Legislative wish list

Nov. 11, 2012 @ 07:30 AM

Now that the dust has tentatively settled after the 2012 election, we decided to sit down and create a wish list, per se, of things that we would like to see Congress and the North Carolina General Assembly look at as those elected officials return from the campaign trail.

Granted, we are well-aware of the fact that some of these may simply be pipe dreams but, we figure it never hurt to ask.

With regards to Congress, here are some things we would like to see undertaken, or at least discussed:

• Establish by law fixed deadlines for the President to submit a proposed budget to the Congress and for the Congress to enact a budget. The law should require that the budget must be adopted prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year and should prohibit the use of continuing resolutions as substitutes for a budget. Furthermore, the law should require that the budget be balanced.

• Forbid attaching an unrelated bill as a rider to another bill under consideration in Congress.

• Require that all pork barrel bills must specify the sponsor's name and must contain a statement justifying the proposed expenditure and the public benefit to be derived. Further require that each pork barrel bill be debated and voted on individually and that pork barrel bills can not be combined with other pork barrel bills  nor be attached as a rider to an unrelated bill.

• Require the Senate to vote on all Presidential appointments requiring confirmation by the Senate within 60 days of submission by the President. This requirement should apply to judges as suggested by Jerry as well as Cabinet posts, agency heads, military general officers and whatever else required by law. Failure to act by the deadline will constitute a de facto consent.

• Rewrite the election funding law to reduce the influence of corporations and PACs/super PACs, and forbid all contributions from foreign sources.

With that, here is the list of "wishes" we have for the North Carolina General Assembly:

• Require that all legislative committee meetings be open to the public.

• Amend the state Constitution to make the members of the Council of State gubernatorial appointees rather than elected officials and to provide that candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor run as a single ticket in the same manner as the President and Vice President.

• Set and maintain the starting salary for teachers at a level equal to at least 5% above the national average and eliminate all locally funded supplemental teacher pay. 

• Forbid the General Assembly from shifting the responsibility for funding a program from the state to local governments without granting local governments a corresponding new or expanded revenue source capable of generating sufficient revenue to fund the program. In other words no new mandates without new revenue sources.

• Move redistricting to an independent commission rather than in the hands of politicians.

• Establish term limits for members in leadership positions, such as Speaker of the House or Senate President Pro Tempore. These two offices wield tremendous power in the General Assembly, controlling everything from the legislative calendar to committee chairs, even down to the  assignment of members' office space.  The longer an individual remains in the leadership office, the more power they accumulate.  The old adage "Power tends to corrupt, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely" hold a lot of truth.

We realize, again, that this is simply a wish list, but, like we said before, it never hurt to ask.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark