NC Amendment would put voter ID in NC constitution

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Our dear General Assembly leaders(see below) here in North Carolina haven’t given up on voter ID, they recently filed a proposed constitutional amendment to ensconce a voter ID rule in the state constitution…Libergirl.

 

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, left, and House Speaker Tim Moore during a May15, 2018, news conference.

Image: WRAL.com

The bill would ask voters to decide this November whether to add this paragraph to the constitution: “Photo identification for voting in person. Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.”

Republicans have championed photo IDs as the best defense against voter fraud, but Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said instances of in-person voter fraud are “very minimal.”

“It is not a widespread issue, despite what politicians say,” McLennan said.

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

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NC’s ‘alarming’ disparity of black student arrests among worst in country

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In North Carolina, black students are nearly six times more likely to be arrested at school and school activities than white students, according to recently released federal data analyzed by WRAL News. That disparity is among the worst in the country.

Law enforcement arrested more than 600 North Carolina students on public school grounds, during off-campus school activities or on school transportation during the 2015-16 school year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education.

In North Carolina, 9.2 out of every 10,000 black students were arrested, compared to 1.6 white students. Only three other states – West Virginia, Iowa and Rhode Island – had a higher disparity between the arrest rates of black and white students.

About 147 out of every 1,000 black students were suspended from North Carolina schools in 2015-16. That’s compared to about 44 white students out of every 1,000.

More from WRAL.com
Posted by Libergirl

Judges Say N.C. GOP Dragging Its Feet On Redrawing Election Maps Ruled Unconstitutional

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Two federal judges said they are concerned that North Carolina legislative leaders have taken few if any steps to draw new election maps since they were struck down last year, and one judge suggested they don’t appear to be taking their duty seriously.

A three-judge panel is deciding when and how the electoral map must be remade.

“What concerns, at least me, is the seriousness of how this is being taken by the legislature. This is serious,” Judge James A. Wynn of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals told a lawyer for the legislative leaders at a Thursday hearing in federal court in Greensboro.

His fellow panel member, U.S District Judge Catherine Eagles, then added: “You don’t seem serious. What’s our assurance that you are serious about remedying this?”

The panel ruled in August 2016 that 28 state House and Senate districts were illegally drawn, based on racial considerations. After Republicans took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices agreed this summer that the districts must be redrawn. Democrats hope the new boundaries could help them erode the GOP’s veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers.

Responding to the three judges’ concerns, a lawyer hired by state legislative leaders said the General Assembly has shown its commitment to redrawing the maps by holding a redistricting committee meeting this week and preparing to take input from the public.

“We’ve outlined a process to do what’s right for the people,” attorney Phillip Strach said.

The legislative leaders have argued that they need until November to draw new maps for use in the next regular election in the fall of 2018. Plaintiffs including voters and civil rights groups, however, say the maps must be redrawn immediately and that a special election should be held before the legislature convenes its next regular work session in May 2018.

The voting rights activists have successfully argued that the current maps packed too many Black voters into some districts and made surrounding districts whiter and thus more likely to elect Republicans.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers say the maps should be redrawn as soon as possible to remove uncertainty for candidates, voters and donors who would normally already be preparing for the next election. They said the court can decide separately whether a special election is warranted, but they presented a proposed schedule that would include a general election in March 2018, weeks before the legislative session.

Attorney Anita Earls of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice said the argument boils down to weighing the value of extensive public comment sought by Republicans against “people knowing as soon as possible the value of their civic engagement.”

Lawyers for GOP legislative leaders also say the U.S. Supreme Court has strongly signaled that special elections aren’t warranted. The three-judge panel had previously told the state to hold special legislative elections in 2017, but the Supreme Court rejected that timetable. However, when the high court returned the case to the three judges it left the door open for them to again order a special election.

Democrats need to capture three House seats or six Senate seats currently held by Republicans to eliminate the GOP’s veto-proof majorities and give first-term Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper a stronger hand.

Legal filings by the legislative leaders have said boundaries of about two-thirds of all 170 House and Senate districts are likely to be altered to fix the 28 that were struck down.

The judges said they would issue a ruling later.

By Associated Press

Posted by The NON-Conformist

NC Budget cuts legal aid for poor, but no explanation given….what the hell…just Because… we can do whatever we want b/c we are in CONTROL!!!!

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Legislators took a bite this past session out of taxpayer funding for poor people caught up in the courts system, and it’s unclear why.

The heads of the three agencies that used this money – and a much larger pot of threatened federal funding – to handle thousands of child custody cases, landlord/tenant disputes and other civil matters said they received no notice for the cut and that they’ve gotten no explanation in the ensuing month.

“We were totally blindsided,” said Kenneth Schorr, executive director at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. “There was no communication this was on the table.”

The cut materialized in the House. Legislative staff there referred WRAL News to Speaker

Tim Moore’s office for an explanation, but his spokesman said Moore would not comment on the matter.

The four co-chairmen of the House’s Justice and Public Safety Appropriations Committee did not respond to WRAL News requests for comment. The only possible explanations Schorr and similar agency heads have heard came third-hand or worse and may be little more than speculation.

“All we’ve gotten is rumor,” said George R. Hausen Jr., president and executive director of Legal Aid of North Carolina, the largest of three attorney groups that get state money for this work.

The lack of communication fits a pattern, as other questions on unrelated budget cuts during and after the legislative session also were met with silence.

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

 

Is North Carolina stuck in an abusive relationship?

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Behavior of state leaders, state policy community raise warning flags

Image: NC Policy Watch

The last seven years in North Carolina politics and policy have been extraordinary. In a very short period of time, a once moderate state has been transformed into a kind of laboratory for far right policies and a testing ground for what we are coming to know now as Trumpism. On issue after issue, state legislative leaders have aggressively pursued an ultra-conservative agenda that seeks to radically remake the state’s social contract.

What’s more, this has not been a happy or buoyant transformation. Rather than being predicated on a positive or hopeful new vision of society, the conservative revolution in North Carolina has mostly been a counter-revolution. Even today, a point at which they enjoy veto-proof majorities and can realistically contemplate an entire decade in power, conservative legislative leaders premise most of their actions and policies more on an angry rejection of past supposed transgressions by Democrats than a coherent articulation of what they want to build.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

NC’s Final budget delivers hits to legal services, emergency judges, Department of Justice

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It’s only been a little over 24 hours since the North Carolina General Assembly introduced its final budget and its already well on its way to a House vote after passing the Senate on Tuesday.

There is plenty to read in the 438-page document and plenty to get confused about. Below are a few highlights from the Justice and Public Safety budget:

Raise the Age

Lawmakers have finally agreed to raise the juvenile age of prosecution from 16 and 17 years old to 18 years old. The final budget allocates $519,600 the first fiscal year toward “Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act Planning” and $478,000 the second fiscal year.

The budget policy decision mandates that 16- and 17-year-olds who are accused of committing misdemeanors and two classes of felonies no longer be automatically prosecuted in the adult criminal system.

The policy decision also increases the information available on juveniles to law enforcement and establishes a juvenile jurisdiction advisory committee to help with implementation. You can read more about the decision beginning on page 309 of the budget.

The proposed budget would cut $1.7 million in legal services programs across the state, affecting those most in need and almost assuredly creating unequal access to justice.

The Access to Civil Justice Act funds all traditional legal services programs, including Legal Aid Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC), Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Pisgah Legal Services.

As written in the final budget, the provision means that $1.50 of every court fee imposed in District and Superior Courts would no longer be distributed to the North Carolina State Bar for legal services. It could also mean reducing LANC staff across the state by 50 to 60 or more positions.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies”

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A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

Internal TigerSwan communications describe the movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters. One report, dated February 27, 2017, states that since the movement “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active, we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse.” Drawing comparisons with post-Soviet Afghanistan, the report warns, “While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora … aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies.”

More than 100 internal documents leaked to The Intercept by a TigerSwan contractor, as well as a set of over 1,000 documents obtained via public records requests, reveal that TigerSwan spearheaded a multifaceted private security operation characterized by sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters.

As policing continues to be militarized and state legislatures around the country pass laws criminalizing protest, the fact that a private security firm retained by a Fortune 500 oil and gas company coordinated its efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest movement has profoundly anti-democratic implications. The leaked materials not only highlight TigerSwan’s militaristic approach to protecting its client’s interests but also the company’s profit-driven imperative to portray the nonviolent water protector movement as unpredictable and menacing enough to justify the continued need for extraordinary security measures. Energy Transfer Partners has continued to retain TigerSwan long after most of the anti-pipeline campers left North Dakota, and the most recent TigerSwan reports emphasize the threat of growing activism around other pipeline projects across the country.

More from The Intercept

Posted by Libergirl

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