Editorial: In 2017, legislators must end power games, focus on N.C. needs
Posted December 30, 2016
A CBC Editorial: Friday, Dec. 30, 2016; Editorial# 8104
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
If the end-of-2016 performance of the North Carolina General Assembly this month is a preview of the leadership’s resolve for the new year, let’s hope it goes the way of most New Year’s resolutions – broken in short order.
The leaders of the Republican majority seem unable to resist manufacturing crises, imposing solutions to nonexistent problems and then picking fights with innocent bystanders.
It was this crowd that put up the bait-and-switch deal to the Charlotte City Council and Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper to repeal HB2 -- and then reneged. It is disingenuous and unbelievable to accept the lame notion that Senate leader Phil Berger couldn’t get enough Republicans to join Democrats for a straight repeal of HB2. Berger has the other Republicans so cowered they’d arrest Santa Claus. Oh wait, they did!
The ill-considered, power grabs of the authority from the governor and state Board of Education seem destined to a similar fate as notorious HB2. The courtroom fights will be expensive and unnecessary. There will probably be adverse consequences that the cursory consideration failed to address. It will suck up resources, time and attention better devoted to the real issues and concerns North Carolinians face.
As we prepare to enter 2017, let’s hope Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland and the rest of the Republicans can finally feel they’ve rendered vengeance from their fellow Democratic legislators. Is it too much to hope that they recognize their efforts to rig elections, re-segregate the state to insure their partisan domination and their rigid ideology are too extreme?
With the coming of the new year, the legislative leadership should resolve to behave in ways it demands of others:
- Conduct business in a more open and deliberate manner. Legislating by sneak attack, holding nearly every significant initiative in secret and packing it all into a budget bill considered in the closing hours of the legislative session just creates more problems.
- Extend courtesy and consideration to everyone. The demeaning and dismissive treatment of those who aren’t in lock step with the majority is unnecessary. Legislative leaders need to stop shouting down and belittling those who come to the legislature to express their points of view – as happens far too often in committee meetings and public hearings.
There already is a big agenda for the General Assembly in 2017 that will be framed by the federal court-mandated creation of new state Senate and House legislative districts and elections next fall. Let’s hope that legislative business can be conducted in a more civil manner. Creating a non-partisan redistricting commission to develop new maps might help.
Partisan differences and disagreements are a part of the process of government. But initiatives and proposals from those not in the dominant political party or ideological camp are not invitations to brawl.
Perhaps the excesses of December will merely have been some post-election over-exuberance.
Regardless of excuses, it is time to end manufacturing opportunities for petty vengeance and power plays. We’ve wasted too much time and energy.
North Carolina has real needs and problems to address. The focus should be on providing our children quality education opportunities, building a strong state economy that provides opportunities and a high quality of life for everyone.