North Carolina State Lawmakers Embroiled in Partisan Controversies

On Wednesday the North Carolina state legislature is expected to hold a special session to discuss the repeal of the controversial, anti-LGBTQ “bathroom bill”, officially known as HB 2. HB 2 aims to prevent transgender people from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, and makes discrimination against LGBTQ people legal in the public domain.

Though Governor-elect Roy Cooper (D) released a statement Monday saying that Republican leaders in the legislature had promised to call a special session and fully repeal HB 2, the House speaker and Senate president dismissed the governor-elects announcement, stating that he was “not telling the truth about the legislature committing itself into session. We’ve always said that was Governor McCrory’s decision, and if he calls us back, we will be prepared to act.”

The hostility between Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina has been ongoing since the contested election in November, when Governor McCrory (R) refused to concede the election to Cooper, asserting without evidence that the election had been tampered through widespread voter fraud.

When McCrory finally did concede a month after the election, he refused to acknowledge in his concession speech that no foul play had taken place, even as many accused him of demeaning the integrity of the state’s election process. It is widely believed that the negative economic and political backlash initiated by the discriminatory HB 2 law, including substantial legal costs to the state and the loss of a number of high profile sports and entertainment events, led to McCrory’s defeat.

Since McCrory’s concession, the Republican controlled legislature has passed a sweeping package of restrictions to limit the governor’s authority, including a provision that decreases the number of governor appointments from 1,500 to 425. The bill also includes a measure that would require all the governor’s appointments to be subject to State Senate approval, a debilitating arrangement seeing as how Republicans enjoy a veto-proof majority in both the House and the Senate.

Governor McCrory quickly signed a bill that bars future governors from appointing a majority of their own party members to the State Board of Elections, an incredibly ironic measure considering that McCrory’s Republican controlled State Board of Elections allowed counties to place restrictions on early voting that seemed to explicitly target African American voters.

Governor-elect Cooper has threatened to sue the state legislature over these changes, stating, “Once more, the courts will have to clean up the mess the legislature made, but it won’t stop us from moving North Carolina forward.”

Cooper’s mention of North Carolina’s recent entanglements with the courts is not only in reference to HB 2’s legal battles, but also the draconian and disenfranchising voter restrictions that McCrory signed in 2013. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in July that the law was passed with almost surgical precision to target and discriminates against African American voters. Even after it was overturned, the state found ways to suppress minority voter participation, such as by eliminating early voting on Sundays and illegally purging thousands of voters from registration rolls within 90 days of the election.

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