Editorial: Legislative meddling in local affairs threatens state's economic engines

Posted September 21, 2016

Senate holds first of two budget votes

A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Sept. 21. 2016; Editorial# 8058
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

North Carolina is a big state – the ninth largest by population. The major metropolitan areas of the state continue to be the engines of growth, particularly job growth.

So why, you might ask, is our state legislature preoccupied with micromanaging our successful cities and counties? It comes from a shameless push for partisan advantage, rural resentment, an outdated ideological approach to economic growth (low taxes, low wages, low skill) and just because they can.

It certainly hasn’t been effective and resentment is growing.

In most cases, actions in Raleigh have fomented, rather than quelled, local disputes. Legislative meddling has resulted in costly legal battles and accomplished nothing.

While HB2 may be the poster child for the terrible consequences of legislative meddling in local matters, it is far from isolated.

In recent years, there’s barely an area of local government that members of the General Assembly haven’t sought to dictate from Raleigh. How the water and sewer system in Asheville should operate; who should run the airport in Charlotte; dictating more details on how and when cities can annex urbanized area; how local governments should treat international refugees; decreeing the home design and building codes; and imposing, without any regard for local needs or desires, new representational districts for local governments and school systems.

Ironically, while legislative leaders are spending millions to fight what they call “Washington overreach” in North Carolina affairs the same legislators seem to be acting as defacto county commissioners, city councilors and school board members – manipulating local affairs in Oz-like fashion from Raleigh.

Why is it that out of the blue – with no request or concerns raised locally, that city commission districts in Greensboro need to be changed?

Why, at the whim of a legislator, did oversight of the Charlotte International Airport need to change– sparking an expensive and needless battle in the courts?

Why did legislators, unprompted, meddle in Wake County’s commissioner and school board districts after Democrats gained majorities, only to have the legislative interference in local affairs declared illegal? “The challenged redistricting here subverts political fairness and proportional representation and sublimates partisan gamesmanship,” said the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The needless meddling in local affairs needs to stop. Legislators should explore ways to give local government more autonomy and home rule, particularly if they sincerely believe that the government closest to the people is the best.

The General Assembly should focus on major issues that challenge our state -- adequate financing of public education, renewing and expanding the state’s roads and buildings, and assuring the public’s safety and a sustainable environmental future

Several Triangle area legislators had been way too busy in local affairs, like Republican Sen. Chad Barefoot of Wake County, who concocted the unconstitutional Wake redistricting plans – and was backed by his fellow Republicans in the county’s legislative delegation. The legislature isn’t a playground for petty political games.

Voters should give that significant attention as they head to the polls – with early voting starting in just a month. Register and vote.


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  • Aiden Audric Sep 22, 2016
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    "8. Prohibited Content - Harasses, degrades, intimidates or is hateful toward an individual or group of individuals on the basis of religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, or disability;"

    "9. Prohibited Behavior - Engage in personal attacks, harass or threaten, question the motives behind others’ posts or comments, deliberately inflame or disrupt the conversation, or air personal grievances about other members of the community"

  • Teddy Fowler Sep 21, 2016
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    Legislative meddling by local governments in state affairs threatens their economic engines....

  • Benjamin Kite Sep 21, 2016
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    If the NC State legislature feels empowered to bully the mayor's office of Charlotte, on moral grounds, then how empowered would they feel in governing against a private business or ten on moral grounds? No wonder businesses fear North Carolina.

  • Sean Chen Sep 21, 2016
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    Read the last line.

    How can we trust what is being reported when there is a CLEAR and CONSISTENT political agenda pushed by Capitol Broadcasting?

  • Amy Whaley Sep 21, 2016
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    " But did you know that in 2003, the North Carolina Supreme Court had already decided that local human rights ordinances (such as the one that the City of Charlotte enacted in February) are unconstitutional?" http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ignore-the-hype-here-s-what-employers-66257/

  • Sean Chen Sep 21, 2016
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    Charlotte exceeded its authority in passing the ordinance.

    The legislature was attempting to "protect" their constituents.

  • Edwin Duncan Sep 21, 2016
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    The article shamefully avoids a real discussion of when the Legislature should intervene in local affairs. The article is also unsigned. Why are the authors having to hide their identity? Why would a person from one part of the state have to be under different law in another part of the state? If Charlotte passed a law making decals on a car illegal affecting all who come into the city should the legislature interfere? There has been no reporting on the lobbyists, perhaps some unregistered, who are pushing the Transgender changes. Given under-reporting on sex crimes there is simplistic nonsense that there hasn't been a problem yet. The fact that cross-dressers, transvestites, bi-s, some of whom are hypersexuals, are also going to use non-gender assigned bathrooms is not mentioned. Like all women issues I do not see women being asked if they are willing to share their domain with men who have not gone through gender surgery and still have greater/testosterone fueled aggression.

  • Mary O'Shields Sep 21, 2016
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    As further proof of state involvement in local affairs, in my home county of Transylvania the state legislature has declared that the school board candidates now register to run according to their political parties. Previously, the candidates did not declare any political affiliation. One side effect is that unaffiliated who wish to run for school board have a disadvantage. I don't think education is any place for party politics. And I think that the state legislature is no place to hand down unnecessary meddling laws that affect local cities, towns, and counties.

  • Lee Rogers Sep 21, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    You use that word "editorial", but I do not think you know what it means.
    If CBC editorials bother you so much, why do you read them?

  • Uben Had Sep 21, 2016
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    Once again, WRAL sends an email at 9:00 am that lists this Editorial as one of their 3 TOP STORIES.
    When will they realize their editorials:
    A. don't matter to us who use our brains to think, and
    B: stop trying to make news rather than report it?