These things that pass for governance in a failed state happen all the time now: bad bills, dirty tricks, deliberate misinformation — or worse, disinformation from what are supposed to be our most trusted sources.
It’s been going on for years in the North Carolina General Assembly, since even before the Republicans took control in 2010. And this most current revolt against the very notion of representative government is but a lone example in what have become annals of deceit.
SB 168 began life as a cannabis bill — three pages expanding the use of CBD oil for certain treatments: The North Carolina Alternative Treatment Act. Then it became Bethany’s Law, allowing for straight-up cannabis oil in some circumstances.
By its fifth edition, in late February, it had become a health and human services omnibus, with no mention of cannabis at all, but with some benefits for at-risk juveniles charged with crimes. Also tucked in was this: “Establishment of confidentiality for certain death investigation information.” This piece renders death records from the chief medical examiner as confidential, whereas up until now they were considered public record.
Perhaps this doesn’t sound like a big deal. But if it weren’t for this exception, we would not have seen the coroner’s report on Marcus Smith, the one that ruled it a homicide. And it could potentially block records for citizen deaths at the hands of police.
By the time the Senate ratified it, well after midnight, it was 17 pages, with the records restrictions left in, plus rules for involuntary commitment, restaurant rules, disbursement changes for DHHS block grants and more.
Still nothing about cannabis.
It was passed by both the House and the Senate — easily, eventually, at 1 a.m. And it wasn’t until a raft of journalists cried foul that House Majority Leader John Bell told the News & Observer that a fix was in the works.
Before that, rapper Ice Cube weighed in on Twitter, imploring that Gov. Roy Cooper veto the bill.
“You know most crooks do their crimes after midnight,” he tweeted. “Governor Cooper do not sign this into law. Don’t give more cover for Killer Cops.”