With little over a month left in the current "Long" Session of the North Carolina General Assembly, we see some signs that we can be heartened by, but also some troubling patterns for the future. Given supermajorities in both the House and the Senate, the GOP has moved to pacify its core constituencies in the business and religious community. A lessoning of regulations as well as a potential overhaul of the State tax code gives the business community much to be happy about. Whether or not a total elimination of the State income and corporate taxes comes to fruition remains to be seen. The Republicans have also moved to pass further restrictions on abortion, including a ban on sex-selection abortions.
Perhaps the greatest thing we can be happy for is the coming passage of Voter ID. Despite much howling from the usual suspects, the GOP and some moderate Democrats in the House have passed the bill which is now pending Senate approval. The McCrory administration has also joined with the General Assembly in rejecting the Medicaid funds from the federal government as part of Obamacare. North Carolina is the closest of the 2012 battleground States to outright reject the funds, and Florida is poised to do so as well.
Disturbingly though the Republicans in the General Assembly are using their power to dictate to municipalities how to run their affairs.
While partisan Republicans normally take heart at seeing Democrat-led cities being dressed down, the precedent being set cannot leave true State-rights conservatives too eager for the days the Democrats take control of the legislature again. Eminent domain reform was a battle-cry for the Republicans when they first took control on Jones Street.
But this has also led to the legislature dictating to cities and counties how to manage their municipal elections, how to run their airports, and how to conduct land deals. This trend brings back memories of the big government "conservatism" of the George W. Bush era, and we know how that turned out.
These are heady days to be a Republican in Raleigh, but fundamental change has yet to come about in State government even with total control of all three branches in Republican hands. Things are moving in a better direction than the days of Perdue and Basnight, but the Old North State still is not being run in the truest conservative tradition of Nathaniel Macon.
NC LS Legislative Affairs