Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Legislative partisanship triumphs over real progress for N.C.

Posted June 29, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2020 8:18 a.m. EDT

The North Carolina State Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh, where the NC General Assembly meets. Photo taken August 17, 2018.

CBC Editorial: Monday, June 29, 2020; Editorial #8557
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.


The latest session of the General Assembly has wrapped up, sort of. The leaders have sent a very clear message to the North Carolinians they represent.

Their top priorities: Playing election-year politics; Pointless partisan jousting with the governor; Token headline-grabbing that could leave public health at risk; and Providing more places for people to carry concealed weapons.

In the midst of a very real pandemic, what they are not about is working with Gov. Roy Cooper to beat the virus and plan for the future; to best position the state so it can rapidly recover when the opportunity becomes clear; or even to set examples for healthful behavior.

Republicans who refuse to wear masks in the Legislative Building are acting like children. Their actions and the dangerous example they set, is helping, not slowing, the spread of COVID-19. They jeopardize our state and nation’s recovery from the ravages of the coronavirus. They need to grow up.

There is universal agreement among health care professionals along with federal and state health officials, that wearing masks is one of the most effective ways to thwart the spread of COVID-19. Legislators should be heeding the advice of experts who know what they’re talking about rather than yahoos on social media spreading deadly falsehoods. MASKS ARE NOT POLITICAL!

Remaining at the bottom of the barrel are concerns for the health and welfare of North Carolina’s citizens, particularly the 621,700 workers without jobs now; positioning our education system to provide the constitutionally-guaranteed quality education to every child; and addressing systemic racism.

During the session the General Assembly sent 81 bills to Gov. Roy Cooper. “Highlights” included:

  • Legislation to allow gyms, exercise studios and bars to open. These businesses do need help. But placing them and their customers in deathly danger is not the remedy.
  • A $350.00 annual bonus for public school teachers. That’s less than a dollar a day. That’s slightly more than half of what the federal government is paying in special COVID-19 unemployment benefits in a WEEK. That’s the bonus our teachers get for their steady pivot and devotion when they suddenly had to connect with and teach students who were spread hither-and-yon.
  • Making previously public records about hog farms secret and giving them a green-light to expand for the first time in 23 years.

It would be unfair to contend there wasn’t ANYTHING of merit accomplished. Critical election law changes and funding was passed that will help with the unique challenges voters and those who administer our polling places and elections face this year. Funding for universities and community colleges come close to helping maintain the status quo. A couple of laws were passed that will help those who have been convicted of crimes and served their sentences, more easily reintegrate into society. Those were the exceptions, though, and not the rule.

These are challenging times. The failures to do more and act in ways that help loom large.

One bill brings it in sharp focus:

The state Senate’s obstinate refusal to even bring up in committee, the House passed $3.1 billion bond issue for public school and road construction projects. This legislation is the definition of bipartisan consensus. The House passed it 113 to 5 (a lone Democrat and four Republicans voted against it).

This legislation creates jobs; pumps badly needed money into communities across the state; and meets critical needs of public schools not to mention the economic development benefits of a quality road system.

At a time when legislators should be focusing on opportunities for cooperation and achievement, the leaders of this General Assembly have been busy looking for opportunities to sow division.

North Carolinians have made it clear they want their legislators to take important steps to move ahead and get off of the treadmill that neglects the promise of a quality education for our children; fails to provide much-needed health care to those who cannot afford it – particularly during this pandemic; and continues to jeopardize the health and safety of our citizens.

North Carolinians will have an opportunity in November to make their legislators and other elected officials sit up and take notice when they speak from the ballot box.

Election day cannot come soon enough.

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