Local Politics

Top lawmakers control flow of legislation

Posted May 13, 2009

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— More than 2,700 bills were filed in the General Assembly this year, and many will die Thursday when they don't pass either the House or the Senate before the so-called crossover deadline.

The flow of much of that legislation is controlled by a few lawmakers who lead each chamber – House Speaker Joe Hackney, House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight and Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand – and political observers say that makes them more powerful than the governor.

Political powerbrokers can boost, kill bills

"(They) decide where legislation goes, what legislation moves and what legislation doesn't," said Scott Mooneyham, editor of the political newsletter The Insider. "The way power flows up here, it's all kind of get along, go along, and people benefit."

Mooneyham said the concentration of power is more apparent in the Senate, where Basnight, D-Dare, is in his 16th year in charge – the longest run in state history. Hackney, D-Orange, is in his third year atop of the House leadership.

Senate members said Basnight and Rand, D-Cumberland, send bills they oppose to committees where won't have a chance to pass.

"You could do that. Do I do that? No, I've never done that," Basnight said. "Do I stop certain bills over time? Yes. Do I speak on what I believe the majority wants? Yes, I do do that."

Basnight characterizes his actions as leadership, adding that other Democrats can vote him out if they don't like it.

"You can't operate without direction. Somebody has to do that," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger said someone else should have a chance to exercise such leadership.

"I'm a big believer (that) there should be turnover, and turnover is a good thing," said Berger, R-Rockingham.

Two years ago, he introduced a bill that would have created term limits for both the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore positions. Basnight opposed the bill.

"I think it was sent to the Ways and Means Committee," Berger said of the proposal, noting that the committee hasn't met since 2001.

The bill was then sent to a different committee, he said, but it never came up for discussion.


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  • marke3 May 14, 2009

    If there ever was a case for term limits, King Basnight is the #1 case.

  • are you kidding me May 14, 2009

    When will this end! What about the RICO statutes?

  • ratherbnnc May 14, 2009

    Of course its the same ole good ole buddy system. I remember a couple of years ago ( by the way i am from Dare County) when Basnights restaurant in Nags Head burned down. Where it would take months and months to get a CAMA Permit to rebuild on the water like his place in Nags Head, he had his permits in about 6 days yet claims he asked for no favors. The construction crews also worked 24/7 to rebuild it. How about his Brother in law who serves on the NC Utilities Commission ( yes, he also was a member of the Board of Transportation).How about his close relative who got appointed as a Superior Court Judge.
    Marc doesnt look after NE North Carolina, Marc looks after Marc and his buddies!

  • ezLikeSundayMorning May 14, 2009

    He says fellow dems could vote him out, but is it secret ballot? Who would risk voting against someone that could so easily retaliate? And the areas that vote for these guys don't want to vote them out of office and lose that power for their areas.

    The minority needs to have some ability to force a few bills to the floor.

  • rlt197131 May 14, 2009

    They will not vote against Basnight, He is their political power horse. He is their money man. If they dont help him, then the big donors wont contribute to their campaigns.

  • nufsaid May 14, 2009

    "How many more politicians do we have to send to jail before we fix this mess of good old boy politics.

    Quite a few.

  • nufsaid May 14, 2009

    "Two years ago, he introduced a bill that would have created term limits for both the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore positions. Basnight opposed the bill."

    When will Basnight get his turn with the Feds? He seems to deserve a closer look from someone outside his cronies.

  • bandido May 14, 2009

    How many more politicians do we have to send to jail before we fix this mess of good old boy politics. So when do we start the investigation on these two? We won't let the President of the United States sit longer than 8 years but here in NC they seem to govern themselves. Its time for a total revamp of our state government and how we do our business, its embarrassing for the State and the good people that live here.

  • OLD PIRATE 2 May 14, 2009

    I have reviewed the voting record of the 3 legislators in our area. With only 3 or 4 exceptions they all voted alike on over a hundred bills...This simply tells me we have puppets who are in lock step with "their" leadership and not the people of our area. Why are we paying these people to be joined at the waist.

  • Mommyoftwo May 14, 2009

    Ways and Means Committee hasn't met since 2001????? Glad to see people take their ELECTED jobs seriously when placed on committees and the like.

    I think the term limit bill should be proposed again and have the media do extensive coverage so it doesn't get lost in the cracks again!