NC GOP PUSHES FOR HARSHER SCHOOL SUSPENSION GUIDELINES: North Carolina Republican lawmakers want to toughen how school discipline is handled, but Democrats warn that a change could lead to more minority students being suspended and dropping out. The N.C. House approved legislation on Thursday that removes language from state law listing violations not serious enough for a long-term school suspension. That includes inappropriate language, noncompliance, dress code violations and minor physical alterations. Those four examples were added to the law in 2011 in a bipartisan effort to reduce long-term suspensions of more than 10 days. The belief was that if students were in school more, they’d be less likely to have poor grades and drop out when they fell behind.
REPUBLICANS THUMP THEIR BIBLES IN PUSHING ANTI-ABORTION BILLS: The House voted 67-42 for a bill that would make it illegal to obtain an abortion specifically because of the presumed race of the fetus or because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. Backers said the measure is needed to prevent discrimination against the disabled, but opponents said it's merely another attempt to interfere with a woman's right to legally terminate a pregnancy. "Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy to term against their will does absolutely nothing to address discrimination," said Rep. Julie von Haefen, D-Wake, adding that lawmakers would be better served expanding services for the disabled. Quoting the Bible, Republican House members said they were only trying to recognize the dignity of all unborn children, including those with Down syndrome. "Abortion is one of the blights of this world," said Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort. "Every child is worth everything."
ALAMANCE COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT SPECIFICALLY TARGETING BLACK PROTESTERS: Following three arrests Wednesday, Alamance County organizers expressed frustration with what they describe as constantly shifting, unconstitutional and discriminatory regulations concerning public demonstrations in Graham. "I'm just tired of this system," said Avery Harvey. "This whole thing is quite tiring." "Yesterday, when Avery was arrested he was standing with [a group of] white people and they came for him and only him," said Occupy Graham organizer Carey Griffin. "I'm just angry." Last week marked the first time officers arrested Occupy demonstrators as they protested the killing of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, N.C. In an official statement on the behalf of Occupy Graham, Griffin condemned both the arrests and what she described as biased enforcement. "We continue to see that they are targeting these two black men and black leadership in Alamance County that are part of the Black Lives Matter movement," Griffin said. "We are fed up and are no longer going to stand for it. It's uncalled for." Members of the sheriff's office and Graham police declined comment on Wednesday.
STEFANIK GOES FULL-ON TRUMP IN HER EFFORT TO REPLACE LIZ CHENEY: Rep. Elise Stefanik on Thursday emphasized her support for former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen through voter fraud as she seeks to lock down support to replace Rep. Liz Cheney as the third-ranking House Republican. Stefanik (N.Y.) appeared Thursday morning on the podcast of former Trump campaign and White House aide Stephen K. Bannon, where she sought to make the case that she is a reliable supporter of Trump and devoted to his brand of nationist populism, distancing herself from her ties to the old establishment wing of the party and her moderate voting record in Congress. Trump and many of his allies have rallied around Stefanik to succeed Cheney as chair of the House GOP Conference after the Wyoming Republican made clear she would continue to publicly challenge Trump’s false claims about the election and place blame on him for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. Appearing on Bannon’s show less than a week before Republicans are expected to vote Cheney out, Stefanik sought to cement her place in leadership by giving credence to unfounded theories about election fraud, including in Arizona. With Trump in the White House, Stefanik voted against some of his policy proposals, including the 2017 tax cuts because she said the limits on local and state tax deductions would hurt her constituents. But she emerged as a strong ally during his first impeachment trial in 2019, serving as a leading defender of his actions toward Ukraine, which were the subject of Democrats’ attempt to remove the president from office. She has backed Trump’s false claims about the election since he first started making them after his defeat to Biden. It’s that record she is highlighting now as a contrast to Cheney, who expects to lose her job for arguing that backing the president’s falsehoods amounts to an attack on democracy.
TEXAS FOLLOWS FLORIDA IN PASSING VOTER SUPPRESSION LEGISLATION: Hours after Florida installed a rash of new voting restrictions, the Republican-led Legislature in Texas pressed ahead on Thursday with its own far-reaching bill that would make it one of the most difficult states in the nation in which to cast a ballot. The Texas bill would, among other restrictions, greatly empower partisan poll watchers, prohibit election officials from mailing out absentee ballot applications and impose strict punishments for those who provide assistance outside the lines of what is permissible. After a lengthy debate that lasted into the early morning hours on Friday, the State House of Representatives passed the measure in a 81-64 vote, largely along party lines, at about 3 a.m., following a flurry of amendments that had been spurred by Democratic protests and a Democratic procedural move known as a point of order. After the early-morning vote, Sarah Labowitz, policy and advocacy director of the A.C.L.U. of Texas, said in a statement, “Under cover of darkness, the Texas House just passed one of the worst anti-voting bills in the country.” She added, “Texans deserve better than to wake up and find out that lawmakers jammed through a law that will make participating in our democracy harder and scarier.” Florida and Texas are critical Republican-led battleground states with booming populations and 70 Electoral College votes between them. The new measures the legislatures are putting in place represent the apex of the current Republican effort to roll back access to voting across the country following the loss of the White House amid historic turnout in the 2020 election. Iowa and Georgia have already passed bills that not only impose new restrictions but grant those states’ legislatures greater control over the electoral process. Republicans have pressed forward with these bills over the protests of countless Democrats, civil rights groups, faith leaders, voting rights groups and multinational corporations, displaying an increasing no-apologies aggressiveness in rolling back access to voting.