It is difficult to report on legislative matters because so many of the most important developments take place behind in secret and are never documented. As an article in NC Policy Watch summarizes:
“Whether it’s cutting off debate on legislation, holding surprise, late night sessions, regularly ignoring the committee process, burying new and controversial laws that were never previously discussed in omnibus budget bills that cannot be amended, holding an endless series of “special” legislative sessions, refusing to record and archive all sorts of important proceedings, or even directly and blatantly punishing lawmakers who dare to speak up during debate, Republicans have evidenced little shame. Much as has been the case with gerrymandering, legislative leaders have not so much invented new tactics and tricks as they have cynically perfected and expanded the use of old ones.”
This unhealthy pattern continues.
This week the General Assembly reconvened, and legislators lost no time ramming through complex, multi-issue legislation with almost no discussion. House Bill 90 was voted out of the Appropriations Committee and passed the Senate on the same day. This omnibus bill offers a fix for the unfunded class size mandate, takes away the governor’s control of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline mitigation fund, and reorganizes the State Board of Elections (for the third time)–three unrelated issues in a single bill.
The Problems with House Bill 90
Last year the General Assembly created a crisis by passing legislation mandating a reduction in class size and a reduction of student/teacher ratios in kindergarten through third grade without appropriating any funds to make implementing the mandate possible without serious strain to school budgets and sacrificing special area programs.