The Follies

The Follies

- in Fitzsimon File

Forrester’s mischief amendment

Senator Jim Forrester is the latest Republican legislator to enter this year’s bigotry parade. The Gaston Gazette reports that Forrester said at a town hall meeting in Gaston County Thursday night that if he were a homosexual, he’d target North Carolina to practice “homosexual mischief” because there “there is no constitutional law prohibiting it.”

The remarks came in a discussion about the scheduled vote next week in the General Assembly on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Forrester has sponsored the amendment legislation for several sessions.

Now it seems he also wants to ban “homosexual mischief.” It’s not clear if Forrester will introduce a separate “gay mischief” constitutional amendment next week or try to expand the ridiculous gay marriage amendment to add the mischief that has him so excited, so stay tuned.

Forrester also made a series of other bizarre remarks at the meeting, including calling the City of Asheville a “cesspool of sin.” It will be interesting to hear the reaction of his legislative colleagues who represent Asheville, including powerful Republican Senator Tom Apodaca.

Forrester also said that we need to reach out to gay people and “get them to change their lifestyle back to the one we accept.”

It is the latest offensive comment asserting that people choose their sexual orientation, a claim that House Majority Leader Paul Stam makes on a regular basis, when he is not comparing being gay to polygamy, incest, and bestiality.

The closed legislative process

House Speaker Thom Tillis told the Wilmington Star-News that lawmakers are still working on the specific language of the gay marriage amendment that will be up for a vote next week and are still trying to figure out if if the bill would put the amendment on the ballot in May or next November.

Tillis’ comments raise issues beyond the persuasive arguments that the amendment itself is a bad idea.

Who are the lawmakers who are working on the language of the amendment and deciding when it will go to the voters if the legislation passes? And shouldn’t that be done in public, so all lawmakers can have a say and the people of the state can follow the debate and weigh in themselves?

Will be there committee meetings on the marriage amendment next week, so people on both sides of the issue can testify?

It is not even entirely clear what other amendments will come up in next week’s special session. Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger have not yet deigned to tell us or their fellow lawmakers.

What happened to all the pledges of an open and transparent legislative process?

Republicans again shrug off massive job losses

This week also brought more news about the massive jobs losses caused by the Republican budget approved this summer. UNC officials say that more than 3,000 people have been laid off in the university system and another 1,500 unfilled jobs were eliminated.

Last week, the Department of Public Instruction reported that more than 2,400 people were laid off in public education including 500 teachers and more than 1,200 teacher assistants. A total of 6,000 jobs overall in K-12 were eliminated.

Republican legislators, who repeatedly said that they had funded every teacher and teacher assistant position, are now saying the job losses weren’t as large as Democrats predicted. Rep. Bryan Holloway, the House Education Committee Chair, said “I don’t think the sky has fallen the way it was projected that it would.”

The sky may not have fallen, but 5,400 people have been fired and more 10,000 education jobs have been lost. Holloway may not think that is a big deal but the workers and their families would likely disagree. And so would the students whose education is now suffering because of the cuts Holloway and his colleagues approved.

And more layoffs are coming, in community colleges and the rest of state government.

It quite a jobs record indeed for this General Assembly.