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Legislative News

Subcategories from this category: Action Alert, Call to Action, Legislative Session

RALEIGH – Leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly last night called a surprise special session to introduce legislation that would make sweeping changes to the state’s Board of Elections, Court of Appeals, judicial elections, executive branch appointments and more. Lawmakers had earlier reconvened to allocate funding for victims of Hurricane Matthew and other natural disasters but gave no advance notice of the second special session and additional legislation.

“These shameful partisan tricks undermine the will of North Carolina voters, waste precious taxpayer dollars, and will further erode the public’s trust in our state government,” said Karen Anderson, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “As we saw earlier this year with the surprise introduction and passage of the discriminatory, anti-LGBT House Bill 2, extreme legislation that is forced through without proper vetting and debate can have disastrous consequences for North Carolina. Such significant changes to our state’s elections and judicial systems should never be planned in secret and sprung on the public without advance notice. It’s particularly disgraceful that lawmakers have exploited the victims of Hurricane Matthew for partisan gain. These latest proposals could undercut the civil liberties of all North Carolinians.”

Earlier this year, North Carolina lawmakers convened a $42,000 one-day special session to introduce and pass House Bill 2, one of the nation’s most extreme laws targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people for discrimination, which prohibits local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people and bans many transgender people from public restrooms and other facilities that match their gender. The measure was introduced, passed, and signed into law in 12 hours. HB2 is being challenged in court by LGBT North Carolinians represented by the ACLU and Lambda Legal and has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business.

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By Karen Anderson
ACLU-NC Executive Director

For more than fifty years, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina has defended freedom and justice for all, no matter who is in office or what power they may wield. Our role is no different today. Our work to hold the government to the eternal promise of the Constitution continues.

So how does this week’s election impact the progress made on critical civil liberties issues such as voting rights, criminal justice, gender equity, reproductive justice or LGBTQ equality? I cannot answer those questions today, but let me reassure you that we at the ACLU-NC are wasting no time in preparing for the new political landscape.

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RALEIGH – A legislative report card released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) shows that during its 2015-2016 session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed or considered a wide range of bills that diminished legal rights and civil liberties for many who call North Carolina home, especially LGBTQ people, women, immigrants, victims of police abuse, and criminal defendants.

The report card grades North Carolina House representatives on their votes on six bills introduced in the 2015-2016 session and members of the state Senate on eight. All were opposed by the ACLU-NC because of their negative impact on civil liberties.

Many of those measures were signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory, including laws that

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By Mike Meno, ACLU-NC Communications Director

After leading the ACLU of North Carolina’s policy work for the last decade, Sarah Preston is moving on to become executive director of Lillian’s List of NC, a statewide community of individuals who work to recruit, train, promote and support pro-choice women running for public office in North Carolina.

As the ACLU-NC’s policy director, Sarah has lobbied elected officials on a wide range of civil liberties issues on the state and local level, served as one of our organization’s chief spokespeople in the media, and built our policy department from a one-woman shop to a four-person department committed to energizing and organizing ACLU-NC members around civil liberties issues across the state.

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RALEIGH – North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory today signed into law HB 972, which allows law enforcement agencies to keep officer worn body camera footage from the public unless ordered to release the footage by a court.

“Body cameras should be a tool to make law enforcement more transparent and accountable to the communities they serve, but this shameful law will make it nearly impossible to achieve those goals,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “People who are filmed by police body cameras should not have to spend time and money to go to court in order to see that footage. These barriers are significant and we expect them to drastically reduce any potential this technology had to make law enforcement more accountable to community members.”

Under the new law, body camera and dash camera footage are not public record. Law enforcement agencies have the discretion to release footage to people who are recorded, but if the agency denies a request to disclose the footage, the recorded individual must bring a claim in court to attempt to obtain the footage. There is no mechanism for law enforcement to release videos of public interest to the general public other than through a court order.

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