Back in the day, North Carolina had a long session of the legislature in odd numbered years and short session of the legislature in even years. During the long session, the General Assembly passed a budget that would serve the state for two years. It was based on revenue projections. In the short session, which was supposed to last about three weeks, the legislature would reconvene to make adjustments to the budget based on actual revenue and changes in the projections.
Those days are over. Today, we have an almost continuous legislature, convening for everything from HB2 to last minute power grabs between elections and the reconfigured governments they produce. For the party that talks about less government, we sure get a lot of it from the GOP leaders in North Carolina.
To be fair, Republicans didn’t start our on-going legislature. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, we watched sessions run well into the fall instead of ending in the middle of summer. Now, we just have breaks between mini-session that have no clear beginning and end. We also have little predictability about how the legislature will behave and what issues it will addressed.
The latest session is no exception. Republicans scheduled the session before they left in the summer expecting to lose their veto proof majorities. They came with the intention of writing rules for the constitutional amendments they hoped would pass before the Democrats had a chance to shape them by upholding the Governor’s veto. In other words, they wanted to make sure that they had the opportunity to subvert the will of the people while they still could.
They didn’t expect the election to still be unresolved, but they’re in Raleigh to deal with it. They’re using their hand to try to force an outcome of a tainted election that’s favorable to them. If they must face a new election in NC-09, they want a new primary, too, so they don’t have a politically damaged Mark Harris as their nominee.
Politically, the GOP is impressive. They’re wringing every last ounce of power they can out of their veto proof majority. It might not make for good government and it certainly won’t Democrats happy, but they are leaving nothing on the table before their power wanes.