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Friday, April 29, 2016

HB2: Or, Dialogue and Democracy

The News & Observer, April 28, 2016:

State Senate Democrats’ proposal to repeal House Bill 2 appears to be dead just a day after it was filed.

On Wednesday, senators Terry Van Duyn of Asheville, Jeff Jackson of Charlotte and Mike Woodard of Durham filed Senate Bill 784, which would repeal the controversial LGBT law in its entirety. The bill is identical to one filed Monday by House Democrats.

Senate leaders signed the bill to committees on Thursday. Because of a budget item included, its first stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee. But if it got approval from that panel, its second assigned stop is the Senate Ways and Means Committee – which is something of an inside joke in the Senate.

The three-member Ways and Means Committee hasn’t held a meeting in years. It’s widely known as the graveyard of the Senate – the place where Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca sends legislation that he wants to kill.

So it’s virtually certain that the repeal bill will never make it to the Senate floor for a full vote.

The Way & Means Committee has three members. One is Sen. Terry Van Duyn, one of the co-sponsors of the repeal HB2 bill. The ice chair is Andrew Brock, a party man with fourteen years’ senate seniority despite being only 42.

The committee chair is Tom Apodaca. The committee only meets at the call of the chair.

The HB2 repeal bill will join sixteen public education improvement measures, two for historic preservation incentives, and one calling for an independent redistricting commission.

Yet, in the Republican vision of transparency in government, you can sign up for an email notification of when the committee that never meets holds a meeting. I did.

On the House side, the repeal HB2 bill has been sent to the Judiciary IV committee, which took thirty minutes to approve HB2 and send it back to the House floor for passage March 23.

Shortly after he issued an executive order Tuesday on House Bill 2, Governor Pat McCrory told Tim Boyum of Time Warner Cable News that the time was right for “dialogue” between supporters and opponents of the new law. “Why don’t we have a conversation about it and see our differences, and understand our differences and understand the passion?,” McCrory said. “Isn’t that what we should have instead of just threats and signs and soundbites on the news and headlines? Let’s have a conversation.”

Now we are five weeks into the McCrory Age of Safe Peeing. The Governor- perhaps recognizing that the General Assembly is not a place where dialogue happens- has switched his tune. Now he says liberals, transgender people, and the mean gays overwhelmed the municipal government of Charlotte to pass an antidiscrimination law to force the General Assembly to pass HB2 to force a backlash against McCrory’s re-election bid. The mastermind of the Baldrickian clever plan, he says is the Human Rights Campaign, a group he didn’t know existed a month ago; couldn’t remember the name of on Meet The Press three weeks ago; and declared more powerful than the NRA- America’s most powerful interest group- shortly after that.

Yet with all that horsepower, the road to HB2’s repeal dead-ends in Tom Apodaca’s Ways & Means Committee.

Go figure.

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