The Morning Roundup: The Legislature’s About to Blow a Bunch of Money to Put LGBTs in Their Place (Sigh) | News
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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Morning Roundup: The Legislature’s About to Blow a Bunch of Money to Put LGBTs in Their Place (Sigh)

Posted by on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 8:45 AM

  • Chris Williams

1. The potty protectors are back on the case.

Two weeks after publicly mulling a special session to override Charlotte’s new LGBT ordinance and then deciding not to—these things cost $42,000 a day, and the legislature will be back in session April 25 in any event—Republican lawmakers announced that they will likely convene a special session this week after all. (Not coincidentally, some Bible-thumpers held a fearmongering rally last week demanding that the legislature do just that.) Per WRAL: 

Leaders of the state House expect to return to Raleigh this week to respond to Charlotte's transgender nondiscrimination ordinance.

Last month, the Charlotte City Council approved a measure that would prohibit businesses in the Queen City from discrimination against customers based on their sexual preference or identity. The most controversial part of the law allows for those who are transgender to use public bathrooms based on the gender with which they identify.

Social conservatives, echoing arguments that scuttled a similar proposal in Houston, Texas, warn that predatory men would use the law's protections to enter women's bathrooms.

Since the decision, groups who oppose the law have asked the state to override it. It appears lawmakers are poised to consider that request as soon as Wednesday.

Sources told WRAL News on Saturday that they're considering a proposal that would ban local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances or living wage ordinances that exceed state law.

The last part is crucially important: not only does the General Assembly plan to override the bathroom part of the ordinance, but it also plans to forbid municipalities from passing basically all antidiscrimination legislation that exceeds how far the state is willing to go … which isn’t far at all. In North Carolina, after all, it’s perfectly legal for your employer to fire you for being gay. And the state’s minimum wage is the federal minimum wage and no more—and now cities won’t be able to go beyond that either. 

This is no longer a “bathroom bill,” but rather a sweeping reproach to municipalities that dare to extend basic human dignity to the marginalized. 

I’m old enough to remember when Republicans loved local control. 

2. McCrory shuts down coal ash commission

Gov. Pat McCrory has shut down the Coal Ash Management Commission, a group set up by lawmakers to oversee the cleanup of unlined coal ash pits across the state.

For the time being, that work will shift to the Division of Environmental Quality, an agency overseen directly by McCrory. The governor had challenged the creation of the coal ash commission in court because it intruded upon his executive authority.

"The North Carolina Supreme Court made it clear that the commission is an unconstitutional body that cannot take any action," said Mike Rusher, a spokesman for DEQ. "However, there will be absolutely no change in the Department of Environmental Quality's implementation of the Coal Ash Management Act, which is the first comprehensive law in the nation to deal with coal ash." 

And DEQ has, of course, proven itself entirely trustworthy on all matters related to coal ash, so there’s nothing to worry about

3. #ObamaenCuba

Stepping into history, President Barack Obama opened an extraordinary visit to Cuba on Sunday, eager to push decades of acrimony deeper into the past and forge irreversible ties with America's former adversary.

"This is a historic visit and a historic opportunity," Obama said as he greeted staff of the new U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Air Force One touched down on a rainy, overcast day in the Cuban capital. The president was joined by wife Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha in the first visit by a sitting president to the island nation in 88 years.

Obama was greeted by top Cuban officials — but not President Raul Castro. The Cuban leader frequently greets major world figures upon their arrival at Jose Marti International Airport, but was absent on the tarmac. Instead, he planned to greet Obama on Monday at the Palace of the Revolution.

Obama's whirlwind trip is a crowning moment in his and Castro's ambitious effort to restore normal relations between their countries. While deep differences persist, the economic and political relationship has changed rapidly in the 15 months since the leaders vowed a new beginning.

Programming note: Representative David Price of Durham is part of that delegation. I’ll be chatting with him about Cuba when he gets home Wednesday. 

4. The ACC is kicking ass

North Carolina and Virginia arrived in Raleigh just days after producing a high-level conference title game to further establish the two teams as threats for lengthy stays in March. As their respective paths diverge, little has changed for the Tar Heels and Cavaliers.

They do, however, have some company in the regional weekend. Miami survived a push from Wichita State to advance to its second Sweet 16 in four years, while postseason mainstay Duke heads west after fending off Yale in the second round.

And the party grew even more Sunday, as sixth-seeded Notre Dame edged upstart No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin in Brooklyn and 10th-seeded Syracuse walloped 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee in St. Louis.

With both Big East imports advancing, it gave the ACC a record six teams in the final 16. The previous mark of five set was by the Big East in 2009 (Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Villanova). The ACC matched the total last year when Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, N.C. State and Notre Dame navigated the first two rounds.

5. Wildin Acosta was not deported yesterday

The Riverside High student who has become a cause célébre among immigration advocates since being detailed in January, was set to be sent back to Central America yesterday. Representative G.K. Butterfield lobbied the Department of Homeland Security to postpone that deportation pending an appeal. 

From Butterfield’s press release: 

Through the night, I continued my efforts to persuade ICE Director Sarah Saldaña to reconsider her decision to not intervene in the deportation of Wildin Acosta. I was joined in this effort during the night by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-California) who is the Ranking Democrat on the Sub-Committee​on on Immigration and Border Security.

This morning, ICE Director Sarah Saldaña issued an order preventing the deportation of Wildin Acosta until the legal process can take place in an orderly manner.

On behalf of the Acosta family and their hundreds of friends in Durham, North Carolina and around the country, I extend my appreciation to the Obama Administration, Director Saldaña, and other senior officials responsible for border security for this most appropriate decision. It will unquestionably result in the protection of Wildin Acosta from further violence in his native country of Honduras. It is my hope that he will be eventually granted asylum in the United States.

6. A suspect shot a Durham cop while being booked into the county jail.  

The officer had entered the jail’s sally port, the secured area where suspects are taken from police vehicles, when the incident happened. […]

It was not immediately known whether the suspect was able to get a gun from the officer who made the arrest, another officer or sheriff’s deputy at the jail or had had a gun hidden in his clothing that police had not found.

The officer and the alleged shooter have not yet been named. 

That’s it for Monday, guys.

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