The North Carolina General Assembly is not a college fraternity or a high school student council, but unfortunately, the people in charge of the show there seem to think it should be treated as such — a place where deception and dirty tricks can be used to enact laws that affect the lives of 10 million people.
In recent weeks, House Speaker Tim Moore and his minions have stooped to this kind of behavior on a regular basis in an effort to manufacture an override of Gov. Cooper’s budget veto. Time and again, Moore has played games with the schedule of the House in a desperate attempt to find a way to conduct an override vote on the Governor’s budget veto at a moment when enough Democratic members happen to be off the House floor.
Members have been kept late into the evening for no good reason other than to sit around in hopes someone will leave early. House sessions have been convened for five minutes and then recessed (or members have been told the House is “at ease”) for indeterminate periods. Some sessions have been convened only to adjourn almost immediately without having taken any votes or meaningful actions at a cost of thousands of dollars. Repeatedly, Democratic members and the millions of people they represent have been kept utterly in the dark as to House schedules and plans.
It’s gotten so absurd that Moore has intentionally scheduled House sessions to conflict with evening in-district meetings scheduled by Democratic members. On multiple occasions, House Democrats have been unable to attend to family needs and illnesses for fear of not being on the House floor at precisely the wrong moment.
Last night, Moore sent an email to members which was clearly intended to give the impression that there would be no meaningful action taken on legislation in today’s session. It read:
“For your planning purposes, there will be no 2nd or 3rd reading recorded votes tomorrow (Wednesday 8/14).
Please watch your emails for committee meeting notices.
Speaker Tim Moore”
A moment’s careful reflection, however, reveals that Moore’s memo does not rule out the possibility of a veto override vote, which is not technically considered a “second reading” or “third reading” item in the General Assembly’s parliamentary parlance.
The bottom line: Moore’s trickery and deceptions are outrageous and unworthy of the chief lawmaking assembly for our state. The 2019 session needs to come to an end. Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger have lost the veto override battle. They need to stop acting like immature college frat boys and sit down with Gov. Cooper and Democratic leaders to negotiate a final agreement. This kind of behavior sullies our state, undermines democracy and sets a dangerous precedent for the future.