Commentary

Lawmakers return to town today: How ugly will things get?

The General Assembly officially convenes the 2017 “long” session today (click here for a preliminary primer) and for a lot of people this is dreary prospect. The Charlotte Observer went so far this morning as to use its lead editorial to spell out its five worst fears about the impending session:

1. The legislature’s relationship with Gov. Roy Cooper will be even worse than the one it had with Pat McCrory. Cooper, a Democrat, knocked off McCrory, but if Sen. Phil Berger and the gang can pancake McCrory, think what they might do to Cooper. That Cooper is trying to ignore their law and expand Medicaid, and that legislators see him as sinking an HB2 repeal deal last month, does not get relations off to a promising start.

2. Speaking of getting pancaked, Charlotte is at the center of the legislature’s griddle. Republican leaders have had an ongoing feud with the state’s biggest city and they don’t like Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Expect bullying, through tax redistribution, stealing more governing power and other methods.

3. HB2 sits untouched. It has done so much damage to the state, but its last chance at repeal for a while may have gone when the special session went off the rails in December.

4. Voting rights are attacked further. After a tight race with Cooper, McCrory did more than seek a legitimate recount. He alleged voter fraud in more than half the counties. Many see that as laying the groundwork for further restrictions targeting phantom fraud.

5. Redistricting gets nasty. The U.S. Supreme Court put things on hold Tuesday, but the General Assembly might yet have to redraw its election district boundaries. If it does, expect hardball, with individual legislators targeted across the state.”

And sadly, that’s not all that could be on the table. Such a list could have also included the Right’s ongoing pushes to:

  • eliminate the state income tax,
  • bring back predatory “payday” lending,
  • privatize and sell of our public education system,
  • ban all abortions,
  • harass immigrants,
  • complete the takeover and evisceration of the university system, and
  • a host of other items.

The Observer editorial also included a list of hopes as well that basically boiled down to the conservatives backing off the pedal a smidge. Let’s hope that’s possible, but if it is to happen, it will take a lot more than just relying on Governor Cooper to act as a roadblock; it will take tens of thousands of North Carolinians getting off their duffs like they did during the “Moral Monday” summer of 2013 and pushing back.

Buckle your chinstraps.

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