The Longest Short Session…

There’s more to VoterID than just a pretty picture

A new “Voter ID” constitutional amendment has been filed at the NCGA, House Bill 1092, to replace the 2013 voter-restriction law that was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional because it was enacted with “discriminatory intent” to target minority voters with “almost surgical precision”.

There is no outline of what this proposed law would look like, since the ballot would just provide a “For” or “Against” option. A vote “For” would give this legislature free reign to write whatever restrictions they wanted into law before the newly elected Assembly is seated in January. Remember the #CarolinaCoup in December 2016?

Voter fraud is a false narrative used to frame this issue and ignore the actual fact that thousands of people in NC would have their voting rights restricted. Our forefathers have fought and sometimes died for the right to vote. That’s why we need to make sure that every eligible American has the opportunity to vote. 

We are not fooled. We see this for what it is.

If VoterID passes and the NCGOP is able to suppress additional voters, this will be tied up in the courts again long after 2020. (It took 3 years to overturn the 2013 law.) NC has 15 electoral votes, and 13 congressional seats – and after the next census in 2020 we will likely have more congressional seats. If North Carolina does not have fair elections in 2020 – guess who will get to draw the congressional lines for the next decade? Guess who will be more likely to be president in 2020 if women, young people, Black people, and Latinix are less able to vote in 2020?

They need 3/5 of each chamber to pass this ballot request. Call both your NC House Representative and your NC State Senator and ask them to vote NO on HB1092 to stop it before it hits the ballot.

Join us Tuesday at 4:30 in front of the NCGA on 16 W Jones St at a rally for the #RightToVote: https://www.facebook.com/events/252794575491340/?ti=icl

 

What’s actually in the Budget? And What’s NOT in it?

Republicans in the legislature shocked the state by using a procedural legislative tactic to write the budget behind closed doors and pass it with no input or amendments. The budget bill was released only two days before it was voted on, and contained very concerning provisions changing education funding and more. We’ve summarized the more contentious parts in our post here. 
This bill was vetoed by Gov. Cooper and promptly overridden the next day.

It’s worth highlighting some of the bills sponsored by Democratic lawmakers that would have been important additions this session but have been buried in committee (for a complete list see this chart and sort it by bill date):

S726, Go Big For Early Childhood, Senators Jackson, Foushee, and Waddell

S736, Preserve Net Neutrality / Statewide Broadband, Senators Chaudhuri and Woodard

S737, Safer Schools, Healthier Kids Act, Senators Chaudhuri, McKissick and Jackson

S745, Fully Fund School Counselors and Psychologists, Senators McKissick, Chaudhuri and Foushee

S755, Voter Freedom Act, Senators Clark, Woodard and Van Duyn

S764, UNC CH Monument Relocation, Senators Foushee and Woodard

S767, Medicaid Expansion / Healthcare Jobs Initiative, Senator Clark

S800; Actually Draining the Swamp, Senators Jackson, Van Duyn and Smith

S782, NC Adopt Equal Rights Amendment, Senators McKissick and Van Duyn

S783, NC Equal Pay Act, Senators McKissick and Van Duyn

S784, Affordable Housing Act, Senators Chaudhuri, Robinson, McKissick

S786, Healthy Mother & Child Shackling Prohibition, Senators Smith, Foushee and Van Duyn

S787, Small Farms to Healthier Schools Initiative, Senators Smith, Woodard and Waddell

S794, Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Senators Chaudhuri and Foushee

S801, Revoke Consent / Intercourse and Sexual Acts, Senator Jackson

H968, Legislative Response to Emerging Contaminants, Reps. Butler, Harrison, Richardson and Floyd

HB976, Extreme Risk Protection Order, Rep. Marcia Morey

H1060, Ensure Safe Handguns, Reps. Insko, Harrison and Morey

H1067, Polluter Pay Legislation, Reps. Harrison, Ager, Butler and Richardson

Plus…an amendment from Rep Joe John, NC40, was struck down:  “Twice last week, I proposed an amendment to require that every 911 dispatcher in North Carolina accept text messages (many do now, just not all). Simply trying to help kids or anyone in danger silently contact law enforcement.” Unfortunately it was not considered germane to the School Safety Act.

 

Changes to the Judicial System Continue

Judges have ruled against the NCGOP-controlled NCGA over 15 times since Phil Berger and Tim Moore took over leadership. Tired of losing in court, Berger and Moore have responded by saying that judges will face “profound consequences.”

Changes to Wake County judges are particularly of concern since the Wake Co. Superior Court 3-judge panel reviews challenges to NCGA actions and redistricting plans.

Senate Bill 757, a bill that will redistrict the judicial districts in the two most populous (and mostly Democratic) counties, Wake and Mecklenburg, has already passed both chambers and been sent to the governor. Previously, District Court judges in Wake and Mecklenburg were elected from the whole county. SB757 breaks these heavily democratic counties up into “districts” which will likely result in more Republican judges. Until very recently, judicial races in NC were non-partisan, but now their party designation will be on the ballot. It also appears that voters may only be able to vote for judges in their “district” even though they could possibly appear in front of any of the countywide judges at a given time.

On June 6th, 2018, the North Carolina Senate passed a controversial judicial gerrymandering bill (HB717) without posting the upcoming vote on their website, leaving activists and grassroots leaders in the dark. Normally, the public can count on the North Carolina General Assembly staff to post if a committee or either chamber will vote on a bill. Yet on the 6th, the staff failed to post that the chamber would vote on one of the most contentious bills that activists have been fighting for over six months. This bill is now headed to a conference committee for members of the House and Senate to finalize the details and send it to the floor for a final vote.

 

Taking a Look at Criminal Justice

For the month of June StrongerNC has chosen to look at the Criminal Justice system, and understand some of the implications in NC. Last week we interviewed Dr. Kenneth Janken who wrote extensively on the Wilmington Ten. If you don’t know the story be sure to watch here. Many of the lessons learned back then are applicable today as we connect individual issues together in one interwoven web of justice.

It’s a tough story, and it’s even tougher when you consider how much hasn’t changed in the intervening years. Movements like Black Lives Matter have kept the need in the news and on people’s minds. Movements like Moral Monday and The Poor People’s Campaign are doing what worked for leaders like Ben Chavis in connecting the issues from the Fight for 15 to healthcare to education to fully repealing the discriminatory HB2 law. We encourage each of us to consider where our struggles are aligned with others. We do not have to be the same to want the same things, especially fair treatment in the courts.

The need for criminal justice reform is not new, but we can renew our commitment to it.

Be sure to download our latest Toolkit on Criminal Justice and ask yourselves these questions as you read through:

  • What are our “tough on crime” policies actually doing?
  • Are they helping people transition back into society or are we actually supporting a profitable prison system?
  • Were the odds stacked against people before and are they even worse after they served their time?
  • Do we want to further punish people or reintegrate them into society?
  • Do we want to address the racism and poverty underlying these statistics, or do we want to punish the poor and people of color?

The Poor People’s Campaign Continues With Week 5 of #40DaysofAction

The Poor People’s Campaign met again today for Week 5 of their 6 week effort to highlight a different moral issue in our country. This week the theme centers around “Everybody’s Got The Right To Live: Education, Jobs, Income and Housing”. Over 30 people were arrested today at the General Assembly speaking out for the right to live.

Next week’s theme is: ” A New and Unsettling Force: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative.”

Please try to make next week’s event on Monday at 2pm at 1 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh. You can learn more about the campaign at PoorPeoplesCampaign.org. A list of their Raleigh events can be found on their Facebook page.

If you are interested in engaging in nonviolent direct action as part of any demonstration, you must attend a pre-training. Click here to register:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe9Aekj5XjHw71fiVWMO-6TYB3i3foa_pBu_weF2ruPlGp_qQ/viewform.

You do NOT have to risk arrest to attend these events.

 

Must Reads

‘We must bridge the gap.’ Raleigh high school students push for political change, N&O
Teacher Authors Open Letter to Sponsor of Controversial Bill to Allow Municipal Charters, Stuart Egan

The New VoterID Bill is Vague and Leaves Lots of Questions, from Gerry Cohen
North Carolina Republicans Want a Constitutional Amendment to Require ID to Vote, from Ari Berman of Mother Jones

Acrimonious budget debate roils House, via WRAL
Roy Cooper Vetoes Budget, via N&O

We’re voting for judges this year, but are lawmakers done changing the rules for those elections? N&O
What Does Subdividing Court Districts Have to do with Voters? Everything. via NC Policy Watch
Special Three Judge Panels Have a Lot of Power in NC, via NC Policy Watch
Piecemeal Judicial Redistricting…Impacts a Third of NC Residents, via NC Policy Watch
Will There be a Late Judicial Primary? Federal Judge to Decide, via NC Policy Watch

NC Lawmakers Move to Protect Pork Giant Hit by Big Verdict, via AP

 

Important Upcoming Events

There are lots of events taking place across the area. Check out our event calendar and find something of interest here!

Of special note:

#RightToVote Rally on Tuesday at 4:30 in front of the NCGA – Speakers will be talking about VoterID and protecting the Right to Vote for all citizens.

Students of all ages are encouraged to attend the Students Lunch & Learn on Thursday at 10am at the NCGA. Bring a bag lunch and learn all about our state government. Organized by Moms Demand Action NC.