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Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Morning Roundup: North Carolina Now Officially a National Embarrassment

Posted by on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 8:53 AM

Happy Thursday, all. Here's your news.

1. Following a sham emergency legislative session, Governor McCrory wasted no time last night in signing the most sweeping anti-LGBT (and most sweeping anti-local government?) bill in the nation into law. It could cost the state $4.5 billion in Title IX funding, not to mention all the lawsuits and the lost business opportunities that are sure to follow. 

Looks like legal challenges are already under consideration, according to a press release the ACLU sent out last night. 

RALEIGH – Today, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina condemned North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signing into law a sweeping anti-LGBT measure, HB 2, and announced that the organizations are exploring legal challenges to the discriminatory law.

“Today was a devastating day for LGBT North Carolinians and particularly our transgender community members who have been subjected to months of distorted rhetoric culminating in today’s display of bias and ignorance by North Carolina lawmakers. We are disappointed that Governor McCrory did not do right by North Carolina’s families, communities, and businesses by vetoing this horribly discriminatory bill, but this will not be the last word,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “The ACLU, Lambda Legal, and Equality NC are reviewing all options, including litigation.

“We expect the ACLU’s and Lambda Legal’s Legal Help Desks will light up with calls from those who suffer discrimination imposed by this law, and we stand ready to help,” said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney with Lambda Legal. ”This law is in direct conflict with protections provided to students under Title IX and could cause the state to lose billions in federal funds. Instead of solving any real problems, the law would create new ones and could lead to intolerable and unfair conditions for transgender students who are entitled, by federal law, to a safe and equitable education.”

“HB 2 is an undisguised attack on LGBT people and the efforts of one city to protect gay and transgender North Carolinians against discrimination,” said Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality NC. “This cruel and insulting bill is about more than bathroom access, it’s about fairness in employment, education, and local governance. It aims to override local school board policies, local public accommodations laws, and more. This law also violates many other federal statutes and the United States Constitution by attempting to mandate discrimination in government buildings”

McCrory's action got a lot of attention from the national media last night as well, and the governor was duly abused on Twitter (it's the American Way):

So that sucked.

North Carolina Republicans are using the giant, overblown culture war of their own creation to attack Roy Cooper, who's running against McCrory for governor, in a dramatic video spot.



Cooper hit back with a message decrying this nonsense of his own. 



And the N&O thinks the special session could raise the profiles of lawmakers in contested races, including *shudder* Buck Newton, who is running for attorney general. 

Here’s a look at which legislators might have gotten a political boost from Wednesday’s proceedings:

Sen. Buck Newton: He’s the Republican candidate for attorney general, and he served as the bill’s sponsor in the Senate. That means he introduced the legislation in the Senate committee meeting and on the Senate floor. Newton’s Democratic opponent, Josh Stein, resigned from the Senate earlier this week to focus on the attorney general campaign.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest: Forest faces a rematch of his 2012 race against Democrat Linda Coleman. As president of the Senate – a largely ceremonial role – he issued the proclamation calling for the special session and presided over the Senate session.

Rep. Tricia Cotham: The Mecklenburg County Democrat launched a campaign for Congress in the newly redrawn 12th District earlier this week. She was among the first to speak out against the bill on the House floor. In the Democratic-leaning district, whoever wins the June 7 primary will likely win in November.

Rep. Rodney Moore: The Charlotte Democrat is also running for Congress and faces Cotham and several others in the June 7 primary.

Rep. Dan Bishop: The Charlotte Republican is looking to move up to the Senate this fall in the seat being vacated by Sen. Bob Rucho, who is not seeking another term. Bishop sponsored the bill and spoke extensively about it on the House floor. He faces Democrat Lloyd Scher in November.

Rep. Hugh Blackwell: The Burke County Republican faces a challenge from Democrat Tim Barnsback in November. He chaired the House Judiciary IV Committee meeting and public hearing.

Sen. Shirley Randleman: The Wilkesboro Republican faces a challenge from Democrat Michael Holleman. She chaired the Senate Judiciary II Committee meeting and public hearing.

There was a lot of talk about protecting women and children yesterday, but personally I am far more frightened for the future of this state right now than I ever could be about sharing a bathroom with a transgender person.

There's just no comparison.

2. In other news, the U.S. Census Bureau released numbers that show that more than two-thirds of North Carolina's growth happened in Charlotte and the Triangle, the state's two largest metro areas, and that 48 other  mostly rural counties in the state have actually seen their populations shrink since 2009. 

Raleigh is the 16th-fastest-growing metro area in the nation. Here are some other findings as reported in the News and Observer:

▪ The Census Bureau acknowledges that Wake’s population topped the 1 million mark sometime during the year ending last July 1. County officials estimated that its 1 millionth resident arrived in August 2014 and celebrated the milestone then. The official census estimate for Wake is 1,024,198.

▪ Wake added 24,927 residents last year, more than all but 18 other counties in the nation. Since 2010, Wake’s population has grown by 123,205, the equivalent of adding two Chapel Hills in five years.

▪ Durham County’s population has grown more than 11 percent since 2010 and topped 300,000 last year.

▪ Fed by new residents spilling over from the Triangle in the north and Fayetteville in the south, Harnett County has been the seventh fastest growing county in the state since 2010, at 10.7 percent. The county now has more than 128,000 residents.

3. There's also a national basketball tournament still going on. Duke plays the Oregon Ducks tonight in the Sweet 16. UNC plays Indiana tomorrow. 

That's all! Thursday is Little Friday.

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