Editorial: 'Gut & Replace' tactic hides legislators' accountability to voters
Friday, July 23, 2021 -- Legislators are obligated to assure that their constituents can hold them accountable. Voters must be clearly able to see the decisions representatives make are in line with their desires and not for the legislators' personal benefit. It is not too much to expect -- and it is an appropriate demand -- that citizens and legislators know exactly what they are voting for and why. Ban "Gut & Replace" now.Posted — Updated
The votes of EVERY member of the House (except Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes County – who was absent and excused from voting) were meaningless, merely a vehicle to advance legislation they knew nothing about nor will have the opportunity expose to the complete legislative process or fully debate.
Instead of a committee and full floor debate, with the ability to change the new version of the bill after it leaves the Senate – as would be the process of typical legislation -- it only gets an up-or-down vote in the House. There’s no committee discussion nor any chance for amendments.
“Gut & Replace.” It is a favorite strong-arm tactic of Senate Leader Phil Berger. There’s nothing new about this legislative version of “bait & switch.” It’s been used by Democrats as well as Republicans.
It is a troubling practice that destroys a basic pillar of representative government -- the ability of voters to hold their elected representative accountable for their actions.
Berger has transformed “Gut & Replace” from a rarely used scheme into a routine way of doing the public’s business. The tactic takes a bill that has already been passed, deletes the content of that legislation and replaces it with whatever Berger wants. It transforms, not merely amends.
There are more recent examples of this tactic:
This tactic makes things -- the good or bad of the legislation; what needs it meets or misses; who it benefits or hurts – irrelevant. It renders critical votes moving it along in the legislative process meaningless.
There is no emergency concerning high school athletics, or the other issues now being rushed through via “Gut & Replace.”
As regards changing governance of high school athletics: “This is precisely the kind of issue that deserves a closer look,” Harrison said. “I’m hearing from constituents who are very concerned. It deserves more thorough discussion. There’s real potential to leave parties out that will be significantly impacted – and that won’t be good legislation.”
This is not about whether any of this legislation is necessary or unnecessary – though that is an important matter.
Legislators are obligated to assure that their constituents can hold them accountable. Voters must be clearly able to see the decisions representatives make are in line with their desires and not for the legislators’ personal benefit.
It is not too much to expect -- and it is an appropriate demand -- that citizens and legislators know exactly what they are voting for and why.
Ban “Gut & Replace” now.
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