Lawmakers probably experienced a serious case of the Mondays yesterday when Rev. William Barber showed up inside the legislative building with an army of Moral Monday protesters. They all had duct tape over their mouths to protest the new building rules passed last week, carrying signs that said "Silence can be loud." As I wrote in the previous edition of this series, the Legislative Services Commission, a committee of eight Republicans and two Democrats that hasn't met since 1999, came together and quickly passed new rules limiting protests at the legislative building. Such groups must now reserve space ahead of time at the building's main entrance, and groups expecting over 200 people will not be granted a reservation. Additionally, anyone who "disturbs" legislators via noises, mean signs or really anything else a lawmaker considers unpleasant (the rules leave it up to their discretion) will be forced to leave the building.
People appear to be listensing to the protesters; newspaper front pages across the state carried this story.
But what are legislators listening to?
It appears they're listening to parents and teachers who want better public education. They are searching high and low for extra money to allocate toward building more schools. HB 1107, which would restore the use of North Carolina's education lottery proceeds for school construction, passed its first reading and has been referred to the committee on appropriations. It also begs the question, why the hell did they stop using it for schools in the first place?
SB 795 would authorize counties to levy a quarter of a cent sales tax increase for school construction and restoration. It all sounds great until you get to the bottom of the bill and it states it applies to Onslow County only.
My favorite bill filed yesterday was Joint Resolution 1128, which would make it illegal to profit off of publishing mugshots. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Brawley (R-Iredell) and Glazier (D-Cumberland), has bipartisan support and requires the removal of mugshots and criminal record information from print publications and websites if the person is acquitted or charges are dismissed.