Absurd Senate budget process heralds arrival of legislative silly season

ff3072013We’re just a couple of weeks into the 2014 session of the North Carolina General Assembly, but the annual legislative silly season has already commenced. Not familiar with silly season? That’s the time of year in which legislative leaders force their members to work all kinds of silly, late night hours in order to limit media coverage and handicap/wear down those who might want to criticize or contest their agenda (i.e. the minority party).

Usually, silly season doesn’t start until there have been several months (or, at least, several weeks) of actual, semi-normal  legislative process, but this year, in keeping with the current majority’s increasingly pathological aversion to sunlight and transparency, it’s starting just days after the session itself commenced. The Senate is kicking silly season off today with a wholly unnecessary Friday afternoon session, followed by an even more unnecessary post-midnight session early tomorrow morning, during which it will ram though its destructive 2015 budget proposal.

And lest you get the mistaken impression that lawmakers will actually be working longer hours during silly season, rest assured that this will almost certainly not be the case. While the House (which left yesterday) will return to Raleigh for its usual Monday night start to the week on June 2, Senators are giving every indication that they will not return until Tuesday night or later; Senate committees for Tuesday (including a scheduled hearing on the Governor’s coal ash clean-up plan) have already been cancelled.

In other words, the late night shenanigans literally serve zero purpose — 0ther than to help keep prying eyes of voters away and to assure that laws are made by exhausted and poorly-informed legislators. Is this a great state or what?

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