An email from one of the leading activists fighting for annexation reform gives a glimpse into the "sausage factory" that is what passes for our NC General Assembly. I am on the email list as I think that annexation reform is long past due. There are a multitude of reasons for the delay - most of them for the convenience of the legislators.
One reason not explicitly spelled out below is that the main opponent of annexation reform is North Carolina League of Municipalities, a taxpayer funded lobbying group, that has a headquarters literally blocks away from the legislature. For them cancelled meetings mean a short walk back to the office. For hundreds of citizens who drive to Raleigh from across the state, not so simple.
As to using the "budget crunch" as an excuse - legislators have known since they convened that the new fiscal year starts on July 1. When elected official starts talking about how hard they work, and they are a big part of the reason it is so hard, I have very little sympathy.
StopNCAnnexation A Grassroots Effort to End forced Annexation Abuse in North Carolina
Fighting for reform statewide since 2003
June 24, 2009
So…..once again we were told that the House Judiciary II meeting to discuss annexation reform that was postponed to Wednesday is now postponed until Thursday. We are being told that the cancellations are beyond the control of the legislators scheduling them. The legislators are up to their necks in budget meeting and discussions, and on and on….
Those of us paying any attention to the news or the legislature are very much aware of the budget discussions. How is that an excuse for scheduling meetings to discuss an issue that the legislators know FULL WELL is a highly controversial subject of extreme interest to thousands of people across this State during a week that THEY KNOW will be jam packed with the budget discussions?
But schedule they did. And many people took off work and/or drove for hours on multiple days believing the legislators would do what they told us they were going to do. Only to be turned away empty handed at the last minute with barely a “Gee I’m sorry”.
Consider this: Tuesday evening there was a fundraiser party at the Democrat Headquarters and session was wrapped up so legislators could attend. http://www.wral.com/news/state/story/5375117/
Wednesday night a party was held at Second Empire at 5:00 for legislators to celebrate the passage of the smoking ban bill. A meeting of House Judiciary II after session would have caused some legislators to miss the party.
Now we are being notified that the J2 meeting is scheduled for 15 minutes after session tomorrow. Session starts at 1:00 pm and there are twelve bills on the agenda. But Rep. Glazier is saying that tomorrow could be canceled too and we should check with his office at noon to see if the meeting is still on.
Maybe there are no parties Thursday night.\I can’t in good faith recommend to anyone that they try to go to Raleigh tomorrow and end up going there for nothing. I will go to the General Assembly tomorrow and report on the amendment decisions. If you want to respond to the way the people have been treated with these meetings, or check to make sure the meeting isn’t canceled, please call Rep Glazier’s office tomorrow:
From: Rep. Rick Glazier [mailto:Rick.Glazier@ncleg.net] 919-733-5601
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:31 PM
Subject:RE: Why Was JII POSTPONED
No sir--we are in the middle of having to get a budget for the state done by July 1--that is the top priority of all of us and the meetings to do so are practically now around the clock--I have been here from 7am until midnight most days for the last 3 weeks we have been in session and so have many colleagues. You will notice many committee meetings moved and cancelled or simply not taking place at all. I have attempted in good faith to get this bill scheduled for 3 days and due to many folks budget and finance commitments, including my own and the other 3 co-chairs, who are either chairs as well of House Finance or a subcommittee of House Appropriations, we have had to cancel. I intend to give this bill the time it deserved to be meaningfully heard--otherwise I simply could have forced a vote up or down on the PCS without allowing time to file and read amendments. I am at the same time trying to get the bill out of our committee so it has some chance of passage before the end of session. I have to consider the schedule of 16 legislators on the committee--I simply have no control over the budget process timetable and all the guests who may want to watch the proceedings. That is another reason why I agreed to schedule the meeting in room 544 so people could listen to the proceedings who could not make it to Raleigh. I am committed to hearing the bill tomorrow unless there is significant budget movement and we are back in appropriations and finance meetings into the late afternoon and evening. I do not expect that, but as I have made clear, that schedule is not in my control and the budget is the overriding issue for right now. I hope this answers your question on the scheduling. Rick Glazier
(And there was that party to go to...) And more…
Thanks D***--I really am very sorry about the scheduling. We and staff are pretty exhausted with the end of session schedule and the budget realities. In candor, I will have no idea where we are until late in the morning tomorrow. There was an offer from the House to the Senate on a finance package an hour ago and so now we wait for a response. If there is movement in the morning, then we could see a wholesale schedule change for everyone tomorrow. That should become clear by noon, but much before that is like reading the tea leaves. Please ask anyone who is traveling tomorrow from your coalition to check in with our office around noon to see if the meeting has been cancelled. I remain optimistic we can hear the bill after session tomorrow and that is my full intent absent a complete change in the tenor of the negotiations to date on the finance package. Take care. Rick
Does that explanation make it all okay? Does it make you feel sorry for the legislators?