TIM MOORE STRIPS JULIA HOWARD OF CHAIRMANSHIP AFTER ETHICS TUSSLE: The move comes after Howard, one of the longest-serving members of North Carolina’s General Assembly, publicly opposed a bill that was backed by Moore and would benefit some North Carolina lawmakers who received federal coronavirus relief money from the Paycheck Protection Program. The bill, if signed into law, would give tax breaks to businesses that received those loans, including dozens of lawmakers’ businesses. By revoking Howard’s chairmanship, Moore acted swiftly to punish a challenge to his control. With the legislature sharply divided along party lines, infighting in the speaker’s party presents a challenge to his ability to advance his, and his party’s, agenda.
TRANSGENDER TREATMENT BILL WILL NOT MOVE FORWARD: Senate Bill 514 would have banned treatment for transgender people under 21 and required teachers and other state employees to notify parents if their child displayed "gender nonconformity." It's one of several bills filed this year touching on transgender rights, and it had backing from key members of majority leadership, including Deputy President Pro Tem Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell. But a spokesman for the No. 1 Senate Republican, and Republican leadership in general, said Tuesday the bill won't come to the floor for a vote. WFAE radio in Charlotte first reported the development. "We do not see a pathway to Senate Bill 514 becoming law," said Pat Ryan, spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. That may be because of the potential for Gov. Roy Cooper to veto the measure if it passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly, which doesn't have the numbers to overturn the governor's vetoes. Another bill dealing with young transgender people is alive at the General Assembly and would forbid transgender girls and women from joining women's sports teams if they were born male.
NC SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION NOW SUPPORTS GETTING RID OF HANDGUN PERMITS: A longtime North Carolina law requiring pistol purchase permits could be repealed under a new version of a bill that advanced through a House committee on Tuesday. The law requires buyers of handguns to obtain a permit from a local sheriff and undergo a background check. Rep. Jay Adams, a Hickory Republican and lead sponsor of the bill, called the law “obsolete” and said the emphasis should be on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Eddie Caldwell Jr., executive vice president and general counsel of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, said the group previously opposed the repeal but that “times have changed” as the national system has improved. In 2019, Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive directive to help close gaps in background checks. In 2018, Cooper convened the National Instant Criminal Background Check System working group to identify and fix gaps in firearms background checks. Cooper said in 2019 that as a result, “more than 284,000 convictions have been added to the federal background check system.” The State Bureau of Investigation led the work.
DEREK CHAUVIN FOUND GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS IN THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD: The jury’s decision — convicting Chauvin of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after deliberating for about 10 hours — capped the most prominent policing trial in decades. The case was grueling, with prosecutors calling up a parade of tearful bystanders, disapproving police officers and blunt-speaking medical experts since testimony began three weeks ago. But although the evidence and testimony against Chauvin seemed devastating to some observers, legal analysts and policing experts warned that such trials are never easy to win. Police officers who kill people while on duty are seldom charged with crimes, and when they are, convictions are sparse. “We’ve seen with other cases where there has been damning video evidence [and] the prosecution has struggled to get a conviction,” he said. “This was not a slam dunk for the prosecution. I think they were well aware it was going to be a difficult case.” Chauvin’s defense attempted to appeal to at least some of the factors that have benefited officers in other cases. Eric Nelson, the former officer’s defense attorney, said during his closing argument that in his encounter with Floyd, Chauvin was following his police training and acting as any “reasonable officer” would have in his position. That defense comes from the Supreme Court’s 1989 Graham v. Connor decision, which says an officer’s actions must be judged against what a reasonable officer would do in the same situation. This argument has been crucial in many cases when police are charged over their use of force, experts said. But the arguments that Chauvin followed his training and did what a “reasonable officer” might do were undercut by the multiple Minneapolis police officials, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, who said the former officer had violated police training and ethos, said Christopher Slobogin, a law professor at Vanderbilt University.
MEANWHILE, REPUBLICAN STATES ARE SEVERELY PUNISHING THOSE WHO PROTEST: Republican legislators in Oklahoma and Iowa have passed bills granting immunity to drivers whose vehicles strike and injure protesters in public streets. A Republican proposal in Indiana would bar anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from holding state employment, including elected office. A Minnesota bill would prohibit those convicted of unlawful protesting from receiving student loans, unemployment benefits or housing assistance. And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed sweeping legislation this week that toughened existing laws governing public disorder and created a harsh new level of infractions — a bill he’s called “the strongest anti-looting, anti-rioting, pro-law-enforcement piece of legislation in the country.” The measures are part of a wave of new anti-protest legislation, sponsored and supported by Republicans, in the 11 months since Black Lives Matter protests swept the country following the death of George Floyd. The Minneapolis police officer who killed Mr. Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was convicted on Tuesday on murder and manslaughter charges, a cathartic end to weeks of tension. G.O.P. lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills during the 2021 legislative session — more than twice as many proposals as in any other year, according to Elly Page, a senior legal adviser at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, which tracks legislation limiting the right to protest. Some, like Mr. DeSantis, are labeling them “anti-riot” bills, conflating the right to peaceful protest with the rioting and looting that sometimes resulted from such protests. “This is consistent with the general trend of legislators’ responding to powerful and persuasive protests by seeking to silence them rather than engaging with the message of the protests,” said Vera Eidelman, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union. “If anything, the lesson from the last year, and decades, is not that we need to give more tools to police and prosecutors, it’s that they abuse the tools they already have.”