scharrison's blog

NC Legislature's new sexual harassment training falls short


Required for staffers, but voluntary for powerful lawmakers:

When the N.C. General Assembly’s top staffer announced plans last week to roll out sexual harassment training for state lawmakers and legislative employees, some state lawmakers hailed the move as a good first step.

But women’s rights advocates and experts in workplace sexual harassment tell Policy Watch that the training, which is voluntary for lawmakers, might not go far enough. “This strikes me as not a real effort to effect meaningful change,” said Laura Noble, a North Carolina attorney who specializes in workplace litigation and sexual harassment.

At least one of the drawbacks for keeping this "voluntary" for lawmakers has to do with perception. While those who are prone to unethical behavior usually don't realize it, and would likely skip the training, those who aren't prone to that consider themselves enlightened enough to not need it. But a big part of this training is designed to teach that second (and hopefully much larger) group how to spot red flags, and take steps to intervene when necessary. And it's almost always necessary, if you really want to stop the behavior. Which brings up a third group of people, who are not abusers but also want to maintain plausible deniability that anything wrong is happening right in front of their noses. In many ways, that last group is worse than the first. Here's more:

NC Republican chastised for falsely claiming she's a nurse

And I bet she doesn't have a bridge for sale, either:

A North Carolina legislator misidentified herself as a registered nurse until recently, when the state Board of Nursing contacted her and asked her to stop. State Rep. Beverly Boswell, a Republican from Dare County, is a medical assistant and phlebotomist — someone who's trained to draw blood — who was first elected in 2016 to represent NC House District 6. A member of the NC House health committee, Boswell has filed bills to allow chiropractors to conduct physical examinations, establish life at conception and exempt some eye surgeries from the state's permitting laws, among other health-related bills.

Boswell identified herself as a registered nurse on her campaign website and Facebook page until mid-March, when the N.C. Board of Nursing, responding to a complaint, asked her to stop doing so, board spokesman David Kalbacker said on Tuesday.

I'm sure she could still get a job at one of those Crisis Pregnancy Centers, since being adept at bullshit is pretty much the only qualification...

Why Roy Cooper should *not* choose Burley Mitchell as #9

His support for bible-thumping Paul Newby cannot be ignored:

Tom Fetzer, a former state GOP chairman and former Raleigh mayor, said that he has formed an independent expenditure campaign finance group along with two former Supreme Court chief justices, Burley Mitchell and I. Beverly Lake Jr., designed to assist in the re-election of Newby. It is called the North Carolina Judicial Coalition.

This one is bad enough to warrant two strikes against Mitchell. First, for supporting the worst Justice who has ever donned one of those robes, and second for being a conduit for hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence such an important election, with a lot of that money coming from out of state. And strike number three is the fact Burley Mitchell has snuggled into Art Pope's network of bent think-tanks, joining such notables as Virginia Foxx (ugh) and Robert Shibley of FIRE, notable for pushing the worst campus speakers and whining when administrations don't want White Supremacists marching around. Do we want this man casting the tie-breaking vote on NC's election issues? That was a rhetorical question...

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Inducted into the hall of shame:

I seem to recall several folks telling me we shouldn't engage in opposition research during that campaign, that we should just present positives of our candidate because voters were tired of negative ads. Apparently they weren't tired enough...

NC Legislature fails the Sunshine test

Kirk Ross drops a whole salvo of truth bombs:

Communications between legislators and also between legislators and staff in the crafting of laws are among the few documents exempt from the state’s public records laws. The legislature’s requirements for county and municipal government agendas, meeting materials to be available well ahead of time does not apply to its own meetings.

The argument for legislative confidentiality, derived from English common law, is that the legislative process requires this privilege in order for agreements to be worked out. It’s a perfectly valid sounding rationale, but so unlimited and unchecked that it has long been intensely abused. It’s used to hide favors, fund pet projects and anonymously insert language into legislation.

I'm not even sure it sounds valid. Think about it: If lawmakers must have secrecy to agree to something, it naturally follows they're concerned about negative consequences if those communications came to light. Whether it's a strategic thing, where they don't want to give potential opponents to the measure a fair warning, or a personal concern, where they don't want to be associated with a controversial and maybe even unconstitutional act, it almost doesn't matter. They know they're on the wrong side of something, and they're trying to conceal it. Not just from other lawmakers, but from the general public. Which brings us back (once again) to the area of ethics, which should be just as important in holding lawmakers accountable as punishable crimes are. Back to the article, and what Kirk describes as the "black box":

Meet Supreme Court candidate Anita Earls

From the Governor on firearm regulations and school shootings

This is what responsible leadership sounds like:

In North Carolina, we also need to strengthen the background check system to make our communities safer and keep guns from violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. Right now, anyone buying a handgun in our state has to apply for a permit through the local sheriff’s office, a process that includes a federal background check and an OK from the sheriff. This system allows time for appropriate checks to take place before someone can legally buy a handgun. But our law has a glaring loophole since this background check and permit process isn’t required to buy an assault weapon like an AR-15, the weapon used in Parkland. It should be.

Honestly, this seems like a no-brainer. No matter how the right-wing gun-nutters twist, equating an AR-15 with a hunting rifle or shotgun is patently absurd. Hell, you can't even duck hunt unless your shotgun is plugged to only hold three shells, but thirty high-velocity rounds in each clip is "just fine"? Here's more, which will no doubt infuriate the Ammosexuals:

Trump's assault on the safety net will hit Medicaid first


And the suffering will be beautiful and shiny:

During last year’s fight against efforts in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act, poll after poll showed most Americans opposed Medicaid cuts that would turn back the clock on decades of civil rights progress for people with disabilities.

But in 2018 we face a new looming threat: Medicaid work requirements, recently permitted by the Trump administration in three states: Kentucky, Indiana and — just this week — Arkansas. Work requirements like these could cause serious harm to hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities or serious illnesses, costing many of them their Medicaid coverage.

This is (just one more) reason why taking back the Legislature is so crucial. Trump and his GOP enablers (or is it the other way around?) are determined to cleanse the Federal government of entitlement programs, and they've discovered the best way to do that without suffering at the voting booth is to shift that burden down to the states, 2/3 of which are now controlled by the GOP. And the really disgusting part is, Republicans already know people who really need and deserve this coverage will lose it, but they don't care:


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