Munger for NC Governor--2008!!

Recording the campaign activities, events, and happenings of the Munger for Governor campaign.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Legislative Reform

Interesting....I have been a political scientist for 20 year, and have lived in NC for 16 years of that.

But there are two practices of the NC legislature that I had never heard of...and which are APPALLING abuses of power.

They are:

1. "Floaters." These are a kind of strategic reserve for the speaker or the chamber leadership. Floaters are, first and foremost, loyal to the incumbent speaker, and can be counted on to cast votes as the speaker instructs them. If just a few seats on each committee are reserved for "floaters," the speaker can nearly always get his way. And since floaters don't actually serve on the committee, but just show up for the vote, the whole idea of committee deliberation is thrown into a cocked hat. This COULD be more defensible in a parliamentary system, where at least the legislative leader is responsible to the entire government. But in our system the speaker need only win his/her own district to stay in office. Why should someone who wins a majority of some nonrepresentative district somewhere in the state get to decide ALL committee policy votes in the legislature? The practice of appointing floaters, and reserving seats on key committees for same, should be abolished at once.

2. Budget Mess. Consider these common practices on budget legislation in NC in recent years:
a. Blank bills: An empty, or blank bill, with no content, passed at the end of a session, with the understanding that the actual content (the LAW itself) will be written in later, at the discretion of the speaker or a small number of cronies.
b. Omnibus or aggregate spending labels, without itemized spending broken out by line-item.
c. Last-minute "budgets" which are in fact nothing more than stacks of paper that no one has had a chance to read, and which in fact are not available to members to read.
d. Use of amendments and "technical corrections" bills to pass substantive, and sometimes controversial, legislation without the knowledge or consent of the legislature.

The NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform sent these suggestions, and quite a few others, to House Speaker candidates. I would work with the Speaker, after inauguration in 2009, to make these changes permanent, and try to reform other parts of the budget and revenue legislation process as well. But kudos to the NCCLR! And thanks to D. Kane and B. Barrett for their short N&O piece on the list....


Post a Comment

<< Home