State Laws Affect Chapel Hill And Carrboro

Laws passed by the North Carolina General Assembly last year are now in effect that will limit the authority of local governments. Chapel Hill town attorney Ralph Karpinos presented some of these changes to the town council in their work session Wednesday night.

“As you probably have heard just by watching the media there’s not a lot of good news,” he said. “Most of it has been was in which the general assembly has been trying to reduce the authority of the town and other local governments.”

Towns in North Carolina derive their powers from the General Assembly, meaning the assembly can regulate what towns are able to do. One change made this year was to limit local government’s ability to regulate firearms.

“Prior to the 2015 session of the General Assembly, local regulation of the possession, ownership, transfer, sale, purchase, storage, licensing and registration of firearms was prohibited,” he said. “In 2015 the legislature added to this list taxation, manufacture and transportation.”

Should a local government attempt to regulate one of these issues, a person may file a lawsuit seeking damages and court costs. Karpinos said they still have the authority to regulate the discharge and display of firearms.

The General Assembly also prohibited towns from issuing sanctuary city ordinances.

“This is in large part a response to actions that were taken or reported to have been taken by a number of cities around the state, including Chapel Hill,” Karpinos said.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro had been sanctuary cities for several years, meaning that local police do not turn undocumented residents over to federal authorities, if the resident has no history of violence or felony behavior.

The law also prohibits the use of documents issue by a foreign consulate as acceptable documentation, but councilwoman Maria Palmer said the town was working on creating a local ID to give to immigrants.

“That legislation does authorize the use of locally-issued IDs, if the police accept them,” Palmer said. “We’re working right now with Centro Hispano and the chiefs of police in Carrboro and Chapel Hill and the sheriff to start issuing that documentation starting in February.”

NAACP Protests Cont., “Not Just A Black Issue”

CHAPEL HILL – Members of the Chapel Hill Carrboro NAACP joined others Monday for a rally in Raleigh—this coming after last week’s protest where 17 were arrested, and more than two dozen were arrested again.

Bishop Larry Reid was one of the several Chapel Hill residents arrested. He’s a Vice President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP chapter

At 5:30 this evening, Reid is urging people of all races to take part in another “wave of civil disobedience.”

***There are conflicting reports about the number of those arrested. WRAL reports 30 people were arrested while the AP says there were 27.

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver says all are likely to face misdemeanor charges similar to the 17 NAACP protesters arrested last Monday. Those arrested this week include members of the social justice group Raging Grannies, several university professors, and the son of state NAACP president Rev. William Barber.


NAACP Protest Flyer

“It’s not just a black issue. That’s the way it was played off last Monday night. People made it out to be heavily laced in black folks and said that all it is. But that’s not the issue. It’s far from it,” Reid said.

Along side NAACP NC Chapter president Rev. William Barber last week, Reid and other activists participated in a “pray in”— or demonstrations through prayer and song. The protest took place inside the state Legislative Building. Reid says the arrest was worth it to prove his point.

“What’s being done in the house is not just being directed at African Americans—it’s directed at the vote, it’s being directed to de-power the people,” Reid said.

Protestors will gather outside of the state legislature this evening. Reid says Raleigh law enforcement warned him and others not to protest inside the State Legislative Building again.

Some of the issues they are protesting include limitations to voter rights—like the Voter ID bill, which passed in the House in April. It requires voters to show photo identification at the polls. Members of the NAACP view the bill as a form of poll tax. Reid also believes it’s not right that federal funding to expand Medicaid was rejected. He believes these issues will affect many North Carolinians.

Reid hopes that if more people protest, state leaders will acknowledge their presence.

“And the issues are that they refuse to give us an ear to hear the complaints of the people,” Reid said. “While they were looking down upon on us from their solarium above, they were thinking, ‘Oh there’s only a handful of them. That’s not enough to get our attention. Throw them out of here.’”

He said he did not receive a response following last week’s protests.

The NAACP will hold a candlelight vigil outside of the  State Legislative Building Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.

UNC Student Arrested During Protest: “We Felt Like We Had No Other Option”

CHAPEL HILL –Two UNC students were arrested Wednesday in Raleigh during in a protest of more than 350 people. The group rallied against a recent wave of controversial state legislation.

“In this moment, we felt like we had no other option,” said UNC senior Zaina Alsous.

The group, NC Student Power Union, mobilized hundreds of college students from 10 universities across the state on May Day.

Alsous and fellow UNC student Carissa Morrison were both charged with disorderly conduct. Morrison was also charged with misdemeanor assault on a government official. Five students in total were taken into custody.

The rally began at the NC State Bell Tower and ended at the NC State Legislature. Protestors held a banner that read: “We Demand a Future! Stop budget cuts! Stop racist voter laws! Stop attacks on workers!”

This coming just two days after 17 people were arresting during an NAACP demonstration against a House-supported voter ID bill.

“We hope that other community members will see what is going on and express their discontent as well. We know that these policies are incredibly unpopular,” Alsous said.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget cuts to the UNC System total more than $140 million.

“I don’t know any college who wants to pay more for tuition, who wants to lose their financial aid, and with these budget cuts, more than 8,000 students would lose financial aid,” Alsous said.

Art Pope is McCrory’s budget director –Alsous believes with the proposed budget cuts, affordable and accessible higher education is being put at risk.

“We’ve had call-in days where hundreds of calls have been made to Pope and well as Governor McCrory urging them to stop attacking public education. And we’ve never gotten a response,” Alsous said.

Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, and the Southern Workers Assembly delivered messages of support for the students’ protest.

Alsous said the protests will continue throughout the summer.

NC Legislature Unpopular With Voters, According To New Poll

CHAPEL HILL – There’s been a wave of legislation coming out of the state legislature lately—and a new poll finds that North Carolinians aren’t too happy about it.

Tom Jensen works for Public Policy Polling in Raleigh. He explains the PPP’s new poll gauged how North Carolinians feel about what’s going-on in Raleigh right now.  The group surveyed 601 state voters from April 11 to 14.

“Approval numbers for the republicans in the state legislature have always been pretty bad, but they really are getting worse now as we get deep into this legislative session,” Jensen said.

The poll found that 52 percent of voters disapprove of Republicans as a whole running the state government while only 38 percent approve.

“I think it’s because so many controversial bills have been proposed by the republicans in the legislature and what we’re finding is that most of the bills are not popular with the public at large,” he said.

57 percent of North Carolinians do not approve of Senate Bill 667  or “Equalize Voter Rights,” which seeks to prohibit parents from claiming children who are registered to vote in their college communities as dependents on their tax returns.

“Even though republicans in the legislature are pushing it is that actually republican voters are opposed to it in addition to democrats and independents,” Jensen explained.

Additionally, 59 percent of voters oppose Senate Bill 666 that would reduce the numbers of early voting days from 17 to 10.

“And of course people in Orange County, even more so than in other parts of the state, have really taken advantage of early voting over the years to the extent that there are fewer people voting on Election Day generally.”

Though the state’s legislature is not popular with North Carolinians right now, the PPP poll shows that NC Governor Pat McCrory continues to be popular with an approval rating sitting at 49%. Jensen says that’s a very good number for a politician these days. He says McCrory’s numbers have been steadily positive since he was elected.

NC Gov. McCrory’s Popularity Remains Positive, State Government Drops

CHAPEL HILL – A new poll shows that NC Governor Pat McCrory continues to be popular with an approval rating is sitting at 49 percent right now, according to data collected by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh.

“49 percent is a very good number for a politician these, especially these days when voters are really just down on politicians,” Tom Jensen of PPP.

The poll shows that 36 percent of North Carolinians disapprove of McCrory’s job performance. Jensen says this is in large part because 31 percent of registered Democrats approve of the governor.

Jensen compared McCrory’s numbers in his first four months in office to his predecessor, former Governor Bev Perdue (Dem.). He says McCrory’s numbers have been steadily positive, whereas Perdue’s numbers dropped every month during the first six months after she was elected.

Public opinion of Republican-controlled state legislature, though, is not on-par with McCrory’s positive numbers.

‘When voters think about the state government as a whole, they are really not that happy,” Jensen said.

52 percent of voters disapprove of Republicans as a whole running the state government while only 38 percent approve. Jensen says this is because of the wave of legislation pouring out of the state legislature lately.

‘What we’re finding is that most of these controversial proposals are not popular with the public at-large. You sort of see the national media mocking North Carolina for these proposed bills,” Jensen said. “Average North Carolina voters don’t support them and that’s why you see the numbers so low.”