Well, we warned you. It’s only Monday evening and it’s already a crazy week at the NCGA. Thirty-five pieces of legislation were hitting the floor tonight. The most important thing we can ask of you tonight is to make time this week to go down to the NCGA and be citizen witnesses for either votes on bills or in committee meetings.
If you can’t make it to the NCGA tomorrow and you have a couple of minutes tomorrow morning, send a quick email to your representatives with the following information: In the subject of the email list the bill number and say yes or no (Example: No on SB-68). You can write a more lengthy email if you so choose, but for a week like this when a lot is being voted on, the simple subject line is the easiest way for representatives to get a quick pulse of how their constituents feel about the bill.
A compromise was reached on HB-13, discussed and voted on in the Senate in 20 minutes. Not sure speed is the best thing for democracy. The compromise supposedly includes passing flexibility for class sizes this year, but putting in place accountability reporting for schools next year and maybe funding specialists from a different bucket. IF (and that’s a big if with this group) they hold their promises to provide the extra funding for specialists going forward, this could be a reasonable compromise, but we’ll have to see. There will be more to come on the impact of this compromise tomorrow morning.
NC GOP voted in the Senate to override Cooper’s veto of “Senate Bill 68” – that is the bill that was brought in to replace “SB4”, which was passed during the very “special” session being challenged in court as violating the NC Constitution by Common Cause. “SB4” was the bill that would, among other things, combine the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission and give the NCGA significant control over the combined board. “SB4” was separately overturned by an NC Superior Court 3-judge panel – so the NCGA is trying to change what judges can be on a 3-Judge Panel AND reintroduced the bill (with some changes) as “SB 68”.
Override vote goes to House at 9am tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow there are two bills in particular – carry on college campuses (Judiciary 4) and restricting the governors judicial authority (Judiciary 1- HB335) – to pay attention to. They go to committee at 12pm and 1pm, so we need to fill the hallway with some bodies, please! Lawmakers and LAs have told us that lots of public presence in the committee meetings and in the hallways change the temperature in the room. Committee meetings are our chance to send a clear message that we are paying attention and that we plan to hold everyone accountable.
Also, a state House committee will consider a bill that would label many peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights as “economic terrorists” and increase penalties for obstructing traffic and sidewalks during a protest. Contact the members of the House Judiciary II committee and tell them to protect your First Amendment rights by opposing HB 249. HB 249 makes it so a peaceful protestor who simply stepped foot on a roadway could face a felony charge. The bill would make protestors liable for the policing costs of an entire protest if that protest was deemed to be unlawful, and it requires police to break up any protest of 10 or more people if that protest obstructs traffic.
Finally, there are also rumors that a bill reducing the number of judges on the state Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 and to allow more cases to be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Some people think this is a “back door” to “packing” the state Supreme Court. The argument is that they are increasing the Supreme Court’s case load in order to justify “stacking the court” – and there is a rumor a bill will be introduced to make it so Cooper can’t appoint the extra judges, but rather the NCGA would appoint them.
Everyone’s NC has a running tally of what is being discussed and voted on this week. You can follow along here.