1. Well, that went nowhere fast.
Earlier this week—around the same time the legislature moved $500,000 in disaster relief money to its HB 2 defense fund
and irony died—word leaked that Republicans were considering tweaking the law
so as to keep the NBA from pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte. Because, you know, making marginalized people suffer is all well and good until it pisses off sports fans. The proposed fix would basically require trans people to carry a state document indicating that they had undergone gender reassignment to use the facilities in schools and government buildings (nothing creepy about that, no sir), while restoring, sort of, the ability to sue in state court over discrimination claims, at the discretion of the governor-appointed Human Relations Commission.
It wasn’t repeal. It was barely a walk-back. And, with the legislature expected to adjourn this weekend, it’s now probably dead.
First, yesterday evening, the NBA came out with a statement saying that the proposed changes weren’t good enough
The NBA and the Charlotte Hornets, in a statement released Thursday, say they do not support proposed revisions to House Bill 2 currently before the state legislature, a potentially serious snag to any compromise on the controversial law.
State lawmakers are considering revisions in the final days of their session, including a draft that was leaked earlier this week, but the fate of any changes remained uncertain.
League Commissioner Adam Silver has said the 2017 NBA All-Star Game is in danger of being pulled from Charlotte without changes to HB2.
And WRAL reported that House Republicans weren’t sure they could get consensus on any of the proposed changes
, which the embattled Governor McCrory is begging them to make.
After talking behind closed doors for hours Thursday, House Republicans said the prospect of passing legislation to appease some of the concerns with House Bill 2 is slim.
Gov. Pat McCrory met privately Wednesday with Republican lawmakers, urging them to make changes to the controversial law dealing with LGBT rights and governing regulations about the use of bathrooms by transgender people. …
McCrory and a handful of House Republicans have pushed lawmakers to roll back or modify at least some of the provisions of that bill before the General Assembly adjourns, which could be as early as Saturday.
While GOP senators have been relatively quiet on the issue and have said outwardly they don't see the need for any changes, some in the House have spent time drafting and recasting a potential fix. Some of those proposals have leaked in recent weeks, spurring speculation, but House leaders insist that no one set of provisions, much less any specific legislative language, has gained enough traction to be considered a consensus proposal. …
After the second caucus meeting Thursday evening, House Majority Leader Mike Hager said there was still no deal.
"We'll see. We've pulled stuff out of the throes of disaster before," said Hager, R-Rutherford, adding that lawmakers wouldn't try to sneak a proposal through late at night if they are able to put one together.
Considering HB 2 was introduced, passed the General Assembly’s two houses, and was signed by the governor in less than twelve hours, yeah, it’s possible. But it seems rather unlikely that the changes were be anything more than superficial.
In the meantime, the march for trans equality marches on …
2. The Pentagon ends its ban on transgender troops.
Saying it's the right thing to do, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday that transgender people will be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces.
3. The Trump campaign ejects an alt-weekly reporter from an N.C. event.
"Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so," said Carter, laying out a one-year plan to implement the change. "Our mission is to defend this country, and we don't want barriers unrelated to a person's qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine who can best accomplish the mission."
Under the new policy, by Oct. 1, transgender troops already serving should be able to receive medical care and begin formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon's personnel system. And, a year from now, the military services will begin allowing transgender individuals to enlist, as long as they meet required standards and have been stable in their identified genders for 18 months.
Trump World—which has blacklisted a good dozen media organizations, including big dogs like The Washington Post
—apparently doesn’t like the little guys poking around, either. Jordan Green, who works at Triad City Beat
(with whom the INDY
is partnering on a big project, which you’ll hear about soon enough), went to an event with Donald Trump’s North Carolina state director. His presence wasn’t welcome.
Earl L. Phillip, the North Carolina state director for the Donald Trump campaign found a receptive audience during his appearance on Monday before a group of conservative voters, who regularly meet at the Golden Corral at Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem.
“You know, what’s sad is our government is giving refugees more benefits than our veterans,” remarked Beverly Lung, a conservative activist who had registered voters at the candidate’s appearance in Greensboro a couple weeks earlier.
… “America is great, and we will always be great; we’ve just got some tweaking to do,” Phillip said. “And that’s why I support Donald Trump from way back in the day. I said, ‘You know what, if he runs for president he’s gonna win because I don’t see him to be a politician. I see him to be a man of getting things accomplished.”
The Trump state campaign director threw this reporter out of the meeting. His remarks about his family history and why Trump’s position on immigration appeals to him were part of a sanitized prologue, and he made it clear that he would not speak candidly with a reporter in the room.
“I can really do some talking, but I can’t because we have a member of the press here,” Phillip said. “I will leave it up to you: If you want to know the real deal, he’s gonna have to leave. If you want me to speak PC he can stay.”
In other words, the Trumpkins don’t want you to know what they talk about behind closed doors. Wonder why that is.
4. The N.C. House passes its final budget.
The regressive sales tax will be expanded, while income taxes will be cut and teachers finally get a somewhat-decent raise. Oh, and the House scaled back clean water rules for Jordan Lake, because of course it did.
Democrats criticized sales tax changes and water quality plans for Jordan Lake and Falls Lake before the House voted 92-23 to approve the final budget Thursday.
5. The House wants to study moving municipal elections to even years.
Teachers would get raises averaging 4.7 percent, other state employees would get a mix of across-the-board and merit raises, and income taxes would be cut under the $22.34 billion state budget compromise.
With support from about 20 Democrats, the House approved the spending plan and is set to take a final vote Friday, sending it to Gov. Pat McCrory.
But several of the 23 Democrats who voted no voiced opposition to lesser-known provisions of the budget. The budget bill tweaks what services are subject to sales tax in a way that will generate an additional $22.4 million in the next fiscal year.
“It’s a topic that doesn’t get discussed, and when we talk about only the tax cuts, then we’re really not telling the whole story to the people of North Carolina,” said Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat. “The income tax is a fairer way to tax people than the sales tax. We are raising money from sales tax and we are reducing income tax.” …
Clean water provisions in the Senate budget were scaled back and now only address efforts to clean up Jordan Lake and Falls Lake. A study of whether it would be beneficial to put mussels in Jordan Lake to reduce algae was eliminated.
The budget still provides a reprieve from development restrictions on upstream communities, but funds studies of possible efforts to improve water quality on the two lakes, which are drinking water sources for the Triangle.
House legislators want to consider moving all municipal elections to even-numbered years.
An elections bill that surfaced Thursday would launch a study of the change. Most cities and towns in North Carolina hold municipal elections in odd-numbered years.
Turnout for those elections is typically low, but the campaigns benefit from more attention than they’d get if more prominent races were also on the ballot.
“It is the intent of the General Assembly to provide for even-numbered year municipal elections, effective with the 2020 election cycle,” the bill says, charging a legislative committee with studying the issue and making recommendations before the General Assembly returns next year.
The N.C. League of Municipalities is opposing the change. “It is a recipe for unintended consequences,” League second vice president Michael Lazzarra said in a news release. “The provision amounts to a dictate from Raleigh telling local people how to run local elections.”
I have no strong feelings on the subject. That said, I would expect these elections to be held in non-presidential years, when turnout is slightly better but traditionally more GOP-friendly. That’s how these guys roll.
6. Wake expands the number of early voting sites over Republican objections.
The Wake County Board of Elections on Thursday expanded the number of presidential-year, general election early voting sites ahead of a number of key races at the top and bottom of the local ballot.
Wake residents will have 10 days and 20 places to vote early in this year’s general elections. The county had 16 early voting sites for the 2012 general election. …
[T]he Wake County Democratic Party, which lobbied for more early voting sites, celebrated the adopted early voting schedule. Prior to the meeting, the Wake County Republican Party encouraged the board to limit early voting, saying it wasted money.
Always be skeptical of politicians who want less voting.
Finally, we’ll leave you on a high note:
7. Coastal Carolina wins the College World Series.
Nice work, Chanticleers. (A chanticleer
, the dictionary tells me, is a name for a rooster. Yes, I had to look that up.)
Gary Gilmore had said at times this postseason that he felt as if his Coastal Carolina baseball team was one of destiny. Other coaches reached out to him with similar thoughts during this incredible, inspiring and seemingly improbable run.
And perhaps they were all correct.
The Chanticleers capitalized on back-to-back Arizona errors in the top of the sixth inning Thursday to score four runs and break open what had been a pitchers’ duel to that point, and from there they held on through a dramatic bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win over the Wildcats in the College World Series championship game before a crowd of 18,823 at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Chants (55-18) – who were down to their last strike in the NCAA regionals at N.C. State earlier this month, who won the super regionals on a walk-off single at LSU and then won five potential elimination games on the biggest stage of all – are now national champions.
Coastal Carolina – a school of just more than 10,000 students, making it a popular underdog story for fans here locally in Omaha as well as nationally – becomes the first program since Minnesota in 1956 to win the College World Series in its debut appearance and just the fourth team from outside the traditional power conferences to win it all in the past 25 years.
That’s it for this week. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend.