As Chris Fitzsimon noted this morning, the lack of sunlight and opportunity for public input on a new round of tax cuts currently under construction in the state Senate is truly outrageous.
Now there’s more news on the black hole that is the Senate in this story by Mark Binker at WRAL.com entitled: “Crucial legislation can be crafted behind closed doors.”
As Binker reports, Senate Republicans are literally drafting the state budget behind closed doors with literally no opportunity for public input:
“Both Republicans and Democrats hold closed-door caucus meetings at the General Assembly, but the current Republican majority means that the GOP members have the raw numbers to determine the fate of legislation in those sessions.
It’s important to note that party caucuses have been used for decades, if not centuries, to wrangle sometimes unruly legislative bodies. For most of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st, it was Democrats who could gather behind closed doors in sufficient numbers to determine the outcome of a bill.
‘It was wrong when the Democrats were doing it, and it’s wrong now, [Common Cause NC Executive Director Bob] Phillips said.
The Senate budget provides a particularly stark example of the practice. After working through many of their intramural differences in private, Senate leaders say they will bypass the budget subcommittees that traditionally review the hundreds of pages that make up the $21 billion spending plan. Instead, the measure will go to a single budget committee before heading to the floor.”
The bottom line: It’s hard to imagine a less open lawmaking process than is now underway in North Carolina. No wonder the powers that be are so uneasy about protesters in the Legislative Building; they don’t want any witnesses to what they are up to.