Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Everything You Wanted To Know About The NC GOP's Sore Loser Power Grab But Didn't Know To Ask Because It's Kind Of Insane

North Carolina Republicans have an emergency on their hands. They’ve come down with a terrible case of SoreLoseritis and should really seek help immediately.

Instead, though, GOP lawmakers called an “emergency” special session – the fourth special session just this year (one of the previous ones was used to pass the infamous HB2) – with no express purpose, but with the rather obvious purpose of depriving the Democratic governor-elect of as much power as possible.

Yesterday the North Carolina legislature convened to ostensibly consider disaster relief funding legislation, but now we know what Republican legislators were really up to all along: Bringing their posse to town so they could call special session #4 and execute a naked and sweeping partisan power grab before the Democrat who had the temerity to win more votes than his Republican opponent takes office and denies the GOP complete control of state government.

North Carolina Republicans went to disgusting lengths to suppress votes in an attempt to ensure GOP wins at every level of the ballot in November. But despite their most appalling efforts, Democrat Roy Cooper ousted incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Evidently this was just too much for Republican lawmakers to cope with. So rather than gracefully accepting the will of the state’s voters, they’re doing just about everything they can think of to undermine gubernatorial authority instead.

A handful of bills dropped tonight. One is clearly a skeleton, filed just so amendments can get pinned to it tomorrow morning.

But SB4? Oh, it’s a doozy.

I encourage you to read it yourself, but here’s the quick and dirty:

  •       Currently the NC State Board of Elections consists of five members appointed by the governor. This bill expands the board to eight members, four of which are appointed by the governor, two “of the political party with the highest number of registered affiliates” and two of the “party with the second highest number of registered affiliates.” So, under a Democratic governor, we’re at 2 D/2 R.

  • ·     The House and Senate each get to appoint two members, one from each party. Again, 2 D/2 R. So instead of the 3-2 split the board would have had under a Democratic governor, this expanded board will be split evenly, 4 D/4 R

o   But in deciding disputes and resolving issues, a simple majority of five of the eight votes of this new board won’t get you squat. According to this bill, “a majority vote for action shall require six of the eight members.”
§  …which is basically a recipe for perpetual gridlock and inaction.
o   The chairmanship of the Board will flip parties each year. Based on current party registration numbers, a Democrat will get to chair the board in odd years, and a Republican will have the reigns in even years.

Fun fact! With the exception of the court-ordered special legislative elections in 2017 and a handful of school boards and municipalities, ALL ELECTIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA ARE HELD IN EVEN YEARS.

o   The bill also appears to undermine a good chunk of the Secretary of State’s current authority.
Surprise! The SoS who just won reelection is a Democrat.

o   Additionally, under a Democratic governor, local electoral boards should be 2 D/1 R. This legislation would split them at 2 D/2 R.
§  This is an especially big deal in light of the outsized role local election boards played in voter suppression attempts in the 2016 election.

  •         The measure also explicitly prohibits the State Board of Elections from having anything whatsoever to do with redistricting, whether it’s drafting the new maps after a Census or revising unconstitutional maps thrown out by courts. The GOP-controlled legislature wants to make it crystal clear that only their grubby hands get to touch the redistricting pens.

  •         Currently, judges run for election to the North Carolina Supreme Court without party labels. This bill makes elections to the state’s highest court partisan.

o   This follows speculation that the GOP lost its effective majority on the state Supreme Court in November because the Democratic challenger who won wasn’t labeled by party on the ballot.

  • ·      SB4 changes the appeals process through which the Republican-controlled legislature’s bills may be appealed to the now Democratic-majority state Supreme Court. The option to bypass the Court of Appeals and appeal potentially unconstitutional or federally preempted laws directly to the SCONC is currently available in some cases. This bill removes the option for that streamlined procedure and adds a required layer to the process.

But wait! What about other “emergency” bills that have been filed for this “emergency” special session?

  • ·      Well, let’s take a look at HB17, which cuts the number of gubernatorial appointments from 1500 to 300.

Fun fact! When McCrory was first elected, replacing Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, the GOP-controlled legislature expanded the number of gubernatorial appointments from 500 to 1500!

  • ·     HB17 also imposes the requirement that cabinet appointments be “subject to senatorial advice and consent.”

o   Because he’s a Democrat, North Carolina Republicans are requiring, for the first time ever, that Cooper’s appointees be confirmed by the GOP-controlled state Senate. This should go well!

Session convenes at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

To Boldly Gavel edition

Statehouses... The final frontier.

These are the voyages of state legislators. Their continuing mission: to explore strange new laws, to seek out new statutes and new regulations, to boldly pass laws that no one has passed before (unless they're ALEC shell bills, in which case they pop up basically everywhere).

The Wrath of Con(stitution): While Election 2016 delivered Republicans a net loss of legislative majorities, the fact that they grabbed control of a couple of chambers for the first time in quite a while gives them an opportunity to wreak legit havoc
  • Article V of the Constitution is a real Final Frontier (...sorry) of fundamental governmental change. 
  • Conservative activists who see the traditional method of amending the Constitution as just too darn hard, I guess (nevermind that it's worked just fine 27 times over the past 200+ years) started a push a few years ago to change our founding document by the other means provided for in Article V: two-thirds of state legislatures can request Congress call a constitutional convention of states.
    • Republicans have effective majority control of both chambers in 33 states -- just one shy of the 34 that need to pass resolutions calling for that Article V convention. 
  • An older movement has been pushing an Article V convention for almost 40 years with the sole purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment, but the modern "movement" (the Convention of States, a smokescreen/outgrowth of the right-wing Citizens for Self-Governance) seeks more sweeping changes, from congressional term limits to "restraints on federal power," code for enshrining an ultra-conservative agenda in our fundamental governing document. 
...well, you get it. Ultimately, the point here is that 
  1. This organization has a sweeping, ultra-conservative agenda, and
  2. The fact that there's no precedent and no prescribed rules for an Article V convention means that pretty much anything is possible if a bunch of Republican delegates (from all these GOP-controlled states that made it possible to call the convention) get together and, ahem, revise the U.S. Constitution to conform to their partisan beliefs.

The Session on the Edge of ForeverNorth Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has finally conceded the gubernatorial election to Democrat Roy Cooper, but he may be going out in a blaze of sour grapes.
  • North Carolina Republicans don't handle loss especially graciously. 
    • Exhibit A: Gov. McCrory contesting his narrow-but-clear defeat for almost a month.  
  • Late last week, McCrory called a special legislative session for December 13, ostensibly to deal with disaster relief funding following Hurricane Matthew and wildfires. But word on the street in Raleigh is that Republicans plan to use the session to pack the state Supreme Court with two additional justices -- which would be appointed by GOP lame duck Gov. McCrory and wouldn't stand for election until 2018. 
Rewind: It didn't get quite so much attention, but McCrory wasn't the only North Carolina Republican to go down last month: 
    • GOP Justice Bob Edmunds lost (by more than nine percentage points) to Democratic Judge Mike Morgan in a contest that tilted the balance of power on the state Supreme Court from three Democrats/four Republicans to four Democrats/three Republicans.  
  • A chief justice and six associate justices have comprised SCONC since 1936, but the state's Constitution allows the legislature to expand the court to eight associate justices. Which they could totally do during that December 13 special session.
    • With GOP majorities in both legislative chambers and a Republican governor for just a little while longer, this court-packing scheme faces no practical obstacles. 
Fun fact! The last time Gov. McCrory called a special session, Republican lawmakers used it to ram HB2 down the state's throat. 
  • GOP lawmakers have every reason to want a Republican-majority Supreme Court to uphold their unpopular and destructive policies, especially as they face a Democratic governor in the years to come. 
    • And with someone as shameless as Donald Trump as the head of their party, why wouldn't North Carolina Republicans go all in on this unprecedented power grab?
The Ungerrymandered CountryNorth Carolina Republicans also are tasked with remedying their unconstitutional racial gerrymandering by redrawing state legislative district lines by March 15, 2017, and legislative elections will be held in the new districts in November. 
  • But don't go getting excited about the fact that the state will have a Democratic governor on this one; North Carolina is one of a handful of states in which the governor has zero authority to veto maps or in any way affect the redistricting process. 

Amok Line: Speaking of redistricting, two racial gerrymandering cases were argued before SCOTUS yesterday. The Virginia case concerns 12 House of Delegates districts into which GOP lawmakers packed African Americans, thus diminishing their voting power; another North Carolina case concerns two congressional districts with the same issue. 

Fun fact! Since Virginia holds state legislative elections in odd-numbered years, a ruling in the case may come too late for maps to be redrawn for this election cycle (primaries are typically in June).
  • And let's not forget that the clock is ticking in Wisconsin. When a panel of federal judges ruled on November 21 that extreme partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts violated the U.S. Constitution, they didn't order any immediate changes; rather, they invited ideas for remedies from lawyers and plaintiffs over the subsequent 30 days. 
    • While that deadline hits just a little before Christmas (and Hanukkah this year!), it's unclear how long it'll take those judges to turn those ideas into solutions. 
Also, this is totally getting appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, so there's that.

The Dooms(election)day Machine: For the third election in a row, Democratic candidates for the Michigan state House received more votes statewide then Republican House candidates; however, Democrats remain in the minority in the chamber. 
Just, you know, FYI.

The Lame Duck in the Dark: While we're talking about Michigan, the artificial GOP House majority is fast-tracking a new voter suppression measure through the chamber during their notorious lame-duck session (Republicans have previously used the less-scrutinized period between Election Day and the New Year to ram through so-called "right to work" legislation and eliminate straight-ticket voting [since reinstated by court order]). 
Fun fact! In 2016, 18,339 Michiganders without strict photo ID used the affidavit option to cast ballots — which, incidentally, is 8,000 votes greater than Trump’s margin of victory in the state.
  • Republicans have also pulled their little trick of adding an appropriation to the bill to make it referendum-proof (they did the same thing to their straight-ticket voting measure last year, since voters had already repealed such a law at the ballot box).
    • The legislation is awaiting final passage in the GOP-controlled House before moving to the GOP-controlled Senate. 

The following 2 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: NEW JERSEY and OHIO.


The Republican State Leadership Committee will hold its Annual Retreat December 4-6 in Newport Beach, California. 

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators will hold its National Summit of Hispanic State Legislators December 6-9 in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

The National Conference of State Legislatures will hold its Capitol Forum December 6-9 in Washington, D.C. 

The Democratic Attorneys General Association will hold its Holiday Party December 8 in Washington, D.C. 

The Council of State Governments will hold its National Conference December 8-11 in Williamsburg, Virginia. 


The Department of Environmental Protection will meet December 7 and December 9 to discuss rules concerning consumptive uses of water. 


The Board of Physician Assistant Examiners will accept comments until December 6 regarding proposed amendments to regulations regarding physician assistant licensure and education, including scope of practice standards and allowed procedures. 


The Legislative Health Care Workforce Commission will meet December 6 to finalize the priorities for the final report due December 31 regarding the health care workforce and primary care workforce. 

The Department of Commerce will accept comments until December 8 regarding drafted amendments to rules governing the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. 


The Department of Labor and Industry will accept comments until December 9 regarding proposed amendments to rules concerning prevailing wage rates to adopt updated rates and make other changes. 


The Senate Labor Committee held a public hearing December 5 regarding A.B. 2517, which grants preference to employers who focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields to provide greater access to workforce development funds. 


The Office of the Insurance Commissioner will hold a public hearing December 6 regarding proposed amendments requiring insurers to develop processes through which enrollees are given access to prescription drugs not covered by their health insurance plans. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I Know What You Did Last Session edition

The heat's broken, and while it'll be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail, let's enjoy some refreshing statehouse action on the patio while we can.

Wipe Out: Two Republican-appointed federal judges in Ohio have re-eradicated the state's "Golden Week," the period during which voters can register and vote early at the same time. 
  • Some history:
    • Ohio lawmakers expanded the state's early voting period, including the week-long overlap of registering and casting ballots, in 2005 as a means of avoiding the epic lines, complications, and logistical issues Ohio voters notoriously endured in the 2004 election. 
    • The GOP-controlled legislature eliminated Golden Week in 2014, shortening the state's early voting period from 35 days to 29.
  • Fast forward to May, when a U.S. District Court judge found the GOP-controlled legislature's law eliminating the Golden Week to be unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting Rights Act. 
    • Minority voters were especially likely to register and vote during this overlap period, and while Ohio's early voting period remained among the most extensive in the country, the District Court judge ruled that the reduction disproportionately affected African Americans.
Fun fact! African American voters took advantage of "golden week" 3½ times as often as white voters in 2008, and more than 5 times as often in 2012.
  • But two white judges declared in their majority ruling on Tuesday that the 29-day early in-person voting period was "really quite generous," so maybe minority voters in Ohio are supposed to be grateful for only having their voting rights partially eroded, or something...? 


Primary season is finally gasping its last in key states across the country. Voters in Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, and beyond have waited in sweaty lines in recent weeks to cast their ballots. 

Summer Nights Lake(Michigan)side: After Michigan's August 2 primary, Democrats' chances of picking up the nine House seats needed to break the GOP's stranglehold on state government went from optimistic long shot to… well, just optimistic. Here's why:
  • Because of term limits, Republicans have more open House seats than Democrats -- 25 to 13, respectively. 
  • Democrats' recruiting efforts this year were highly successful, and a quality crop of candidates emerged in many of those open seats.
  • Some of the tea party Republicans who won their primaries in more moderate districts created opportunities for Democrats to pick up seats that might not otherwise have been in play. 
Additionally, polling is revealing serious trouble in terms of top-of-ticket drag for down-ballot Michigan Republicans.
    • Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's approval rating is at an all-time low (39.7 percent, specifically). 
      • Even among base Republicans, 25 percent disapprove of his performance. 
      • Only 38 percent of Michigan voters say the state is on the "right track."
    • Hillary Clinton has a narrow lead in the traditional Republican strongholds of west and southwest Michigan, which could put even "safe" GOP House seats in those areas in play.
    • If a recent court decision overturning the GOP-supported ban on straight-ticket voting in the state survives a last-ditch attempt at an emergency appeal, Trump's unpopularity spells even bigger problems for down-ballot Republicans. 

Summer schooled: To get even nerdier about the situation in Michigan (I know, I know, you're shocked), based on an April interview, House GOPers could be screwed despite their best efforts to gerrymander themselves into a decade-long majority. The whole bit is worth a listen, and it doesn't take into account current polls and primary results, but the salient part of the conversation goes thusly:
  • Former Michigan GOP House staffer Brian Began, the main architect of the current state House district maps, claims Republicans’ best case scenario is to only lose one seat this fall, but they'll "probably" lose "five to six at least." 
  • According to his his consulting firm colleague Adrian Hemond, the maps were designed to sustain a Republican House majority through three presidential cycles -- but this was reliant on the top of the ticket garnering at least 47% of the vote statewide
  • Especially in light of Trump's poor performance among minorities and women in many competitive districts, Hemond thinks Trump won't come close to hitting 47%, putting several otherwise “safe” state legislative districts in play.
And while we're talking about Michigan, here's some good news, everyone!
  • Muslims in Michigan -- and beyond -- who are troubled by Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric are taking some comfort in the sweeping primary victory of Abdullah Hammoud, an Muslim Democrat running for the state House.
    • He'll face WWE wrestler Rhino, aka Terrance Guido Gerin, in November. 
Fun fact! Democrat George Darany won his last election in this seat (HD15) with 67.5% of the vote (he's term-limited out this year), so Hammoud's election prospects are pretty rosy.

Granite State grooveNew Hampshire won't hold its primary elections until September 13, but Democrats are already "outhustling" their GOP counterparts. 
  • Democrats are fielding candidates in 361 of the state's 400 House districts. Republican have at least one candidate in just 335. 
  • Republicans were already struggling with the retirement of more than 60 incumbents. 
  • Additionally, both the Democratic state House and Senate campaign committees are reporting strong fundraising numbers this summer and entered August with record-breaking cash on hand amounts

Summertime Blue(berrie)sMaine's primary elections are a couple of months behind us now, so campaigns are in full swing -- and state Democrats are steamrolling their opponents in fundraising. 
Watch for Maine Democrats to win a majority in the state Senate and expand their caucus in the House this fall.

Cruel Summer ...for GOP state legislators, anyway. Republican lawmakers continue to freak out about the impact of Trump's candidacy on state legislative races. Some greatest hits:
  • The prospect of a Trump presidency "scares the bejeebies" out of Georgia Republican state Rep. Alan Peake. He worries that Trump-ian policies will lead his party towards "extinction." 
    • ...but he's still going to support Trump in November, so talk is awfully cheap. 
Welp, that's enough good news for one week. 

Also, here. You're welcome. 

The following 2 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: ALABAMA and CALIFORNIA.



The State Legislative Leaders Foundation will hold its National Speakers Conference August 24-27 in Burlington, Vermont. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners will hold its Summer Meeting August 26-29 in San Diego, California. 


The Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee will met August 22-23 to discuss and receive presentations regarding electric cooperative broadband development, projects within the Department of Information Technology, public-private partnerships for infrastructure development, policy issues for remote piloted aircraft, Education Networks of America and the state’s business climate for technology enterprise. 

The Legislative Health and Human Services Committee met August 23 to receive an analysis of the proposal to increase the liquor excise tax.


A primary runoff election was held August 23 for House and Senate seats where no candidate received more than 50% of votes cast in the primary election. (Check out results here.)


The Agency of Natural Resources held public hearings August 22 and 24 regarding proposed amendments to state water quality standards. 


The Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing August 25 regarding proposed amendments to air pollution control rules.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Don't call it a Statehouse Action comeback, but I guess you could, if you want, it's fine

Ugh so tired of Trump. Except that he’s going to help a lot of Democratic candidates win state legislative elections. I’m not the least bit tired of that.

Ready for a little statehouse action?

  • Colorado Senate (17 D/18 R): The state’s iteration of Politifact slapped a “Pants On Fire” on an ongoing smear campaign against Democratic candidate Rachel Zenzinger, a former Senator who will win the race for this key district in the fall, helping Democrats pick up a majority in the chamber.

o   Republican Laura Woods bested Zenzinger in 2014 by a mere 663 votes SD-19, and the false claim again being peddled by “Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government,” a conservative 527 group, may have contributed to the outcome.
§  Direct mail dropped against Zenzinger last month touts the outright lie that “Rachel Zenzinger voted to use taxpayer money on a trip to China” (and goes on to make a terrible “Zen” pun). Politifact deemed the attack “a gross distortion of the facts.” (No verdict was rendered on the pun.)
o   GOP state Sen. Laura Woods has already gained notoriety during her brief tenure as a legislator with her extreme anti-choice positions – including sponsorship of a so-called “personhood” bill that would have effectively banned all abortion in Colorado.
§  Fun fact! Sen. Laura Woods used to be known as Laura Waters, back when she helped organize 2013’s anti-gun safety recall attempt of SD-19’s former Democratic Senator, Evie Hudak.
§  Another Colorado fun fact! Republicans’ voter registration edge is waaaaaaay down in the state – well below what it was in 2012, when Democrats won majorities in both legislative chambers.

I’ve got to give love to my favorite article from last week, an Ari Berman joint on the GOP war on voting and how it’s specifically impacted voters in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s really a lovely contrast, what with both states being so historically, geographically, and demographically similar. The big difference between the two is that Minnesota Democrats have held between one and all three parts of the state government “trifecta” – governor, House, Senate – since 2010. In Wisconsin, it’s basically been the GOP’s show the whole time (Democrats had a majority in the state Senate for a few months in 2012, but the legislature was already out of session for the year).

  • tl;dr – Republicans in Wisconsin have
o   Shortened the early-voting window from 30 days to 12,
o   Eliminated night voting, weekend voting, and straight-ticket voting,
o   Made registering to vote and casting an absentee ballot more difficult, and
o   Tightened residency requirements.
  • And they’ve been caught admitting that these measures are specifically intended to impact groups that tend to vote for Democrats.

Fun fact! The Wisconsin GOP also got rid of the nonpartisan agency responsible for overseeing elections and educating the public about the new laws.

  • Meanwhile, next door in Minnesota, restrictive voter ID measures died at the ballot box in 2012, and Democratic majorities in the legislature made voting a whole lot easier in 2013 when they established “no excuse” absentee voting. Democrats in the legislature are considering further reforms, including restoring voting rights to people on probation or parole.

Seriously though it’s so great: The GOP’s War on Voting Is Working

Other goings-on in hot states:
  • DOJ asked a federal judge to block implementation of North Carolina’s heinous HB2. Republicans in the legislature have approved one change to the law: restoring North Carolinians’ right to sue for discrimination in state courts. While this move is significant, it in no way makes this measure less bigoted and onerous for the LGBT community, who remain utterly unprotected by the state’s nondiscrimination laws.
  • A federal judge has blocked Michigan’s “paycheck deception” law from taking effect, temporarily halting GOP lawmakers’ scheme to weaken unions and undermine their financial support by prohibiting voluntary automatic paycheck deductions.

For the Week of July 7, 2016

The following 2 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: MASSACHUSETTS and PENNSYLVANIA.



The Southern States Energy Board will hold its 2016 Briefing to Southern Legislators July 9 in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Republican Attorneys General Association will hold its Summer National Meeting July 9-12 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Council of State Governments Southern Legislative Conference will hold its 70th Annual Meeting July 9-13 in Lexington, Kentucky. 


The signature submission deadline for proposed ballot measures to qualify for the general election ballot is July 7. 


The signature submission deadline for proposed ballot measures to qualify for the general election ballot is July 8. 


The Agency of Agriculture will accept comments until July 7 regarding proposed rules establishing required agricultural practices for agricultural nonpoint source pollution control. 


The Department of Ecology will hold a webinar July 7 regarding proposed rules governing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The signature submission deadline for proposed ballot measures to qualify for the general election ballot is July 8.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Game of Porcelain Thrones edition

On this Tax Day Monday, behold the statehouse action!

Remember when making people pay to vote was frowned upon? A Republican lawmaker in Ohio wants voters who petition the courts to extend voting hours (because of long lines or whatever else) to pony up the cash -- which could easily amount to thousands of dollars -- to cover the additional expenses on the spot.
  • Sen. Bill Seitz's bill would require a voter to pay a cash bond to cover costs before a judge could order the polls to remain open past their normal closing time. 

Tar Heels: Although it's far from the only state in which local autonomy is being trampled and LGBT residents are being oppressed, North Carolina continues to receive the most attention.
And, frankly, it's super deserving of the high level of scorn and blowback it continues to draw. 

  • Last week, Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order that... well, I guess it was an attempt to placate the myriad companies and musicians and adult entertainment websites refusing to do business in the state because of the anti-LGBT provisions of HB2. 
    • ...But that's pure speculation, because Gov. McCrory's pronouncement changed only one small aspect about LGBT life in the state (while completely ignoring the legal and local government implications, since businesses don't seem to care so much about that). 
  • Because of Executive Order 93, LGBT North Carolinians who work for the state are now protected by North Carolina's non-discrimination policies. Hooray, right?
    • ... except that doesn't matter because HB2 eliminated the right to sue over a violation of state non-discrimination policies. This EO is pure lip service.
    • That loss of the ability to sue the state for discrimination is the part of the new law that's receiving the least attention, and it's just as terrible as the other, better-known aspects of HB2 (i.e., the bits forcing folks to use certain bathrooms, preventing local governments from raising local wages or establishing paid leave, and enshrining general LGBT discrimination in state law). 
      • First, barring workplace discrimination claims nullifies 30 years of common-law precedent and forces folks who've been unfairly fired to seek relief in federal courts instead.
      • The federal court system is more difficult and (typically) more expensive to navigate. 
      • Before even filing a federal suit, plaintiffs have to go through the months-long process of getting permission from the EEOC
      • After all that, plaintiffs have only 90 to file a complaint (the state court statute of limitations on such claims is three years). 
      • Just filing the complaint costs twice as much in federal court, and damages are capped at $300,000 (as opposed to no cap at the state level).
  • Gov. McCory says he's going to ask real nice for Republican lawmakers to repeal this aspect of HB2, but the state's GOP majorities have given no indication that they regret that -- or any other -- aspect of the new law. 
North Carolina's legislative session convenes on May 11. 

So many potties, so little time: GOP lawmakers are spending an awful lot of time this year legislating their way into bathrooms and taking away LGBT civil rights. 
  • An anti-transgender "bathroom bill" was making its way through the Tennessee legislature, but it seems to have stalled out in the face of pressure from businesses and entertainers operating in the state. 
      • Gov. Haslam, who's had a  front-row seat to the backlash in neighboring North Carolina, has already expressed his reticence to sign such a bill.
    • Gov. Haslam has not indicated whether he intends to veto another hateful piece of legislation sitting on his desk that would make Tennessee the only state in the nation in which therapists could refuse to treat LGBT patientsSometimes a bigoted cigar is just a bigoted cigar?
    • Speaking of Tennessee...  Late last week, Gov. Haslam vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the official state book. 
      • This is good news, except that it might be followed soon by lousy news. 
      • You see, Tennessee lawmakers can override a governor's veto with a simple majority vote. So basically all the legislature has to do is re-pass the bill they just passed -- not exactly a heavy lift. It's less of a veto and more of a "please don't."
  • Mississippi, that chronically last-place state (in things like median household income, visits to the dentist, education, best places to live), just became ranked first in something! Too bad it's nothing to be proud of. 
    • Last week, Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law the most comprehensive anti-LGBT measure in the country. 
    • The new law explicitly protects those who discriminate against LGBT people and allows Mississippians to deny all kinds of services based on "sincerely held" religious beliefs -- from goods and services to medical treatment and employment.
I mean, this is bad. Really, really bad. 

  • A Republican in Michigan is super eager to jump on the forcing-transgender-folks-to-use-the-bathroom-of-their-birth-sex bandwagon. 
    • Sen. Tom Casperson referred to "mixing these kids together" as "not normal" and "not right." 

The Missouri Senate has misplaced its gavel. The large wooden gavel was last seen resting on the Senate dais on March 18. Until its return, Senators are making do with a "smaller, backup gavel." I bet that poor, maligned backup gavel is doing just a bang-up job. 

Sometimes their judgment is even worse than their legislatingGeorgia Republican state Rep. Tom Taylor was recently arrested for DUI. He had been pulled over for going 72 in a 45. He blew .225 on the breathalyzer. He had a gun strapped to his hip. He had four kids in the car.

File under: Stuff to keep an eye on if you're bored or into this kind of thing or whatever
A redistricting lawsuit in North Carolina went to trial last week. The plaintiffs assert that Republicans drew the state House and Senate maps to unconstitutionally dilute the influence of black voters in certain districts
No word yet on when the trio of federal judges plans to issue a ruling. 

LOL Jim Gilmore's campaign somehow racked up $291,000+ in debt. Maybe it was for badass chains.



The National Association of County and City Health Officials will hold its 2016 Public Health Preparedness Summit April 18-22 in Dallas, Texas. 

The National Association of Attorneys General will hold its Southern Regional Meeting April 18-19 in Atlanta, Georgia. 


The Legislature will adjourn sine die no later than April 23


The House Labor and Employment Committee will hold a public hearing April 20 regarding A.B. 2405, which requires employers with 25 or more employees to provide annually employees with at least 24 hours of paid time off for the ability to participate in school activities or address emergency situations at school for a child in a licensed child day care facility or in grades K-12. 

The Assembly Committee on Health will hold a public hearing April 20 regarding S.B. 1252, which requires general acute care hospitals, surgical clinics and attending physicians, as applicable, to notify patients in writing of the net costs to the patient for a medical procedure when it is scheduled to be performed. 


The deadline for each chamber to pass bills originating in its chamber is April 22


The Legislature will adjourn sine die April 19


The Legislature will adjourn sine die April 24


The Legislature will adjourn sine die April 20


A special election will be held April 19 to fill vacant seats in Assembly Districts 59, 62 and 65 and Senate District 9. 


The deadline for each chamber to pass bills originating in the opposite chamber is April 21.