State News

Ethics reform in jeopardy as legislative session wraps up

Posted July 9, 2010
Updated July 10, 2010

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— North Carolina lawmakers reconvened early Saturday discussing issues like the broad ethics and government reform legislation.

House and Senate leaders negotiated behind the scenes for much of Friday on the ethics reform package. The main sticking point is a provision in the House bill that would restrict campaign contributions by people with state contracts. Senate leaders want to study the issue more.

"We're still working through the tough provisions and the differences between the bills, but we've made significant progress," said Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.

"The discussion was about how do we accomplish what we want to accomplish," Senate Majority Leader Martin Nesbitt said.

Reform advocates and lobbyists said they've pushed various aspects of the bill for months, if not years, and they were frustrated that the measure was coming down to the final hours of the legislative session.

"It is sort of a curiosity that the bill that will give the public a better right to know about how government operates is all being done behind closed doors," said John Bussian, an attorney who specializes in First Amendment law.

Jane Pinsky, director of the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, said she was waiting out the debate in the halls of the Legislative Building in hopes of seeing a last-minute accord.

"Part of sitting and waiting is reminding people this is an issue they have to deal with, and they can't just walk away from it," Pinsky said. "I don't think there are many corrupt (people) in state government, but the perception is that they are, and that's what has to be addressed."

North Carolina Legislature Building (4x3) Last day of legislative session brings flurry of activity

Senate negotiators said they expected to vote on an ethics bill late Friday, but a House member said it could actually be sometime Saturday, putting the goal of adjourning shortly after midnight in jeopardy.

House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman said lawmakers were trying to do their best to pass ethics reform, but there's always next year.

"If it doesn't (get worked out), we'll be back in January to take care of it," said Holliman, D-Davidson.

Other last-minute bills include extending or expanding tax breaks to industries legislators want to attract to the state, including movies and computer data centers, and directing law enforcement to take DNA samples of people arrested on serious charges

The House passed the incentives bill 72-35 on Friday morning, but the legislation was later amended to add language to help targeted businesses, necessitating more votes.

The DNA bill was sent back to a House committee Friday afternoon and required House and Senate negotiators to hammer out differences between their competing proposals. State law now allows law enforcement to collect DNA only after someone has been convicted.


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  • TooMuchDrama Jul 9, 2010

    And does this REALLY surprise anyone?

  • colliedave Jul 9, 2010

    All pols should serve on their dime and must keep their banking records open for all to see.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Jul 9, 2010

    Number one business's don't need a tax break. This is nuts. No matter if it is small or big.
    What are the computers going to be going to? What will they be using them for?
    The DNA bill I am all for it. The reason for it makes things go a lot faster & saves money. And that they aren't thinking about.
    Why aren't they trying to help our school system. I was told they are getting ride of teachers, they are losing items for school?
    We might need to vote them out.

  • oleguy Jul 9, 2010

    Our Govt. Is a waste of OUR money, Vote them all out,,,


  • ranquick Jul 9, 2010

    i think they should have to work until all issue are handled correctly or turn it over for general public to vote on new laws and bills. The state would be better off this way.

  • pappybigtuna1 Jul 9, 2010

    D. Ross is evil, she had no right to kill that bill, it was passed by the state senate, when is her re-election coming up, if I have to stand on the corner against her, she does not represent the people she is a communist, evil, pure evil

  • Garnerwolf1 Jul 9, 2010

    Remember that they normally show up in Raleigh Monday evening, and are gone by Thur lunch. Drawing per diem for 5 full days. This 'overtime' happens every session - they spend the first month debating the state squirrel or some such, then one side works on the budget, then the other side, then they come together, and finally get a little something done. Then they realize it's vacation/campaign time and they crash out of here.

  • The Deadhead Jul 9, 2010

    Democrat Deborah Ross (District 38), Chair of the Judiciary I Committee, killed Senate Bill 928 (NC Castle Law) in committee. This bill should have been fast-tracked out of committee to a vote. NC needs a "castle law" now.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Jul 9, 2010

    If they didn't get in trouble they wouldn't have to give there DNA. It is a person's on fault if they get in trouble. I hope they pass the DNA bill, we really need it. I would also like to see that all people that have felon's or other serious crimes have to give there DNA to.

  • Retired07 Jul 9, 2010

    TERM LIMITS. Go home Basnight!