North Carolina Legislature approves limits on racial politics and discussions in state workplaces

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The promotion of certain beliefs that some North Carolina lawmakers have likened to “critical race theory” is about to be banned in government workplaces across the country. state, under a bill that received final legislative approval on Tuesday.

The two-pronged proposal that passed the GOP-controlled Senate 30-15, with three Democrats and all Republicans present voting in favour, would also bar recruiting officials from state agencies, community colleges and the U.S. system. University of North Carolina to lobby a job applicant. to express their personal or political beliefs as a condition of employment.

The State House approved the bill last week by similar veto-proof margins. He’s now heading to the office of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign him, but has spoken in the past of his dedication to keeping North Carolina out of ‘hurtful culture wars’. people and cost us dearly”. jobs.”

Cooper may not have much to say if he opposes it: Republicans have had non-veto majorities in both houses since a Democratic state lawmaker switched parties there. two months ago. Initial votes for passage indicate that a veto would likely be overruled. Cooper’s other option would be to allow the bill to become law without his signature.

From December 1, anyone entering a state government workplace, such as a private contractor or diversity trainer, would be prohibited by the bill from coercing employees into believing they should feel guilty or responsible for past actions committed by persons of the same race or gender.

Other restricted concepts include that the United States was created for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or gender and that the government is “inherently racist”.

Earlier this year, Republicans applauded the same list of restrictions, which also appears in an education bill passed by the state House, to “ban” critical race theory, an academic framework and legal complex centered on the idea that racism is rooted in the institutions of the country. , which perpetuate inequalities. Neither bill explicitly mentions the framework.

Sen. Warren Daniel, a Republican from Burke County and a key sponsor of the jobs bill, says it’s designed to prevent hiring discrimination and protect new hires from “the indoctrination”.

Senate Leader Phil Berger told reporters after the vote that Republicans “think it’s important to have the right, or at least have in law, the protection of the rights of people to their own opinions … especially in cases where those opinions have nothing to do with the job” they are being asked to do Candidates could always share their beliefs voluntarily.

While Democrats in the committee overwhelmingly backed the provision protecting job applicants from what they saw as invasive questions about private matters, several took issue with the list of prohibited beliefs.

The language of this list reflects a model proposal from Citizens for Renewing America, a conservative social welfare group, founded by a former official in President Donald Trump’s administration, which aims to combat critical race theory. Trump and other prominent Republicans have successfully turned the phrase into a catch-all to curb discussions of racial topics related to systemic inequality, inherent bias and white privilege.

Democratic Senator Lisa Grafstein said she thinks Cooper should veto the measure, which she called “a kind of culture war reaction not based on the real concerns expressed by state employees.”

The Wake County Democrat pointed to the implicit bias trainings now offered to state employees that “actually help people become better workers, better managers, better hiring authorities.” She and other Democrats have raised concerns that the bill could threaten productive workplace discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We don’t want to send a signal, which I think this bill does, that certain topics are prohibited in state employment if they would benefit state employees,” Grafstein said. .

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Hannah Schoenbaum is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.

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Associated Press writer Gary Robertson contributed to this report.

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