Legislative Watch: Lame Duck Attacks
The lame-duck legislature is back in session, and it seems that no bad idea is off the table yet. A bill mandating photo identification to vote has passed the Senate, and if passed by the House, would go into effect for the 2019 elections.
The current majority party leaders just can’t wait to get that voter suppression ball rolling again. As concerned voting rights advocates might put it, since attempted voter impersonation fraud is essentially nonexistent, the photo ID requirement is not the solution to a problem, but rather a poisonous “solution” in search of a problem.
Beyond this debate, there’s also still the nasty prospect that Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) will press again to extend the foolish and costly moratorium on new wind energy projects in North Carolina. Brown, the Senate Majority Leader, seems obsessed with his unsupported vision of wind energy as an apocalyptic threat to our state’s military bases. That’s despite the fact that the Defense Department has effective veto power over the siting of any wind project they think might actually interfere with operations, and real spokespeople from the armed services say that they have control of any potential conflicts well in hand.
Supporters of clean, renewable wind energy development are hopeful that the House will stand firm against adding another stumbling block to wind’s path in North Carolina. After all, many small, rural counties that need the jobs and tax base most are pitching for wind projects there.
Previous experience with this legislative leadership has taught conservation advocates to be wary of other late-breaking, unpleasant surprises. Since these leaders will lose their veto-proof supermajorities starting January 1, there’s real risk that they will trot out any untried, extreme anti-environmental proposal while they still can.
There was some generally good news in the passage this week of a hurricane recovery funding bill. The bill will help many individuals and communities hurt by the storms, but it still left out a number of Gov. Roy Cooper’s most important recommendations to encourage environmentally smart adaptation and resilience. Among the excluded measures were funding to buy out many flood-threatened factory hog farms and incentivize improved waste treatment techniques for others; increased funding to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund for surface water quality protection projects involving flood-prone land; and increased funding to upgrade wastewater treatment and drinking water treatment systems to improve storm resilience.
The legislative session resumes today (Monday, December 3).
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