Archive for NC Legislature
The North Carolina General Assembly’s right wing blitzkrieg on voting rights, women’s rights, health care, the poor, the middle class, and the environment is nearly complete. It’s going to take some time to clean up the mess, and in the interim we’re going to see our great state suffer the consequences.
The Buncombe County NCGA water carriers, dubbed ‘The Moffitteers’ by some clever Twitterati, are doing their best to pretend there’s nothing wrong in Raleigh. It’s the usual cast of characters fibbing, insulting, distracting, and bullying their way through social media. I’m sure their bosses are very proud.
The good news is that this legislative session ought to be over soon. The damage done, legislators will return to their districts to explain to their constituents how this radical agenda, despite reducing income and opportunity, is really great.
I’ll be downtown toasting Bele Chere’s swan song this weekend. I’ve always loved this festival, and I’m sentimental about its end. The original purpose of bringing people downtown has long been fulfilled, though, and half the downtown business owners couldn’t be happier to see it go. The city will save more than $450,000/year by stepping away from throwing this party, and that’s a lot of money that can go towards affordable housing, affordable transportation, and other infrastructure investments. With the way things are going in Raleigh, it’s fitting that Asheville pivots to become more independent and more resilient.
The party known as Bele Chere will end this weekend, and our work to rebuild what’s been broken by Raleigh Republicans is just beginning.
Here’s your Friday Open Thread. Drop some powdered sugar on this funnel cake.
If Republicans in the NC state legislature were any more transparent, they’d be invisible. The arguments for all the proposed radical changes to voting laws in North Carolina are obvious nonsense, and the worst voter suppression bill in the nation. Maybe they are just skilled liars. Maybe they are just seriously deluded. Or maybe they have been consuming a steady diet of their own BS for so long — fed to them by think tanks, Fox News, talk radio and social media — that they actually believe it.
Wednesday night after the seoond reading vote on the Voter Information Verification Act (House Bill 589) in the NC state senate, a group of protesters sat in at office of House Speaker Thom Tillis:
Six people were arrested following a brief sit-in Wednesday night in House Speaker Thom Tillis’ office.
The group was protesting the Senate’s proposed voting restrictions and voter ID law. The bill passed the Senate in a second reading Wednesday.
The protesters walked into Tillis’ office shortly before 8 p.m. and said they wanted to meet with the Speaker and ask him to stop HB 589 in the House.
“What I witnessed … was the operation of an oppressive government,” said Bree Newsome, 28, of Raleigh, describing the Senate hearings.
Weeks of growing Moral Monday protests have given the fight a national profile. Gov. Pat McCrory said he wanted to rebrand North Carolina. Mission accomplished.
(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)
If Republicans in the state legislature were any more transparent, they’d be invisible. The arguments for all the radical changes to voting laws in North Carolina are that obvious nonsense. Maybe they are just skilled liars. Maybe they are just seriously deluded. Or maybe they have been consuming a steady diet of their own BS for so long — fed to them by think tanks, Fox News, talk radio and social media — that they actually believe their own BS.
The push to require identity cards before one can vote in North Carolina should reach a head today in the legislature. The bill itself (House Bill 589, aka VIVA) is a sight to behold. And it will likely soon end up on the desk of the man BlueNC refers to as Deputy Assistant Governor McCrory.
But they want to erect obstacles to voting, hands over their hearts, they do. Badly. So badly they’re prepared to sacrifice their own voters to hurt Democrats, as you can read here. The NCGOP is playing a calculating game of percentages that treats their own supporters as expendables, and any harm to their own foot soldiers’ ability to vote acceptable losses. Because they figure Democrats will get it worse.
The GOP will sacrifice their own to hold onto power. Figuratively, Republican leaders are willing to shoot their own troops to hit Democrats standing behind them. All good, if you’re the leader. But what if you’re not?
“You see? I kill my own men.”
— Mystery Men (1999): Evil is Cocky
Democrats rending their garments over the NCGOP’s latest legislative caca del toro — the Voter Information Verification Act (House Bill 589), the election “reform” bill — have missed the real story. Fortunately for Republican leaders, so have their own supporters.
This is worse than anyone imagined. In addition to disenfranchising somewhere north of 318,000 voters without government issued identification, this proposal will suppress voter registration efforts, expand the influence of big money donors, and potentially create an army of vigilantes who can challenge your right to vote.
This is dangerous and antithetical to our democracy. Here’s a list of things this proposal would do:
- The end of pre-registration for 16 & 17 year olds
- A ban on paid voter registration drives
- Elimination of same day voter registration
- A provision allowing voters to be challenged by any registered voter of the county in which they vote rather than just their precinct
- A week sliced off Early Voting
- Elimination of straight party ticket voting
- A provision making the state’s presidential primary date a function of the primary date in South Carolina
- A provision calling for a study (rather than a mandate) of electronic candidate filing
- An increase in the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 (the limit will continue to increase every two years with the Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- A provision weakening disclosure requirements for ”independent expenditure” committees
- Authorization of vigilante poll observers, lots of them, with expanded range of interference
- An expansion of the scope of who may examine registration records and challenge voters
- A repeal of out-of-precinct voting
- A repeal of the current mandate for high-school registration drives
- Elimination of flexibility in opening early voting sites at different hours within a county
- A provision making it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for the elderly or voters with disabilities
- New limits on who can assist a voter adjudicated to be incompetent by court
- The repeal of three public financing programs
- The repeal of disclosure requirements under “candidate specific communications.”
This bill is a radical shift away from egalitarian voting principles toward a mean-spirited ethic that ignores our nation’s values. It encourages intimidation and discourages participation. It shifts more power to the wealthy and connected, just like the General Assembly’s tax proposals and environmental proposals.
See y’all at Mountain Moral Monday on August 5th. Let us work to empower and include voters rather than disenfranchise and exclude them. Let us organize and send anti-voting radicals packing next November.
The Charlotte Observer late Thursday called for NC House Speaker Thom Tillis to resign. Tillis is too busy raising money to run for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Kay Hagan to attend to state business, the Observer believes. He’s been AWOL for several days when dozens of bills were being raced through the legislature.
Besides missing important House business, Tillis’ moonlighting has the look of the pay-to-play politics that Republicans decried among Democrats for so long. A superPAC for Tillis raised $70,000 from George A. Sywassink, R. Doyle Parrish and W.G. Champion Mitchell, newly released records show. Tillis’ House named all three to the UNC Board of Governors recently, including Sywassink after declaring there had been a vote-tallying error the first time around.
State law bars legislators from raising money from lobbyists during the legislative session, but the ban doesn’t apply to federal candidates like Tillis. So he can attend a fundraiser hosted by Royce Everette, a major consumer finance lender, days after the legislature approved a bill raising interest rates and fees for Everette’s industry.
For the first time since taking office we find that McCrory has a negative approval rating this month. Only 40% of voters are happy with the job he’s doing to 49% who disapprove. That’s down a net 15 points from June when he was at a 45/39 spread.
Unhappiness over the abortion bill seems to be driving a lot of the increased unhappiness with the Republicans in state government this month. Only 34% of voters support the proposal to 47% who are opposed.
55% of voters are unhappy with the legislation that resulted in 70,000 North Carolinians losing their unemployment benefits earlier this month to only 29% who are supportive of it.
76% of voters think that companies engaged in fracking in North Carolina should have to disclose all the chemicals they inject into the ground with only 13% opposed.
Democrats now lead the generic legislative ballot 51/42, the largest lead we’ve ever found for them since we started tracking this statistic.
Voters are so unhappy with the legislature that the protesters are coming out more popular. 47% have a favorable opinion of the folks who have been getting arrested protesting the General Assembly’s actions to 40% with an unfavorable opinion and by a 47/41 margin voters say they have a higher opinion of the protestors than they do of the General Assembly. Those numbers may be a reflection of the sentiment North Carolinians hold by a 46/36 margin that the General Assembly is causing North Carolina ‘national embarrassment.’
Arizona, Here We Come!
Courtesy of Rep. Nathan Ramsey’s office. Joe Arpaio will be proud. Pink undies next, Nathan?
As Moral Monday protests continue, the unfavorable national media attention on North Carolina intensified with a prominent editorial in the New York Times slamming the “demolition derby” underway in the state legislature:
In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.
“Grotesque,” the Times calls the damage being wrought on years of state progress. Political analyst Michael Bitzer observed, “If they can’t end this issue, particularly on the abortion issue, fairly soon and fairly quick, it may have a lasting impact on companies and people looking at North Carolina.”
The Times concludes:
North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.
Gives new meaning to Shakespeare’s “a plague on both your houses.”