The most recent session of the North Carolina General Assembly was a veritable smorgasbord of reactionary policy, the hardest swing to the right — the hardest swing in any direction — of any legislative body since the Great Depression.
It would be impossible in this space to list every atrocity visited upon us by the people elected to do business in our names: damage to the education and healthcare sectors that will take a generation to undo, a regressive taxing scheme that that punishes the least among us, cynical political maneuvering designed to settle old scores and quash the votes of those whom they seek to oppress.
For those of us who took pride in living in the enlightened South, it was a devastating attack on the things we once held dear in the Old North State: education, the environment, racial justice, progress.
And many of us find the sheer volume of legislation to pass over these last few months to be staggering. What makes it all the more offensive is that these acts of outright aggression were done under the guise of improving the business climate in our state — as if businesses prefer low
taxes over good schools for their children or clean water to drink.
A massive and foul tide of ideological sewage.
But hey, elections have consequences. It’s difficult to choose the worst piece of lawmaking to pass muster among this term’s crop of zealots, slash-and-burn recidivists and yes men that make up the bulk of our ruling class. But what may be the scariest provision of them all has gotten scant attention from the press, lost as it was in a massive and foul tide of ideological sewage.
SB 473 began as an omnibus healthcare bill — housekeeping stuff, really — that addressed some service providers and their debtors. But the Senate tucked in a little Easter egg at Article 6 Chapter 1, giving the speaker of the House and Senate president pro tem standing to intervene on behalf of the General Assembly as a party in any judicial proceeding challenging a North Carolina statute or provision of the North Carolina Constitution.”
That gives the leaders of the respective houses roughly the same authority as the attorney general to interpret the state constitution.
It’s no coincidence that the current speaker, Thom Tillis, and Senate president pro tem, Phil Berger, are at the vanguard of this Republican-led assault, and that the current attorney general, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat who has criticized some of the laws coming out of this session.
But it seems awfully short-sighted. Even with all the consolidation of power the GOP has managed to affect since taking over the General Assembly in 2010 — the gerrymandering, the infiltration into county commissions and city and town councils, the suppression of the opposing voters — they simply cannot stay in power forever, especially if they keep laying turds like this. Eventually the pendulum will swing the other way, and then it will be Democrats with license to abuse the mantle of authority — which, if you remember, is how we got into this mess in the first place.
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