• 61°

Scott Mooneyham: A retreat on term limits?

RALEIGH ó Shhhh. Donít tell anyone. Some state legislators arenít thrilled with the idea of limiting the terms of legislative leaders.
No, Iím not talking about the ones like former House Speaker and current House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, who show open disdain for the idea.
Some of the honorables who have voted for limits arenít fans either.
Legislators came to Raleigh last week vowing that they would approve a proposed constitutional amendment to limit the terms of the House speaker and Senate president pro tem. When they left town after a three-day, reconvened session, low and behold, they hadnít acted on the measure.
The official version of events is that the House and Senate canít agree on just how long the House speaker and Senate leader should serve.
The House had passed a proposed amendment back in April that would limit the tenure of top legislative jobs to four years.
The Senate, during the reconvened session, responded with its own version, passing a proposed amendment that included a limit of four consecutive terms, or eight years. Senate leader Phil Berger said the sentiment in the Senate was to not make legislative leadersí terms more restrictive than those of the governor.
This idea of limiting legislative leadersí terms first gained momentum when former House Speaker Jim Black was indicted and then sent to prison after leading that chamber for eight years. Blackís tenure as speaker showed that long years in the top legislative jobs concentrate power and can isolate the leadership.
The big money that began flowing into legislative campaigns during the 1990s only increased the power. Allowing unlimited donations to move through the political parties caused legislative leaders to become the primary conduit for all the campaign cash.
Former Senate leader Marc Basnight, who served in the Senateís top spot for twice as long as Black, may have avoided the pitfalls of his fellow Democrat.
The pork that Basnight directed toward his beloved Outer Banks still created critics who complained about his lengthy tenure.
That recent history has Berger and current House Speaker Thom Tillis under pressure to do something. Both say they believe a proposed constitutional amendment on leadership terms will be on the ballot in November of next year, that a compromise will be reached.
Perhaps. But Berger further muddied the water when he suggested that one solution would be limiting the governor to a single, four-year term.
And wouldnít it be interesting if, come May, legislators once again canít quite decide whether four, six or eight years is best? Or, maybe they canít quite find the votes to try to return to the 1970s, when North Carolina limited its governor to a single term.
But they tried. They really did. And there is always next year.

Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Blotter: Bullet holes found in woman’s Park Avenue apartment

Crime

Man faces assault charges for domestic incident

High School

Photo gallery: Carson girls win West Regional, headed to state championship

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls headed to state championship game

Local

Commissioners set date for public hearing on potential solar energy system rule changes

Health

Two of Rep. Sasser’s bills successfully pass through Health Committee

Local

Rep. Warren’s measure to allow removal of public notices from newspapers put on back burner

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs future of previously rejected housing development

Local

Salisbury City Council hears public comments, receives presentation on Main Street reconfiguration

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with felony drug offenses

Nation/World

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

Nation/World

Biden vows enough vaccines by end of May

Coronavirus

State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24

Coronavirus

One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis man dies in moped crash

Crime

Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal

Local

Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill

Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic