State Legislative Session Begins

The 2009-2010 session of the North Carolina General Assembly has begun. Galleries are packed. An overflow crowd is gathered outside the chambers or watching a live feed in an adjacent auditorium. The picture shows the House chamber. Click on the image for a couple more photos.

Update: Leave it to the professionals to capture the true bitter sweet flavor of the opening session:

Matt Saldana at Triangulator blog at The Independent Weekly:
Day 1: Stam invokes Defense of Marriage, and other notes from the Ledge

Laura Leslie at Isaac Hunter's Tavern blog at WUNC:
Wed. late: They're BAA-aaack...


I'm so glad to have you covering this.

Will be interesting to see how your take jives with the mainstream media.

The picture is fantastic!

We'll work to get our State lege page up by the end of next week.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

You capital corpse, you.


So many lobbyists

So little time. I've never seen so many lobbyists or dark grey suits together in one place except maybe when the last session ended.

The convenings were ritualistic and not very eventful. Everybody was cordial. I'd say "the games have begun" but the pro season started November 5, 2008.

Thanks again

You're a saint to be covering all this. I guess the "lobbyists" for the people are the representatives themselves. I take it "our lobbyists" are outnumbered by "their lobbyists."

What's the feeling in terms of diversity?

Seems like an awful lot of old white men, present company excluded, of course.


Wasting no time with hatred

this morning I got an email from Equality NC that already a legislator (whom they failed to name) filed a bill to amend the state constitution with anti-gay legislation.


I wrote right away, using the template provided and (of course) added my own, um, reflections on the matter:

Dear Representative/Senator xxxx,

I am writing to oppose the so-called "Defense of Marriage"
constitutional amendment.

Please don't sponsor it and don't vote for it. With our nation
hemorrhaging jobs and the economy in shambles, our environment
and energy concerns mounting daily, DON'T WE HAVE BIGGER THINGS
TO DO? Where are our priorities? WE NEED JOBS. WE NEED ENERGY
that is independent of the WHIMS of FOREIGN POWERS.

The fact is, this bill does nothing to protect anyone's
marriages, but it would take away even the smallest protections
for unmarried couples. I call SHAME on political grandstanding
at a time when our nation is hurting because of exactly that
segment of the political system who chose radical ideology over
running the nation's business.

Just look at our economy and our infrastructure. Those tell the
whole story.

Our constitution should be about protecting rights, not playing

Thank you for your time and consideration.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
Mohandas Gandhi

GOP Leader Stam wastes no time with his bigotry

Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) did indeed mention the marriage amendment on the floor of the NC House on the first day of session. He just couldn't help himself and wait a few days, or (gasp!) hours.

You'd think being the only member of the NC House to vote against cross-burning would have been enough bigoted nonsense for him, but nooooooo. House Republicans relected him as their leader, and he's at it again.

Equality NC's email alert is here


Joe Hackney: Stam = noise

From the Dome:

Stam pointed out that whoever writes the state budget will be responsible for making difficult and unpopular choices. "If I was the majority party, I would want to share that pain," Stam said.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Joe Hackney said Stam's complaints are "noise."

Joe Hackney = Grownup

Stam = whining child

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It's going to be a long session

I may be a bit sensitive, but in just a few days I've seen my NC House Rep (Paul "Skip" Stam) push anti-gay and anti-choice policies, "zero-based" budgeting, and whine about being in the minority. Stam also spews the anti-tax rhetoric that is ritual with the GOP and has made most Democrats afraid to advance significant revenue increase options.

There is serious work to do in our state legislature, and to trot out the same tired and failed Republican policies is irresponsible. These "ideas" start from the basic premise that government is bad so it must be kept as small as possible. Tax cuts in good times followed by program cuts in bad times bleed down any effective government. And of course the tax cuts skew to the wealthy and the program cuts impact the poor and middle class. The majority of North Carolinian's reject this philosophy. Sure, we don't want to pay too much in taxes, but more important is that our tax dollars are used wisely for our common good and that everyone steps up and pays their fair share.

We have a budget to balance and the GOP has so effectively poisoned the well on revenue options that I'm afraid we will balance this tough budget on the backs of those least able to bear the burden. Why not ask the very wealthy help close the shortfall, even as we make cuts and efficiency improvements? It's ironic that the last budget removed a temporary increase in income tax for wealthy taxpayers while making permanent the matching regressive sales tax increase. Seems to me using those temporary measures again should be on the table.

But instead, we have the rich combination of far-right hot-button cultural issues blended with vehement anti-government and anti-tax frames coming from the Republican minority leader. Boy, am I glad Democrats are in the majority!

Ed Ridpath

Hitting nail on head

Current Republicans haven't figured out the difference between National and State politics. While they fiddle with ideology the State burns. Republicans man the bullhorns while Democrats are operating fire hoses. If Republicans ever come up with plausible solutions to real problems they might start taking back seats. Would you trust a babysitter who hates your child?