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Here we go again.

In the latest headache-inducing autocratic power grab by our friends and representatives in the NCGA, today at noon they convened a special session to create
captions for the six amendments to the North Carolina Constitution... among other things.

The News & Observer called the whole thing a "hot mess" and boy are they right. I strongly recommend reading the above article and this one, which contains descriptions of the amendments (in case you need a refresher after this head-spinning day) and a discussion of the Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission, which the Republican legislators themselves created to write captions "in simple and commonly used language." But then they learned that the committee of three had two Democrats-- Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Attorney General Josh Stein-- they hurried to hamstring the committee before they could meet and essentially take back a law they passed two years ago. Who's gonna tell them there are no take-backsies in politics?

More at NCPolicyWatch. The Charlotte Observer weighs in as well, and makes a very good point that I urge everyone to keep in mind:

"But legislators’ deceptive and manipulative efforts this week to further politicize the process could backfire on them. They have turned a sleepy, down-ballot question into a reminder of all that Democratic and unaffiliated voters are fed up with from Republican leaders in Raleigh. That might not be enough to defeat the amendments, but it could pluck off a handful of legislators crucial to continued Republican control."

Here is the bill itself. It's short and, if read quickly, seems to replace the caption with a simple number and the phrase "Constitutional Amendment". But what it actually does is take away the Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission's ability to write captions altogether, and transfer that power back to the legislature. "Simple and commonly used language", all right.

So what are the "...and other things" that I mentioned? If this day couldn't get any crazier, the NCGA renewed their assault on our judicial elections. After gerrymandering judicial districts, making judicial races partisan, and taking away judicial primaries altogether, they introduced a bill today that would strip the party label off judicial candidates on the ballot who haven't been registered with that party for 90 days prior to filing.

Republicans originally planned to use the loss of judicial primaries to flood the Democratic ticket with Republicans, but as soon as a Democrat, Chris Anglin, played them at their own game, they decided to change the game.

Both bills passed and are on their way to Governor Cooper for consideration. The special session will reconvene Friday July 27th.

In their all-consuming zeal to consolidate power before November, Republican lawmakers continue to rewrite their own laws and change their own rules in what I desperately hope is a self-fulfilling prophecy: they fear losing their grip on the state so deeply that they create storm after storm that could shake them loose.

I leave you with some words by Norman Ornstein, a respected conservative thinker.

norm

Democracy NC has a tool you can use to send a message to your lawmakers. You can also submit your own captions for proposed constitutional amendments, and the Commission is still taking public input. The deadline is July 25-- that's today! by 5 pm. Click the amendment you have a suggestion for, then scroll down and choose “How to submit…”

As always, click here, find your legislators, and give them a full-throated but respectful shout to let them know how you feel about this.

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