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It wasn’t that long ago — about five years to be precise — that critics of then-Senator Barack Obama were complaining mightily about the presidential candidate’s numerous “present” votes while serving in the Illinois General Assembly. It turns out that Illinois and some other states (but not North Carolina) allow legislators the “present” option when voting on proposed bills.

The gist of the criticism, of course, was that a “present” vote is the wimp’s way out — a way to get credit for being there to collect your legislative paycheck without doing your duty and taking a position. 

This week, it will be interesting to see if any of Obama’s critics in North Carolina step up to direct the same criticism at Gov. Pat McCrory. As reported on Friday, the governor has decided to, in effect, vote “present” on one of the year’s dumbest bills — the proposal to keep Islamic Sharia Law from being given any effect in North Carolina. According to a statement, the Governor thinks the proposal is “unnecessary” but will simply punt and not sign or veto the measure. Under state law, the bill now becomes law.

But, of course, the question that arises is: If you think it’s unnecessary, why don’t you do your duty and take a stand? At least Obama’s “present” votes had the same practical effect as a “no” vote under Illinois law. McCrory’s wimp out lets a potentially unconstitutional absurdity become state law in North Carolina because, in effect, the Guv didn’t want to be bothered — a silly result that was also, unfotunately, allowed to happen on occasion by his predecessors. What a way to run a railroad!

 

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North Carolina Advocates for Justice, a group of some 3500 private and public sector attorneys and other legal professionals, today asked Gov. Pat McCrory to veto H652, a bill which hands over the public discipline of judges to the state Supreme Court — including the discipline of those justices themselves — and allows most proceedings to take place in secret, unless and until the court decides to act on the discipline of a particular judge.

NCAJ now joins the North Carolina Bar Association and numerous newspapers across the state in asking for the veto, and agrees with the objections by Chief Justice Sarah Parker and Court of Appeals Judge John Martin, who heads the Judicial Standards Commission, voiced before the bill passed in the General Assembly.

In its letter to the Governor, the organization said:

The members of our organization interact all day, every day, all over North
Carolina, with normal citizens of all walks of life who come into contact with our
judicial system. We see their concerns and perceptions about the “good old boy and
girl” nature of the system, in which judges and lawyers are believed to “take care of
their own.” H652 only serves to feed that widespread perception, while making the
proper review of judicial conduct less efficient and more secretive. Accordingly, we
urge you to veto the bill.

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The Guv has hinted that he might try saying “no” to at least a couple of the General Assembly’s worst, last-minute absurdities (and it would be an amazing act of lap-dogginess if he doesn’t). So, if he does act, which ones will it be?

Over the weekend, Steve Ford at the N.C. Council of Churches neatly summarized three bills that seem to be at the top of the Governor’s potential “No” list:

“If Gov. Pat McCrory goes along with the General Assembly’s partial “disassembly” of state environmental rules – and if North Carolina loses significant ground in the battle against pollution, as likely would be the case – he won’t be able to say he wasn’t warned.

Fourteen of the state’s environmental groups have teamed up with a request that McCrory veto House Bill 74 – which they describe as a ’68-page compilation of special interest handouts.’ The so-called Regulatory Reform Act of 2013 was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate and House in the closing hours of the legislative session that concluded on July 26, with environmental advocates strongly objecting….”

Read Steve’s entire column by clicking here.

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Gov. McCrory intimated during his press conference last week that he would consider vetoing legislation passed during the waning days of session that would require drug tests for public assistance applicants. Today, a trio of civil rights groups will provide him with all the ammunition he needs to do just that.

In a letter emailed yesterday and to be hand-delivered today, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the North Carolina Justice Center told the Governor that the controversial proposal “wastes State resources and infringes on the constitutional rights of those on public assistance.”

This is from the letter: Read More

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Pat McCrory 5Up until now, it’s mostly been talk. Now, Pat McCrory has to act and North Carolinians will soon learn what kind of new governor they have: A rational moderate who, as he often did as Mayor of Charlotte,  puts families above campaign contributions and extremist ideology or a far right tool of the state’s business lobby in the ilk of Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott.

Yesterday, the General Assembly sent the Governor a bill that devastates North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system and now he has 10 days to decide what to do with it.  A loud and compelling chorus has made it eminently clear why he should veto it.

On Wednesday, dozens of nonprofit advocacy groups representing people in need begged the Governor to think twice. In their letter they noted that: Read More