Tuesday Wrap: Between a rock and a hard place

Posted May 10

— Members of the University of North Carolina system's Board of Governors met behind closed doors for more than two hours Tuesday trying to figure out whom to offend and whom to placate in the battle between the state and federal governments over House Bill 2.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit Monday to block enforcement of the law, which officials said discriminates against transgender people, while Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders asked for a judicial ruling that backs the controversial law.

UNC President Margaret Spellings has said the university system needs to comply with both state and federal laws – and both the state and federal government hold purse strings for the system – so the board needed to do some serious thinking about how to negotiate a tricky stance on the matter.

In non-House Bill 2 news, Mothers Against Drunk Driving urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would require anyone convicted of driving while impaired to use an ignition interlock system that would prevent their vehicles from starting if they've been drinking. Currently, only repeat DWI offenders or first-time offenders with very high levels of alcohol in their systems are required to use interlocks.

The House Transportation Committee approved bills that would repeal a $500,000 cap on funding to light rail projects that was included in last year's state budget – no one wants to admit putting it in there – and tolls on state ferries. The House wants to increase funding for the ferry system to replace aging ferries, with members noting that the tolls don't raise nearly enough to pay for ferry maintenance and replacement.

Meanwhile, the Jesse Helms Center has scheduled an "alumni event" at the Executive Mansion. The Governor's Office said it's merely a nonprofit renting the building, while LGBT advocates say it doesn't look good to have an event in the name of Helms, a noted foe of LGBT issues, at the mansion as the debate over House Bill 2 continues to roil the state.


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