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.

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