Moral Monday

Photo: 10 people were arrested outside the offices of North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger.
Jorge Valencia

Police officers arrested 10 protesters at the North Carolina General Assembly on Friday, as the protesters chanted and called on Republican lawmakers to put a referendum on a statewide ballot to raise the minimum wage.

Officers handcuffed the protesters outside the office of Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) after they refused to leave the building past its posted 5 p.m. closing time. 

Officers took protesters to the Wake County Detention Center and charged them with second degree trespassing, said police Chief Jeff Weaver.

Photo: Protesters gathered at the North Carolina General Assembly building on the second anniversary of what's become known as "Moral Monday" rallies.
Jorge Valencia

Hundreds of protesters returned to the North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, renewing a call on Republican state leaders to reverse several landmark pieces of legislation approved since 2011.

On the second anniversary of what’s become known as “Moral Monday” rallies, protesters gathered outside the legislative building, while some chanted inside the building beside the Senate and House chamber doors.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Democratic leaders in the state House say Speaker Thom Tillis has refused to release funds for a full-time employee to manage their legislative operations. Minority Leader Larry Hall says he's had to let the Democratic caucus chief of staff go because Tillis would not release enough funding for that position to last past July 1st.

North Carolina's voter ID law has come under fire in the courts, challenged by lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice, the NAACP and voting rights groups. A judge will decide whether parts of the law should be implemented or delayed. Jeff Tiberii of WUNC has been following the hearing, and he wraps up recent developments and possible outcomes.

A woman is arrested at the state capitol as a part of a Moral Mondays protest.
NAACP

The Moral Monday protests from Raleigh have garnered national attention over the past year. A key component of the protests has been media attention on arrests. Dozens were arrested this year for various non-violent offenses, a move some say is becoming an overt aim of many protestors.

Amy Laura Hall is a professor of ethics at the Duke Divinity School.  She has participated in the Moral Monday protests from the start, but she says the tactic of getting arrested -- or "orderly submission" as she calls it -- is flawed.   

Photo: Fifteen 'Moral Monday' protesters were arrested at the North Carolina Legislative Building on Monday.
Jorge Valencia

Fifteen protesters holding signs calling for North Carolina lawmakers to expand Medicaid and unemployment benefits were arrested after refusing to stop chanting and leave an area outside of the state Senate chambers on Monday night.

The protest, the latest in the "Moral Monday" rallies that started last year, included hundreds of more demonstrators who met behind the state Legislative Building in Raleigh and organized in an area on the second and third floors between the Senate and House chambers.

Protesters gathered outside the Senate chamber to demonstrate against policies they say are regressive.

Nineteen Moral Monday protesters were arrested yesterday after demonstrating in the legislative building against budget proposals and policies passed by Republican-led General Assembly.

Dozens of protesters stomped, danced, and chanted at the very tops of their lungs, days after a superior court judge struck down new rules that prohibit loud activities and noises that would cause disturbances. The Wake County judge on Friday argued that the rules were unconstitutional, overly broad and vague.

Photo: The North Carolina Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina’s General Assembly leadership is expected to begin negotiations this week to reconcile two proposals for the state’s $21.1 billion budget, a legislation that touches many aspects of government, but has centered on how to give pay raises to public school teachers.

A woman is arrested at the state capitol as a part of a Moral Mondays protest.
NAACP

A Wake County Superior Court Judge issued an order blocking rules that say how visitors can behave in the state legislative building.

Judge Carl Fox will sign the order in response to a lawsuit filed by protesters. Hundreds have rallied on Mondays at the Legislative building in response to laws passed by the General Assembly.  

Fox says people should be able to voice their opinions in public places, including the General Assembly.

Senate Leader Phil Berger takes an impromptu meeting with Moral Monday protesters.
Reema Khrais

Monday night, 15 Moral Monday protesters sat in front of Senate Leader Phil Berger’s door.  Berger wasn't in his office, so the protesters sat there until the Senate session ended. Soon, State Capitol Police began to usher everyone out. They said that the building was closing, everyone had to leave. Reporter Dave DeWitt was with the protesters. He wrote about what happened next this way:

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Lawmakers began their work week with a Moral Monday protest and a light legislative schedule.

The House convened briefly in a skeleton session, while the Senate met later in the evening.

Senators passed a bill that would create a public-private economic development enterprise. It would contract with the Department of Commerce to attract companies and promote trade and tourism. The Senate's version of the bill would also start a program giving grants to film, TV, and video projects in the state. A tax incentive program expires at the end of the year.

Phil Berger
Dave DeWitt

Bryan Proffitt fully expected to go to jail Monday night. He spent most of the day at Hillside High School, where he teaches history, proctoring exams. A few hours after the final school bell, he was in an upstairs auditorium at the state Legislature, rallying supporters.

“We’re generally a pleasant and rule-following bunch,” he said. “But when you attack our students, when you threaten our schools and our communities and their families and you bully us and our co-workers, than you’d better prepare for what happens next.”

Photo: The 11 protesters who were cited for trespassing in the Old North Carolina State Capitol building on Monday.
Jorge Valencia

Eleven protesters who said they wanted to personally ask Gov. Pat McCrory to overturn Republican government policies received trespassing citations for refusing to leave the Old North Carolina State Capitol building after it closed on Monday afternoon.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

  

State lawmakers have less than six weeks to construct and pass a budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year. 

The Senate released its spending plan last night, providing raises for teachers in return for sacrificing tenure. The General Assembly is also considering an overhaul to the tax code.

Meanwhile, 14 protesters from the Moral Monday movement were arrested after an overnight sit-in.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jessica Jones about the latest from the legislature.

North Carolina Legislative building
NC General Assembly

  Moral Monday protests resume as the General Assembly's short session continues. Protestors visit individual lawmakers today to lobby for Medicaid expansion, unemployment insurance and education reform. Last week, the North Carolina Senate approved a fracking bill and tentatively approved a regulatory overhaul. Both pieces of legislation may face challenges in the House. 

Unemployment Rate
NC Commerce

At first glance, there are several signs North Carolina’s job market is improving.  In fact, last week, the state Commerce Department reported the jobless rate in April was down to 6.2-percent.  That’s the lowest it’s been since 2008.

But some economists and advocates say unemployed workers are still facing a tough job market and less help from the state.