Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dunces of the Week: House Speaker Thom Tillis and Rep. Paul Stam

Posted By on Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Without enough weight from their own party - or enough support from Democrats - Republicans still managed to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of the controversial fracking bill last night.

How?

Tillis
  • Tillis
In the critical vote - taken at the end of a 12 hour session - Mecklenburg County Democratic Rep. Becky Carney pushed the wrong button, accidentally siding with the GOP. After realizing her gaff, Carney tried to get House Speaker Thom Tillis' attention, even approaching his bench to request a revocation. Tillis ignored her and called on the majority leader, Wake County Republican Rep. Paul Stam, to move the discussion off the table and away from debate, a standard procedure known as a clincher motion.

But Carney knew her fate had been sealed seconds after pressing the button. Because hers was the deciding vote, procedure dictates that she couldn't challenge it.

So with just one "vote," Republicans overrode the veto.

Carney sounds tired when she answers the phone on Tuesday afternoon.

"I've been better," she says to a standard greeting.

Carney
  • Carney
While many of her colleagues have been supportive, acknowledging the mistake could have happened to any of them, she admits some of her constituents are livid. Her record shows she's been against fracking - or at least in favor of looking more deeply into its effects in North Carolina. But none of that mattered on Wednesday.

"Environemtnalists [and] lobbyists knew - the community knew - that I wasn't a vote they had to worry about, she said. "I was even lobbying a colleague to support the override."

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process that injects water and chemicals into the ground to release gas. Some states use it relatively easily, while others experience earthquakes and groundwater contamination from the fracking liquid. It's a relatively new concept in North Carolina that hasn't been researched thoroughly. No one's really sure how it will affect our land or our water.

Carney is hopeful she can redeem herself next session by working toward adding more precautionary measures to the bill. While she avoided discussing how Tillis' move will affect polarization in the General Assembly, she did, perhaps inadvertently, point out why the rest of us are so mad.

"It was more about clenching the win than [fairness] and openness."

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