New Laws

New Laws

Two Months On, “Campus Carry” Goes Off in Georgia Without a Hitch

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Updated 8/28/17

Original story posted 7/2/17

A new “campus carry” bill became valid as of July 1st in the state of Georgia, and while the law was expected to cause some level of controversy, university students seem to have accepted the new law for the most part. For example, a forum organized by Augusta University on Tuesday, August 29th to discuss the new law was only attended by one person. In the wake of that news, the university’s chief of police James C. Lyon noted that he actually hasn’t fielded a single call from fears concerning the new bill, despite initial worries that it would cause controversy.

Georgia House Bill 280 allows people to carry a concealed weapon at public colleges and universities in the state. The bill requires that only those with a state weapons license can carry, and the state emphasized that to acquire a license, you still need to be older than 21, submit your fingerprints and pass a background check. The bill also prohibits concealed weapons from being carried into athletic venues, student housing, faculty offices and areas where high school students are present. With regard to the athletic venue prohibition, due to the popular football atmosphere in the state, the bill allows for concealed carry to happen in venue parking lots, as the practice of tailgating is especially common in the state.

While the bill didn’t generate much public grassroots actions, you can find supporters and critics among the individuals. For example, Earl Kang, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, says that there has always been a concern over someone breaking the law in a campus setting, so “campus carry will give us an opportunity to defend ourselves if necessary.” Betty Leigh Miller, a parent of a university student, also supports the bill, defining her position as such: “In the world we’re living in and everything that’s happening right now, the more people that can stop things from happening the better.” On the other side of the aisle, parent Nag Bondada expressed their worry succinctly: “It’s a distraction. You came here for learning, not for carrying arms, right?”

The main point of debate over the bill has centered around whether campus police could be trusted enough to stop a threat on their own. Despite this new allowance for civilian students to carry a weapon, campus police departments are doing their part to educate for the purpose of avoiding misunderstandings in the future. Chief Lyon says that Augusta University is developing a training program for their students and staff in the near future in order to get them more familiar with how to use their weapons properly and how to react to someone who has a concealed weapon on them. Augusta University Dean of Student Life Scott Wallace notes that the administration is modeling most of its policy on the ones implemented by universities in Texas and Colorado, who also have campus carry laws. “Other states have done this. We’re not trailblazers, in the state of Georgia, for this topic,” Wallace concedes.

Target urged to end transgender bathroom policy after 2nd man caught recording women undressing

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The American Family Association is praising Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for urging Target to re-examine its controversial transgender bathroom policies after a second man was caught recording women undressing in changing rooms.

 

“After this latest incident, I hope Target finally recognizes the importance of protecting its customers, especially in environments where they can be at their most vulnerable. I am offering them the resources of my office to help assist them in improving their safety procedures,” Paxton said in a message to Target last Friday.

 

Paxton was referring to police reports searching for a man who peered over a changing room wall with a cellphone at a Target store on Northwest Highway at Abrams. It is the second such incident reported, after a similar crime occurred back in May at a Target store in Frisco, Texas.

 

AFA, a conservative group that has lead a nationwide boycott against Target for allowing men to go into women’s bathrooms and dressing rooms if they identify as female, praised Paxton’s inquiry, arguing that he is taking a “courageous stand against Target’s unsafe and dangerous policy.”

 

“And he’s not afraid to step on some corporate toes to make sure companies don’t put women and children at risk from sexual predators,” the group added in a statement on Tuesday.

 

The AFA noted that Paxton sent a similar letter to Target’s corporate management back in May, where he said that allowing customers who are men according to their birth sex to go into women’s restrooms has the potential of leading to criminal activity.

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Source: Fox

ACC to Pull Title Games out of N.C. over Bathroom Bill

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It was one thing when the NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte over North Carolina’s House Bill 2 — a measure widely criticized as discriminatory toward the LGBT community — but mess with college sports in the Tar Heel State, and HB2 might really be in trouble.

On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced it would be relocating all neutral-site championships for the 2016-17 season from North Carolina over the state’s so-called “bathroom law” — legislation best known for barring transgender people from using government building bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities. The most notable championship the decision will cost the state is the ACC’s football title game, which was scheduled to take place in Charlotte.

Related: NCAA Pulls Seven Championships Out of North Carolina Over HB2

Wednesday’s action comes less than 48 hours after the NCAA sent a similar message to North Carolina, announcing it would pull seven championship events from the state in the coming school year over the controversial law.

It also follows months of protests and calls to repeal the measure, all of which have gone unheeded by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who’s running for re-election.

Yet given how important college sports are in North Carolina — a state that has hosted more men’s basketball tournament games (251) than any other in the last 65 years — lawmakers may now be under more pressure than ever to repeal HB2.

“College sports has been the biggest thing in North Carolina going back 70 years,” said Dr. Thad Williamson, an associate professor of leadership studies at the University of Richmond and author of the book, “More Than a Game: Why North Carolina Basketball Means So Much to So Many.”

Related: Opinion: NCAA Should Stand Up to Discriminatory Universities Like it Did to HB2

“For most people, it’s the thing that bonds families together. Seats get passed down to grandkids. It’s a huge part of everyday life in North Carolina,” Williamson said. “I think [the NCAA’s decision] is going to get a lot of people speaking about HB2 and realizing that nationwide revulsion against this law is not going away anytime soon.”

The loss of the games will undoubtedly add to the financial toll HB2 has already taken on the state.

In addition to the $100 million tourism experts believe the NBA All-Star game would have brought to North Carolina, the Charlotte Chamber has estimated an economic blow of $285 million and a loss of as many as 1,300 jobs in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region as a result of HB2. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, meanwhile, has projected the law could cost Raleigh as much as $40 million in convention business.

Companies like PayPal have backed out of major expansions in the state over the law, and musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Itzhak Perlman have canceled shows.

But college sports are different for North Carolinians and represent something more than dollar signs.

“[W]e’re a state that loves sports,” wrote Ed Hardin in an article that graced the front of the Greensboro News & Record’s sports page on Tuesday. “We’re a state that considers basketball and soccer and baseball and golf to be part of our identity. We’ve hosted a men’s postseason basketball tournament, ACC or NCAA, every year since 1985, but we won’t in 2017.”

“This is a blow to our way of life,” he said.

Related: NC Gov. Pat McCrory: Business Lobby Group Helped Shape LGBTQ Law

Still, some aren’t convinced the latest action against North Carolina will have much impact. The Republican leadership has already stood by HB2 through costly boycotts and multiple lawsuits against the state — including one spearheaded by the U.S. Justice Department — that some critics can’t imagine anything changing their minds at this point.

“It’s hard to believe that lawmakers in North Carolina haven’t already repealed the law, given the repercussions and clear disagreements that voters in the state have with it,” said Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com. “Will this be what pushes [the repeal effort] over the edge? I can’t get inside the heads of North Carolina Republicans.”

McCrory, who signed HB2 into law after a one-day special session last March, appeared as defiant as ever on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the NCAA had “failed to show… respect” for the states now grappling with questions of transgender rights and privacy concerns — an issue, he noted, that would ultimately be settled by the federal judiciary.

“I strongly encourage all public and private institutions to both respect and allow our nation’s judicial system to proceed without economic threats or political retaliation toward the 22 states that are currently challenging government overreach,” McCrory said, referencing two separate, multi-state lawsuits against the Obama administration’s guidance that public schools grant transgender students access to the bathrooms of their choice.

“Sadly,” said McCrory, “the NCAA, a multi-billion dollar, tax-exempt monopoly, failed to show this respect at the expense of our student athletes and hard-working men and women.”

A spokeswoman with the state Republican Party also spoke out against the NCAA’s move, calling it “so absurd it’s almost comical.”

“I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams,” said the spokeswoman, Kami Mueller, in a statement viewed by critics as a less-than-encouraging sign change would come from the legislature.

Yet, for their part, the two schools with perhaps the most to lose from the NCAA’s decision — Duke and the University of North Carolina — each came out in support of the action.

Related: Texas, Other States File to Support North Carolina’s HB2 Bathroom Law

“Duke agrees with the decision,” said the school’s president, Richard Brodhead, on MSNBC Tuesday. “It was the NCAA’s to decide, and obviously they have many things to try to compute, and I think at the end of the day they regarded this as a fairness and equal rights, equal protection kind of issue. Certainly that’s the way that we see it.”

North Carolina Rep. Darren Jackson, a Democrat who introduced a failed bill to repeal HB2 last session, told NBC News he would try again when the legislature reconvenes in January. The NCAA’s decision, he said, may help his cause.

“I think it’s certainly going to put it back on the front page. Though I don’t know if it will change the minds of our Republican governor and leadership,” he said. “They’re pretty dug in.”

LGBT rights activists, meanwhile, are confident the courts will side with them, even if lawmakers never will. Last month, a federal judge issued a limited injunction against HB2, saying the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on claims the law violates existing federal protections. The same judge is scheduled to hear the full challenge in May.

“If the legislature does not fix this, we are confident that the law will eventually be overturned in court,” said Mike Meno, communications director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “We’re optimistic that HB2’s days are numbered.”

Source: NBC News

Why Jerry Brown Should Veto AB 2844 In California

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A bill intended to suppress boycotts in support of human rights and social justice has passed the California Legislature over the opposition of the state Department of Finance, which predicted it could cost the state more than $140 million and get tied up in litigation – all for accomplishing nothing more than existing statutes already provide. For that reason alone, our fiscally minded Governor Jerry Brown, a man who once marched alongside worker champion Cesar Chavez, should veto AB 2844.

But it gets worse. The Israel lobby’s core goal with this proposed legislation – a phenomenon being replicated in about half the states’ legislatures — is to demonize and even outlaw boycott, divestment and sanctions (known as “BDS”) campaigns for Palestinian rights. These campaigns have gained momentum in recent years as more and more Americans become fed up with the unjust and untenable status quo in Israel/Palestine, propped up by billions in U.S. military aid.

Dozens of student governments have passed resolutions, and a growing number of mainstream churches have adopted boycott and/or divestment strategies after concluding that “engagement” with Israel or with corporations whose business activities uphold international law violations was ineffective. A recent Brookings Institution poll found 49 percent of Democrats would support sanctions against Israel for its illegal settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territory.

As passed, AB 2844’s convoluted, obtuse language would cast a pall of suspicion over anyone who pursues a “policy … against any sovereign nation or peoples recognized by the government of the United States, including, but not limited to, the nation and people of Israel.” It would force any entity – business or non-profit grant applicant – that wants to bid on a public state contract worth $100,000 or more to certify, under penalty of perjury – a felony – that this “policy” is not a pretext for “unlawful discrimination” under existing California civil rights law.

That this veneer of anti-discrimination language is itself a pretext is demonstrated by the fact that the word “discrimination” appeared nowhere in the bill’s early versions. But as the proponents’ repeated statements attest, it can’t hide what remains their goal: To single out, stigmatize and pave the way for suppression of those who advocate for Palestinian human rights, absurdly conflating criticism of a country’s policies with anti-Semitism.

Unlawful discrimination by state contractors is already prohibited under laws named in AB 2844. So taken at face value, this new law would be utterly redundant – except for the fact that it would open the door for a witch-hunt, involving creation of an unprecedented thought crime.

Under AB 2844, anyone may submit complaints to state officials, who would then have to investigate and possibly prosecute a business, or even nonprofit charitable institutions like churches, for boycotting products from illegal Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

And such complaints would surely come: Staunch defenders of Israel already deluge federal and state agencies, universities and mass media with allegations that critics of Israel, especially faculty and student groups, present a threat to Jewish students. Their complaints have been investigated — and consistently, resoundingly dismissed. But AB 2844 would provide them with more ammunition to obfuscate the distinction between acting on political principle and committing unlawful discrimination.

AB 2844 would have state employees act as thought police under a law that if signed, may qualify as the most vague statute ever. “Policy,” for instance, is not defined in the bill, nor anywhere in California’s codes. And a longstanding constitutional rule ensuring elementary due process dictates that a law must be extra clear in describing any act that might result in criminal prosecution. “Pretext for discrimination” is anything but clear.

Furthermore, the costs of implementing AB 2844 could be staggering. Asked for input from the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Attorney General’s Office, explicitly tasked with handling complaints until the last round of amendments, predicted it would cost $625,000 a year to receive complaints, investigate and possibly prosecute. Now, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and others will be responsible instead, but the costly mandate to investigate remains unchanged. Committee staff further estimate that the narrowed field of bidders resulting from companies or non-profits that refuse to sign the affidavits could cost the state an additional $140 million a year.

What’s this all about anyway?

Israeli officials and their U.S. surrogates are losing ground in their efforts to deflect growing criticism of Israel’s nearly 50-year-old military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights. Along with the occupation comes theft of Palestinian land for settlements that violate international law and longstanding official U.S. policy, escalating racism against non-Jews, the destruction of Palestinian homes, extrajudicial executions and the suffocating Gaza blockade. More and more Californians are responding to Palestinian civil society’s call for non-violent solidarity in the form of boycott and divestment campaigns to advance long-denied Palestinian human rights and freedom.

So instead, defenders of the status quo are trying to legislate against criticism with anti-boycott bills introduced in Congress and about half the states. Fortunately, civil libertarians are mobilizing to resist, not only in California but also in Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland, where efforts have been stymied. When a bill stalled in New York recently, Gov. Cuomo called the legislative process “tedious” and implemented draconian anti-boycott rules by executive order. Lawsuits are brewing.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, CODEPINK, Palestine Legal and many other civil and human rights organizations have come out in opposition to AB 2844 and similar bills, warning that such legislation threatens our First Amendment right to free speech and in the case of AB 2844, our Fifth Amendment right to due process.

2016-09-02-1472789784-1298098-BillofRights.jpg

A California Assembly Judiciary Committee analysis of an earlier version of AB 2844 remains pertinent because it addressed what are still the motives behind the bill: “It is difficult,” the consultant wrote, “to imagine legislation more clearly calculated to have a chilling impact on the exercise of protected speech.”

Legislators should pay attention to the growing number of constituents who support Palestinian rights, lest they find themselves on the wrong side of history. But even if these lawmakers are not yet on board with the cause, they should defeat AB 2844 because it undermines free speech wile robbing citizens of resources needed to provide vital services such as public education and health care.

For these reasons, we – members of the statewide Coalition to STOP AB 2844 – urge Governor Brown to reject this bill.

We commend Governor Brown for his past support of farm workers during their boycott campaigns and urge him to stand once again on the right side of history by vetoing AB 2844.

Please add your voice to our call for a veto. Sign one of the on-line petitions and contact the Governor directly:

Phone: 916-445-2841
FAX: 916-558-3160
Email Brown: https://govnews.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php

Post a comment on his “Contact” page: https://govnews.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php

NO on AB 2844 petitions:

About the Authors

David L. Mandel is an active member of the Sacramento chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace and the National Lawyers Guild, and has been coordinating the statewide coalition opposed to AB 2844. A longtime journalist and former legal aid manager, he lived in Israel for 10 years and is a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen.

Marcy Winograd, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, is a former congressional peace candidate who led a protest delegation to the office of the bill’s principal author, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica).

Source: Huff Post Crime

North Carolina transgender bathroom trial delayed

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The trial over a North Carolina law governing transgender restroom access is being pushed back by several months, an attorney for residents challenging the law said Friday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake partly granted a request to delay the North Carolina proceedings while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to hear a Virginia case on transgender restroom access, according to a brief entry in the federal court docket.

James Esseks, an ACLU lawyer on the team representing three transgender residents, said the judge’s order means the case will be pushed back from its November trial date until May.

The so-called HB2 law requires transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate, not their gender identity. It also limits other antidiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

The ACLU and the U.S. Justice Department are challenging the law, while North Carolina’s Republican governor and legislative leaders are defending it.

The Republican leaders had asked the court to halt the proceedings while the Supreme Court decides if it will take the Virginia case, which centers around a transgender high school student who is asking officials to allow him to use a male restroom.

Meanwhile, the transgender plaintiffs in North Carolina received a favorable ruling when a judge ruled that they must be allowed to use restrooms conforming to their gender identity. They have asked an appeals court to expand that ruling to all transgender people in the state, not just those involved in the lawsuit.

Esseks said the ACLU got behind the request for a delay because it wants to give the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals time to consider that request.

Source: Fox

The North Carolina “Bathroom Bill”

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The tide of American Culture is changing and it is becoming a more inclusive society.  This has given many gay, bisexual, and transgendered people the room to be who they are and enjoy the same rights as all American citizens,  However, there are many people who are still looking to exclude those that are different from the rest of us. 

Motions on Removal of the Confederate Flag

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After Dylann Roof killed 9 people in an African American church in South Carolina, current Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation in 2015 to have the confederat flag removed from the statehouse.

Lethal Injection

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The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that current lethal injection techniques could continue to be used.  Prisoners on death row filed suit stating that the current technique used fell under cruel and unusual punishment.

Marriage Equality

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50 years ago in the United States, homosexual residents began their cry for equal treatment under the law. In the 1970’s, the courts in this nation wouldn’t even think of hearing cases regarding the rights of homosexuals in this country let along any arguments regarding the legality of their relationships.The movement keep going and gained more and more traction as the homosexual community wished to have their relationships viewed in the same manner as heterosexual relationships.

Marijuana Legalization

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The landscape of the war on drugs has changed significantly within the past few years.  Currently, in many states, heroin addiction has reached epidemic proportions.  Also, the rising use of prescription drugs has prompted some state governments to implement restrictions on refills of narcotic medication.  Also, with the increase in the use of narcotic medication and the influence of big pharma over many aspects of healthcare, it has become common for people to look for alternatives to habit forming narcotics.