Saturday News: Grim parliamentary tales


AS GOP LOSES GRIP ON N.C., THEY DEAL ONE FINAL BLOW (The Guardian) -- Many of Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper’s supporters hoped the new governor, seen as a moderate in his long career as state attorney general, would at least be able to slow the barrage of conservative lawmaking that began with a concerted effort by major Republican donors to flip the state legislature in 2010. Immediately following Republican incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory’s concession, however, GOP lawmakers called an emergency meeting of the state legislature. It was initially billed as a special session to pass a year-end disaster relief bill. Instead, they unleashed a wave of laws that wiped out the incoming Democratic governor’s power and crippled the reach of the state supreme court, which voters had also given a new Democratic majority.

Counting the costs of petty tyrants in the NCGA

Killing democracy with a thousand cuts:

The legislature, meeting in a last-minute, year-end special session, approved a proposal along party lines Friday that would effectively give Republicans control of the state Board of Elections during election years. Outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed the bill into law Friday, despite not issuing any comment on the drama that has been wracking North Carolina politics since Wednesday.

Lawmakers also passed a bill that, for the first time in decades, would require the governor to get approval by the state Senate for his Cabinet appointees and end his ability to appoint members to the board of trustees of the powerful UNC school system. The measure would also drastically reduce the number of state employees the governor can directly hire and fire, from 1,500 to 425.

That last part, about the hiring and firing, can best be described in two words: Invade and entrench. They upped the number to 1,500 for McCrory, so he could insert as many GOP operatives into state government as he pleased. Then they took it away from Cooper, so many of those operatives could stay in place. Which makes this comment by the Bergermeister even more misleading than his usual tripe:

Friday News: Cue the lawsuits

COOPER THREATENS TO SUE AS LEGISLATURE MOVES TO GRASP MORE POWER (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Legislative Republicans clashed fiercely with Gov.-elect Roy Cooper Thursday as the House and Senate voted to sharply limit his appointment powers – and Cooper vowed to sue them over any law he deems unconstitutional. “Major changes in the way state government operates should be done deliberately, with input from all parties, particularly something as important as elections and making sure people have the opportunity to vote,” Cooper said. “They shouldn’t be pushed through in the dark of night.”

NC's power-mad Republicans once again in national spotlight

Like children running free in a candy store:

The session, complete with fervent protests, was a replay of a common scene over the last four years: Republicans in the legislature introduce a bill; Democrats argue against fiercely; a large number of protestors arrive and demonstrate; but the bills roll on with little impediment, thanks to large Republican majorities in both houses. Those majorities exist in part thanks to gerrymandered districts, some of which were so extreme that a federal court has ordered them redrawn and has shortened the terms of some legislators to a year in order to accommodate special elections in 2017.

Sometimes I get a little jealous of all those people who studiously ignore politics, and go about their day wondering what Victor on General Hospital has been up to or complain about somebody wearing pajamas at Wally World. But then I remember that a lot of those people actually *do* vote, and their inattentiveness is what helps these GOP mini-tyrants stay in office. But not everybody is standing idle, and the folks who drove to Raleigh to fight back deserve a huge round of applause:

HB 17

I am one of 1,200 employees caught up in McCrory's 'reclassification' of state employees as 'political appointees'.

In October of 2013 I was reclassified as a political appointee even though I managed no one and managed no ‘program of importance to the Governor’.

In December of that year I was fired two weeks before Christmas, without cause and without notice. I was paid 4 hours for my last full day of work.

And now, since McCrory lost, the Republicans in the General Assembly have introduced and will pass HB 17.

Hardship and suffering a big part of McCrory's legacy

And the slashing of unemployment benefits tops the list:

When McCrory came on board, the state still owed money to the feds. But he and the Republicans acted like this was money out of their own pockets. Keep in mind that unemployment funds come from a tax on employers. Businesses pay a tax for each employee, which was going to pay back the owed money to the feds. According to an estimate given to, at the rate of pay, the loan would have been paid off by 2019 to 2020 without any interference from the state politicians.

Yet, the GOP pushed through measures that harmed many people so that there would be less money paid out and the loan could be paid back quickly. Instead of going until 2019 or 2020, the owed money ($2.5 billion) was paid off by May 2015. “The debt to the federal government was a tax on jobs,” said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. McCrory and Berger said businesses were reluctant to hire new workers because of this additional fee in unemployment expense.

This wasn't just a regressive "austerity" measure, which sounds more like something you'd read in an economist's masters thesis than a call for advocacy. This actually took food off the tables of families statewide, exacerbating an already troubling hunger issue, especially among school-age children. And there was no effort to "gradually" reduce the benefits, to soften the blow to these families. No. That $2.5 billion was a nut they wanted to crack, and crack as swiftly as they could, primarily for bragging rights. And they're "still" bragging about it, including the extra billion they bled out of unemployed workers to set aside for "future" needs. And the current crop of unemployed are still suffering from those draconian cuts, and will be until we can take back the Legislature. You want a good message to push next year? There you go.

Thursday News: No honor among thieves

LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ARROGANTLY IMPOSE IDEOLOGICAL WILL (Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial) -- Gerrymandered GOP legislative leadership arrogantly impose their ideological will regardless of what North Carolinians need or want. Even now, they remain tight-lipped about the details, with the other rank-and-file members of the Republican caucus cowering and silent about the agenda they will spring on North Carolinians today. This unconstitutionally-composed, election-rigging legislature is bound and determined to impose its ideological will on the state regardless of what most citizens want or need.


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