Archive for NC Legislature
Folks, this is your captain speaking. It looks like we’ve hit some unexpected turbulence and I’m going to turn on that seatbelt sign “DIIIIIING.” Flight attenands please return to your seats. As soon as it smoothes out, we’ll continue our service.
North Carolina last night hit a patch of turbulence in the form of a federal court ruling. This was still breaking last night (emphasis mine):
RALEIGH, N.C. — Three federal judges on Friday threw out the congressional voting maps the Republican-led General Assembly drew five years ago, ruling that two districts were gerrymandered along racial lines.
The ruling throws the March 15 primary into chaos, as the judges ordered state lawmakers to redraw the maps within two weeks and not to hold any elections for U.S. House until the maps are in place. A special session of the legislature would have to be called to approve new maps, and they might have to pass federal muster again.
U.S. federal Judge Thomas Schroeder in Winston-Salem, North Carolina today hears a case against the state over its sweeping voter ID bill. HB 589 changed overnight from about 17 pages to over 50 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP, the U.S. Justice Department and others claim the photo ID requirement unduly burdens black and Hispanic voters:
The trial over North Carolina’s voter ID law is set to begin Monday in front of Schroeder, a federal judge since 2008 who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush.
The legal battle is one of several being watched across the nation as the courts address questions of the fairness and lasting impacts that ID laws have on voting rights.
In North Carolina, voters will be required this year to use one of six specified IDs when they cast ballots — unless they can show they faced a “reasonable impediment” for getting one.
People ask me, Bernie or Hillary? I tell them I don’t care. My fight is not in Washington, D.C. It is here. I care that someone from the left side of the aisle wins the presidency in November 2016. I need those next 2-3 Supreme Court picks. I’m just not that particular which left-leaning president gets to pick them. And good luck getting them approved by a Republican-controlled Senate. (More on that later.)
The old saying goes: Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans just fall in line. You might have trouble convincing John Boehner of the latter, but the former still seems operative. Bernie-mania is this year’s Obama-mania. It is as if the left’s disappointments with the Obama administration never happened. They’ve found a brand new lover and it will be totally different this time. For a movement confident of its intellectual heft, we are really slow learners.
Matthew Yglesias points out the obvious:
The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won’t lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.
North Carolina legislators were cooking up some particularly noxious potions yesterday here in one of Charlie Pierce’s Laboratories of Democracy. Pay attention. North Carolina has become wingnut DARPA for this stuff.
The NC state legislature adjourned for the year about the time I got up to write this. Twitter and email lit up last night after all the turds they’d kept plugged up in the legislative pipeline until the very last all spewed out into public view at once. Much like the infamous “motorcycle vagina” bill of 2013, some of the worst appeared as surprise revisions to other bills.
Ironically, a colleague yesterday noticed that sometime after September 2012 our local GOP website had quietly removed its “Principles” page from its website. They included “I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.” Well, yesterday the “closest to the people” people in the state capitol attempted to prevent local governments in North Carolina from doing anything remotely progressive:
As the saying goes, this is why we can’t have nice things.
Perhaps you remember #JustOneLegislator from February? Freshman North Carolina state senator Jeff Jackson made national news when the Charlotte Democrat was the only legislator to show up for work in Raleigh after a snowstorm. Jackson took to Twitter to muse about all the things he was getting done as a legislature of one. His Tweets landed him on Buzzfeed and made him Rachel Maddow’s Best New Thing in the World.
It turns out it really is a lot easier to get things done when Republican leaders stay home.
Jackson filed two bills in March meant to clean up some loopholes in existing laws, one concerning the definition of statutory rape and another regarding federal sex offenders. In Jackson’s words, “low-hanging fruit.” No-brainer legislation with Republican co-sponsors. But the bills stalled in committee. One GOP legislator apologized, saying, “I’m really sorry for what’s about to happen.”
An editorial in the Charlotte Observer explains:
An analysis posted Thursday at Daily Kos found that since Pat McCrory moved into the North Carolina governor’s mansion, voter registration applications received through state public service agencies (as required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993) have fallen off drastically. DocDawg and colleagues did some data mining:
Finding 1: A systematic sharp decline in new voter registrations originating from Public Assistance (PA) programs began on or about January 2013 and continues to this dayFigure 1, below, summarizes statewide new voter registrations originating from PA programs, by month, and compares these with new voter registrations originating from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).Fig. 1: North Carolina new voter registrations originating via Public Assistance programs (top panel) and via the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (bottom panel) from May 2010 through March 2015. Red and green horizontal lines indicate overall averages for the periods May 2010 through December 2012 (green lines; “Pre-McCrory Average”) and January 2013 through March 2015 (red lines; “McCrory Average”). Months for which reports are missing, or contain incomplete data, are excluded from these averages (5/2010, 9/2010, 3/2011, 5/2011, 8/2011, 5/2012, 6/2012, and 3/2015).
In all, “an overall deficit of 39,177 ‘missing voters’ (i.e., NC citizens who would have been registered had this decline not occurred).” Checking for benign explanations, the study finds that the decline does not appear to be connected to an improving economy and “occurs statewide, not merely in a handful of counties.”
House Bill 222 Retention Elections/Appellate Division passed the NC House last week and is now in the Senate Rules Committee. According to the Carolina Journal, here’s how retention elections for appellate level judges would work (emphasis mine):
Under the legislation, appellate judges would continue to take office initially by winning a two-candidate election. To serve a second or subsequent term, however, a “retention” election would be held at the end of the term, with voters asking to approve or disapprove the jurist. Any judges who do not get the approval of 50 percent or more of the voters would leave office, and the governor would appoint a replacement who would serve until the next general election, where he or she could win a full term in a two-candidate election. Retention elections would apply only to judges who have been elected, not to those who were appointed to the bench by the governor.
The process for replacing judges who were defeated in a retention election would be the same as that for judges who retire, resign, die in office, or are removed during their terms.
Which is to say, the governor gets to appoint replacements until the next general election, roughly two years. All three of Buncombe County’s House Democrats voted for the bill.
Judges having to raise money and campaign for office has always seemed a bit seedy. But while this bill would bring North Carolina closer to the Missouri Plan used in several states, where judges are appointed after vetting by a panel, it doesn’t quite get there.
From Rep. Brian Turner’s office:
On Saturday April 25th Rep. Brian Turner will host his second in a series of Town Hall meetings for the constituents of House District 116. The Town Hall will be held at the Leicester Community Center at 3:00 PM.
Who: Representative Brian Turner
What: Town Hall Meeting Regarding the Long Session When: Saturday, April 25th 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Leicester Community Center
For those growing up in the 1960s, Eddie Haskell from the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” was our archetype for the conniving, two-faced schemer. Superficially polite — over-polite — when parents were present, he dropped the facade and became his true, devious self whenever the adults left the room. IIRC, at the end of one episode, Eddie gets his comeuppance. As he is led away, he is still working his Mr. Innocent routine, mystified that it seems not to be sparing him punishment. Wally Cleaver turns to his little brother and observes, “Everybody’s wise to Eddie except Eddie.”
It’s not a new observation that conservative politics often exhibits the same public/private, two-faced quality. This week’s sideshow in Indiana over its Religious Freedom Restoration Act bought Eddie to mind again. Protestations that the bill meant to protect religious practice rather than license discrimination were just as transparent.
In the sitcom, Ward and June Cleaver always play along with Eddie’s innocent act, never confronting him about being a fraud, and tacitly encouraging him to keep lying. In real life, don’t our Wards and Junes of the press do the same?
A radio newscast last night reported that RFRA supporters in Indiana complained that the changes made to the law yesterday under national pressure had stripped the law of its religious protections. That is, the right of business owners to use their religious belief to discriminate against customers.
Remember me warning you about Thom’s Tholl Road? Coming soon to an interstate near you? Via Barry Summers. Introduced in the NC Senate:
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT to direct the department of transportation to study ways to fund improvements to interstate 95.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. Study. – The Department of Transportation shall study ways to fund improvements to Interstate 95 from the South Carolina to Virginia borders, including the feasibility of establishing tolls and managed lanes.
It’s been “studied” since 2010 at least:
Here’s the group that was fighting it in 2012: http://notollsi95.com/
How long before they’re “studying” it for I-26?