Division Within Republican Party Disputed

NC_house_newRALEIGH—With Republicans controlling all of the top elected offices in the state, there is some question about how big the divide is within the party.

With the next election never far away, some Republicans are facing the question of if they are conservative enough for the party  or in some cases to conservative  for the masses.

Conservative advocacy groups have not been mincing any words. When it comes to how the state House handled a spending plan proposal,  they don’t approve.

“The governor’s proposed budget was 2.3 percent.  The House’s budget was 6.3 percent, which is astronomical and ridiculous,” said Donald Bryson, with Americans for Prosperity.

When Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed Senate Bill 2, a piece of legislation carried by Senate President pro-tem Phil Berger meant to allow those with sincere religious objections to opt of same-sex marriage, traditional marriage advocates were quick to respond. The NC Values Coalition released this statement: It is unacceptable for any Governor who calls himself ‘conservative’ to veto legislation like SB 2.

The Senate has been quick to say they hold the conservative values  that some House members are being accused of abandoning, again pointing to the budget.

“It is excessive and more in line with what the democrats did when we started with a deficit in 2011,” said aid Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican.

But for House members, they say there is no loss of conservative values, even when it comes to the budget.

“On this issue maybe, on other issues, maybe not.  We sent them an energy bill that was extremely conservative.  So we’ll see what happens with that.  We sent them a budget that they might not consider conservative. I consider vast parts of that budget conservative.  We’ll see what they do with that. I don’t think you can say consistently any one body is more conservative than the other,” said Majority Leader Rep. Mike Hager.

Analysts say this battle over who is and is not conservative enough is important because the interest and advocacy groups have a strong hand in the election process.

“Themselves and through their own links have great access to lots and lots of money and could be conceivably be very troublesome to a lawmaker trying to get re-elected, especially in a primary,” said Mac McCorkle, with Duke University.

However analysts say this is a very different concern for lawmakers, who are in safer districts more drawn in their favor than for someone like the governor—who has to appeal to the state as a whole- while also not losing his base.

“On a statewide level, it will be interesting to see how candidates are positioning themselves. And that’s why I think we see Pat McCrory trying position himself more toward the middle on the gay marriage issue for example,” said Stephen Greene, with NC State University.

Analysts say these battles are common with a party who holds this much power in the state and say we can expect to see it continue, especially as the budget work continues in the legislature.

– Loretta Boniti

Capital Tonight May 29: Bow Tie Caucus

captonight_29_jpgOn Capital Tonight: Gov. Pat McCrory vetoes two bills in two days. Our dynamic duo from the Queen City – Larry Shaheen and Dan McCorkle – join the Bow Tie Caucus and debate the political ramifications of Gov. McCrory’s vetoes. Watch the program here.


Capital Tonight May 28: Sens. Rucho and Stein on Budget

stein_ruchoOn Capital Tonight: Sen. Bob Rucho and Sen. Josh Stein debate the House budget proposal, if more tax cuts are necessary, and where the General Assembly should focus taxpayer money. Watch the program here.

McCrory Vetoes ‘Ag-Gag’ Bill

mccrory_budgetRALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory has vetoed House Bill 405, the so-called Ag-Gag Bill.

Among its provisions, the measure allows employers to sue an employee who secretly records images or audio in non-public areas of a business.

Bill supporters say it protects business from harm but opponents say it cracks down on whistleblowers who are trying to expose wrongdoing.

Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement on House Bill 405:

“This bill is intended to address a valid concern of our state’s businesses—how to discourage those bad actors who seek employment with the intent to engage in corporate espionage or act as an undercover investigator. This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry. It needs to be stopped.

While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity. I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities.

Earlier this week, I was proud to sign Burt’s Law. It requires adult care home employees who witness sexual abuse of patients to report it to the proper authorities. I signed Burt’s Law because it protects a vulnerable population and gives clear direction to employees to report any abuse they witness. I don’t want to discourage good employees of any industry from reporting illegal activities to the proper authorities, which is why I am vetoing House Bill 405. In good conscience, I cannot sign Burt’s Law and then in the same week turnaround and sign contradictory legislation.

I encourage the General Assembly to reconsider this bill as soon as possible and add protections for those employees who report illegal activities directly and confidentially to the proper authorities. I stand ready to work with legislators during this process, and I am very optimistic that we can reach a solution that addresses the concerns of our North Carolina employers while still protecting honest employees.” 


Governor to Veto Same-Sex Marriage Opt Out Bill

SameSexMarriageRALEIGH — The state House gave final approval Thursday to an opt-out bill that allows magistrates to decline to perform any marriages, and the governor released a statement saying that he would veto the legislation.

After a federal appeals court overturned North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage last year, the Administrative Office of the Courts directed magistrates to perform marriages for same-sex couples or face disciplinary action.

Bill supporters say it creates a reasonable accommodation for public officials who feel performing a same-sex marriage is against their religious beliefs. But opponents say the bill is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

“That’s all this bill does. It applies the principles of Title VII and the principles of the government Employees Rights Act to a particular circumstance that we have here. I wish the bill wasn’t necessary. It is necessary. I encourage you to vote for it,” said Rep. Paul Stam, Wake County.

Both sides says it’s not the end if same sex couples want to get married. The bill has a provision saying a judge or another magistrate must be available to perform the marriage. State laws also allow an ordained minister or another recognized-religious figure to do the same.

“If a gay couple goes and asked to be married in front of this magistrate, are they being protected equally under the constitution when they are not getting treated the same as when a straight couple goes and tries to get married in front of a magistrate here in the state of North Carolina? That is the opposite of equal protection,” said Rep. Nathan Baskerville, Granville Co.

Statement from Gov. McCrory on Senate Bill 2:

“I recognize that for many North Carolinians, including myself, opinions on same-sex marriage come from sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, we are a nation and a state of laws. Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2.”

The governor has 10 days to officially veto the bill. The question then becomes if there will be enough votes from state lawmakers to override his veto.

NC Senate Gives Initial OK to 72-Hour Abortion Wait Period

abortionRALEIGH—A bill that would extend the abortion waiting period to 72 hours in North Carolina has moved closer to passage with a favorable vote on the Senate floor.

After a lengthy debate, the full Senate gave tentative approval to the bill on Thursday. A final Senate vote could come next week.

The bill is more wide ranging than what was previously approved in the House, and now includes  some provisions dealing with domestic violence and statutory rape. For opponents of the proposal now known as theWomen and Children’s Protection Act of 2015, they say the intentions of this bill is clear: to limit abortions and take the decision making power away from women.

“It is patronistic and it is insulting to say that I cannot make up my mind and that I need 72 hours to consider my options,” said Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram.

Under the waiting-period provision, women would have to talk to a doctor or other qualified professional 72 hours before having an abortion, unless there’s a medical emergency. Several other states have 72-hour waiting periods.

A new item on the senate side- says that only OBGYNs can perform abortions, whereas currently other doctors may do the procedure as well.

“I mean the purpose of this is basically limit women’s rights to basically choose what they would like to do with their bodies, and to make it more difficult, more challenging. I guess if this body could overturn Roe v. Wade they would,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham County Democrat.

A version of the bill has already passed the state House, but that chamber would need to approve provisions added by Senate Republicans that include several criminal justice measures.

– Loretta Boniti

Exemption for NC Government Officials on Gay Marriage Approved

gay_marriageRALEIGH—A bill that would allow magistrates to opt-out of performing same-sex marriages now heads to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk.

The NC House gave final approval to the measure Thursday morning.

This comes after a federal court ruling reversed North Carolina law which banned same-sex marriage. Under the proposal, a magistrate would have to cite a sincere religious objection, and then be banned from performing any marriages.

Opponents say the measure essentially creates discrimination, but supporters say government workers should not have to be fired for their religious beliefs.


Capital Tonight May 27: Joyce and Dallas Woodhouse

captonight_27_jpgOn Capital Tonight: Joyce and Dallas Woodhouse advocate for autism research, the General Assembly takes up the magistrates opt-out and abortion bills, and our Advocates Rob Schofield and Donald Bryson debate the proposed budget and social bills. Watch the program here.

Sen. Thom Tillis Tours UNC for AIDS Research

thom_tillis1CHAPEL HILL–U.S. Senator Thom Tillis is getting an up close look at the fight against HIV and AIDS.

He toured UNC’s Genetic Medicine Building on Wednesday. This month, UNC-Chapel Hill announced a public-priave partnership with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

The two will work together to find a cure of HIV/AIDS. Much of the lab work will be at the Genetic Medicine Building.

“This means a lot not only to the state but also to the world with 36 million people affected with HIV,” said Sen. Tillis.

School leaders would like him to push Washington to increase funding. The school receives millions of dollars in federal funding through the National Institutes of Health.

“Biomedical research is a public good and it is important that the public fund or otherwise, it will not reach its full promise,” said Dr. William Roper, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine.

“When we find a cure for HIV, it freezes up so many other resources to cure so many other diseases that the nation faces and the world faces” said Tillis.

Tillis will tour other institutions to assess any needs before heading back to Washington.

– Chris Williams

Hillary Clinton Campaigns in South Carolina

hillary_clinton-1COLUMBIA, S.C. — Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was busy stumping in South Carolina on Wednesday, making her first campaign  visit to the state since announcing her candidacy earlier this year.

South Carolina was not a very good experience for Clinton during her 2008 presidential run and she acknowledged as much. But this go around, supporters here say they strongly believe she will emerge victorious and eventually take the White House.

Speaking in front of an intimate group of supporters, served as the keynote speaker at the third annual ‘Day in Blue’ – an event put together by the Democratic Women’s Council. Clinton turned quickly to the serious job at hand and pushed for the passing of the paycheck fairness act, advocated for paycheck transparency, and raising wages for the lowest paid jobs in the country.

The Palmetto State is crucial for the Clinton campaign. It hosts the South’s first 2016 primary which is important for Democrats, because it’s the contest with a large number of African-American voters.

Despite her nearly 30-point loss in 2008 to President Barack Obama, she closed with a promise for the long and difficult campaign ahead. Clinton also spent time on Wednesday at the state House speaking to House and Senate Democrats. She also met privately with a number of minority business owners.

She wasn’t the only female presidential candidate in Columbia on Wednesday. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Republican hopeful Carly Fiorina held a news conference at the same hotel a few hours earlier.

– Becky Bereiter