Looking Back At A Long Legislative Session
North Carolina lawmakers adjourned a marathon legislative season with a flurry of activity and an all-night session last week. It began with a budget stalemate, and ended with controversial bills being discussed behind closed doors. WFDD’s Neal Charnoff sat down with Thom Little, a lecturer with the UNCG Political Science department, to gain some perspective.
Little says that the excessive length of the session saw three leaders with three different objectives. He points to veteran Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, newly-elected House Speaker Tim Moore, and a governor who has his eye on reelection.
Little says with this dynamic, "things took time. A lot more negotiation, a lot more discussion, a lot more debate. So all of those things combined meant we were going to be there for awhile."
The year ended with what seemed like a chaotic all-night session. Little says that's typical of any legislative body. He compares it to students working all night on papers due the next day.
"I don't care if it's a 90-day session, a 150-day session, or a 365-day session", says Little. "A lot of work is going to be done the last day."
The session also saw several attempts to enact state authority over local issues. Little says the root causes here are institutional and ideological.
He points out that Republicans have control of all levels of state government for the first time since Reconstruction. "They think they should be able to control everything", says Little. "And then they look at some of the urban areas and some of the cities, and they're passing things that don't match what they want to do, and I think they find that very frustrating."
Little also believes there's tension between a conservative Republican party and a more liberal urban environment.
He says legislators will have a busy off-season with committee meetings, task forces, and constituent casework.
Lawmaker officially reconvene next April.