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Franco Ordoñez of the Charlotte Observer/McClatchy newspapers posted this story last night about a bill that would try and reinstate driving privileges to those living illegally in the country, but also increase enforcement.

State Rep. Harry Warren, a Rowan County Republican, told the newspaper he would introduce the major legislation next week.

From the Charlotte Observer piece:

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are expected next week to propose a sweeping new state law that would grant driving privileges to residents living in the country illegally but also would adopt Arizona-type enforcement measures that authorize police to check the immigration status of people they question for other suspected offenses.

Supporters say the proposal, a sign of a more welcoming approach that some states are taking with their unauthorized residents, would make the roads safer and help identify those who had been living hidden in society.

The measure also has significant political implications as national Republican leaders have warned the party must expand its appeal to Latinos. It’s not an easy task for a Republican-led North Carolina legislature, which must walk a fine line between reaching out to the state’s rapidly growing Latino community without antagonizing the party’s conservative base.

Immigrants living in the country without permission cannot currently get drivers licenses, a policy that affects about an estimated 325,000 people.

Warren said his bill would also include a controversial enforcement component that allows law enforcement to check immigration status of those who are stopped, according to the McClatchy article.

This comes on the heels of North Carolina’s DMV opting to drop its plan to use a fuchsia line on the licenses of young immigrants who receive permission to stay in the country under the Obama Administration’s deferred action policy.

 

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Two North Carolina legislators want the First Amendment to stay out of their county, and defy court rulings that prevent government bodies from invoking sectarian prayer before conducting public business.ford and warren

The “Rowan County Defense of Religion Act,” filed yesterday,  aims to make Rowan County in central North Carolina county an oasis where the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment does not apply.

The resolution, filed by Rowan County Reps. Carl Ford and Harry Warren, also says the county will get to ignore rulings from higher courts seeking to uphold the Constitution’s powers.

Any constitutional scholars (or first year law students) around to fact check? Please, we’d love to hear what you think of this one.

Here are some snippets from  (House Resolution 494):

Whereas the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishing of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ and

Whereas this prohibition does not apply to states, municipalities, or schools….

and

“Whereas, the Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional ….  the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the  people.

The Rowan County Commissioners have been fighting attempts to stop them from using Christian prayers to open their meetings, and are being sued by the ACLU of North Carolina in federal court.

UPDATE: The ACLU of North Carolina had this to say about the bill, from legal director Chris Brook: “The bill sponsors fundamentally misunderstand constitutional law and the principles of the separation of powers that date back to the founding of this country.”

 

Rowan County Defense of Religion by ncpolicywatch

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A group of state lawmakers has been meeting behind closed doors to find a fix for North Carolina’s $2.4-billion unemployment insurance problem, money the state borrowed from the federal government in the height of the economic crisis.

A trio of Republican lawmakers – state Reps. Julia Howard, Edgar Starnes and Harry Warren – have been meeting weekly with legislative staff for the past 10 weeks to roll out a plan, Howard said. They plan on bringing their proposal to light on Wednesday at the N.C. Revenue Laws Committee which has the option of voting immediately on the mystery plan without holding any public discussion.

The result could be a massive overhaul of the state’s unemployment system, with a very real possibility that lawmakers side with business interests looking to cut back on how much and for how long the unemployed can collect. Advocates for the poor (like the N.C. Justice Center) say that option would cause further harm for families in crisis.

The money was borrowed at the height of the economic crisis, and went to pay for the first 26 weeks of unemployment for thousands of North Carolinians who lost their jobs as the state grappled with the fall-out from the collapse of the housing industry.  A series of tax breaks businesses received on unemployment insurance in the 1990s had left the state without enough money to weather the drastic increase of jobless workers during the Great Recession.

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