During most legislative floor sessions, the gallery (the seating area above each chamber) is open to the public. But on Opening Day, when the new legislature is gaveled in, you need a pass to get into the gallery. Each caucus in each chamber gets a certain number of seats. Most of them go to family and friends of lawmakers, so they can watch their loved ones take the oath of office.
This year, though, two Senate gallery passes will go to the lucky winners of a drawing being held by the Senate GOP Caucus. The price of entry: your e-mail address on their mailing list. The winner will be announced via a YouTube video Monday at noon on the caucus’ website, www.mystatesenate.com.
Some Democrats are grumbling about the giveaway. They say it’s a partisan marketing ploy that cheapens a solemn occasion. But Senate GOP political director Nathan Babcock sees it differently.
“We’re doing this as a way to give people the chance to see Opening Day who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get passes if they don’t know someone in the legislature,” Babcock said. “It’s a way for two North Carolinians to come to the legislature and witness history.”
He added, “We’re not going to check (entrants’) voter registration to see if they’re Republicans or Democrats – anyone is welcome to enter.”