I hope everyone is having a good week and had a nice Easter weekend. The legislature was in session last Wednesday to pass a bill dealing with Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance. I will go over the bill in the Legislation Recap section below.
Question of the Week
Thank you to everyone who responded to last week’s question about your experience showing a photo ID to vote in this past primary election.This was the first election to be held in North Carolina where a photo ID was required. I was pleased to hear that no one had any problems showing an ID. Some people did mention that they noticed slightly slower lines, but nothing of significant inconvenience.
This week, I would like to get your opinion on the role of the Attorney General in North Carolina. Do you think that the Attorney General should be able to choose what laws they defend in court? If so, then what guidelines should the Attorney General use when making that decision?
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist you in any way possible.
Over the course of the interim, I have used this section of the newsletter to give a brief summary of some of the substantial legislation that we passed this session. This week, I would like to go over House Bill 2, which we passed last week during a special legislative session to handle the gender identity ordinance that the Charlotte City Council passed a few weeks ago. The ordinance would have gone into effect April 1st of this year, and allows people to choose whatever restroom they use based on their gender identity, not their biological sex. The ordinance was intended to accommodate transgender people who are biologically one sex but identify as the other sex. However, this ordinance violated North Carolina’s existing trespass law, indecent exposure law, and building codes. Not only was the ordinance inconsistent with state law, the city of Charlotte, or any municipality for that matter, does not have the authority to enact such an ordinance.
The bill we passed last week established a statewide standard dictating that people should use the restroom or locker room labeled for their biological sex, which is defined as the sex on their birth certificate, when in schools, public buildings, and other areas of public accommodation. This closes a loophole created by the ordinance which would have allowed for a man to enter a women’s restroom and claim immunity to criminal acts. It is important to remember that just because a person is transgender does not mean that they are a pedophile or that they seek to harm anyone, but Charlotte’s ordinance would have allowed pedophiles or sex offenders to go unpunished.
The bill establishes a uniform statewide anti-discrimination policy on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap, which is stronger than federal law. The bill also takes steps to prevent future situations like Charlotte’s overreaching ordinance by creating statewide consistency for laws related to employment and public accommodations. Under this bill, private businesses can still choose to make transgender accommodations in the form of a single occupancy bathroom if they wish. This bill does not take away any existing rights, that North Carolinians already have. Some people have expressed concern that this bill may repeal ordinances that localities have enacted to prohibit discrimination against people who have served in the military. Discrimination against people for military service is already illegal under federal law, so this should not be a concern.
Please let my office know if you have any questions pertaining to this bill.
Brent Jackson is a N.C. senator representing District 10, which includes Sampson, Duplin and Johnston counties.