Gov. Cooper vetoed a bill that would have required the state’s attorney general to get approval from legislative leaders to settle lawsuits brought against the state. In his veto statement, the governor said, “The bill is unconstitutional and unwise, and would prevent the Attorney General from doing his job to protect the people of North Carolina.” SB 360 had passed the legislature with party-line votes.
The NC Supreme Court will examine the legal basis for recusal after two justices in a case currently before the court (Phil Berger, Jr., and Tamara Barringer) declined to voluntarily remove themselves because of conflict of interest when requested to do so by plaintiffs in the case. The court directed both parties to the case (NAACP v. Moore and Berger) to submit briefs addressing “the procedure the court should use in considering a recusal motion,” including whether the court has the authority to enforce involuntary recusal. NAACP v. Moore and Berger challenges the legality of two constitutional amendments approved in 2018, one capping the state income tax rate and the other requiring that voters show a photo ID. The NAACP sued NC House Speaker Tim Moore and NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, Sr., alleging that the amendments were unconstitutional because they were approved and placed on the ballot by General Assembly members who were elected from legislative districts that were unlawfully gerrymandered..
North Carolina school boards will have to continue to hold monthly public votes on their COVID-19 masking policies after NC House Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to repeal the public hearing requirement included in a recently passed state education bill. The North Carolina School Board Association had requested a change in the rule due to the increasing disruption of school board meetings by people opposed to the masking mandates.
A NC Superior Court justice, ruling that the Lincoln County School Board had the legal right to continue a mask-optional policy for students in the district, declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the board’s recent decision to institute the policy. Parents of 13 children had requested the restraining order, citing concerns about the effect on children and families of lifting a mask mandate.
In order to receive $7.9 million in funding for public schools, the Johnston County School Board has voted to comply with a County Board of Commissioners demand that teachers be disciplined or fired if they teach “that American historical figures weren’t heroes, undermine the U.S. Constitution in lessons or say that racism is a permanent part of American life.” April Lee, president of the Johnston County Association of Educators and an 8th-grade social studies teacher, referred to the Board of Commissioners’ action as “basically extortion,” saying, “They’re holding money hostage until they get a policy that is extreme enough for them to approve.”
The NC House passed a bill that would allow repeat offenders for driving while impaired and those who have a breathalyzer level of 0.15 percent or above to get back on the road more quickly and safely for essential activities. Backed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the NC Sheriffs’ Association, and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, SB 183 eliminates the 6-week waiting period for installing an ignition interlock device, making it immediately legal for offenders to drive to their jobs or other essential activities such as court-ordered treatment. It also provides some financial help to offset the cost of the device for low-income individuals. The device prevents a vehicle from being started until a breath-alcohol test is taken and measures clean. The bill will receive a final vote in the NC Senate before going to Gov. Cooper.