Monday, April 25, 2016

A Couple of Odds and Ends

1.  Can we talk in a civil fashion about "climate change?" Or is even raising the possibility of such a discussion grounds to be investigated by over-reaching state attorneys general as some species of fraud or to be hounded by those who cannot understand questioning what they accept as gospel?

2.  In the controversy over North Carolina House Bill 2, how many times has anyone offered to let you read the actual bill? Here it is:

You might note the following: (1) the bill has no impact on private businesses (theaters, gyms, private schools, private universities, restaurants, coffee house, bars, private arenas where sports are played, hotels, motels, stores, shops, salons, barbershops, etc) which are free to allow their patrons to access restrooms and other facilities as they see fit); (2) North Carolina is not a pure
home rule state in which:
. . . an amendment to the state constitution grants cities, municipalities, and/or counties the ability to pass laws to govern themselves as they see fit (so long as they obey the state and federal constitutions)

North Carolina is mostly a non-home rule state:
In other states, only limited authority has been granted to local governments by passage of statutes in the state legislature. In these states, a city or county must obtain permission from the state legislature if it wishes to pass a law or ordinance which is not specifically permitted under existing state legislation. Most non-home rule states apply the principle known as Dillon's Rule to determine the bounds of a municipal government's legal authority.
Why does that matter? HB2 was passed as a response to a city of Charlotte ordinance that the state legislature found to be outside of the power granted to the city by the state legislature. As set out in the Charlotte Observer:
In a one-day specially convened session Wednesday, North Carolina’s legislature passed a sweeping law that reverses a Charlotte ordinance that had extended some rights to people who are gay or transgender.

The law passed by the General Assembly and signed that same night by Gov. Pat McCrory goes further than a narrow elimination of Charlotte’s ordinance, which had generated the most controversy by a change that protected transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity. The new law also nullified local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.

The state has long had laws regulating workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations, minimum wage standards and other business issues. The new law – known as HB2, the Charlotte bathroom bill or, more officially, as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – makes it illegal for cities to expand upon those state laws, as more than a dozen cities had done including Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.

North Carolina’s new law sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual orientation – people who are gay – was never explicitly protected under state law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage.
Transgender people who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted on their birth certificates have no legal right under state law to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. Cities and counties no longer can establish a different standard. Critics of the Charlotte ordinance cite privacy concerns and say it was “social engineering” to allow people born as biological males to enter women’s restrooms.

McCrory’s office says businesses aren’t limited by the bill, and that private companies and private universities can adopt new or keep existing nondiscrimination policies. Private businesses can establish their own practices concerning LGBT employees and customers; the new law does not allow so-called “public policy common law” complaints in state courts to challenge those practices.
Now, some of rub comes when private activities occur in state or municipally owned facilities.

The NFL Carolina Panthers play in Bank of America stadium, which is privately owned. The ownership of that stadium would appear to be free to allow access to restrooms as they choose.

The NBA Charlotte Hornets, however, play in Time Warner Cable Arena, which is owned by the City of Charlotte. The area would appear to be barred from violating state law, either for basketball games or for any concerts held in this or other municipal arenas.

I leave it for you to decide whether the millionaire owners of sports teams should be subsidized in having arenas built at taxpayer expense and, thus, submitting themselves to state regulation of restroom usage.

And the same question can be asked of any city or county that owns such facilities.

Let's try for another clarification from an NC law professor:
“It creates a state-wide non-discrimination ordinance and public accommodations which we’ve never had before, which is a perfectly good thing to do,” Clarke said. “But it, of course, limits the protection categories to race, age, national origin, religion, color and biological sex to avoid any potential expansion of that in the courts.”

Clarke said the law goes beyond the stated goals.

“Then it deals with employment, so it deals with things that are utterly unrelated to LGBT rights, to bathroom usage, to public accommodations. And it deals specifically and directly with employment,” Clarke said.

The law addresses the minimum wage, and does not allow any local government to set a minimum wage.

“The legislature took that power expressly away, so forbade any local government from raising the minimum wage beyond what federal and state law require,” Clarke said.
You might note that the law itself offers up the right of state entities to provide single-occupancy facilities "on demand," as a reasonable accommodation for those individuals whose sexual identity is not drive by their biological sex.

So that's what the big fuss is about. Plus it's an election year and the Republicans control the state legislature which the other party is mobilizing its forces to attempt to change. It is also worth noting that the NC State Attorney General, a Democrat, is running for governor and has decreed his opposition to HB2:
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said on Tuesday that his office will not go to court to argue to uphold the state law adopted last week that strikes down locally enacted protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Cooper, a Democrat running for governor, called the measure “a national embarrassment” that “will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t repeal it.”
He might have added, "But I see it as a tool to be used in trying to get elected governor."

UPDATE: (all bolding above is mine)

3. General Mattis is smart:
But he also noted that the next president will have a lot of problems to deal with, and that the United States is poorly situated to deal with them. Iran, he said, is seeking domination, not peace. Observed Mattis: "(Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) summed it up very well when he said those who say that the future lies in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors. ... That is the Supreme Leader. I think we should take him at his word."
yes, it is usually a bad idea to ignore someone who says he wants to kill you.

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