The dance of legislation, NC GOP style

During the current legislative short session, it's become quite apparent that the NCGA is barely controlled chaos run by just a few powerful people.

Yeah, I know, it's been that way in North Carolina for as long as anyone can remember. But consider:

  • Budgets are developed by a very few people behind closed doors then rolled out all at once to other legislators, the media and the public.
  • Bills are put on and taken off legislative calendars with no notice. Most legislators have no idea what to expect each day when they report to work.
  • Most legislators don't have time to read the bills they're expected to vote on.
  • Public input is scarce.
  • Lobbyists and special interest groups get notification about bills that legislators don't get. Often they get to participate in drafting the bills.
  • Committee meetings are called with no notice, often at odd hours.
  • Legislation is gutted and completely replaced with unrelated legislation.
  • Parliamentary tricks are used to cut off debate and quash amendments that might improve bills.

All of this, and more, serves to push legislation through that has not been carefully considered, thoroughly vetted, modified based on legislative/legal/expert/public input or held up to enough light to see the holes in it.

And those pushing the bills tend to be a handful of legislative leaders who expect their colleagues to get in line and vote for their pet legislation.

We've seen the results. Forget for a moment the policy implications of the awful NC GOP legislation -- the laws themselves are poorly written, ambiguous, incomplete, don't hold up in court and are difficult to interpret and enforce.

That's no way to run a state, Tillisberger.

Comments

No excuse

Yeah, the Dems did it too.

But like gerrymandering, the Republicans have taken it to new, dangerous levels. And "they did it too!" is no excuse to keep doing something that's wrong.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Sometimes the media gets the

Sometimes the media gets the budget BEFORE the other legislators do.

Sometimes the lobbyists do too

Especially if they're pro-life anti-choice misogynist right-wing nut jobs with a big checkbook [emphasis mine]

"They're doing it quietly on Fourth of July weekend because they've seen what's going on in Texas and know that women will turn out," said Melissa Reed, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, referring to the protests surrounding a similar bill in Texas. She said Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights advocates had no idea the measure would be taken up Tuesday.

Lobbyists with nonprofits that have religious or moral purposes, including the Family Policy Council, Christian Action League and North Carolina Values Coalition, were in the room for the committee debate and the subsequent Senate floor debate. Senators noted that those lobbyists were given notice of the bill and its contents ahead of time.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

One example

of one of the items listed in the post.

Chairman Chuck McGrady announced on the floor Thursday that SB 320, currently a measure dealing with education for children who are deaf, will become a measure that deals with asbestos litigation.

You just know that a lot of people care about a bill about educating deaf children and they've probably been following it for quite some time, and presumably lots of people would be affected by its outcome.

Then POOF! it becomes a bill about asbestos litigation. In today's environment, I suppose it's one that will limit liability of corporations in matters of asbestos, but that really doesn't matter. What matters is that the bill about educating deaf kids is gone so that Chuck and the NC GOP could instead take on asbestos litigation, because the group that wants the asbestos litigation law has a more powerful lobby than the group that wants the deaf children education law.

Asbestos litigation is worth addressing, probably. But not at the expense of another worthy topic.

Not a good way to run a state.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014