Late this week the North Carolina General Assembly passed a budget completing its “long” session and headed home. The Republican majority in both houses with a Republican governor started the session with the attitude “ We won, we can do whatever we want, and you can’t stop us.” There was little effort at compromise or consensus as the legislators giddy with power for the first time in more than a hundred years stripped the state of nearly every piece of progressive legislation passed in the past century. In the name of “reform”, they turned the Old North state back to the sleepy backwater that it used to be 150 years ago with repressive laws for minorities and a free pass for businesses. Between ALEC and Art Pope, the Republicans had a field day.
In protest of what has been occurring, the NAACP and others have staged demonstrations of thousands on the mall behind the Legislative building every Monday evening for the past 12 weeks. In addition, several hundred people also chose to be arrested to emphasize how strongly they felt the legislators were leading us in the wrong direction. The Governor and the legislators simply ignored or ridiculed them. The New York Times and the Wall St. Journal had different assessments of the sessions, but it is clear that a slew of lawsuits will be the most immediate result, including possible action by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The action that most affected me directly was a law that instead of giving me a credit makes me pay a penalty for buying a hybrid car last year. To me of one the most confusing was the one where the former Mayor of Charlotte, now Governor, signed a law taking the control of the airport away from the city and giving it to an appointed board. They also tried to take away control of the schools from the Wake County School Board (the largest in the state), but that action failed.
Granted that the Democrats had been in power too long and had more than their share of scandals in recent years, but when you jam on the brakes and make a 180-degree turn in nearly every state policy in less than six months you’re bound to cause some unintended consequences in spite of the best intentions or the most openly aggressive partisan actions. North Carolina has had a high ranking in many decades in most categories, and it will be interesting to see how this all shakes out in the next couple of years.
I’ve been too busy demonstrating, signing petitions, and attending meetings to do much book promotion although I did have a local book signing the end of June. I’m running a free promotion this weekend on the Kindle edition of Neither Here Nor There before I close out my exclusive agreement with Amazon and add Smashwords that will also export to several other distributors. I will have some other promotions running in August, and I’m slowly getting some word-of-mouth activity. The game seems to be getting as many reviews as quickly as possible.