The New Bosses, aka GOP majority in the General Assembly, are up to some astonishingly cynical and arrogant tricks. In fact, the current General Assembly session in Raleigh has morphed into something different from a normal exercise in lawmaking.
Charlotteans don’t get much detailed news of how the legislative sausage is made in Raleigh — and frankly much of it is as boring as a watching a fly take a nap — but yesterday’s Sleaze-Factor-10 tactics, and the misplaced passion behind them, should be a concern for everyone in N.C. As Chris Fitzsimon of NC PolicyWatch sums it up in an excellent essay today, “This is clearly an ideological crusade now, not a legislative session.”
I’ll keep this as concise as possible. Yesterday, the N.C. House failed to override Gov. Perdue’s veto of the Voter Photo ID bill, which would make it harder for thousands of seniors and students to vote. Well, Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam wouldn’t hear of it. As Fitzsimon reports, Stam “immediately invoked a parliamentary procedure to keep the bill alive for another veto override vote that could happen any time before the General Assembly adjourns its short session next summer.” When Democrats expressed their outrage at this short-circuiting of the normal legislative process, Stam told them, “It’s not settled until it’s settled right.” Here is Fitzsimon again: “That says as much about the arrogance of Stam and the rest of the Republican leadership as anything else that has happened in this reactionary session.”
Now, Stam’s shenanigans are bad enough, but wait, it gets slimier. Under the guidance of House Speaker Thom “Pride of Cornelius” Tillis, the GOP made yet another procedural maneuver to get around the House vote to sustain Perdue’s veto. They moved a series of “local bills” to the Rules Committee, attempting to enact the Voter Photo ID bill on a county-by-county basis. The governor cannot veto local bills. This is an outrageous power grab, since local bills are supposed to deal with truly local matters, and aren’t supposed to be used as a scam to get around N.C.’s constitutional requirements for passing laws. These guys — Stam, Tillis, and their cohorts — have become so brazenly amoral in their running of the legislature, it’s breathtaking.