How Do NC State Legislators Feel About Being Pushed Around?

I've posted several times now on Sue Myrick's grandstanding scheme to bully North Carolina, and pending further developments I should just let it go. But events conspire! Three NC State legislators and a high level staffer spoke to one of my classes today, and I got a chance to ask them about the situation.

Deborah Ross and Grier Martin, both Democratic members of the NC House representing parts of Wake County, sat on a panel with Republican Senator Richard Stevens (representing Cary) and Norma Mills, Chief of Staff for NC Senate President Pro Temp. Marc Basnight (D, Dare County). I asked them for their thoughts about the proposed legislation announced by Myrick, Foxx, Taylor, McHenry, and Jones that threatens to strip NC's federal highway dollars if the state doesn't change its driver's license policy. Nobody had good things to say.

I paraphrase:

Martin, like the other panelists, acknowledged the role of the federal government in shaping state policy using strings attached to funding. But he also appealed to federalism and suggested that this method of steering state policy can only be used so often by a state's federal representatives before the ill-will generated amongst state legislators translated into intervention with the voters. Ross said that using federal spending to control state policy will always go better when the feds offer a carrot instead of a stick. In this case (definte stick), she said, Myrick & Co. are playing with funds that the state of North Carolina badly needs.

Stevens, the lone Republican, said that he has always believed that the best government is local government, and that many decisions should be left to the form of government closest to the people that can effectively act. He analogized the current situation to the threat of loss of federal funds used to force NC to change the drinking age from 18 to 21, saying that he didn't think it should have been the federal government's decision. Myrick's action in this case, he said, is not a good approach.

Mills had the strongest words, and repeated much of what was in Basnight's office's statement on the issue, to wit: the move is entirely unnecessary, as the NC legislature has been moving on action that is more stringent than Myrick's proposal, and the NC DMV has already taken measures to tighten its own policies. If Myrick had taken the time to check with the state's policymakers, she would have found her concerns already being addressed and her press conference unnecessary. At this point Ross pointed out that canceling the press conference would not have suited Myrick's goals in the matter, which I took to mean that Myrick would have lost her chance to grandstand.

So, to answer the titular question: they don't like it.

So I leave this subject for a while with a link: you can read the whole Charlotte Observer piece on the falsehoods and half-truths offered by Myrick and McHenry on this subject here (without registering with the Observer website). It's a short and well researched piece that is worth your time.

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