After several weeks of touting the speed with which the new Republican majority is moving legislation, state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger had a different message today.
“We’ve slowed it down,” Tillis said.
A chorus of critics has accused the new majority of moving too quickly and failing to allow input from the Democrats, particularly in the House.
Tillis says his caucus is reaching out to Democrats and the governor’s office on both S8, the Charter School Reform bill, and H351, the Voter ID measure. “We’re trying to make it clear that we’re willing to listen, we’re willing to slow down as long as there's productive discussion,” Tillis said, “not obstructionist moves just to slow it down and try to run out the clock.”
Tillis says a new version of the Voter ID bill, should be introduced in House Elections committee Wednesday. He says it addresses “legitimate concerns” voiced by the measure’s opponents.
A proposed moratorium on forced annexations is also on hold in the House. After meeting with several mayors last week, Tillis said, he would “prefer not to move the moratorium,” pushing instead for a more comprehensive annexation reform measure he says could be unveiled next week.
But there’s one measure they aren’t slowing down: S265, the proposed overhaul of the State Health Plan. The Senate gave it final approval Monday night. It’ll spend two hours in House Insurance today. Tillis says it will go through Appropriations tomorrow morning, and be on the House floor for a vote tomorrow afternoon.
The reason for speed, according to Tillis and Berger, is that the changes in the bill would need to be implemented by July 1st, and the process takes about 90 days. Berger said if lawmakers don’t finish work on the bill by April 1st, “We miss the window to implement it this fiscal year.” Statehouse GOP press conference, Mar 29 2011
Watch the whole news conference: