Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hardball in the state Senate

The Senate divide

If you were watching or listening in on the state Senate Tuesday and Wednesday, you'd have seen and heard firsthand why Republicans in that chamber believe they've been dealt a very bad hand by the Democrats. One big problem for Republicans, of course, is that Democrats are in charge, just as they have been for, oh, a century or so. There are 30 Democrats and 20 Republicans, and when one party holds 60 percent of a chamber, they do pretty much as they please.

From the Democratic point of view, that's just the way the game works. The majority rules, and the Democrats see their job as running the chamber efficiently and cranking out legislation they see fit to run the state. One of those bills was to shore up the state employees’ health plan, which has nearly run out of money and which required significant changes, including higher contributions from employees' dependents and an infusion from taxpayers, too.

Republicans largely voted against the bill Tuesday, at least partly because they did not feel part of the process in figuring out how to change the plan. Some Democrats took great umbrage at Republicans' refusal to take responsibility for supporting the plan changes, making Democrats look bad for raising rates and boosting taxpayer support for the plan, and giving Republicans a campaign issue next election to bash the Democrats.

Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, said he was appalled at the lack of Republican support. "Are y'all going to let them get away with that?" he asked me shortly after the vote Tuesday. Hoyle thought Republicans were spineless in refusing to support a measure that everyone knew would have to pass in some form or other to keep the health plan afloat.

But Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, came back to the press section in the Senate and slumped down beside me. "It's hard to take your medicine when it's being shoved down your throat," he said glumly before trudging back to his seat.

Wednesday things didn't get any better when the Senate voted on eight members of the UNC Board of Governors. Like Republicans, Democrats caucus on a lot of issues and decide the party's position. Democrats also decide who they want to win the coveted seats for the Board of Governors. They controlled the voting Wednesday, too, in effect leaving legislators with a choice of eight names for eight seats. That had Senate Republican leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, fuming about the process.

“Yesterday’s vote on the State Health Plan illustrated how Senate Democrats fix a bill behind closed doors. Today, we saw how they manipulate the UNC Board of Governors election. This 'Soviet' styled balloting is an affront to our democratic system and to the people of North Carolina,” Berger said in a news release.

Those are fightin' words, but don't expect them to change anything. The Democrats still hold 30 seats,the Republicans 20. It's going to be a long session for the GOP.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jack, You need to write about something more interesting. No one writes in your blog.

Wayne Goodwin said...

Notwithstanding what "Anonymous" said before: Jack, your blog is - in my opinion and in the opinion of others - quite interesting on every subject you select.

And, again to reply to "Anonymous", I have written on Jack's blog before and am writing again today. I've also read posted comments by many other folks on Jack's blog.

A successful blog isn't determined by how many posted comments it receives. In my opinion, a posted blog is successful by how many persons choose to read it and think about what was published.

Anonymous said...

Wayne thank you for your input. It's great to know that someone cares for Jack.

Steve said...

I note that none of the comments relate to the contents of Jack's blog. He's reporting on a situation so hopeless that there's not much to say.

The same little bunch can pretty well tell the rest of the Democrats how to vote and can make up the rules as they go along. They don't even have to follow the state constitution, because they can get at least half of the state supreme court to go along.

In effect 40% of the state might as well not be represented at all.

At least they can't blame the other side for any of NC's problems.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David McKnight said...

Hey Anonymous--

There's nothing more interesting than the people, land, history and culture of North Carolina, "The Old North State, where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great."

Thanks to the writing of Jack Betts and many others on The Observer's staff who grew up in other parts of North Carolina, readers of The Observer can learn a lot of important lessons about life and politics in this state just by reading their columns.

Then if you go out and travel the highways and byways of N.C., you can add to this knowledge of an important and interesting Southern state through the accumulation of your own personal experiences.

Walking the state from Manteo to Murphy in 1977 was one of the best experiences I ever had, so any time an Observer columnist writes about contemporary living in North Carolina, I'm "all ears," or should I say, "All eyes."

Yes, Yogi Berra was right when he reminded us that "you can observe a lot just by watching." So watch The Observer's print editions and blog spots for unique and informative insights into life in this place we call home between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Anonymous said...

Look I have nothing personal agaisnt Jack. At least he allows people to post comments without his approval. With that said he also wears a cool bow tie.

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