We often find ourselves saying in our weekly emails that there’s never a dull moment in politics. This week proved that really is the case. Between Mr Comey, Mrs May, Governor Cooper and Rep. Millis this has been another rollercoaster week. Please read on for a summary of North Carolina political events and some curated offerings for you.
Significant News Stories This Week
For about 18 hours we thought there might be a special session on redistricting but then everything changed. Governor Cooper seized the initative after the SCOTUS ruling on Monday. But by Thursday it was clear that the House and Senate leaders were not going to play. Between arguments that Cooper did not have the authority to call a special session, that districts must be redrawn in a regular session, that they wanted to wait for guidance from the lower court, it was clear that the GOP feel no urgency to redraw the districts. Both the black caucus and the Democrats are still looking at a November election for redrawn districts but as the weeks pass that is becoming more unlikely. Read Thomas Mills who writes ‘Defending the Indefensible.’
Crazy Gun bill.
In the face of opposition from law enforcement officials including police chiefs and sheriffs, the House passed HB 746. The bill, introduced by Rep Chris Millis from Pender and Onslow counties, is one of the most lax gun laws in the country. Debate on the House floor was shut down including amendments concerning a number of common sense requirements such as gun safety training and keeping the age at which concealed carry is permissible at 21 not 18. Interestingly on a second reading, the Democrats withdrew their proposed amendments and allowed the bill to pass on broadly party lines. Now it moves to the Senate for consideration. Apparently House leader Tim Moore acknowledged that the bill needed work, but clearly not by him! Read WRAL’s report.
We have highlighted this bill in previous weekly emails. Having passed the House, this bill is now part of budget negotiations. If it is to make it through that process we need to keep exhorting our representatives to push for it’s funding through the budget. Please take a moment to contact your reps (both House and Senate) to add your voice to those saying it is the best thing for our state. Not least that we are the ONLY state in the US which still tries 16 and 17 year olds as adults.
On Thursday Michael Crowell, an attorney living in Orange county, sued the state alleging that his constitutional rights are being violated. He is registered unaffilated with the Board of Elections. He maintains that becuse the state does not permit an unaffiliated representative on the State Board of Elections or local boards, his rights are being infringed. With over 30% of registered voters in the state now choosing an unaffiliated designation, this could be a powerful argument. And one that is likely to remain in the ‘unresolved’ and ‘under litigation’ category for some time. Read more here.
For Your Reading Pleasure
BUDGET: Some interesting and thoughtful comparisons between the Senate and House budgets.
COMPASSION: An Op-Ed piece, shared by Lynn Edmonds, which really resonated with conversations we have been having recently. Where is the compassion in our political life?
REDISTRICTING: An Update on the Common Cause lobbying day on redistricting held earlier this week. http://nclobbyreform.org/releases/2017/3_6_17_egn_lobby_day.php
In a statement, Jane Pinsky of the Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform wrote ‘The United States Supreme Court today told the state of North Carolina that it would not review a lower court ruling saying that 28 legislative districts were racially gerrymandered. This decision by the country’s highest court means that the NC General Assembly will have to redraw those districts.
Two weeks ago, the US Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that the NC General Assembly had in 2011 racially gerrymandered two Congressional districts.
Statement from the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform
“These two lawsuits are among more than forty instances where a court has had to intervene in NC redistricting since 1980. North Carolina needs to change the way it does redistricting. We need a nonpartisan process that allows citizens to decide who represents them, not one that permits legislators to choose who their voters will be.”
It is time for the NC General Assembly to act after decades of doing nothing. House Bill 200, and its companion bill Senate Bill 209, would establish a fair and nonpartisan system that eliminates party politics and political deal making. This legislation puts voters back into game and ends the decades of expensive litigation.”
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: We have another letter published. Great job Amy Womble! And thank you for keeping school budgeting in the forefront of our work. http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article154796614.html