Editorial: Legislators must avoid distractions and stick to helping hurricane and wildfire recovery
Posted December 12, 2016
A CBC Editorial: Monday, Dec.12, 2016; Editorial# 8094
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
In recent years the North Carolina General Assembly hasn’t missed opportunities to come up with solutions and then desperately search for problems.
From changes in voting laws, efforts to end the election of state Supreme Court justices to unwarranted interference in operations of local governments and more, the legislature has wrestled mightily with the unnecessary.
When the General Assembly arrives in Raleigh on Tuesday to address much needed support for communities in the east recovering from Hurricane Matthew and counties in the west dealing with the aftermath of devastating wildfires, it needs to take care of that business. Period. Stick to the policy needs and skip the politics.
Gov. Pat McCrory wants legislators to provide aid to state agencies and communities facing huge bills already incurred and tremendous challenges remaining, in the wake of Matthew’s flooding and the widespread wildfires to make “any changes in law to facilitate the recovery.”
While Congress last week approved $300 million to assist the state and FEMA has added at least that much, there’s still a significant gap.
But McCrory’s call to bring the legislature back to Raleigh also included the option to take up “any other matters the General Assembly elects to consider.” That is an invitation for legislators to address the unnecessary.
Given the current crop of legislators, aware Republican McCrory has just 19 days in office before Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper takes office, they may not be able to resist the temptation to mischief.
Several members of the Council of State, including current Attorney General Cooper and Republican Labor Commissioner Cheri Berry, have urged an agenda limited to hurricane and wildfire relief. They are right.
Still, there are strong indications that the GOP leadership, frustrated with the loss of a GOP majority of the state Supreme Court, wants to pack it by adding two more justices to the court. They are also said to be looking at providing a way to allow the state high court’s chief justice to appoint a “substitute” justice when there is a chance of tie vote in a case before the court.
The state Supreme Court has plenty of justices and doesn’t need any more. It doesn’t need to give the state Supreme Court authority to add “substitute”. It is more solutions in search of problems.
The legislature does not need to change the number of “exempt” state jobs it increased to accommodate GOP political favoritism when McCrory took office in 2013. If anything, legislators should wait until next year and give Cooper the chance to make the case on the matter.
Unresolved legislation from the last session – including changes in environmental regulations and limits on wind energy development -- are dead and need not be revived.
Should our legislators be unable to restrain themselves, there is ONE item they can take up and handle with dispatch.
Repeal, fully and completely, House Bill 2. It is the right and necessary thing to do.
Given the obstinate nature of the current crop of legislators, we’d confess HB2 repeal is a long shot.
So, keep it simple. Legislators should help our communities with hurricane and wild fire recovery, adjourn and go back home to join the rest of us in celebrating a joyous holiday season.