July 23, 2018/Press

ICYMI WRAL: Special session reveals phony motives behind constitutional amendments

WRAL: Special session reveals phony motives behind constitutional amendments
By the Editorial Board
July 23, 2018

Want proof of the true partisan motivation for the bundle of vague and unnecessary state constitutional amendments carelessly rushed out of the North Carolina legislature last month? Look no further than Saturday’s letter from House Rules Committee chair Rep. David Lewis to House Speaker Tim Moore.

Lewis fears a commission, set up by the legislature to provide unbiased summaries of the proposed amendments, won’t spin and obfuscate as the Republican leaders of the legislature want.

Without a shred of proof, Lewis wrote that the commission would overreach and therefore legislative leaders should quickly call a special session to write the explanations themselves. Bringing the legislature back is a terrible idea and shouldn’t be done. It will lead, as we’ve seen in the past, to nothing but trouble.

The commission, established in state law (passed by the legislature), is made up of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the General Assembly’s legislative services officer. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Attorney General Josh Stein happen to be Democrats and Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble is a Republican. It is not a political complexion that the dictatorial leaders of the veto-proof Republican-dominated legislature find to their liking.

In stark contrast to the way the current leadership rules the legislature, the commission has outlined an open and transparent process to develop the summaries of the proposed amendments – including sincerely seeking input from the public and holding publicized open meetings.

That is, unfortunately, the polar opposite of the secretive, orchestrated and hasty approach that Lewis, Moore and their cohorts in the state Senate employed when in just a few days they shoved the amendments onto the November ballot.

Will the legislature go ahead on the ill-advised path to hold a special session to bypass the constitutional amendment commission and write their own explanations of the proposals? Probably. But as a result North Carolina voters will have another opportunity to witness a dictatorial fist crush the rule of law and popular will in the ceaseless effort to rig elections.

While not their intent, legislators will demonstrate just why these amendments are merely political convenience.

This scenario of the past will be on display again. Watch closely and heed.

Upon returning to Raleigh, legislators will be handed proposed legislation cooked up in secret by the GOP leadership and their favored special interests.

In a perfunctory procession, the legislation will move hastily through legislative committees. Public notice and comment will be irrelevant and pro-forma.

The little likely significant discussion of the legislation will take place in secret, during the Republican House and Senate caucuses. The leadership will impose its will.

House and Senate floor debate will be filled, like Lewis’ letter, with unsubstantiated, insincere and hypocritical talk that the commission would offer up “politicized captions” with “long sentences or negative language in order to hurt the amendments’ chances of passing.”

While certainly not intended, legislative leaders may end up providing an even clearer display of their heavy-handed approach to governing.

Rather than enhancing their desire to camouflage their efforts to rig the State Constitution, legislative leaders will offer up another unvarnished display of their insincerity and abuse of authority.

In the end, these legislative leaders will offer up the best argument yet to vote against these superfluous state constitutional amendment

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