Please don’t miss the last item — something really good House Speaker Paul Ryan did this week — but first . . .

SMALL-GOVERNMENT REPUBLICANS

In Arizona, the Republican legislature has pushed back municipal ordinances requiring paid sick leave.  ‘

In Alabama, the Republican legislature rolled back local increases in the minimum wage.

In Texas, the Republican legislature overrode local efforts to control fracking and frack water discharge within municipal boundaries.

Who cares what the local people want?  If it conflicts with corporate profits — well, as our Republican friends remind us: corporations are people, too.

And it’s not just corporate profits Republicans need to protect.

It’s so important that some forms of discrimination remain legal that when a local government — the Charlotte City Council, for example — bans one, the Republican-controlled state government steps in to intercede.

Posted at Talking Points Memo:

. . . In a span of 12 hours, the GOP political leadership of this state called the General Assembly back to Raleigh for a special session, introduced legislation written by leadership and not previously made available to members or the public, held “hearings” on that legislation, passed it through both chambers of the legislature, and it was signed by the GOP Governor.

The special legislation was called, ostensibly, to prevent an ordinance passed last month by the Charlotte City Council, from going into effect on April 1. That ordinance would have expanded the city’s LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, and would have allowed transgendered people to use public restrooms that corresponds with their gender identity.

But the legislation introduced and passed into law by the General Assembly yesterday didn’t simply roll back that ordinance. It implemented a detailed state-wide regulation of public restrooms, and limited a person’s use of those restrooms to only those restrooms that correspond with one’s “biological sex,” defined in the new state law as the sex identified on one’s birth certificate. (So yes, by law in NC now, transgender porn star Buck Angel (look him up) will have to use the women’s room…isn’t that precisely what these lawmakers are actually wanting to prevent?).

But the legislation didn’t stop there. It also expressly pre-empted all municipal and county ordinances or policies broader than the official state anti-discrimination statute, which does not include sexual orientation or gender identity among the list of prohibited bases of discrimination. So that effectively wipes out local LGBT anti-discrimination protections in numerous NC cities (and, ironically, wipes out the protection of discrimination based on “veterans status” in Greensboro and Orange County (Chapel Hill)).

But wait, there’s more. The legislation also expressly states that there can be no statutory or common law private right of action to enforce the state’s anti-discrimination statutes in the state courts. So if a NC resident is the victim of racial discrimination in housing or employment, for example, that person is now entirely barred from going to state court to get an injunction, or to get damages of any kind. The new law completely defangs the state’s anti-discrimination statute, rendering it entirely unenforceable by the citizens of the state.

But wait, there’s more! The legislation also prohibits municipalities and counties from passing a higher minimum wage than the State’s. Not that any municipality or county had done that…but in case any of them were thinking about it, that’s now prohibited, too. . . .

12 hours, start to finish.

Look: transgender stuff is new to most people and hard, at first, to talk about and understand.  But my transgender friends are real people — many of them extremely nice once you get to know them, productive, tax-paying, and born with certain inalienable rights (among them: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness).  So if the City of Charlotte wants to make their lives easier, and deems it safe and sensible to do so, why do Republicans have to step in to shut that down?

HEAT IN THE CLASSROOM

And speaking of thwarting the will of the people — as Congressional Republicans have done on the minimum wage, comprehensive immigration reform, refinancing of federal student, and the American Jobs Act that would have put millions to work revitalizing our infrastructure — how about this?

Next summer, in addition to textbooks, laptops and double-strength coffee, Kansas college students will be able to bring something else to class: guns.

By July 2017, all six state universities plus dozens of community colleges and technical schools must allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus.

. . . While the move enjoys broad support in the [Republican dominated] Kansas Legislature, it’s a different story among the state’s professors and administrators.

Mike Williams, president of the University of Kansas Faculty Senate, says his colleagues are less worried about the possibility of an active shooter and more about accidents and simple disagreements escalating between armed students.

What’s more, Williams says, that fear of violence could discourage civil discourse, with students afraid to speak their minds “because of their worry that someone might react with armed violence instead of thoughtful debate.”

A poll of more than 20,000 employees across all Kansas Board of Regents schools found overwhelming disapproval of the new law. Eighty-two percent said they would feel less safe if students were allowed to carry guns to class. . . .

HATS OFF TO PAUL RYAN

His budget priorities are terrible, in my view — and that’s a really important thing — but hats off to our House Speaker for having an open mind, and for inspiring Congressional interns with a really good message.  Take 10 minutes to watch.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

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