Here in North Carolina, our state legislature is the single most powerful branch of government. Over the last decade, its radical right-wing leadership has taken our state in exactly the wrong direction: hollowing out education funding, selling out working people, and pursuing a rigidly ideological social agenda targeting our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. Our legislature has become significantly more corrupt and less responsive to the voters.
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Republicans have controlled North Carolina’s legislature for over a decade, and the election maps are still gerrymandered to favor them. What keeps the most radical right-wing elements of the legislature from running amok is one thing: Governor Cooper’s veto power.
Because Democrats have the votes to sustain Governor Cooper’s veto, Republican leaders are forced to negotiate in a bipartisan fashion to get anything passed. Here is a brief list of Republican legislation that Cooper’s veto power has successfully stopped:
- Defunding election cybersecurity
- A virtual ban on abortion access
- Abolishing local control over school masking decisions
- Attempts to curtail and restrict voting access
- Abolishing permits for handgun purchases
- Repealing all COVID precautionary measures
This is, of course, just a very short list.
As we look across the country, we can see what Republican legislators unrestrained by an opposition are doing: Texas Republicans put a $10,000 bounty on women’s heads for seeking abortion care. Georgia Republicans made it illegal to give water to people forced to wait hours in line to vote. Virginia Republicans have attempted to repeal the minimum wage hike Democrats passed in 2020 (but, fortunately, were stopped).
Make no mistake – all of these things, and more, are in our future if Republican leaders won another supermajority in North Carolina. The last time they had unchecked power, the most radical and ideological elements of their party passed House Bill 2 – hateful and bigoted legislation that turned North Carolina into a laughingstock and cost our state thousands of jobs and billions in new investment. What will they do next time?
We’d rather not find out.