Nashville DA will not enforce trans bathroom signage bill in Tennessee

Nashville’s top prosecutor will stand against the state legislature and refuse to enforce what he calls “hate” under a new Tennessee law on bathroom access for transgender people. 

Gov. Bill Lee last week signed a bill making Tennessee the first state to require businesses and government facilities open to the public to post a sign if they let transgender people use multiperson bathrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms associated with their gender identity.

Opponents of the law call the bill discriminatory. LGBTQ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign said the signs would be “offensive and humiliating.”

“I believe every person is welcome and valued in Nashville. Enforcement of transphobic or homophobic laws is contrary to those values,” District Attorney General Glenn Funk said in a statement Monday. “My office will not promote hate.”

The required sign outside the public bathroom or other facility would say: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”

RELATED: ‘Looking to erase us’: Tennessee parents, advocates criticize Gov. Lee for anti-LGBTQ bills

MORE: ‘Why do they hate us so much?’: Frustration grows among transgender Tennesseans as bills targeting youth advance

It remains unclear how anyone would enforce the law. The bill does not include details on mandatory fines or penalties. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the law carries criminal penalties. 

RELATED: Tennessee bill mandating bathroom signs called ‘humiliating’ for transgender people

Nashville Mayor John Cooper also decried the bill, questioning last week the economic impact of the state taking a strong anti-trans stance. 

“This law is part of an anti-LGBT political platform of hate and division. One of the risks for Nashville is that the hostility inherent to these signs can be the equivalent of hanging up another sign — a ‘do not come here’ sign,” Cooper said in a statement. “We are an inclusive city, and that won’t change. But, unfortunately, we will be made vulnerable economically by this unwelcoming legislation.”

Lee, who in the past has had “concerns about business mandates,” demurred on Monday afternoon when asked whether Funk’s statement was appropriate.

“His decision will be his own,” Lee told reporters. “I signed the law and it’ll be his decision how he wants to respond to it.”

This is not the first time Funk has taken a stance against a conservative push from the state legislature. 

Last fall, he sided with reproductive rights advocates and abortion providers when they sued the state over a slate of strict anti-abortion laws passed last summer by Republicans. 

Funk and other local prosecutors were named as defendants because of their roles prosecuting criminal cases. Multiple court cases over the laws continue in federal court. 

“With regard to reproductive issues, the criminal law must not be used by the State to exercise control over a woman’s body,” Funk, a Democrat, wrote in a September filing, saying he “will not enforce” the law if it goes

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Tennessee House OKs new transgender ‘bathroom bill’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee House lawmakers on Monday passed a bill that would put public schools and districts at risk of civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multi-person bathrooms or locker rooms that don’t reflect their gender at birth.

The proposal must now pass the Senate before it can head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk, with senators expected to vote on the proposal later this week. The bill is one of several LGTBQ-related measures that the GOP-controlled General Assembly have introduced this year that critics have slammed as discriminatory. Most notably, Lee, a Republican, signed a different proposal this year that bars transgender athletes from playing girls’ public high school or middle school sports.

Under the proposed measure — which passed 65-24 on Monday — a student or employee could sue in an effort to claim monetary damages “for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” if school officials allow a transgender person into the bathroom or locker room when others are in there, or if they require staying in the same sleeping quarters as a member of the opposite sex at birth, unless that person is a family member.

The proposal also says schools must try to offer a bathroom or changing facility that is single-occupancy or that is for employees if a student or employee “desires greater privacy when using a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility designated for the person’s sex” at birth.

Opponents of the bill, including business entities, point to North Carolina’s experience with the enactment of its 2016 version of a “bathroom bill,” which was signed by former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and in part required transgender people to use public bathrooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificate.

Several large corporations and sports leagues relocated events to other states or reconsidered expanding in North Carolina due to the law, which was partially repealed in 2017.

A federal judge eventually approved a consent decree in 2019 between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and transgender plaintiffs that affirms their right to use restrooms matching their gender identity in many public buildings.

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Bathroom bill – Wikipedia

A bathroom bill is the common name for legislation or a statute that defines access to public toilets by gender (restrooms)—or transgender individual. Bathroom bills affect access to sex-segregated public facilities for an individual based on a determination of their sex as defined in some specific way—such as their sex as assigned at birth, their sex as listed on their birth certificate, or the sex that corresponds to their gender identity.[1] A bathroom bill can either be inclusive or exclusive of transgender individuals, depending on the aforementioned definition of their sex. Unisex public toilets are one option to overcome this controversy.

Critics of bills which exclude transgender individuals from restrooms which conform to their gender identity argue that they do not make public restrooms any safer for cisgender (non-transgender) people, and that they make public restrooms less safe for both transgender people and gender non-conforming cisgender people.[2][3][4] Additionally, critics claim there have been no cases of a transgender person attacking a cisgender person in a public restroom,[2][5] although there has been at least one isolated incident of voyeurism in a fitting room.[6] By comparison, a much larger percentage of transgender people have been verbally, physically, and sexually harassed or attacked by cisgender people in public facilities.[7] For these reasons the controversy over transgender bathroom access has been labeled a moral panic.[8]

Proponents say such legislation is necessary to maintain privacy, protect what they claim to be an innate sense of modesty held by most cisgender people, prevent voyeurism, assault, molestation, and rape,[9] and retain psychological comfort.[10][11]

One bathroom bill, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act in North Carolina, was approved as a law in 2016, although portions of the measure were later repealed in 2017 as part of a compromise between the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled Legislature.

Also in 2016, guidance was issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education stating that schools which receive federal money must treat a student’s gender identity as their sex (for example, in regard to bathrooms).[12] However, this policy was revoked in 2017.[12]

Public perception[edit]

Public opinion regarding “transgender bathroom rights” in the United States is mixed, see summary table below.

Date(s) conducted Support laws that require transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond to their birth sex Oppose laws that require transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond to their birth sex Don’t know / NA Margin of error Sample Conducted by Polling type
May 3, 2017 – May 7, 2017 48% 45% 7% 4% 1,011 adults American adults Gallup Cellphone and landline phones
March 2017 40% 40% ? ? YouGov ?
February 10, 2017 – February, 19, 2017 39% 53% 2.6% 2,031 adults Public Religion Research Institute Live interviews via RDD telephones and cell phones
August 16, 2016 – September 12, 2016, 2016 46% 51% 3% 2.4% 4,538 respondents Pew Research Web and mail
May 4, 2016 – May 8, 2016 50% 40%
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Minnesota House to reconvene for vote on $1.4B bonding bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota House reconvenes Wednesday for what could be its last chance to pass a $1.37 billion public works construction borrowing package, but it requires at least six Republican votes.

The legislation, known as a bonding bill, requires a 60% supermajority to pass. And the Democratic-controlled House must approve it before the Republican-controlled Senate can take it up, which could happen Thursday.

The bonding bill is the biggest piece of unfinished business left over from the 2020 regular session, which ended in May. With less than three weeks to go until the election, this is seen as the Legislature’s last chance for the year.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, said Monday that she was confident of getting the six GOP votes needed by Wednesday.

The bonding bill would finance $1.87 billion in public infrastructure projects statewide once other funding sources are counted. The House version also includes some new spending and a business tax break.

House Republicans blocked previous attempts to approve the package. They wanted Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to give up the emergency powers that he’s used to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve dropped that demand but are now seeking budget cuts to offset the debt service costs of the bonding bill.

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McConnell breaks from White House-Democratic negotiations, unveils separate bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he will release a separate stimulus proposal worth $500 billion, significantly lower than the deal Democrats and the White House are negotiating.

“We’re going to go back on the floor next week, again, with a proposal more narrowly targeted,” McConnell said at an event in Kentucky on Tuesday. “I want to give my friends on the other side one more chance to do highly-targeted relief that the country desperately needs.”

The new proposal includes funding for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), extra unemployment benefits, money for schools, and liability protections for businesses. McConnell is expected to put the proposal for a vote after the Senate returns on October 19.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters while hosting Republican congressional leaders and members of Trump's cabinet in the Oval Office at the White House July 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump and the congressional leaders talked about a proposed new round of financial stimulus to help the economy during the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters while hosting Republican congressional leaders and members of Trump’s cabinet in the Oval Office at the White House July 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Soon after McConnell made his comments on the new targeted proposal, the president reiterated his support for a larger stimulus deal, tweeting “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” on Tuesday.

The White House’s latest proposal is around $1.8 trillion, up from $1.6 trillion, and closer to the price tag of the Democrats’ latest $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal that passed the House in September.

McConnell’s new proposal has similar provisions to the one the GOP released in early September, which was worth $650 billion, but only $300 billion of that was new spending with the rest being repurposed money. The previous package was rejected in the Senate.

At least 38 states have paid out all their funds available under the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
At least 41 states have paid out all their funds available under the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

‘We cannot get an agreement just by folding’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has been actively negotiating a new stimulus package with the White House, said that the latest offer by the administration falls short, but she still is hopeful for a deal.

Read more: Here’s what you need to know about unemployment benefits eligibility

Sticking points for any deal between the White House and Democrats include aid for state and local governments, funding for schools, workers’ protections and child care support, rental assistance, funding for increased testing and tracing as well as funding for small businesses, elections, and the census.

“We really need to have an agreement, but we cannot have an agreement by just folding,” Pelosi said on a conference call with House Democrats on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. “I don’t think our leverage has ever been greater than it is now.”

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2020 -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 9, 2020. U.S. President Donald Trump has approved a revised COVID-19 relief package in the negotiations with congressional Democrats, White House's National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Friday. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to discuss a new 1.8-trillion-U.S.-dollar relief proposal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when the two speak Friday afternoon, according to The Wall Street Journal. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/T IngShen/liujie via Getty Images)
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 9, 2020. (Xinhua/T IngShen/liujie via Getty Images)

Any deal reached by Democrats and the White House would likely face stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass.

In early August, McConnell said that the GOP would

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Ohio House Bill 6 scandal inspires more questionable attacks in state legislative races

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Republican-controlled legislature passed Ohio House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout law that’s now at the center of a federal corruption investigation, and a Republican governor signed it.

But some Democrats played supporting roles in the bill becoming law, too, while some Republicans aggressively opposed it.

Don’t expect any of that nuance to be captured in political attacks that are swirling in hotly contested state legislative races.

One audacious ad from the Ohio Republican Party attacks Alexis Miller, the Democratic nominee for House District 89 in Northern Ohio.

The ad attempts to tie Miller, a first-time candidate, to the HB6 scandal by noting – accurately – that House Democrats provided the votes for state Rep. Larry Householder to be elected speaker. Householder and four allies, including a former Ohio Republican Party chairman, were arrested in July for allegedly using more than $60 million in bribe money from FirstEnergy Corp. to secure the passage of the law, which gives a former subsidiary $1.3 billion in ratepayer money to support two nuclear power plants.

“If Alexis Miller’s campaign is supported by the same people who supported Larry Householder, how can we trust her?” the mailer asks.

What the ad doesn’t mention is that Miller’s GOP opponent, state Rep. D.J. Swearingen, was appointed to the legislature by Householder, a Republican. Swearingen also received donations from FirstEnergy, ex-FirstEnergy lobbyist Juan Cespedes, who was among those arrested, and the House GOP campaign committee, which was financially supported by Householder’s operation.

Another mailer from the Ohio Democratic Party ties state Rep. Dave Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, to the HB6 scandal. Greenspan, first elected in 2016, is running against Monique Smith, a Democrat and former Lakewood city councilwoman.

The ad, which references the federal investigation as the “largest bribery and money laundering scheme ever in Ohio, is a boilerplate attack Democrats are waging against Republicans across the state. It might give a voter the impression that Greenspan voted for the bill.

But Greenspan didn’t just vote against House Bill 6, he’s sponsored two separate bills to repeal it, and even went to the FBI, aiding the federal investigation against Householder while the bill was still being debated, court records show. His refusal to vote for it led Householder to ominously threaten him in a text message that made its way into an affidavit from an FBI agent laying out the case against Householder and his allies.

The common thread between Greenspan and Swearingen: both are Republicans holding seats that are expected to be competitive in this November’s election. Greenspan represents a district that includes Cleveland’s western suburbs that could be a top pickup opportunity for Democrats, while Swearingen represents Erie and Ottawa counties, a potential swing area– and as a recent political appointee, his name has never appeared on a ballot.

It’s not just the Greenspan/Smith and Miller/Swearingen races. The HB6 scandal has inspired numerous questionable attacks, as Democrats try to take advantage of a corruption scandal, even by attacking first-time candidates who

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White House seeks limited coronavirus relief bill, promises further talks on broader stimulus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Sunday called on Congress to pass a stripped-down coronavirus relief bill using leftover funds from an expired small-business loan program, as negotiations on a broader package ran into resistance.

The administration proposal, which Democrats dismissed as inadequate, was the latest twist in on-again, off-again talks to try to secure more stimulus, as the economy struggles to recover from coronavirus-related shutdowns that threw millions of Americans out of work.

In a letter to lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of State Mark Meadows said they would continue to talk to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try to reach agreement on a comprehensive bill.

But they said Congress should “immediately vote” on legislation to enable the use of the unused Paycheck Protection Program funds, which total around $130 billion.

“The all or nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” they wrote.

A spokesman for Pelosi, the lead Democratic negotiator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Representative Nita Lowey, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, rejected the administration’s offer in a statement later on Sunday as “woefully inadequate.”

“We can only reopen our economy and set the foundation for a strong recovery if we support state and local governments on the frontline of this crisis,” Lowey said in a statement.

White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern told reporters the unused funds would be used to reopen the Payroll Protection Program, which expired earlier this year, to “allow businesses to continue to use it to keep their employees employed.”

President Donald Trump on Friday offered a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package in talks with Pelosi after urging his team on Twitter to “go big” – moving closer to Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion proposal. That came days after Trump abruptly called off negotiations until after the Nov. 3 election in which he is seeking re-election.

Trump’s reversal and higher offer drew criticism from Senate Republicans, some of whom are uneasy about the national debt and whether a deal would cost Republicans votes next month.

Federal Reserve officials have urged Congress to be aggressive. The head of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank said the recovery had “flattened out,” indicating the need for further stimulus.

“A lot of people are suffering. A lot of small businesses are suffering,” Minneapolis Fed chief Neel Kashkari said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Republicans would eventually come around.

“I think if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it,” he said, adding there would be “further efforts of negotiation” on a package this week.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Tim Ahmann and Peter Cooney

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White House pushes for limited stimulus bill


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[NFA] The Trump administration on Sunday asked U.S. lawmakers to approve using leftover funds from the last pandemic stimulus package toward new economic recovery efforts as negotiations on a larger rescue bill face resistance.

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White House pushes for limited coronavirus relief bill as broader effort meets resistance

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin takes questions from news reporters with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows following a series of meetings on efforts to pass new coronavirus aid legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday called on Congress to pass a coronavirus relief bill using leftover funds from the small business loan program as negotiations on a more comprehensive package face resistance.

Their proposal was the latest twist in the on-again, off-again talks to try to secure more stimulus for the economy.

In a letter to House and Senate members, Mnuchin and Meadows said the White House would continue to talk to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but that Congress should “immediately vote on a bill” that would enable the use of unused Paycheck Protection Program funds.

“The all or nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” they wrote.

President Donald Trump on Friday offered a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package in talks with Pelosi after urging his team on Twitter to “go big” – moving closer to Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion proposal. That came after Trump earlier last week said he was calling off negotiations until after the Nov. 3 election.

Trump’s reversal and higher offer drew criticism from at least 20 Senate Republicans, who said they were concerned a deal would cost Republicans support in the upcoming elections.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that he thought Senate Republicans would eventually come around.

“I think if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it,” he said, adding that there will be “further efforts of negotiation” on a package this week.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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House Democrats’ new bill on the 25th Amendment, explained

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., unveiled a bill Oct. 9 to establish a commission that could be tasked with determining if a president is no longer fit for office.

The bill from Raskin, a former constitutional scholar, comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s Oct. 2 announcement of his positive COVID-19 test. The bill would create what would be known as the ‘‘Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of the Office” in accordance with the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

The commission would not have the unilateral power to invoke the 25th Amendment and kick Trump or any future president out of the White House. Pelosi and Raskin insisted in a press conference that the move was unrelated to the election less than a month away. 

“This is not about President Trump,” said Pelosi. “He will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.”

Trump responded to the news by tweeting that Pelosi is angling to one day replace Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris. There is no factual basis to support that claim, and Pelosi would not sit on the commission the bill would create.

The Constitution allows for such a commission

The 25th Amendment, established in 1967 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, spelled out general procedures to guide the replacement of a president or vice president in the event of death, incapacitation, resignation or removal from office. 

RELATED: What happens if a president or nominee dies or is incapacitated? Around elections, it gets thorny

The first three sections of the amendment lay out the succession plan for when these top two positions go vacant. They also allow the president to declare himself unable to carry out his duties and temporarily transfer the powers of the presidency to the vice president.

The fourth and final section is what’s relevant to Raskin’s bill. The section authorizes the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet, or “of such other body as Congress may by law provide,” to declare a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

“Legislation like this is provided for in §4,” tweeted Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University and the author of a book on the provision. “It says that the VP and Cabinet invoke §4, but that Congress can legislate a different body to substitute for the Cabinet in that process.”

“It gave Congress the power to replace the Cabinet with ‘such other body’ as it might create by law,” added Joel K. Goldstein, a professor of law emeritus at St. Louis University and the author of two

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