News of the death of veteran North Carolina journalist Mark Binker could not have come at a worse time.
He was far too young — just 43, with no health issues to speak of, and a loving family who will feel his absence keenly.
And he was far too good. For many of us who follow North Carolina politics, Binker’s take was an indispensable key to understanding the workings of the state.
Journalists from every publication in the state have been weighing in on his remarkable career, which wended from the News & Record to WRAL and, for a short while, the News & Observer. But we will save our accolades for the bar and instead give some reminders as to the state of the North Carolina legislature.
A three-judge panel last week struck down the legislature’s attempt at creating a new elections entity by merging elections and ethics functions within state government, citing numerous other laws passed by this bunch that have already been overturned, designed, the opinion read, to restrict voting access and thereby “rig elections.”
Right now, our representatives are considering legislation that allows citizens to sue municipal law enforcement for not protecting them against immigrants; a budget that cuts $1 billion over two years by blowing holes in education, environmental issues and disaster relief; and another law outlawing same-sex marriage even though the last one they passed was overturned by a federal court.
And let’s not forget that a third federal court ruled 28 of our state congressional and senate districts to be illegal in 2016, but a lawsuit by Republican leaders has put any special elections on hold until the US Supreme Court weighs in — which could still happen in time for a late-summer primary.
Still alive after the “crossover deadline,” where bills either move on or move out, is legislation protecting drivers from civil liability if they run over protestors blocking the street, and another that seems designed specifically to prevent Gov. Roy Cooper from appointing a new US senator should one of our sitting ones retire on his watch.
In other words, it’s a mess. And we could surely use Mark Binker’s reporting to light the way.