Editorial: Solution to legislative overreach? Repeal and replace

Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 -- The vendetta-driven agenda of Republicans in the legislature is self-serving partisanship. It doesn't make North Carolina a better place.

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A CBC Editorial: Friday, Dec.16, 2016; Editorial# 8097
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

Repeal and replace. No, we are not talking about Obama care. We’re all for that.

We mean:

  • REPEAL all actions taken by the General Assembly during this fourth “special session.”
  • REPLACE all of the legislators who voted for the deplorable bills passed during this special legislative session.

The actions by legislators are so reprehensible that even citizens observing in the state Senate and House chambers couldn’t restrain themselves Thursday from outbursts of protest. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in the Senate and Speaker Tim Moore in the House, ordered the boisterous audiences -- chanting “All political power comes from the people” -- cleared.

While the disruption, loud protests and arrests continued outside the chambers, the Senate and House were forced to recess.

We understand the frustration of those in the gallery – shared by tens of thousands of North Carolinians -- over the arrogant and unwarranted power grab they were witnessing.

Republicans, like state Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, were clear the legislative action was not about making North Carolina or its government better; it was about settling long-festering political scores. How long? Brown cited the 1976 so-called “Christmas Massacre” when soon-to-be Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt let it be known that the Republicans installed in state government would lose their jobs.  Brown was a 21-year-old college student at the time.

For every perceived Democratic tit, Brown had a Republican tat. “Everybody knows the history and we’ll just leave it at that,” he concluded.

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, responded appropriately and succinctly. “Whatever it was that somebody did to you, that gives you justification to do it to somebody else? I don’t believe that.”

The message the GOP vendetta sends to the North Carolinians they represent, Blue said, is clear and unfortunate. “We’re putting our own interests above their interest.”

Amid the sorry spectacle, we see a fundamental question North Carolinians must ask: What kind of person puts partisan politics above the orderly functioning of state government?

This special session is giving us a clear answer to that question – every GOP legislator who votes for these “get even” bills is guilty of that sorry charge.

They are motivated, not by seeking to do good for the state, but by imposing their personal partisan and ideological views, regardless of the popular will. They maintain power by unconstitutionally manipulating election laws and gerrymandering representative districts.

Now, when a majority of the state’s voters picked a new governor not of their liking, they are rushing to make ill-conceived changes in essential functions of state government, strip the governor of long-standing authority and duties while dishing out plum state jobs and judicial appointments to their political pals.

It is not a picture of political prowess and finesse. Rather it is a portrait of the arrogant ham-handedness of grown-up school yard bullies.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, during a news conference, made it clear that while he’ll seek to work and compromise with the GOP majority in the legislature, he won’t be a patsy or pushover if their actions aren’t in the interest of the state.

“This has got to stop. I will use every tool in the governor’s office, to fight for everyday North Carolinians, including the courts if necessary,” Cooper said. “If I believe that laws passed by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court.  And they don’t have a very good track record there.”

Even former Gov. Jim Martin, a Republican who served eight years with a General Assembly controlled by Democrats and fought mightily and not always successfully against efforts to curtail his authority, said this GOP majority was going too far.

It was a sorry display Thursday. It unfortunately will continue today, in a building that is meant to be a shrine to our representative government, but has been transformed to a caldron of vindictiveness and spite.

A court order has mandated that legislative districts be drawn in a fair and legal manner and that elections be conducted in about 10 months. Fairly drawn representative districts and strong competitive candidates in each district will bring fair-minded North Carolinians the opportunity to end the current legislature’s reign of disrespect and disregard. Vote the arrogant bullies out.

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