Our annual Legislative Issue is one of the most important we do all year — a sampling of all the laws proposed and passed by our members of the state House and Senate in Guilford and Forsyth County.
The boundaries have changed over the last few years — where we once counted Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger as one of our reps, when his district bled just a little bit into Guilford County, we now welcome Senate Majority Whip Rick Gunn and Sen. Jerry Tillman to the fold. The names change, too, through attrition by election, though in the five years we’ve been making this issue, our blue counties have largely been overrepresented by red legislators when compared against voter data.
That’s the power of the gerrymander.
Evident this year was the importance of the veto as a tool. Gov. Cooper used his power often, though not always effectively, this session.
What stands out the most this year — besides the inordinate length of the session, which went on about four months longer than usual — is the massive stockpile of good bills that got waylaid in favor of bad ones.
We missed opportunities this year to bring teacher pay up to the national average, create smart cannabis and hemp legislation, expand Medicaid, bring back the film tax credit and enact responsible environmental laws. Instead we passed a law outlawing female genital mutilation — which, my god, of course, but does that affect as many people in North Carolina as clean water? Is a study on the feasibility of legalized sports betting, which passed, as important to our state as funds for universal Pre-K, which died in a House committee?
We lost a lot of money here in the Triad as our representatives fought over ideology.
Earmarked funds for the civil rights museum, Winston-Salem State, NC A&T University, an extension of Highway 311, the Stevens Center, housing in Greensboro, a Guilford County mental-health facility, a violence-reduction program in High Point and more never made it out of committee.
But what we really lost was time: another fairly wasted session in North Carolina, while most of the rest of the country seems to be moving on.