Two more mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend brought into sharp relief the failure of North Carolina Republicans to make commonsense changes to gun laws. Democrats filed two such bills this session, but Republicans refuse to allow votes on both. Instead of working to guarantee all North Carolinians can shop, worship, or simply exist without fear of being shot, Republicans have prioritized staying in the pocket of the NRA. The NRA is notorious for working hard to stifle gun violence research and has a rich history of supporting NC Republicans in order to influence policy.
Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne), who’s been a bellwether before on changes to House Republican’s electoral plans, may have let more secrets slip from the witness stand on Wednesday.
Bell was questioned during the eighth day of testimony in the Common Cause v Lewisgerrymandering trial and said Rep. David Lewis’s (R-Harnett) traditionally strong Republican district might get more competitive in 2020. When pressed, Bell refused to confirm or deny Lewis’s electoral plans.Read More
On Wednesday the NC House overwhelmingly voted to lengthen the time period during which survivors of child sexual abuse can sue perpetrators for damages. Only 10 House members did not back the measure, which would extend the statute of limitations from 21 to 38 years of age. Those 10 members included Representatives Larry Pittman, Michele Presnell, and Mike Speciale, who have a demonstrated track record of failing to stand with survivors of sexual abuse.
For example, Presnell and Speciale also attempted to block an amendment that clarified legal ambiguities for survivors of what the law defines as “date rape.” Pittman did not vote either way on the amendment, despite being present in the chamber. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Chaz Beasley, “better protect[s] victims that have been drugged without their knowledge.” No Republicans gave a substantive reason for their attempt to block protections for survivors of rape. Fortunately, Beasley’s amendment, which was inspired by a rape survivor who found the legal ambiguity an impediment to justice, passed despite Republican efforts.Read More
Since Governor Cooper vetoed S359, a bill that would criminalize doctors, shame patients, and disproportionately impact Black women, legislative dramatics have reached new heights. The bill is up for another vote in the House today.
The fight over the veto override began with Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene, Pitt) casting the deciding vote to override Gov. Cooper's veto of S359 in the Senate. He also voted for the original bill. Davis was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against Gov. Cooper and in line with Republicans on this restrictive bill that addresses a “problem” that does not exist and places further restrictions on safe reproductive health care.
For those unfamiliar with legislative procedure, Sen. Davis’s vote in favor of overriding the veto resulted in the bill ending up in the House’s infamous “veto garage.” Republican House Speaker Tim Moore placed the vote to override the veto of S359 on the calendar and withdrew it on nine separate occasions between May 2 and May 29, likely because Republicans didn’t have the votes they needed to override the Governor’s veto. However, Democrats like Rep. Sydney Batch (D-Wake), kept showing up, thus preventing an override.
Rep. Batch, however, is recovering from cancer. Her seatmate, Rep. Ashton Clemmons (D- Guilford), said Batch is too weak to drive herself to the General Assembly so she has been driving Batch to and from sessions. She had to cut her recovery from a recent mastectomy short to make sure her vote to sustain the Governor’s veto is counted. While Sen. Davis chose to fall in line with Republican leadership that is supposedly “pro-life” yet refuses to expand Medicaid, Rep. Batch returned to the General Assembly soon after surgery to prevent her Republican colleagues from capitalizing on her absence.Read More
Read the full report here.Read More
H54, “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment,” is an abortion method ban that would make dilation & evacuation prodcedures, referred to in the bill as “dismemberment abortion” illegal except in the case of “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” The bill intentionally uses the term of “dismemberment abortion” instead of dilation and evacuation, reflecting anti-abortion rhetoric. The bill makes exceptions for “serious heath risk to the unborn child’s mother” but does not include “psychological or emotional conditions.” Throughout, the bill refers to the patient as “the unborn child’s mother.”
H54 intentionally targets physicians who provide abortion. The bill text specifically offers civil immunity to patients, nurses, technicians, secretaries, receptionists, pharmacists, or “other employee or agent who is not a physician.” Moreover, the bill would make any physician who provides the procedure guilty of a civil offense and liable for sanction from the NC Medical Board.
Rep. Debra Conrad of Forsyth is a primary sponsor of the bill, which emerged amidst a flurry of anti-abortion legislation in early February 2019.
Read more on H54 here.Read More
Pull out your parliamentary procedure handbooks, NC House members voted Wednesday on their official rules for the 2019-20 Session. Despite some analysis claiming they’d be more collaborative, Republicans blocked a number of changes to the rules that would have increased transparency in the legislative building.Read More
Wednesday, at the opening of the 2019-20 session of the North Carolina House, there was a contested race for House Speaker. Democrat Rep. Robert Reives nominated fellow Democrat Rep. Darren Jackson against Republican Rep. Tim Moore, seeking another term as Speaker. Moore succeeded, though, …Read More
We are one year out from a new census and just one month past an election that saw an increase in candidates of color and female candidates. Using census information from 2000 and updated estimates, we’ve compiled some comparison graphs to see how diverse the General Assembly is compared to the population of the state.
As of 2000, the population of the state of North Carolina was 8,049,313. The latest population estimate from 2017 indicates that the state grew by a little over two million people over 17 years.
Though there were shifts toward better representation of NC’s population by its elected officials, there is still a lot of room to grow. For example, according to 2017 US Census Bureau estimates, Hispanic/Latinx people make up 9.5 percent of NC’s population, but there are no NCGA members who identify as Hispanic or Latinx. White people are still overrepresented in the state legislature as they occupy only 63.1 percent of the state’s population, per 2017 estimates, but more than 70 percent of both legislative bodies.Read More
Since passing the Senate, enacting legislation for the voter ID constitutional amendment saw some changes in the House Elections Committee and lawmakers finally learned the cost and appropriation for voter ID House Rules the night before it was up for a vote on the House floor.
For more details on the substance of the bill and acceptable forms of ID, check out our earlier post. Even with the House’s changes this bill still creates significant impediments to voting for many, from people in college, to lower-income people, to people who work night shifts, to people who rely on public transportation.
The bill appropriates in total $3.1 million for fiscal year 2018-19. Of that, $2,250,000, goes to the State Board of Elections, but $1.5 million specifically designated to the DMV for loss of revenues associated with implementing this act. An additional $850,000 goes to Public Campaign Fund to be used by county boards of election for printing equipment and maintenance. The Budget and Tax Center estimated that voter ID implementation could cost the state up to $9 million and a legislative staff estimate released Tuesday showed about $17 million over five years.Read More