June 13, 2018/Press

The General Assembly Is Broken

Raleigh – Republicans are speeding a breakneck pace to clear their docket, pass any final far-right pet projects and power grabs, and get out of dodge because they’re afraid of a coming blue wave – even if that means letting lobbyists and special interests write their bills.

Last night saw a flurry of “gut and amend” bills, crafted in secret by lobbyists, and rushed through with little sunlight. From the NC Insider:

As lawmakers race to get legislation moving before session winds down, both the House Rules Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee spent Tuesday night gutting existing bills and replacing them with a combination of brand-new legislation and provisions from other stalled bills. The rushed process made for confusing debate, particularly in the House Rules Committee, where bill sponsors struggled to answer questions about their proposals without help from the lobbyists present. The meeting was paused several times as committee leaders addressed problems with legislation and drafted amendments; copies of legislation were not provided to the public during the meeting and committee members didn’t receive the standard bill summaries.

This isn’t normal, nor is it good government. It’s a broken legislature so concerned about facing voters’ backlash that they’re farming out their one job – to craft bills and legislate – to special interest lobbyists.

But this is apparently how the broken Republican General Assembly operates now. The backroom budget was crafted in secret and with the help of industry lobbyists, and then rammed through with no chance for amendments or changes. Lobbyists for the company responsible for dumping GenX into our waterways had more input in the final bill than the public.

And just this morning Republicans dropped a technical corrections bill to their budget that, rather than make incremental tweaks and clean up typos, made sweeping changes to policy. Amendments and public debate usually fill this role, but legislative leaders shot that down.

This is what an afraid set of lawmakers and a broken legislature looks like. People are protesting in the streets and instead of listening to their concerns and legislating transparently, openly, and with the public’s input, Republicans are breaking the General Assembly.

“The North Carolina General Assembly is broken,” NCDP spokesman Robert Howard said. “And the only thing that will fix it is to break the majority and elect representatives who listen to their constituents, not special interest lobbyists.”