Commentary, HB2

Crucial Conversation luncheon: HB2 on its one-year anniversary

NC Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation luncheon:

An expert panel discusses the state of North Carolina’s infamous discrimination law on its one-year anniversary

Click here to register

Amazingly, Thursday, March 23 marks the one-year anniversary of HB2 – the LGBTQ discrimination law that will forever be known by the name it received during a special one-day kangaroo session of the General Assembly.

When it passed, it seemed almost unbelievable that supposedly responsible state officials would take such harmful and poorly thought out ideas from the “back of the envelope” to state law in less than 12 hours. A year later, it seems downright surreal. Tragically, however, that’s what really happened and North Carolinians of all stripes have been paying the price ever since as the state has become a national and international pariah.

Today, despite the best efforts of the state’s new Governor, Roy Cooper, the law remains on the books and the damage to the state continues. So what now? Where do things stand? What’s next? When will this stain finally be removed?

Join us Thursday March 23 at 12:00 p.m. as we explore these questions and others with an expert panels that will include Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, Ames Simmons, Lobbyist and Director of Transgender Policy at Equality NC and Rick Glazier, Executive Director of the North Carolina Justice Center.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this important leader on this controversial matter.

When: Thursday March 23, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: The North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 S. Salisbury St. in downtown Raleigh.

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

HB2, News

Federal appeals court schedules arguments in HB2 challenge

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in the lawsuit challenging House Bill 2, North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation. The hearing is May 10 in Richmond, Virginia.

The ACLU of North Carolina announced Monday that a three-judge panel with the federal appeals court will consider a request to block the anti-transgender provisions of HB2 that ban individuals from using restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender.

In August 2016, a lower court blocked the University of North Carolina from enforcing those provisions against three transgender plaintiffs in the case, Carcaño v. McCrory.

In addition to the transgender public facilities provisions, HB2 also prohibits local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. There has been an ongoing tussle between Republicans and Democrats to repeal the bill.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal, which represent four LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina in the legal challenge, released the following joint statement:

“We look forward to being back in court to fight to ensure that all transgender people in North Carolina are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve and that is required by law. House Bill 2 represents an egregious attack on transgender people and their ability to participate in public life. While we continue to urge North Carolina legislators to repeal the law entirely, without still sanctioning discrimination, particularly against transgender people, we cannot wait for lawmakers to do the right thing. We will continue to fight for the rights of LGBT North Carolinians in court and beyond.”

The statement also included information about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to send its landmark transgender rights case back to the same appeals court to be reconsidered in light of President Donald Trump’s rollback on protections for transgender students.

While the May 10 hearing at the Fourth Circuit will not focus on Title IX but rather constitutional grounds under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the full lawsuit challenging H.B. 2 raises Title VII, Title IX and constitutional claims.

HB2, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. In North Carolina, the conservative war on academia merges with its war on the poor and vulnerable
Right launches new attack on UNC legal centers that serve people in need

For several years now, North Carolina conservatives have been waging a war on the poor, the vulnerable and people of color. From the evisceration of the economic safety net and the refusal to expand Medicaid, to the “surgically precise” attack on minority voting rights and the repeal of the Racial Justice Act, the attacks have been regular, coordinated and destructive.

Sadly, a similar pattern has been evident in the world of academics too. From Pat McCrory’s absurd attacks on liberal arts education to the decision to forcibly remove the highly respected former President of the University of North Carolina, Tom Ross, to the sustained under-investment in community colleges and universities, the Right has treated academia as an enemy to be starved, tamed and conquered. [Read more…]

2. Seven things to remember amid all the spin about HB2

With the one-year anniversary of the passage of the sweeping anti-LGBTQ law HB2 rapidly approaching and the NCAA poised to lock North Carolina out of hosting dozens of championship events for the next six years, legislative leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper are scrambling to find a way to repeal the law and remove the stain on North Carolina’s reputation around the world and end the second class treatment of thousands of people in the state.

There have been proposals and counter proposals in the last few day and a spate of news conferences, video statements, and press releases but the law remains on the books. Here are seven things you need to know about HB2, the current impasse and the misleading spin about who is to blame for the lack of action.

1) HB2 has been a disaster for North Carolina.

Conservative estimates show that it has cost the state $650 million dollars and tens of thousands of jobs. Charlotte alone has lost 2,500 jobs. [Read more…]

3. School choice advocates push to rebrand vouchers, virtual charters for legislators
Public school supporters call the tactics misleading

North Carolina public education backers are fired up this week over a new round of advocacy at the N.C. General Assembly that seems geared toward rebranding for-profit virtual charters and private school recipients of taxpayer-backed vouchers as public schools.

The controversy comes after a gaggle of school choice supporters clad in “I Trust Parents” t-shirts descended on the legislative building in recent days.

They brought with them pro-school choice literature that—while paid for by a little-known, at least in North Carolina, nonprofit called Public School Options—almost exclusively plugs the controversial N.C. Virtual Academy, an online school run by for-profit operator K12 Inc. that’s been troubled by high dropout rates and flagging academic numbers in its first two years of operation. [Read more…]


4. Gov. Roy Cooper’s $23.4 billion budget: new programs, 5% raise for teachers next year

At one point in his press conference, Gov. Roy Cooper grabbed a copy of his 161-page budget booklet from a nearby table, and pointed to its cover for emphasis. “This is a balanced budget” he told a group of reporters, who had gathered at Durham Technical Community College for the announcement. “We did it without raising taxes or fees, cutting services or dipping into special funds.”

Released at 10:30 this morning, the $23.4 billion budget will require more analysis to learn what’s been nipped and tucked to achieve that goal. But Cooper’s first foray into a state budget as governor focuses on education, emblematic of his vision of propelling North Carolina into the top 10 educated states by 2025:

  •     new programs for continuing education students and community colleges to increase the number of adults with a higher education degree from 38 percent to 55 percent;
  •     an increase in the number of pre-K slots to eliminate the 4,700-child waiting list; [Read more…]

*** Bonus video: Budget’s NC Best & Brightest initiative will help attract, retain talented educators

5. As bipartisan support for redistricting grows, community rallies around issue in effort to get lawmakers’ attention

When the Democrats were the majority party at the North Carolina General Assembly, Republicans wanted redistricting reform. Now that the Republicans are at the helm of power, Democrats want redistricting reform.

But advocates say gerrymandering is not a partisan issue, and if redistricting reform isn’t passed soon, it will permanently corrode the public’s confidence in elections.

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of electoral boundaries to favor one party or class — it’s often discussed in the context of lawmakers using race or politics to draw maps that ensure their election. There are currently five pending cases in the courts that involve allegations of racial and partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina.

“I believe this is the critical issue of our time,” said Ira Botvinick, an independent Raleigh voter.

“You’re riding high now but you can fall off the horse and be on the short end again. It’s not partisan to have competitive districts, and being an advocate for maximizing competition is in everyone’s best interest.” [Read more…]

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.

 

Commentary, HB2

Charlotte Observer issues scathing takedown of “compromise” on HB2

Here’s the basic deal right now on the “repeal” of HB2 being pushed by conservatives at the General Assembly: Democrats have surrendered on the issue of equity for transgender people when it comes to restroom access. The “compromise” would preempt any such protections. They’ve also partially surrendered on the issue of discrimination against LGBTQ people, by agreeing to allow such a fundamental right to be decided on a city-by-city basis with a stilted set of rules designed to make it hard to pass anything.

And it’s still not enough for Republicans.

This morning’s lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer explains:

“The HB2 debate really comes down to this: How much discrimination are you OK with?

A little? A lot? None?

If you can tolerate a lot, HB2 is the bill for you. If you can stomach just a medium amount, you’ll probably like HB186, the leading repeal bill being discussed at the legislature this week. If you are OK with just a little discrimination, you’ll probably back HB186 minus its referendum provision that lets voters decide whether to discriminate against LGBT citizens.

And if you want none? Well, plenty of approaches would provide that. But they’ve all been dismissed because they’re not ‘politically feasible.’ Why are they not feasible? Because Republican legislators will not support them. They are as likely to pass as a transgender person is to assault someone in a public bathroom.”

And here’s the right-on conclusion:

But Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, is right that Republican leaders keep moving the goalposts. First they agreed to a ‘repeal/repeal’ deal in which they would repeal HB2 if Charlotte first repealed its ordinance. Charlotte did; the legislature didn’t. Then Republicans blocked cities from regulating bathrooms and Gov. Roy Cooper agreed. Now they want the public to be able to hold referendums on minorities’ civil rights.

Jackson and Cooper have agreed to back HB186 if the referendum provision is removed. Even that amended bill would allow city contractors, nonprofits and others to discriminate against gays and would leave unsettled what bathroom transgender people are to use.

North Carolina must be a state that recognizes every person’s dignity. If the legislature fails to make us that state, don’t blame those who treasure such a simple goal.”