School is out for the summer! Typically that would mean backyard barbecues, lazy days, swimming, bonfires, s'mores, barefoot running, and road trips. In North Carolina it means Moral Mondays are going to be back in full force and they are going to be bigger than last year by all indications.
To celebrate their return, this satirical video about Moral Mondays has been posted on YouTube.
What will the protesters protest this year? Here is a sample list of what has happened legislatively with the Republican supermajority during this past year:
- The State Legislature has made it illegal to "disturb" peace in the State Legislative buildings. Aimed at Moral Monday protests, this law was challenged by the NAACP and was temporarily suspended by a Wake County Judge.
- The State Senate introduced a budget that cut the majority of teaching assistants from classrooms and also bumped the elderly, the blind, and the disabled off the Medicaid roll.
- The State Senate's budget also includes a pay raise scale for teachers (ranked 46th in the nation at this time) only if they give up career status. Caveat: the pay will remain at $50,000 for years 20-29 of experience and cap at $56,129, thus cleverly disincentivizing teacher pension. A NC court had ruled that teachers cannot be stripped of what they have earned. Hence, this bill forces teachers to give up their earned career status voluntarily in order to receive the pay raise.
- The House presented a budget that spared the teaching assistants. However, the 5% pay raise it proposes is to be funded partially by the increase in revenue from the state lottery that may or may not happen.
- The legislators also struck down the incentives for the thriving NC film industry. Big name shows such as "Under the Dome", "Sleepy Hollow", "Eastbound and Down", "Homeland" are filmed in NC. Big movies such as "Ironman 3", "We are the Millers", "Safe Haven", "The Conjuring" and many others were filmed in Wilmington, NC, which is home to EUE/Screen Gems Studios. When an emergency amendment was filed by three State Representatives to extend the incentives, Thom Tillis, who is running for the Senate against Kay Hagan, reportedly went behind their back to defeat the amendment. When called out as having "double-crossed" by Rep. Susi Hamilton, one of the three to introduce the Amendment, he said patronizingly that she spoke "from emotions". Up to 3000 jobs will disappear from the Wilmington area if the incentives are dropped.
- A bill was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory to allow fracking in North Carolina with a healthy amount of incentive from the state's tax payers for the fracking companies to explore in the state. The bill prohibits the disclosure of fracking chemicals and allows drilling even if the landowner objects.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. The North Carolina state legislators have been busy this past year passing these laws at a dizzying rate. The Moral Monday protesters will be busy this summer, too.