Friday, December 16, 2016

What Happened Yesterday in Raleigh

(Thanks to Progressive Pulse and the Raleigh News and Observer for reportage)

After kicking the watching public and the press out of its gallery, the NC Senate passed Senate Bill 4 which completely rewrites boards of elections, makes Supreme Court races partisan, slows down the process of challenging this General Assembly for passing unconstitutional legislation, and does several other things. Republicans are bragging that the changes to the boards of elections is "bipartisan," by which they mean "done in secret with no Democratic input." Under S4, the Republican leaders in the General Assembly get to appoint half of a new State Board of Elections. Etc.

S4 went to a House committee last night, where it was quickly approved, and is in another House committee this morning, where ... ditto -- you can bet on it.

The House also cleared the galleries last night and locked the doors and had 17 protesters arrested, including reporter Joe Killian, who refused to leave as a working member of the press.

What's the basic attitude of these Republican lawmakers toward the people thronging the General Assembly in protest? Vicki Boyer, who was standing in a hallway trying to get into a too-small Education Committee room to hear discussion of a completely different bill, got brushed by an arriving lawmaker who snarled, "If you had jobs, you wouldn't have to stand around here."

If we didn't have a coup d'etat under way, we wouldn't have to be standing in a hallway trying to get access to what you people are doing to us in the people's house.

In debate on the floors of the House and the Senate, various Republicans made whining speeches about what Democrats did to them 40 years back. Seriously. That's their excuse for their behavior and for the unprecedented usurpation of power.

After the public and reporters were locked out of the House gallery, that body passed House Bill 17 with 70-36 votes along party lines. The bill strips Governor-elect Roy Cooper’s power, slashing the number of state job positions he can hire or fire from 1,500 to 300, making his cabinet choices subject to NC Senate confirmation, and eliminating his ability to make appointments to university boards of trustees.

Rep. Jeff Collins, Republican from Rocky Mount, said something really funny. He said that he and his fellow GOP had to treat Roy Cooper like an illegal immigrant because the current power balance in state government is “way out of kilter.” BWAhahaha.

“It has all the appearance of a vendetta against a newly elected governor,” commented Rep. Philip Lehman, a Durham Democrat.

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They're not just taking power away from Roy Cooper. They're also messing with public education: "The House is expected to take up House Bill 13 on Friday, which would modify the maximum average class size requirements for kindergarten through third grade." Another law would transfer administration of public schools and the state Department of Public Instruction from the State Board of Education to the state schools superintendent, newly elected Republican Mark Johnson.

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There are another 20 bills in the hopper, another 20 possibilities for real and lasting mischief. Stand by.

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