Home Opinion OPINION: It’s progress, not failure

OPINION: It’s progress, not failure

As the General Assembly adjourns for the summer, a lot of the focus is on what the legislature hasn’t done. They didn’t expand Medicaid. They didn’t legalize medical marijuana. They didn’t legalize online gambling. But those takes are wrong. The focus should be on what they did do. This post is not about partisanship. It’s about how the legislature works and how controversial legislation gets passed.

First, Speaker Tim Moore told us at the beginning of the session that none of those things were like to happen. Moore’s goal was to pass a budget and go home. That’s what the short session is supposed to do. It’s purpose is only to make adjustments to the budget that was passed in the previous long session, not take up controversial or major legislation.

Just because the purpose of the short session has been largely ignored for the past 20 or 30 years, doesn’t mean it should be. Personally, I think we need a full-time legislature that deals with problems and issues as they come up instead of artificial restraints that result in numerous “special” sessions. But that’s not what the state constitution says.

Second, the whole angle is wrong. The focus should be on what the senate did, not what the house didn’t do. The senate passed Medicaid expansion with Phil Berger admitting a change of heart. They passed a medical marijuana provision that would have been unthinkable just a couple of cycles ago. And the sports gambling bill seemed to have both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. The fact that they didn’t become law this year is not a failure. Their passage by the senate almost ensures that they will become law at some point in the future, something nobody would have suspected until very recently.

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Big legislation almost never passes the first time it gets an honest hearing. These bills, especially Medicaid expansion, look poised to become law in the relatively near future. I suspect we’ll allow medical marijuana in the state before 2024. That’s game changing.

The emphasis on the failure of these bills to become law misses the point. They will almost certainly become law at some point, just not now. Wait until the long session and see what happens. That’s when bills of this magnitude are supposed to come up anyhow.

Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Mills spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant. Republished from PoliticsNC.com.

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