Well, we're nearing the end of the current legislative session and it's pretty much been a disaster.
We've seen the extremist Republicans push through laws that restrict voting and abortion rights, give tax breaks to the rich and put more of a burden on the poor and middle class, defund education, take over the authority of local government, and encourage fracking. And I won't even go into absolutely stupid legislation like the Sharia law, the corruption and conflicts of interest in appointments in the Governor's office, or the gerrymandering and passage of Amendment One that they pushed through before the current session even began.
I think we really have to ask what else this bunch can possibly do in the next legislative session.
They're pretty much passed the full buffet of laws being pushed by ALEC and extremist religious organizations. What else can they do?
I'd like to hear your thoughts, but here's a few predictions:
-Since the budget isn't revenue neutral, they'll suddenly realize they have an income shortfall a year from now and do a push for another round of cuts to what little is left for K-12 public education and social safety nets.
-As part of Budget Crisis 2014, I fully expect them to propose closing and merging some of the UNC system campuses or propose privatizing parts of the UNC system.
-With Moral Monday protests continuing to have legs and getting national press, and a lack of interest in Republican voters in supporting their extremist agenda, I'm betting they'll try passing new legislation that limits political activity and speech by public employees in new ways, particularly faculty at public universities or K-12 employees.
-With the power grabs for control of Asheville's water system and the Charlotte airport, I'm guessing you'll see similar activity in other cities that will open up opportunities for land developers and other big monied Republican donors. Any NC state parks that developers have their eyes on?
-With their success in pushing through restrictions on abortion clinics, they'll probably at least propose and maybe even pass a "fetal heartbeat" or similar kind of law that's been tried (and knocked down by courts) in other states.
-The legislature might break new ground by figuring out a way to funnel public money directly to large evangelical churches under the guise of education or public assistance grants or some other nonsense that will be open to corruption and abuse.
-If they see any motions by the left on conflicts of interest, expect to see a weakening of existing laws on this issue and government transparency.
-We might start seeing leaks to the press from NC state government employers, exposing corruption or downright lies coming from the Republican legislative leadership or the Governor's office. Even if that doesn't happen, the fear of leaks might start a round of purges of suspected liberals from state employment.
-The legislature might take a cue from the debate happening in Virginia and try to criminalize homosexual activity again, knowing that it will get struck down by the courts but will be popular with extremist religious voters.
-Expect a "religious conscious" law to be passed that allows discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment or other services as gay marriage is found to be constitutional in various courts.
-We already have a "stand your ground" law and recently passed legislation allowing concealed handguns in playgrounds, schools and bars. The next round of legislation might take away victim rights to sue in civil courts for damages related to handgun violence. (Heck, with all the crap the legislature is up to, we might already have a law like that and I missed it.)
-I'm expecting some kind of corruption scandal to be exposed in state contracts, perhaps in the Department of Transportation or another area that's not getting much attention. The legislature will respond with laws that make the bidding process more obscure or allow rigged contracts for specific vendors that are strong Republican supporters.
Anything else you think we can expect over the next year or two?
One other prediction: The NC legislature will continue to see support decline among voters. Art Pope will figure out that he will have to have more direct control of his foundations and dark-money PACs to push out propaganda for the election. He'll step down as Budget Director shortly before the election and make sure that one of his trusted Civitas lackies is installed in the job.
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