Wednesday News: The slow death of discrimination


COURT RULES TRANSGENDER PEOPLE CAN USE BATHROOM OF CHOICE: The settlement says state agencies and universities can’t ban transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. It applies only to public restrooms and similar facilities in state government buildings. “After so many years of managing the anxiety of HB 2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws,” said Joaquin Carcaño, a transgender man and UNC-Chapel Hill employee who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state over LGBT discrimination. The settlement doesn’t keep legislators from restricting bathroom access through future laws. But it puts new requirements on government agencies and universities that are defendants in the lawsuit.

LONG-AWAITED SCHOOL SAFETY BILL NEEDS ONE MORE VOTE: A bill to make schools safer in North Carolina is one vote away from going to Gov. Roy Cooper after passing the House unanimously on Tuesday. The legislation is the result of six years of study and dozens of meetings with hundreds of stakeholders across the state, and its passage was an emotional day for sponsor Rep. Donna White, R-Johnston. The measure includes statewide funding for an app that lets students report potential threats anonymously, as well as a new digital panic alarm system to be installed in schools. It requires mandatory, standardized training for school resource officers in crisis response and de-escalation and also requires school districts to put together threat assessment teams and conduct emergency drills. Editor's note: Larry Pittman's "arm the teachers" amendment apparently didn't make it into the legislation.

NEW HANOVER SCHOOLS FACING LAWSUIT OVER TEACHER WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED 20 STUDENTS: News outlets report the victims of Michael Kelly filed the complaint Tuesday against him, the New Hanover County Board of Education and others. Kelly pleaded guilty last month to child sex charges. Investigators say Kelly abused nearly 20 victims. He's worked for New Hanover Schools since 1992. Attorney Jim Lea says they're seeking compensation for victims, better safety procedures for students and major leadership changes among administrators. New Hanover District Attorney Ben David said Kelly told investigators the school looked into allegations of his behavior, but cleared him. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into claims that the administration knew about Kelly's action but failed to report them.

MUST-SEE TV: MUELLER TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS TODAY: Former Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance before two House committees promises to be the TV event of the year in the U.S. House, where lawmakers will question him for roughly five hours about the book-length report he released in April. Democrats hope that by putting Mueller on television and highlighting the parts of the report that they believe describe President Donald Trump’s most egregious behavior, they will be able to ignite new outrage and renew public interest in their investigations. But Republicans will be there, too, defending Trump and turning some of their fire on Mueller’s investigation, which the president condemns as a “witch hunt.” Trump himself first said he wouldn’t be watching, then he conceded, probably “a little bit.”

ETHICS PROBE LOOKS INTO FORMER TRUMP EPA OFFICIAL WHO WORKED FOR COAL PLANTS: At issue are Mr. Wehrum’s ties to the Utility Air Regulatory Group, a coalition of utilities and trade groups that lobbies on behalf of coal-fired power plants, which he represented as a lawyer at his former firm, Hunton & Williams. That relationship first drew scrutiny last year after Politico reported that the 25 power companies and six trade groups that make up the coalition paid the firm more than $8 million in 2017 just before President Trump appointed Mr. Wehrum. Mr. Wehrum resigned last month after helping to finalize a regulation that would relax restrictions the Obama administration had sought to impose on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. As the agency’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, he was the legal expert behind other rollbacks of key climate change and air pollution regulations, including weakening Obama-era regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from automobile tailpipes and methane from oil and gas wells. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has already opened an inquiry into whether Mr. Wehrum and David Harlow — a senior counsel at the E.P.A. who worked with Mr. Wehrum at the law firm — improperly worked to reverse an enforcement action that would have aided a former client, DTE Energy.