Republicans block transparency moves to start the 2019 session
TL;DR: Despite analysis things would be different, late night shenanigans and surprise conference reports are in the cards for 2019.
Pull out your parliamentary procedure handbooks, NC House members voted Wednesday on their official rules for the 2019-20 Session. Despite some analysis claiming they’d be more collaborative, Republicans blocked a number of changes to the rules that would have increased transparency in the legislative building.
Democrats attempted to amend the rules to limit the use of “floaters.” This is a concept Republicans revived for this session wherein certain members of leadership can “float” into any committee and vote—a method to maintain control without a supermajority. The attempt to limit floaters failed along party lines.
Democrats also tried to restrict the use of conference reports to their intended purpose, bills where there is disagreement between the House and Senate versions. This would have prevent the method used to pass the 2018 budget without input or amendments. This also failed along party lines.
Democrats tried to strengthen the rule that bill language be release by 9 p.m. the night before it is heard in committee. The late-night bill release is another method favored by Republicans trying to ram controversial bills through committee to floor votes before the public has a chance to weigh in.
It appears Republicans, supermajority or not, will continue to force their agenda on North Carolinians. They’ll again hide their attempts to put corporations ahead of people and public schools behind closed doors and block access to health care for thousands in the dead of night.