By: - June 24, 2016 11:35 am


Legislative leaders joke about undemocratic process

Good luck if you are trying to keep with what the people representing you in Raleigh are doing these days.

As the session heads towards what may be its final two weeks, calendars and committee notices mean virtually nothing, as legislative leaders are routinely stripping the content out of bills and replacing it with something totally unrelated and sometimes controversial.

That makes it impossible for citizens and even most lawmakers to keep up with what is happening. It’s not a new practice—remember the 2013 episode when a motorcycle safety bill was changed to impose sweeping new restrictions on abortion services.

But it is happening more than ever and even more troubling, legislative leaders openly defend the practice.

Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaca, who is reportedly considering becoming a lobbyist next year, told the News & Observer that the so called gut and amend scheme was a beautiful thing.

House Speaker Tim Moore, who committee chairs are supposed to answer to, predicted a lot more of the undemocratic procedure in the next two weeks, saying things were going to get worse before they were going to get better.

They can’t get much worse for people who would like to weigh in on legislation that affects their lives—they have no chance.

It’s also worth noting that many of the groups on the Right who were critical of the last minute transformation of legislation when it happened under a Democratic majority are silent now. The ideological ends apparently justifies the undemocratic means.

Speaker Moore in the dark about HB2?

Speaker Moore also made headlines this week with another odd statement, that he doesn’t know what, if anything, will happen to HB2 before lawmakers adjourn.

That’s hard to believe since the negative reaction to the anti-LGBT law from businesses in North Carolina and across the country has dominated much of the discussion of this legislative session. Companies have cancelled projects in the state and the NBA is considering moving the 2017 all-star game from Charlotte because of HB2.

There have been rumors of various compromises to respond to some of the criticism but nothing has happened. Moore, as House Speaker, surely has been at the center of those negotiations. He not only knows what is happening, he is one of the most powerful people in the state and can make things happen too.

He could help the state tremendously if would speak out in support of a statewide nondiscrimination standard that protects LGBT people from being fired or denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Moore isn’t shy about stating his position on other issues before the House and needs to state his position on the defining issue of this session and this year in North Carolina.

Saying nobody knows what is going to happen isn’t good enough. He has the power to make things happen.

A clear signal from the NC GOP

Speaking of HB2, the North Carolina Republican Party just hired Kami Mueller, one of the law’s key defenders as its new communications director.

Mueller, who also worked for Lt. Governor Dan Forest, was the spokesperson for the N.C. Values Coalition and the misnamed Keep NC Safe Coalition. The two groups are among the staunchest defenders of the controversial anti-LGBT law that has damaged North Carolina’s reputation around the world.

Mueller was also part of the group behind Amendment One, the constitutional amendment passed in 2012 that banned same-sex marriage in the state, a decision later overturned by the U.S Supreme Court.

Among the statements made by Mueller in her various jobs that also included a stint at the N.C. Family Policy Council, was her prediction that marriage equality would result in children learning that homosexuality was normal and that adoption by male couples was already “scarily rampant.”

The N.C. Democratic Party pointed out this week that Mueller had tweeted negative things about Donald Trump during the primary campaign, which may make it harder to believe her when she defends the Republican presidential nominee as part of her new job.

But her anti-gay comments and the hateful rhetoric of her former employers is even more troubling. But her hiring does send a clear message about where the NC GOP stands in the debate about LGBT rights and discrimination.

The party is apparently all in on the crusade to deny equal rights to LGBT people in North Carolina

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066