Kill this bill again & again
If you want to prevent the legislature from turning over Rowan-Salisbury school buildings to county commissioners, make your voice heard. Whatever happens, do not take your eyes off the General Assembly until the final gavel falls and legislators head home for the year.
Ditto for any other issue about which you care, even if no bill mentioning it has been filed. With the end of the 2013 legislative session just over the horizon, everyone’s scurrying. It’s the political equivalent of a full moon. Anything can happen.
So it was that on Thursday the school building bill SB 236 was voted down in one committee in the morning — normally the death blow for a piece of legislation — only for the House to send it to another committee in the evening. It was the night of the undead.
Dead, alive or anywhere in between, this is a bad piece of legislation that every member of the state House should oppose. It gives already powerful county boards of commissioners so much control over school facilities that education boards might have no say over the very buildings where education takes place. It would be like giving the state control over county buildings. Friction between commissioners and the school board would only escalate. The fact that the majority of lawmakers don’t want the bill to apply in their own districts speaks volumes. All that’s keeping it alive are feuds in a few locales — Wake and Rowan among them.
As presented to the House Government Committee Thursday morning, the amended SB 236 dropped Davie from the nine affected counties — ironic since “our” senator, Andrew Brock of Mocksville, proudly added Rowan and Davie to the bill. Then the committee voted to remove Wake, the bill’s main reason for being. The final stake in the heart — or so it seemed — was a vote to turn down the bill altogether.
Now alive again in the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House, the bill could rise for another vote at any time and in any place — probably when opponents least expect it and are out to lunch. Powerful people are artists at bending parliamentary rules.
Rowan doesn’t have anyone on that committee, but you can still contact local House members. This is no time to leave political activism to others if you oppose further empowering commissioners.
A former county commissioner and close friend of county commission Chair Jim Sides, Carl Ford supports the bill. Harry Warren, a more independent thinker, says Brock did not consult him before adding Rowan to the bill; he chaired the meeting where it was voted down.
• Ford’s number is 919-733-5881; email goes to Carl.Ford@ncleg.net.
• Warren’s office number is 919-733-5784; email goes to HarryWarren@ncleg.net.
Commissioners who want to be in charge of the schools should run for the school board, not usurp that elected board’s power. Voters may ultimately address this clash at the ballot box in 2014. A number of issues are likely to come back to haunt some candidates then, including Senate Bill 236.