Advocates use special session as a backdrop

Posted September 3, 2013

Rodney Ellis, president of the NCAE, speaks during a news conference in front of the legislative building on Sept. 3, 2013.

— Action at the General Assembly's veto override session won't begin in earnest until later Tuesday, but liberal groups are using the occasion to push their particular points. 

"Lawmakers should be here to exercise some oversight," said Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

NCAE was calling on the legislature to hold hearings on salaries the administration gave to young former campaign staffers of Gov. Pat McCrory.

McCrory, Ellis said, frequently blames cost overruns in Medicaid for a budget crunch that kept the state from offering teachers to rank-and-file employees.

"But the very agency that manages Medicaid is doling out huge raises," he said. 

The North Carolina conference of the NAACP was scheduled to speak out later in the day about lawmakers' and the governor's refusal to expand Medicaid and extend benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Lost in some of this shuffle is the fact that lawmakers were called back to Raleigh just to handle two vetoed bills. One would require drug testing for those receiving certain welfare benefits like food stamps. The other would extend the period of time someone could work for an employer without undergoing a background check by the federal E-verify program. 

Lawmakers aren't expected to vote on either bill until late in the day. Legislators in both chambers have said they have the ability to override McCrory's veto if they do not reach some sort of agreement. 

Gerrick Brenner, director of Progress Action North Carolina, a liberal group that is working along with NCAE, acknowledged lawmakers weren't in town to handle oversight hearings. Rather, he said, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger should commit to holding hearings sometime in the next month.

"This legislature has done something a politician should never do," said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state conference of the NAACP. "They figured out a way to make everybody mad."

The NAACP along with the AFL-CIO and other groups used the veto session day to hand out "report cards" giving lawmakers and the governor and F grades for their work this year. Most of the material had little to do with the subject of the vetoes, but the reconvened session had attracted media from around the state, giving the groups a ready audience. 

Members of both groups went inside the legislative building to deliver the fliers, but nobody was arrested, unlike when the NAACP lead weekly "Moral Monday" protests at the legislature earlier this year. 

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  • corey3rd2 Sep 3, 2013

    Why does McCrory care about background checks when he allowed an admitted murderer of two unarmed men to run the Veterans Affairs office. A man who unload his weapon on two people and then reloaded and put dozens of more bullets into their dead bodies. That's the kinda of person McCrory can embrace.