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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Discrimination on Parade: Live Blogging the NCGA Special Session

Posted by on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 10:43 AM

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We're live here at the North Carolina General Assembly's special session aimed at making sure people use the correct restroom as indicated by the male or female designation on their birth certificate, and also at broadly cutting down the authority of local governments to make laws to protect their own employees. One fell swoop, y'all. 

House Bill 2, which has yet to be released to the public, is expected to arrive in the House Judiciary 4 committee any minute...

10:47: The committee has been called to order. There will be public comment for 30 minutes, 2 minutes per speaker. The goal is to get us out by 11:30-11:45. If amendments take up too much time, speakers will lose time.

10:49: Sponsor, Rep. Bishop, will present, there will be committee discussion, public comments, then amendments, "with the idea of being finished by 11:45". Rep. Bishop will present the bill.

10:51: Actually, Rep. Stam is presenting an overview. "It's a commonsense bill that preserves the status quo, meaning nothing changes from yesterday but it prohibits deleterious changes in future. It protects privacy and clarifies what local governments can do when disputed issues...it makes clear what local governments can and cannot do." Riggght. "We need economic development a good intra-sate common market. With 100 counties and more than 500 cities, it is not a good idea to have different employment rules in different places where they do business."

10:52: Basically, he's saying, it streamlines what's going on county to county regarding laws about wages, employment, discrimination, and using the restroom. Because businesses were super confused about these issues before and NCGA is helping them out.

10:53: Rep. Bishop up now. He is from Charlotte. "What we're doing is preserving a sense of privacy people have long expected in private facilities, restoring and CLARIFYING the existing authority and limits of local government. In the case of the Charlotte ordinance passed in February, there was an exercise power never delegated to the city of Charlotte. The NC Constitution states forth that fundamental law, he says. 

10:54: Consistent business regulations statewide is critical for the success of the state to create the kind of business environment people need to prosper. NCGA cannot make local acts on business, the constitution sets that forth, not to have a patchwork system of business law varying from place to place.

10:55: Ok so this is a business decision?? The bill has 3 parts. In public facilities in NC, policy will be bathrooms designated by biological sex, as will usage of them. That is the NC law/building code already for bathrooms and changing facilities. They'll be used as designated by biological sex, as designated on a person's birth certificate. People who have surgery to change their sex can amend their birth certificate, he says. It includes accommodations under various circumstances. Maintains single occupancy bathroom and changing facilities. 

10:58: Next section deals with bathrooms operated by public bodies: the same policies will exist for them. No mandate on private business in this law, Bishop says. Businesses can regulate their own facilities as they see fit. Because freedom of choice.

10:59: Parts 2 and 3 of the bill relate to clarifying what authority exists for localities. Section clarifies local govs. lack authority to adopt regulation of wages. (So no living wage ordinances). Imposing minimum living wage on contracting parties and regulating employment policies of contracting parties is to be avoided. Because NC has its own "Wage and Hour Act," a scheme that already regulates wages. So this will explicitly prevent local govs from preempting wages.

11:01: Part 3: For the first time we are proposing to enact a statewide statement of public policy against discrimination in employment, Bishop says. There were reports in the media that we are curtailing protection for disabilities, which are completely incorrect. There is comprehensive protection for disabilities, including in public accommodation. So this is a statewide statement of non discrimination of public accommodation based on disability.

11:04: No one can point to a statute that has ever delegated authority to cities and counties to enact regulations on employment. "The matter appears to remain unclear and we are proposing to clarify," Bishop says. 

11:07: So basically, the bill makes people use public restrooms per their birth certificate sex designation, takes away authority from local governments and "prevents employment and public housing discrimination against people with disabilities." OK!

11:08: Questions: Rep. Richardson is asking to read the bill, because they just got it and it was hard to follow along with it while Bishop was talking. Agreed! They have 5 minutes to read the bill. And so do you, here you go!

HB 2



11:13: Committee is called back to order. Further questions? We're going to public comment.

11:14: Chris Sgro from Equality NC speaks first. "What Charlotte did is not unique or extreme. Their elected council members overwhelmingly passed a protection ordinance for LGBT people." There are 200 plus cities in the US that have these protections including (damn) Myrtle Beach, SC. There have not been public safety concerns in cities that have these ordinances. That is a fact. This special session is extreme, wasting $42,000 a day, more than a teacher's annual salary, is what you are doing. What the NCGA stands to do here is "worst practices." Republicans in other states have killed less sweeping bills. This would be the most sweeping anti- LGBT bill in the nation. This is done for political gain and out of fear. My community deserves to be protected in public places. This session is not common sense. The eyes of the nation are focused on you here today. Facts must trump the politics of this, vote against.

11:16: Next up, Chloe Jefferson. She is in her junior year at Charlotte Christian Academy. She was immediately fearful of the ordinance.."changing in front of my girl peers is already stressful enough due to societal standards from Hollywood etc. Now the possibility of males changing alongside of me makes me even more self conscious." Girls should never be forced to undress in front of boys. She says being a teenage girl is as confusing as being confused about your gender orientation, and that she has rights not be forced to change next to boys. "You shouldn't change laws to punish and single out most of us." This is a threat to her safety. Knowing a man could easily walk into a bathroom is completely frightening. There is no stopping what people may do. Charlotte is the first city and if lawmakers don't fix this more would follow. I am not the only girl who is scared, we deserve protection. WOw. Wow.

11:19: Sarah Preston from ACLU is here. ACLU is "very concerned" about this legislation. Charlotte's ordinance was a simple measure to protect all people in public places. A lot of people may not understand what it means to be transgender, but the realty is a transgender woman is a woman, a transgender man is a man and they should be able to access the bathroom of their gender. People are already harassed and assaulted in public accommodation. We are going to add to that harassment and violence. We need to do better by this community. We must protect gender identity and sexual orientation. Protect all groups, do not pick and choose. 

11:21: Someone is reading a statement from Eliana Smith from Charlotte. She truly believes the ordinance creates dangerous and vulnerable situations for women, children and men. She was sexually assaulted as a child and feared men following her for a long time. She was nervous about living in co-ed dorms in college. She found healing and peace, but in recent weeks, her fear has come back as Charlotte voted to let men into women's bathrooms.  She fears for her 4 young children, doesn't want them to experience fear and trauma. "The Charlotte Council chose its political agenda over safety, privacy and common sense." It's not fair to call her a bigot or a fear monger bc she wants to keep her family safe. (The all-about-me argument).

11:24: Angela Bridgeman, a transgender person, is up. She is a member of the business community, came here from Pennsylvania. She now pays taxes to finance the discrimination she faces each day. She is post-op and the bill wont affect her because her license and birth certificate say female. But she was denied a college education, at Sullivan University in Kentucky, because she couldn't use female restrooms. "I chose my safety," she says. "I was told i had to put myself in a position where I  would be beat up or worse." She never went back to college. "I have a right to be safe too," she says. And get a college education that was denied to her. She's crying. "Nobody else should have to go through what I did."

11:26: Next speaker John Amanchukwu. He is the executive director of the Upper Room Christian Academy so you know where this is going. "This ordinance is the corrupt fruit of treason," he says. "It's common sense boys should go to the boys room and girls should go to the girls room." Quotes Genesis. And LOL, "most people [experiencing confusion identity confusion] eventually accept their biological sex after puberty." Most people or most people he knows?


11:29: Madelyn Goss is a mother, partner, software engineer in RTP. She grew up in Hickory, NC and was bullied and assaulted in men's rooms growing up. She left Hickory for places that are safe, like Charlotte and Raleigh. She has a daughter. "I wont go back to the men's room, it is unsafe for me there. It freaks people out when I go to the men's room," she says. These LGBT protections are commonsense. They make cities safe for people like me. Again, 200 US cities in the US have ordinances like these. "People aren't getting raped and murdered, they just going to the bathroom." 

11:31: Great, it's Tami Fitzgerald from the NC Values Coalition. The bathroom ordinance is unconstitutional and will have a domino effect, it jeopardizes health and safety of citizens. It will make it harder to do business blah blah.  Violates people's right to earn a livelihood free of government interference. (Or ya know, does the opposite). Local governments are usurping power! Roy Cooper not doing his job! The Charlotte ordinance was heavily promoted by a convicted sex offender (?) Sex offenders use these laws to their advantage. One transgender guy went in to some locker rooms where little girls were changing in Washington State and Oregon...and that's the end of the story. Enlightening remarks from Tami Fitzgerald. 

11:33: Tracy Hollister is up. Taking a stand for trans brothers and sisters. "Consistency" argument: the bill is inherently inconsistent with NC values, commonsense of treating ppl with respect, local democratic policies and championing safety and protections. There is a mountain of evidence for how unsafe trans ppl feel. We cannot allow a show of hands of legislators who know a trans person personally. "You need to do your homework, be transparent about what you do and do not understand. This is not an emergency. Nothing bad about women using women's restrooms." Trans people have their own problems and traumas, the last thing they want to do is cause trouble, they just want to relieve themselves. 

11:36: John Rustin, Family Policy Council president. Here we go with the sincere religious beliefs. Government dictated viewpoints violating them. Charlotte does not have the authority to do what it's done. It will undermine gov. authority etc. Support the bill. 

There will be two more speakers, one from each side.

11:39: Vivian Taylor is speaking. She is from a Christian org. 11th generation North Carolinian. NC public schools grad, served in Irag with US National Guard. She is a trans woman. Calls ordinance commonsense, they do basic moral job of looking out for people and keeping them safe. No issues in other cities. We can protect everyone. I love this state and call on you to reject this bill.

11:40: Heather Garofolo: Small biz owner and mom. She has LGBT friends and family she loves. Every business owner in NC should be allowed to live freely without unjust fear from government punishment. Charlotte is beautiful because of its diversity. Equality means people can speak their piece without being punished. Not one case filed by ACLU against Charlotte for discriminating against LGBT. She thinks ti will have negative impact on commerce trade etc. (I don't get this argument at all!) She is asking for the right to provide for her family.  People will have to cancel contracts and shit. She is not fearful of her trans friends but of "all the sexual offenders out there."

11:43: back to committee: A trans woman of color who wasn't allowed to speak was just escorted out. Bc this is a Trump rally now. Rep. Hamilton has a series of questions. 1. Biological sex= sex according to the birth certificate, and birth certificates can be changed. 2. Focus has been on bathrooms, what concerns me is we have expanded the conversation and are delving into local gov's ability to contract with private vendors. How will minority and women business owned entities be affected?

11:46: Bishop says it does not affect ability to contract. There are already rules that concern non-discrimination in contracting, and utilizing minority and women owned businesses.  Hamilton follow: So many private corporations in NC address the use of bathrooms in their buildings, does this in any way deny a private corp. to enforce rules similar to Charlotte's ordinance rules? It does not impair private business' abilities to "accommodate issues like that." Only a government ability to have these in place is restricted? Only local government's. Hamilton folo: So if the City of Wilmington wants to contract with a private entity with those rules, they will not be precluded? Correct. It just restricts a city from imposing those rules. Hamilton requests a fiscal not based on comments that there will be contracts city of Charlotte would have to break...could cost jobs and public money. Ask staff to put that together.

11:49: Bishop says bill does not require breaking any contracts only affects those entered into in future. Rep. Richardson questions. "Might we lose federal dollars?" Stam says there is  no change at all re. state policy of non-discrimination. "I can't imagine we would be denied federal money." Richardson folo: Can we add "handicap" to this bill so there would be total clarity and not flipflop to different documents? The disability nondiscrimination statute is referenced in the bill already. It could cause confusion to do that. 

11:54: Richardson: I hope my elected officials in Franklin county are allowed to set policies unique to Franklin county. I hate to see us having uniform practices and policies for 100 counties when we don't have similar resources, needs and economic development.

11:55: Warren moves to send the bill to the floor. It's going to the House floor at 12:15. See you then!

12:22: I'm back in the House Chamber. Speaker Moore just called the House to order, and they're about to debate the bill. Stam's back at it again with the "commonsense bill that clarifies local authority."

12:23: "Will the House indulge me if I went into history for 3 minutes?" He's talking about laws in the 1600's and 1700's that protected debtors fleeing across state lines. Not a good thing, he says. Bad for commerce. We need free-flow commerce, which is why US is the economic powerhouse of the world. No local bills on trade in the state constitution, and this bill is 100 percent about employment rights and a common market throughout the state. 

12:26: If a person travels to Hickory they don't expect a different rule about who can be in the washroom in Hickory. (They probably don't have any expectations about the washroom in Hickory.) Weak.

12:27: Rep. Bishop is going through the bill and its "constitutional principles" again. Part 1: single sex multi-occupancy bathroom and changing facilities will be the law. There is one section for K-12 public schools and one for state agency local government facilities. "In both instances we are establishing bathrooms etc. will be maintained and designated for biological sex (per birth certificate). Once again, the birth certificate can be amended. There can be unisex and single sex single restrooms. Regulations concern government businesses only. 

12:30: The contracts thing: cities and counties cannot impose employment practices on contractors who are private businesses. They also cannot mandate wage practices on contractors, nor can they regulate wages on contractors any more. "The NC Wage and Hour Act" is the law; it preempts local governments from regulating wage policies on private businesses, but can still regulate their own wage policy.

12:33: Third section: nondiscrimination against people covered federally, and protects disabled people (not handicapped people) from employment and public accommodation discrimination. "This is historic, there has never been a statewide nondiscrimination policy on public accommodations," Bishop says. Localities are not free to adopt a patchwork of inconsistent laws governing business practices across the state. 

12:38: Former Rep. Rick Glazier is here. Rep. Jackson has a question. There's language in the bill to eliminate civil lawsuits against public policy? Not correct, Bishop says. But that's what it says. Courts of NC under common law have "right of action" for violation of public policy and termination of employment. It exists as a matter of common law, Bishop says. 

12:42: Still on Jackson: he's arguing the finer points of the law, which seem to mean anyone who wanted to sue on the basis of wrongful termination has more rights under state law (Title 7) than under this statute. You file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when you think you're wrongfully terminated. You can file in state or federal court. 

12:46: Rep. Cotham is debating. "Well, well, well, here we are again in a special session," she says. "This is clearly to advance some political careers and tarnish other political careers in a election year. Imagine that, she says. We must not allow fear mongering and discrimination against others." 

12:47: "We must be a state that is inclusive and welcomes and protects every citizen in North Carolina. This bill flies in the face of inclusiveness. You know this. Many of us on my side of the aisle focus hard on inclusiveness. I would hope you would join us in this fight. We hear from many people from Charlotte that they are fed up with this chamber's actions to hurt our city. It's not the first time. Voters of Charlotte elected council members to represent them. They won and that is their choice. We should allow elected members to make decisions on behalf of the people who elected them, not do what we want to do because we can. Respect all elected leaders."

12:49: She's sharing personal story. She has two young children. "If I have to use the bathroom, this bill says if I have to use the bathroom, my five and 2-year- old (who are boys) cannot come into the bathroom with me. That will affect a lot of people in North Carolina. We are sending the absolute wrong message in North Carolina, and especially to the businesses we are trying to attract. You are absolutely not protecting women and children." 

12:50: Rep. Cotham will not answer a question from Rep. Stevens. Rep. Michaux is speaking. We just got a five minute reading on this bill addressing employment practices, public accommodation practices. There is a provision in the bill where people take discrimination complaints to the Human Relations Commission. It has been de-funded in the budget though. "You are taking away complete and total authority from local bodies."

12:53: Stam has a question for Michaux. What statute gives local governments authority to regulate employment practices or accommodation? The same one that takes away that authority, Michaux says. In other words, he says, there is none. If cities/counties wanted to, like some have done, like those who have passed minimum wage laws, you want to take that authority away."

12:54: Bishop: Do you think it's important local governments act in their legal authority? Michaux says yes, as long as it is for the betterment of the community. Bishop: But doesn't rule of law require they follow limits on authority set forth in NCGA statutes? Michaux says states are required to do the same, follow federal law of the constitution. Michaux motioning to vote on local government sections of the bill separately from the bathrooms section. 

12:59: Michaux is debating his motion. "This gives an opportunity for people who don't want local governments' power to be usurped to think more on this."

1:00: Rep. Lewis: He says vote against the motion because the bill is a "carefully crafted piece of legislation to accomplish the ends the bills sponsors have explained in this debate. Vote no." Michaux: Would you agree that the bathrooms section of the bill can stand alone, and be passed and enforced without parts two and three (local governments and nondiscrimination)? He doesn't. Michaux: So restrooms and power of cities are the same thing? Lewis: Again, we agree a gross violation of privacy the bathroom issue brings about is more alarming personally, but both have to do with exceeding of local authority.

1:03: Hager: The 3 pieces of this bill all have things in common, taking away power from the state and giving it to cities and counties. The 3 pieces are tied together. Insko: Section 3 is excessive and unnecessary and would enjoin NC as the only state without any law protecting private sector employees. 

1:04: Vote on motion to debate the bill sections separately. It fails 72-35.

1:05: Rep. Harrison: This bill is so wrong on process and substance but I will leave to others to bring up those points. She is speaking about the "compelling testimony" from the transgender community in committee. I don't think people in this chamber understand the discrimination trans people go through on a daily basis, in every aspect. Suicide rate in trans people is as high as 41 percent. No one chooses to be transgender. I have constituents who are parents of a grown transgender daughter; she would have been forced to use boys locker room in high school. Imagine harassment and bullying and harm that could come to her. That will happen all over the state. Sexual predators threat is a myth. We should be on the right side of history on this issue.

1:07: Rep. Martin amendment. We are putting this thing together as we go. A goal is to implement "a statewide anti-discrimination policy and to take it out of purview of local government." I think we would all agree that needs to be done right. His amendment is to add "veteran status" as a protected class to the anti-discrimination policy. 

1:10: Rep. Blust: The term veteran status- could that not be interpreted as anyone in the military, regardless of if they served? Martin says no shortage of policies at all levels prohibiting discrimination against veterans and that doesn't seem to be an issue. 

1:11: Stam says this bill allows cities and counties to have policies for their own employees. He is a veteran and says it's hard to imagine anyone would discriminate against a veteran in employment. He doesn't understand need to add veteran status. "It's not a black mark against you." New York City prevents discrimination on all kinds of things: arrest history, homelessness history etc. "In the bill are suspect classes represented in law, this should not be done by cities and counties."

1:13: Basically Stam just argued not to protect veterans. 

1:14: Rep. Rodney Moore: We have spent a lot of money to come back to Raleigh to talk about bathrooms. But the intent of this bill is not about bathrooms. It's about fear. Because Charlotte has a duty to pass laws given a charter by the state of NC does not mean the state can just supersede local authority. But we have been through that in the last 4 or 5 years here. It's a problem bc you have fear of the LGBT community.  There has not been a catastrophic incident of assaults or rapes in bathrooms in the other 200 cities where this is law. The public safety issue does not pan out. 

1:16: Our sole purpose as the NCGA is to create jobs and put forward a good business climate to attract and retain jobs. Business community has no part in this bill. Largest employers in NC have policies to address LGBT employees etc. It's clear that differences scare us so we want to out an anvil on Charlotte to affect the whole state and say we want uniform laws. But it is actually right of a municipality to make their own laws and ordinances. We make that authority. 

1:17: I am against this bill because the spirt of the bill is not what the bill says it is intended to do. We know the ugly history of this state and nation as related to LGBT ppl, people of color and immigrants etc. We are on a slippery slope of rhetoric about ppl supposedly different than us. But as Christians as you claim, we are children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ. 

1:19: Rep. Arp: I am not running for a congressional seat. I don't want opponents to distract from what we are doing here. Oh gawwwd, here we go with the "think of the children." Emily and Ashante, 2 little girls, are excited about going to the pool in the summer. They're in the locker room and their mother tells them to get undressed and put on their bathing suits. But WAIT!!!! In walks a biological male and begins to undress. Emily and Ashante and their mother just lost their privacy. "This bill is necessary to stop that from happening. This about bodily privacy in showers lockers and bathrooms."

1:22: Arp says in prisons people of the opposite sex don't watch prisoners undress or use the bathroom. Prisoners have more privacy than Emily, Ashante and their mother. Local governments should not have the right to strip people of their privacy. It's just that simple. 

1:24: Rep. Floyd has an amendment. This session has gone beyond Charlotte's bill. My amendment removes the section related to employment moving forward. 

1:26: Rep. Bishop: The amendment would take out the provision clarifying local governments may not regulate wage policy but also sections that say they can't regulate employment and selling practices of contractors. That is what is the most egregious aspect of the Charlotte ordinance, seeking to reach beyond the ordinance and instruct businesses all over NC how to operate their business.

1:29: Lol, let's just go to a city council, where there's a bunch of radicals under the influence of an activist group funded by a lot of money from out of state to impose laws on citizens and anyone operating a business across the state. "That is the picture of the subversion of the rule of law."

1:30: Rep. Moore has a question but Bishop is still going. "Businesses not being able to do business with the city of Charlotte implies fear," he says. "This bill is a carefully-crafted, integrated measure to reasonably deal with an abuse of authority."

1:32: Rep. Moore asks "Senator," no Rep. Bishop (he calls it a Freudian slip)..."Yes, Congressman," Bishop replies. Bishop calls General Assemblies are the worst forms of government except for the others"...meaning local governments? "A lot of garbage comes out of here," he says. Yup! 

1:35: Floyd says this BS can wait til the short session. 

1:36: Rep. Meyer speaking. "Can you elaborate on a city council passing a local ordinance is somehow a subversion of the rule of law?" Surprise, he can! "Local governments are agents of the General Assembly," he says. Like zoning. They need to stick to zoning. 

1:39: Rep. Floyd asks what happened to his amendment. Rep. Moore says it's time to reign it in. Voting on the amendment to treat sections of the bill separately. It fails. 

1:40: Rep. Michaux: He's bringing up the Title 9 violations, says the state stands to lose $4 billion in education funding. "You have not looked at how this bill will affect your appropriations," he says. "You haven't looked at this carefully. Just one hot button issue you turned into something you even will have a problem digesting." You can still what you came in here to do without affecting the authority of cities and counties. 

1:44: Stam says no schools have lost Title 9 funding for making students use restrooms of their biological sex. "Not yet," Michaux says. Stam says the regulations allow schools to separate bathrooms. "But federal law also doesn't allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," Michaux says.

1:46: Moore says he is not running for congress, first of all. "Power derives from consent of the government, from the people," he says. "When you look at issues, find out what the people did." This issue of this ordinance was debated and discussed. It failed once and became an issue central to a new campaign for Charlotte mayor. The prevailing candidate told the community she supported the ordinance and it would be her intention to pass it should she be elected. People fully aware voted in a council and mayor committed to making changes. "That's the essence of democracy," he says. "We had a democratic process, it produced a result some folk liked and some didn't but it was a democratic result." I admonish you to substitute will of people at county and city level with the will of 120 folk from all over everywhere, most of whom are not form the big cities. 

1:51: Predators lurking around the Shamu pool in Disney World has just not been an issue, Moore says. Go to Charleston or MB where they have a similar ordinance. This is not new ground being plowed. It's just people creating these scenarios of fear. We should not be playing into fear. Local decisions should be left to local governments and people and should not be relegated to us spending $42,000 a day to hold a special session in Raleigh. 

1:54: Rep. Martin: The bill came to us in a convoluted way by which it came to us just this morning and it's probably going to be rushed through the Senate today.  Rushed process leads to mistakes and omissions, laws that have bad unintended, avoidable affects. Leaving out veterans is a mistake. He says it's injustice to send people off to fight for the country and then discriminate against them.

1:58: Rep. Stevens: This bill is not about discrimination, it's about Charlotte enacting an ordinance that will be in effect before the legislative session. She says $42k is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of litigation it will take for the state to sue Charlotte. (Pretty sure there will still be litigation). The bill far overstepped its bounds, she says. This is truly about privacy and cities and counties don't overreach. Takes a jab at the Mayor of Charlotte "politicking" for this ordinance. It affected the whole state, she says.

2:01: Rep. Meyer: In the record of Charlotte Council debate on this, 214 pages of record and 28 attachments. Bishop's own bill, introduced at ten and to be passed later; if you would like a bill put thru this body, you don't need the whole process outlined, just a majority part willing to call a special session and push it through in one day to discriminate against NC citizens.

2:02: Rep. Hamilton: All parents want to protect their children that can happen anywhere. "But then I saw the bill," she says. The state Human Relations Commission has authority to investigate discrimination complaints. But it was placed on continuation review, on non-recurring funding. So NCGA will have to appropriate money in the short session to keep it going, or it will be axed. So there will actually be no place in NC for people who have been discriminated against to make their case. "I will not be letting this issue go," she says. 

2:05: Title 9: Courts ruled that school districts have to provide trans students access to bathrooms 6 months ago. This bill opens the door to the state violating it.  "I feel confident we, like Tennessee, will be hit with a title 9 violation. We put $4.5 billion in funding at risk."

2:11: Rep. Susan Martin: Mother of 2 teenage daughters, they talked about the issue and they were appalled that anyone could come into their bathroom at school. "Thank you for the commonsense approach to respecting everyone's privacy," she says. 

2:13: Rep. Insko: "This is wrong, this is bad wrong," she says. This bill doesn't protect transgender girls and women forced to go into the men's locker or bathroom. The only thing I can think of that's good about this is that we are talking about trans, LGBT issues in public. There was a time we didn't now someone gay or trans. Now we all know someone who is gay. This is a local issues for us, we have a lot of LGBT and trans people in Orange County so why shouldn't' be allowed to have a rule that allows us to protect our population. "This is a bad bill, it's wrong."

2:15: Rep. Dollar: Re. the Human Relations Commission: I know of no continuation review that didn't result in the program being continued. We are examining the program and this provision would help enhance the HRC and the money is provided to continue that function. The money is already there and not in jeopardy. Re. Title 9: it specifically states recipients of federal money may provide separate showers, restrooms, changing rooms etc. Re. veterans, we already have a bunch of protections and services for them. "We're acting now to save cost of litigation against the ordinance," he says. "Charlotte chose not to delay its vote so what we are doing is timely and cost effective."

2:19: The function of a local municipality: "counties and cities are agents of the state," from a recent court case from NC Supreme Court, "subject to almost unlimited legislative control." No one has cited a local authority NCGA has enacted to allow this local ordinance to be put in place, they lack statutory authority to do what they did, he says. We don't need municipal government acting outside its authority when they are seeking to make political statements.

2:22: Rep. Richardson: Re. the birth certificate issue. What's to stop the perverts from changing their birth certificate to go raid women's bathrooms, she asks. "If I can change my birth certificate and go in any bathroom I wanted to do..." How will we know what's on the birth certificate or who changed it?

2:24: Just heard the term "economic imperialism" thrown around on the floor, re. the Charlotte ordinance. Rep. Hall: So we had 5 minutes to read the bill. No due diligence on this bill. Folks got a look this morning, we'e on the floor today. No committee process, no noticed public hearing, no protections. This is not an emergency. We will be back here in a month to do business. What is so important about this bill to call a special session? Just because we can? 500,000 North Carolinians getting healthcare if we expanded Medicaid? That's an emergency. How about all the teachers leaving the state?

2:29: He's admonished to stay on topic. What makes this important enough to call a special session? What is the bill doing? Expressing will of people? Addressing most important issues? What about companies who support LGBT and transgender people who provide their employees protections already? Is it their will?


2:32: He's listing all the companies that provide protections to their employees. Basically every large company you can think of in the state. "South Carolina bests us again," he says. "South Carolina has enough sense to be inclusive and now we're getting our lunch eaten by North Carolina again." Nothing guarantees funding for the Human Relations Commission, funding is not committed yet. 

2:34: As Republican primary voters left the polls, they cited a 60 percent disapproval rate for their Republican leaders. This process (or non-process) ill not help. "That's not a responsible way to legislate," he says. "We should hope we could have done better than this. We came back to do this. It's really a shame we would do this to the people of North Carolina."

2:35: Cotham amendment. She says it is clarifying. If you're a mother/caretaker with a young child and you have to take him into the restroom, you can take in your child up to age 7. 

2:37: Bishop says he supports the amendment. The amendment passes unanimously.

2:38: Rep. Hastings: "The flow of power is from God to the people," he says. And the NCGA gives authority to local governments.

2:39: Rep. Reives: "A lot of us came up here through the ranks of local governments," so let's not disparage them by going this route. He asks also to keep the bathrooms section separate. Arp says the ordinance amends laws so that the city would not have to take the lowest bidder on a project if they didn't comply with nondiscrimination. 

2:43: Reives says we need to address problems with local governments who act in contradiction with state laws, but to say you made a mistake here, you don't have authority anymore is overreaching on NCGA's part. Arp is back on the lowest bid scenario. He says he doesn't have enough information on that, since they've only had 24 hours to think about it. 

2:44: Rep. McElraft, also wasn't going to say anything. As former 3-term town commissioner and county commissioner, local governments support this bill. Towns can't do a lot of things that are state mandated. As a mother and a grandmother, common sense, protecting from predators, blah blah. She had a friend who went to Charlotte who was scared about her kid going to the bathroom there bc they didn't know the law. Actually town and county commissioners think it's good the state won't let them overstep boundaries. Pressures on them from special interest groups etc.

2:47: Rep. Cunningham: This really isn't addressing the peoples needs from this district. You can't legislate people to have a change of heart, she says.  Coming here to do this not conducive to helping people in my district, she says. She has a transgender brother who lives in New York, where they have unisex bathrooms. "Trump is loose," she just said. "We can't get him back in the box, is he in the room?" I ask are you doing more harm than good?

2:51: Bishop has an amendment re. cities and authorities regulating wage level. Changing the line to make sure there is no interference with city/county economic development incentive programs. Rep. Harrison asks a question deferred to Hager. City of Greensboro has a living wage ordinance for employees. That provision is not changing (ie cities and counties can do that). 

2:54: It passes unanimously. Rep. Moore asks Bishop: so no mandate for private business, but needs clarity for private businesses that require public accommodation (bars, restaurants, movie theaters etc). Bishop says they are free to adopt whatever policies they want. Follow: So if a private business refuses to serve someone based on sexual orientation or identity, then that would be allowed and we would have no jurisdiction on that choice?

2:56: Protected classes are set forth by the federal government, Bishop says. Otherwise private businesses can do whatever they want. 

2:58: "Gay folks pay taxes too," says Rep. Baskerville. 

3:01: Bishop says reports that the bill eliminates protections for people with disabilities are factually wrong. He's challenging Hall's list of companies who have their own policies regarding employee bathroom use. They will be free to continue, he says. Re. Title 9, he says Hamilton was actually citing the position of the Obama administration regarding transgender bathroom use. The court held there against the Obama administration, the says. That position has not been accepted anywhere. Basically, Title 9 will not be an issue he says. That it's a risk is a figment of the imagination.

3:04: Bishop says he released a statement urging Mayor and Council of Charlotte "not to go down this divisive route," before they passed the ordinance. "I wish they had not precipitated this need for a short session, and we need to correct this egregious overreach and poor public policy."

3:06: It's up to a vote! And the bill passes 83-25 along party lines. Third reading vote: It passes again, 83-25 along party lines. It's going to the Senate. House will adjourn after Senate votes and adjourns the special session. 

4:18: So the House vote did not apparently break down completely along party lines. 

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4:20: And when Chris Sgro from Equality North Carolina said the whole nation is watching North Carolina, well definitely the whole Twitter nation is. 

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4:23: So the Senate is about to hear the bill in committee also, hopefully not make changes to make it worse and then it goes to the Senate floor. And if all goes "well," which it already has not, House and Senate will be out of here by 6. That's a $42,000 day of work for ya.

4:24: Senate Judiciary 2 is called to order. There will be more public comment. Rep. Bishop and Sen. Buck Newton, a candidate for attorney general, will handle this. "It's very unfortunate we have to be here and address this issue sent to us by the city council of Charlotte today," Newton says. "As we all know we have a problem. Charlotte's council has decided to push a very radical and dangerous policy. For us to pass this ordinance that allows men to share bathrooms and and shower facilities with women and girls, it violates common sense and state laws: criminal trespass, indecent exposure and building codes. The radical left wing groups and liberal politicians like our current attorney general are afraid to stand up to political correctness and fight for common sense. They refuse to protect safety and privacy of women and children. "I will not be bullied," he says.

4:28: So, this is a stump speech. The Governor warned the council not to pass the ordinance and the council's members were told they have no authority to pass the ordinance. "Tens of thousands of constituents have called on us and on Roy Cooper to stop this nonsense, and he refuses to do his job. So it falls to us," Newton says. 

Here's Roy Cooper's response to this actual nonsense, BTW:


4:30: Guilford County sheriff B.J. Brown said this would put women and children at risk and he doesn't want his officers to be compromised. Calls this a shame and a tragedy that we have to be here to deal with this. He's citing the Seattle story where a man went into a changing room with young girls. Again nothing happened beyond that, *and, as a reader points out, the state acknowledged that men creeping into women's changing rooms to be creepy are not protected under the state law.* "We need a statewide standard to deal with these issues," Newton says. A leader of this effort is a registered sex offender in North Carolina. (He's just recycling Tami Fitzgerald's comments at this point.)

4:32: Unacceptable, not going to stand for it, Newton calls the ordinance. This bill addresses safety concerns raised. Single statewide standard on bathroom use. Schools and public spaces can provide reasonable accommodations like single occupancy bathrooms "for those with gender identity issues."

4:33: Statewide anti-discrimination policy will be established. And it's stronger than federal law, as well as overdue. It brings statewide consistency regarding employment and public accommodation. Because the citizens "deserve no less."

4:35: Oh yeah, and we can't have patchwork rules that discourage businesses. Bishop has no comments. A staffer will go through the bill. Here's the second version of the bill. 

H2v2


4:41: Newton taking questions. Sen. Bingham: What's the definition of "public authority?" Any quasi-governmental authority. So like an airport authority, for example. 

4:44: Sen. Jackson: Re. Human Relations Commission. How does this impact existing common law where someone can file a lawsuit if they believe they have been discriminated against. Bishop says it doesn't change existing law to bring a lawsuit for wrongful termination. Jackson: so the bill is not trying to end common law wrongful discharge complaints at the state level? That'c correct.

4:46: Back to Title 9. Tennessee was considering this bill and decided not to go forward because it would lose billions in federal education funding. Are we concerned the state's Title 9 funding will be put in jeopardy? Bishop says there is no risk to federal funding under Title 9. The Obama administration has "a radical, extreme view of what discrimination against transgender people is" and their court pursuit of that has been rejected twice by circuit courts. This would not jeopardize the state's Title 9 funding. 

4:48: Sen. Cook- he has two granddaughters so calls the bill "much-needed legislation." What about people who are not protected explicitly, he asks.

4:49: Newton: There is a lot of confusion about where a citizen being discriminated against gets their day in court. NC has never adopted a statewide anti-discrimination policy, to say, e.g. you cannot discriminate against an African American renting a hotel room. It became clear there was no statewide policy and standard and it's better for us to do more than what federal law is and expand from the state level. It's to keep it the same in all jurisdictions. 

4:51: Cook calls this "righting a wrong" and "adding things that are good for our state." Newton: "It would be ironic if members chose to vote against expanding and clarifying anti-discrimination policy of the state on a misnomer. It's hard for me to comprehend members of this body would vote against this non-discrimination policy."

4:52: Two amendments are under consideration. First is Sen. Lowe's. It addresses how people can sue over discrimination. Remedies available to people who  have been discriminated against are more robust under federal law. This just adds another layer to it that will not undermine the federal law, Newton says.

4:57: Newton says Lowe may have a misunderstanding about the law. In North Carolina,  you have a right of action you can bring in state or federal court. The bill is not trying to create a new right of action. Lowe says this is something new, though.

4:59: This says we can only complain through a federal court, Lowe asks. Newton says that' not accurate. Says we're getting into the legal weeds, encourages voting against the Lowe amendment.  Sen. Jackson says there is a really good chance there will be an unintended consequence of reducing a right that exists under common law. "This could eliminate that." He's a lawyer, so knows stuff. He says we should address this "some day when we have more than 30 seconds to deal with this problem."

5:02: Bishop: There is no loss of remedies available to people who sue for wrongful discharge. Newton has argued both sides and is comfortable with the bill and that it does not diminish any claims a legitimate plaintiff brings forth. The amendment fails on a voice vote.

5:04: Next is Sen. van Duyn's amendment.  It adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes under the state's proposed nondiscrimination policy. "I don't agree with the bill's assumption that statewide consistency is needed in regulating employment. But if we are going to standardize this language statewide, we have to say NC is open to business for everyone. So we need to amend the bill to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the bill."

5:07: Newton asks her to define gender identity. "How someone identifies their gender." So there is no definition in the bill, we need a definition of gender identity. For me, it is what is on your birth certificate. You're saying what a person thinks they are? IDK how to define it.

5:08: Not everyone who gets labelled at birth continues to identify with the gender of that label and pursues at great expense the gender they truly identify with. We need to recognize the fact that we need to be tolerant of those people. They are our neighbors and are vulnerable because of these issues. I am suggesting that we need to acknowledge that the gender at birth is not necessarily the one they identify with as they develop. 

5:10: Newton says this illustrates the difficulty of adding these classes to the bill. Too complicated and difficult for society to get its mind around as well as coming up with public policy terms. No one has ever asked him to add these classes so vote against the amendment. 

5:11: Sen. Daniel: So this is just like the Charlotte ordinance that resulted in us being here in the first place. Why would we undo that and extend it across 99 other counties. Newton agrees. 

5:12: Sen. Barefoot: I agree with Bishop, we don't know what  this amendment does. I don't think we should vote on something we don't know what it does (like the whole damn bill itself!). He motions to table the amendment. That requires 3/5 majority. It's tabled. 

5:14: Public comment. Rev. Michael Slack is up. Has a church in Raleigh. "Telling a lie over and over again does not make it true," he says. He is a trans male and is not a threat to anyone. He gets up goes to work and church. "This is not about protecting privacy, otherwise you would be more interested in wellbeing of trans people who get harassed in restrooms."Charlotte leveled the playing field. This is about your own fear, a lack f education and putting my life at risk. These are not difficult conversations, just ones you might not have had much. Are you really more interested in me being pushed and shoved around in a restroom? Not doing your homework is irresponsible. I need you to legislate in ways that protect everyone in this state. 

5:17: Heather Garofolo, the one with all the "friends" in the LGBT community, is reciting her "this bill is better for business" talking points. It violates her deeply held beliefs etc. Businesses will have contracts cancelled bc they have different world views etc. So many jobs will be lost! Transgender children "deserve better" than this.

5:19: Deborah Thompson. She has a son named Skye who is transgender. She has loved him as a daughter and as a son. His education is compromised in not being allowed to use bathroom of his gender. Trans kids don't drink water so they don't have to go to the bathroom at school. Many ids sexually harassed, and physically attacked at school. 50 percent attempt suicide. Stats that "scare me to the core." You are telling me my son is less worthy of protection. "Please do not legislate the right to discriminate."

5:22: Donna Eaton was molested as a kid. She lived in fear of finding a man in her bathroom. She recently came across a transgender male in a ladies room in Massachusetts. She believes everyone needs to be treated with dignity and respect but still re-traumatized her again. On behalf of 1 in 4 women who have been sexually bused to vote for common sense. 

5:24: Laura Nazzario. She is a trans woman from Charlotte. She would rather not be here today, she would rather be home where it's safe. She doesn't have to fear being noticed as a man, or about what bathroom to use at home. She has become used to feeling fearful and says the ordinance helped move the city in the right direction, and for her to live a normal life. "Make NC safe for all members of the community."

5:26: John Rustin from Family Policy Council is up again. 

5:28: Skye Thompson is speaking. He asks members to clear their mind and to consider his side. He is a fifteen year old student from Greenville. Dealt with bullying his whole life. "I feel bullied by you guys," he says. He says it is awkward and embarrassing to, as a guy, walk into a girls bathroom. I've been told to be myself and now I am myself and am being bullied and picked on. Don't vote for hate, vote to protect my peers, myself my rights and my peers' rights. 

5:30: All the conservative speakers are back to speak again. "We are pushing back against neutrality today," this one says. God got it right when he made male and female. If God didn't give you access to a bathroom via anatomy, we shouldn't make a law He's mad c someone called him a homophobic bigot, lol. He is proudly a homophobic bigot. 

5:32: Maggie Kadel. She has heard a lot today about protecting women and girls in NC. Hey, she's a woman too!! Yet she has been hassled and questioned in women's restrooms because of the way she looks. "This would encourage people to question my gender when all she needs to do is use the restroom. Her partner is trans, and has not been able to change his birth certificate because he was born overseas. So this bill would force him, a man with a full beard to use women's restrooms. 

5:34: Rev. Mark Creech from the Christian Action League supports this bill, in biblical terms. 

5:36: Sen. Newton is making closing remarks. A couple points: we're a state of laws with a constitution and imperative we enforce those laws. We need to set a statewide standard of what is appropriate related to employment, bathroom polices and a public policy against discrimination. He doesn't wish discrimination on anybody. Bingham moves for favorable approval.

5:38: Motion carries on a voice vote. See you on the Senate floor. 

6:02: We're in the Senate. Newton is explaining the "Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. Says city of Charlotte "lost their mind" and decided to embark on a radical course that they knew they did not have the authority to do. They submitted to radical political correctness and created a real public safety risk for citizens and people who go to Charlotte. Men will be allowed into the bathrooms of our daughters and wives, he says. Bc they don't care about common sense and aren't concerned about folks' public safety going to the bathroom. 

6:07: He's trying hard to justify this ridiculous special session. It's Charlotte's fault because they passed this law and if they hadn't we wouldn't be here. Roy Cooper too, obviously also his fault. Newton "frankly" cannot believe we are here today having to talk about this, it's Charlotte's fault and thousands of people have called and written begging us to fix this. 

6:09: We're going to set a statewide standard of who belongs in pubic bathrooms, Newton says. And make sure cities and counties don't have authority to wade into questions of—what should minimum wage and employment practices of NC companies be?

6:11: I have heard a version of this "speech" at least four times today.  The bill is up for debate.

6:12: Sen. Blue: Does this bill have any enforcement mechanisms in it in any aspect? Newton says no. Blue: If a man goes into a woman's bathroom, what is the crime that has been committed under this bill? Newton says 2nd degree trespass under existing law. Blue: so it's an offense under existing law, does a local government have power to override state law? Newton says it is clear the ordinance does not trump state law, blames Cooper. 

6:14: Sen. Blue: We're here 3 weeks before our session and disrupting a narrow window we have to learn a living. We have played on fears of the citizenry unjustly and unfairly. He has a wife, daughters and granddaughters who he would want protected. If we were serious about protecting kids, then there should be consequences for men using women's bathrooms but this bill has none. So, this is just a farce, Sen. Blue????

6:16: He believes in small government and the peoples' right to govern themselves...didn't Republicans used to believe in that too? "We are abandoning the fundamental value of limited and shared government with this bill," he says. We are being hypocritical. To rescind local non-discrimination policies we pull the rug out from under local voters who vote for people on how best to proceed. 

6:18: If the city of Charlotte had no authority to do this, there would have been a permanent injunction in effect in a matter f days without scaring the bejeezeus out of ordinary citizens, he says. He worries about local government and economic impact of this legislation. He was Indiana last year when that state imploded over religious freedom. He is scared for that kind of fallout here, because 21'st century companies want a state that celebrates tolerance and diversity. He calls this slowly pecking away at discrimination protections. Already Fortune 500 Companies have expressed grave concern and opposition to this bill. 

6:20: It ties a noose around necks of cities and counties and smothers their ability to govern their people as they see fit. This is an effort to roll back power from local governments and their ability to do what we said they could do. "This is a far cry from the kind of legislation that merits emergency treatment," Blue says. 

6:22: Apodoca asks to move along. Berger speaking to the bill. "We are here today for 2 reasons," he says. Because of Charlotte's ordinance. And bc our attorney general did not do his job. Wow, they are trying *so* hard to pin this on Cooper. "Somebody wasn't doing their job," he says. He calls it a double fail. Charlotte failed to listen to reason, Cooper failed to do his job. So we have a bill that makes it clear we are not going to put our citizens in further danger because of recklessness of Charlotte City Council. 

6:25: Oh gahhhh, back to the Seattle thing. Berger said Charlotte passing the ordinance is just crazy. He says lol, the General Assembly has sent more time on this bill today than Charlotte did on their ordinance. Which, it was longer than eight hours, so that's just not true.

6:27: Apodoca moves for roll call vote. The Senate Democrats. look not to be participating in the roll call vote. I hear ayes, but no noes. Seems they walked out in protest. 

6:30: It passes second reading 32-0. 

6:31: One more electronic vote will seal this thing. It passes 32-0 and goes to Gov. McCrory, who will surely sign. Senate resolves to close the special session. They'll be back April 25'th. 

Today's $42,000 shambles has been brought to you by the Republicans of the North Carolina General Assembly.

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