Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Letter to My State Representative, Michele Presnell (R)

I've tried over the past several months to keep this blog focused on art and life and away from politics.  The North Carolina legislature, though, has turned into a national embarrassment.  The most recent elections swept a large Republican majority into power, giving them the House, the Senate, and the Governorship.  In the past few months, they've been like going berserk, rolling back decades of progress.  Some examples:
- Kicked 70,000 people off the unemployment rolls on July 1st, and cut benefits from a max of $535/week to $350, and cut the max time from 26 weeks to 20.  Governor McCrory says he cares for the unemployed.  Yeah, taking away their lifeline is a sure bet to help them out.
- The "Gun Rights Amendment" would allow restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in only seven specific circumstances and would prohibit the state from conducting any general confiscation of weapons.  The goal?  "Fight federal tyranny."
- The "Monsanto Protection Act" took away the authority of local agricultural boards to control what gets planted in its local area.  This legislation came from Monsanto and other Big Ag companies who want to force farmers to buy their seeds.
- Forced all welfare recipients to undergo a background check and a drug test, for which they would have to pay.  The stated goal was to reduce welfare fraud and save the state's money, but a similar action in Florida wound up costing the state a lot more than it saved.
- Tried to seize control and ownership of Asheville's water system from the city and turn it over to a separate non-city board without any compensation to the city.  Asheville has filed suit to keep this $1B asset.
- Repealed the ban on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers.
- Slashed the budgets for public schools, and shifted a large chunk of the remaining funds to charter schools.  At the same time, they eliminated the requirements for charter schools to run criminal background checks and have licensed teachers.  Yes, that's just what we need: unlicensed felons teaching our kids all day long.
- Slashed the budget for higher education.
- Taxed parents if their college kids voted anywhere other than their home, and requiring people to vote where car is registered.  The goal?  Keep them lib'ral college kids from voting in large blocs in places like Chapel Hill.  Or, better, from voting at all.
- Tried to allow a state religion and declare that the state was exempt from the US Constitution and court rulings.  Seriously.
- Tried to make it a felony for a woman to expose her nipple in public.
- Is currently debating competing budget plans that slash taxes for the wealthy and raise them for middle and lower income groups.

The most recent embarrassment (as of this afternoon, anyway; they may have done something else since then) is an effort to essentially eliminate abortion providers in the state.  They slipped some anti-abortion amendments into, of all things, an "anti-Sharia" bill.  Really: they drafted a bill to make it illegal for foreign laws to apply in North Carolina, a really pointless bill if I ever heard of one.  So they slipped these anti-abortion amendments into the law literally late at night, at the last minute, without telling anybody (or at least, anybody that might have a different idea).  The resulting hullabaloo made NC's legislature (again) a national embarrassment.  Even Governor McCrory had to issue a weasel-worded threat to veto the legislation.  Within a few hours, a Senate committee had re-worded the anti-abortion amendments and slipped them into a bill on motorcycle safety.  Again: last minute, no warning, didn't tell anybody, not even the Democratic members of the same committee.  I mean, it worked so well for them before, didn't it?  (NO.)

I've been regularly writing my state Representative and Senator (both Republicans, of course) to tell them what I think.  Not that it makes one iota of difference.  So now that this ridiculous motorcycle safety/ant-abortion bill is moving to the House, I wrote my Representative (Michele Presnell).  Here's the text:

I learned that a House committee is debating SB353, a motorcycle safety bill, that is now loaded with restrictions on women's access to abortion.  The NC legislature is a national embarrassment for its efforts to sneak abortion restrictions into completely unrelated bills, including an anti-Sharia law (which is an unnecessary embarrassment all its own - foreign laws do not apply here) and now a motorcycle safety law.  Worse, the Republican-dominated legislature is slipping these amendments into legislation without any public notice, or even notice to Democratic representatives ON THE COMMITTEE DEBATING THE BILL.  

Please: the Legislature should behave like adults, not first-graders.  If you want to debate abortion restrictions, draft a law and debate it on its merits.  Republicans have certainly proven in this session that they can write a gajillion laws in no time at all.  Quit sneaking anti-abortion restrictions into completely unrelated legislation.  All you're doing is embarrassing yourselves once people find out what happened.  There is a growing sense that all of you need to be thrown out at the earliest opportunity simply because you have no idea how to legitimately run a legislature.

Meanwhile, VOTE NO on this ridiculous bill.

The Republicans in our legislature have definitely succeeded on one thing.  They are turning me from a guy on the political sidelines (I bitch and moan and vote) to a Democratic activist.  These idiots in Raleigh are rolling back decades of slow, painful progress.  They must go.


Storypainter said...

Follow-up: Presnell voted for the bill.

Joan said...

Thanks for your blog. Whenever I have time to cruise the internet (once every week or two), I always check your site. I like the art and photographs and I appreciate your commentary. I've been meaning to tell you that for quite some time.

Your foray into political opinion is understood and I agree with you. I struggle to not be disheartened but as a nation and a people we appear to be in deep trouble.

Again, thanks for the good blog!