To the Editor:
A new federal study confirms what many people have sensed — news coverage of state and local government is shrinking at a frightful rate. Politicians who used to fear the press no longer have to worry about being called out.
Here in North Carolina, we don’t have to look further than Raleigh to see what that means. The radical Republicans have cut off House debate 25 times since the session began in February. That compares to only seven times that the Democrats did it in the previous four years.
But I didn’t read that in a newspaper or hear it on television. I learned it from Rep. Ray Rapp’s weekly e-mail, “Ray’s Raleigh Report,” for June 10.
Although his news this time was mostly dismal, there was one bright spot unnoticed in the local media. It was thte passage of HB 824, a nonpartisan redistricting system similar to Iowa’s. Although it would not take effect until the 2020 redistricting, some progress is better than none. Let’s see what the Senate does.
But at the same time the House was abusing power at a breathtaking pace. Some examples:
• Voting to ban dues checkoff for the teacher’s union as punishment for its criticism of the Republicans’ barbarian budget.
• Intruding into doctors’ offices to require women to pay for pre-abortion ultrasounds and listen to what would amount to right-to-life propaganda.
• Plotting to repeal the Racial Justice Act as an amendment substituted for an unrelated Senate bill.
• Requiring picture IDs at the voting booth, where there is rarely fraud, but not for absentee voting, which is more vulnerable to abuse. Some 460,000 North Carolina voters do not have picture IDs. The Republicans know most of them to be students, the elderly, blacks, and poor; in other words, Democratic voters who the Republicans hope will neglect to get the photo IDs.
There hasn’t been such bullying, scheming, and dirty dealing since the Sopranos went off the air. Unfortunately, Republicans at Raleigh is a reality show.
Adding insult to injury with Orwellian doublespeak, they call their voter suppression act a bill to “Restore Confidence in Government.” The only way to restore confidence in North Carolina government is to vote that gang out of Raleigh
Martin A. Dyckman