Last minute insertion under cover of darkness of an unexpected clause into a bill. Virtually no debate among Committee members, especially those taken by surprise by the bill changes, before the bill was approved by the Committee and passed along to the Senate floor. Less than 24 hours for the public or media to even take notice of the significant change to the bill before it was scheduled for a Senate vote.
Ironically, this shady scenario is what took place regarding HB 961, known as the government ethics bill. Fortunately, the last minute addition – in this case a plan to expand taxpayer subsidies to political campaigns – was the stumbling block for the bill. As the N&O reports:
A proposal for the public financing of some statewide political campaigns is headed for a quick and inglorious death, the victim of a quick-strike telephone campaign unleashed by conservative opponents.
The measure had been unveiled by Democratic leaders in the state Senate just one day earlier as the centerpiece of a major ethics bill.
The legislation was pulled from the Senate floor Wednesday moments before it had been scheduled for a vote. It was sent back to the Judiciary Committee, where the public financing measure is expected to be stripped out today, said Senate Majority Leader Martin Nesbitt.
What is so ethical about forcing taxpayers to finance political campaign commercials containing messages with which they completely disagree? In a free society, citizens have the ability to choose which candidates they support not only with their vote, but also with their money.