hall has been serving as secretary in an interim capacity, GOP Senators argued, and can’t do so until May.

Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), co-chairman of the committee, said he was “disappointed” that Hall again failed to appear Thursday.

“At this point Secretary Hall and his boss [the governor] are openly defying not just the legislative legal authority to call witnesses to the committee but the very, very plain language found in the North Carolina constitution,” Meredith said.

Democratic Senators questioned the appropriateness of the subpoena and held that the court order makes it clear how the confirmation hearings must proceed.

“I think it’s very much a game, an unnecessary game,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) of the subpoena and the committee’s insistence on moving forward with confirmation hearings. “We should be working together. Regardless of who that governor is, regardless of what that party is, we need to be working together as a team for the benefit of all the citizens of this state.”

Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) said he had respect for Hall in working with him over his years as an N.C. House member but is appalled that Hall has shown such disrespect for the committee and the process of confirmation.

“I thought he was a strong leader in the House,” Hise said. “It is my hope he’s being forced to do this, that this is not directly his choice. And we have issues with anyone who would force the secretary to disobey the law.”

Hall could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

A spokesman for Gov. Roy Cooper denounced the committee’s action Thursday.

“Larry Hall is a Marine Corps veteran and longtime legislator who brings a wealth of experience to his work as Secretary for military and veterans affairs,” the spokesman said in a statement. “It’s disappointing that this committee, which has ignored the findings of a court order by meeting prematurely, would engage in this political charade when there’s so much to focus on – repealing HB2 and raising teacher pay. We look forward to the March 7 hearing on the constitutionality of this unprecedented process.”



Bills, threats recall NC’s militia movement of the 1990s

Worth your time today: Susan Ladd, columnist for the News & Record in Greensboro, writing about how a recent story about conservatives calling for violence against Muslims at a meeting in Kernersville is eerily reminiscent of the 1990s militia movement.

From Ladd’s column:

If you are inclined to laugh at the picture of Tea Party members and conservatives gathered in a seafood restaurant preparing for a Muslim takeover of America, please don’t.

Some people had that reaction to the investigative series Stan Swofford and I reported about N.C.’s militia movement in 1995, shortly after the bombing of the Edward P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh. But this is the kind of conspiracy theory nonsense that gets people killed.

Jordan Green’s report of this meeting in Kernersville for Triad City Beat is eerily similar to the so-called Patriot Movement meetings Stan and I attended more than 20 years ago.

Read the whole column – particularly if, like me, you could use a reminder of North Carolina’s part in the militia movement.

It’s worth remembering now as some of the same N.C. lawmakers who are sponsoring bills to do away with concealed cary permits and other gun control measures are also pushing bills that would allow North Carolina to secede from the United States and warning of the possibility of a coming war with the federal government.