Logrolling is a term used in politics to describe when legislators promise to vote for one anothers bills in an effort to keeps the legislative wheels greased. Essentially, logrolling is when legislators say something to the effect of “I’ll vote for your pet project if you’ll vote for mine.”
HB1973, the “Keep North Carolina Competitive Act,” is a somewhat murky example of this legislative maneuver. Sponsored primarily by Reps. Bill Owens (D-Pasquotank), Pryor Gibson (D-Anson), William Wainwright (D-Craven), and Harold Brubaker (R-Randolph) and co-sponsored by a number of other legislators, the bill is a compilation of numerous other bills which contain very specific economic incentives that likely would not have passed individually. The bill sponsors rolled all of the individual bills into the all encompassing “Keep North Carolina Competitive Act” to rally enough legislators around the provisions and ensure passage.
When the 19 page bill was first introduced in committee last week, it came as a surprise to a number of legislators because the bill was not on the agenda. The committee voted on the bill after less than an hour of debate. Reps. Marilyn Avila (R-Wake) and Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell) complained that they had not even had time to read and fully consider the bill, but their concerns were dismissed.
The bill includes tax credits for, and the creation of, what are called “Eco-Industrial Parks.” These newly incentivized economic development zones are the brainchild of Rep. Owens. He has said explicitly that the parks were specifically designed to benefit his district. Furthermore, the bill greatly expands North Carolina’s generous tax credits for film production companies ensuring that movie stars and million dollar film studios are not excessively burdened by North Carolina’s tax laws. Meanwhile, those of us who do not produce films are left to fill in the budget deficit.
Legislators prefer specific incentives instead of broad-based tax cuts because when the incentivized industry adds jobs, legislators can take credit for “creating jobs.” After two hours of sometimes contentious debate on the House floor, HB1973 passed by an overwhelming majority yesterday. Considering North Carolina’s dismal economy we can only hope that this stimulus works. I have my doubts.