A bill to allow the creation of a “Choose Life” specialty license plate resurfaced Monday in the North Carolina Senate. The bill has been filed in previous legislative sessions as far back as 2008, though it’s never advanced. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate wouldn’t touch the bill with a 10-foot pole, but now, under Republican leadership, pro-choice advocates should be concerned with the bill’s possible success.

“But it’s just a specialty plate,” you say. “They aren’t requiring people to buy them. What’s the big deal?”

Never before has the state sanctioned a specialty plate with a decidedly political message or aim. The bill would also shuffle the money generated by each sale to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a network of religiously-affiliated pregnancy crisis centers that, as the bill requires, denies women information about all of their legal and medical options. Continue reading this post…

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N.C. GOP, is this the week for jobs?

Despite all the high-minded, feel-good rhetoric last fall about creating new jobs and saving the state from a budget crisis, one would be hard-pressed to find any evidence last week that GOP leaders in the North Carolina House and Senate were gung-ho about tackling what they’ve described as the number one legislative agenda item.

Newly-elected House Speaker Thom Tillis even wore and passed out to other legislators rubber bracelets that read, “Think Jobs” on the opening day of the new legislation session last week. He told his colleagues to snap themselves with it if they found themselves thinking about anything other than the economy.

From the list of introduced bills in both the House and Senate last week, the North Carolina taxpayer is left wondering: Exactly who’s paying for the doctor visits resulting from the bruises and lacerations from too much bracelet-snapping?

Out of 26 bills introduced last week, not a single piece of House or Senate legislation dealt with jobs, the economy or the state budget, which, by the way, faces a $3.7 billion shortfall this year. What GOP leaders did have time to do, apparently, was start in earnest their attacks on the poor, undocumented young people, community college students and public education.

Republicans’ election into the majority was clearly prompted by economic issues; the people spoke firmly. Voters want legislators to deal with pressing issues like job creation, the reversal of a downtrodden economy and the creation of a state budget that solves gaps while maintaining much-needed human services.

For all their usual talk about “mandates” from voters, Republicans sure did prove themselves uncaring last week. Legislators return to Raleigh this evening and tomorrow to start a new week doing the people’s business. Perhaps this week will be their turn-around: Lay off the social agenda and get to work for the people.

Update (01/31/2011, 8:14 a.m.): Why even get my hopes up? Carolina Journal: “NCGA Preview: Week of January 31. Health care, property rights, and charter schools top agenda.”

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Equality North Carolina Executive Director Ian Palmquist blasts N.C. state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam for taking too much time to worry about marriage when there are so many other pressing issues on the table:

The 2009 legislative session has just begun and our state faces huge challenges: rising unemployment, a growing budget shortfall, crumbling infrastructure, and a broken mental health system, to name a few.

So what does NC House Republican Leader Paul Stam spend his time worrying about? Creating jobs? Repairing bridges? Helping those who’ve lost everything in the downturn?

Nope. He’s too busy making sure that my partner and I don’t have-and will never have-any rights or recognition in this state.

Yep, within the first hours of the session, Stam made clear that writing anti-gay discrimination into North Carolina’s constitution was a top priority for him this session.

He doesn’t have real ideas or solutions for dealing with the huge problems we’ve got, but he has a plan to “save” marriage. (He hasn’t managed to explain how letting more loving, committed couples participate in the institution of marriage will damage it in any way, but never mind that.)

What Stam and his cronies don’t like to talk about is that their proposal isn’t just about denying equal access to marriage for same-sex couples. It’s about denying absolutely any sort of recognition or protection for those couples.

No civil union. No domestic partnership. No joint health insurance.

Read the rest at NC Policy Watch.