During the opening week of the Legislature’s so-called "short" session, conservative lawmakers are filing honest to goodness conservative bills. Senator Jim Forrester (R-Gaston) has once again introduced the Defense of Marriage bill SB 1608.
Dr. Forrester has been a tireless advocate of defining marriage and has decided once again to rally the troops and charge up the hill. Unfortunately, what waits at the top of this metaphorical hill is likely to be Don Quixote’s windmill. The leadership of the Senate has probably already picked out just the place for this bill to die: Bill Prison, aka the Ways and Means Committee. For the uninitiated, the W&M committee hasn’t met since 2001.
A similar fate occurred in the NC House last session when Speaker Hackney showed just how open to debate he really was when he refused to allow a vote on the floor and killed HB 493 Read more here.
The issue has even great urgency now that the California Supreme Court has decided to overturn thousands of years of practice tradition and law by declaring gay marriage to be legal on the Left Coast.
The legislative leadership may find a bill delayed to be more of a campaign issue than a bill voted on.
Another conservative bill was filed this week by Senator Robert Pittenger (R-Mecklenburg) was SB 1596 entitled the NC Citizen Protection Act. The bill attempts to roll up North Carolina’s welcome mat for illegal aliens by requiring municipalities and their contractors to verify the legal status of their employees and make it a crime for a business to fire a citizen while the business still employs an illegal alien. The bill also shares a number of provisions with Rep. Debbie Clary’s bill HB 55 as well as Georgia’s law that went into effect in 2007.
Critics will charge Pittenger with election year grandstanding due to his candidacy for the office of Lieutenant Governor, but, given the way the Senate conducts its business, this may be the only way he can communicate his ideas to the voters. Since the Senate leadership will not allow floor votes on bills they deign to be politically risky to the majority, the only thing a conservative can do is make a big splash when filing a bill.
Voters should have the opportunity to cast their vote for the candidate whose beliefs most closely match their own. And the phrase "Actions speak louder than words" has real life relevance when you can review an incumbent’s voting record. But, if the leaders of your legislative body are skillful at preventing votes on issues that may inform and motivate the voters in a direction the leadership may not want, then you have a situation that now exists in the North Carlina General Assembly. Members may tell the folks back home how much they support both the Defense of Marriage Act as well as cracking down on illegal immigration without ever having to cast a vote for or against it and the rubes in the district are none the wiser.