'Home Alone' at the General Assembly

Monday night’s winter weather put the General Assembly on ice this week as most legislators found themselves back in home districts dealing with icy road conditions, school cancellations, and scraping driveways.  

Out of concern for travel safety, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced a General Assembly shutdown on Tuesday while committee chairs were urged to use caution and discretion on Wednesday.  I predict the entire week is a bust.

 Meanwhile a small group of legislators from outside Raleigh - Rep. Harry Warren, Senator Ralph Hise, Senator Tom Apodaca, Senator Jeff Tarte, Senator Jeff Jackson and others - found themselves in the General Assembly this week after making the trip to Raleigh on Monday.  

With little to do but update social media sites, Senator Jackson, a second year Democratic senator in his first full term, caught Facebook and Twitter lightening in a bottle Tuesday. 

In what could have been remade as Home Alone 6 (yes, there were 5 in the popular franchise), the Mecklenburg senator facetiously suggested he was using the Senate skeleton session Tuesday to bring a handful of bills to the floor for immediate debate and action, including Medicaid expansion, a contentious issue the Senate and House leadership oppose, while Governor Pat McCrory is open to it.  

By the way, there are no reports Governor McCrory contacted his hometown senator with other legisative suggestions, including a ban on puppy mills, a pet bill of the governor’s, and something Jackson took care of yesterday in a 1-0 vote.    

Sure, Senator Jackson’s updates suggested he was the only senator in the chamber — he wasn’t — but most of us understood he was having fun while playing with the idea of getting his legislative agenda through without objections.  

And we had fun as we checked in regularly to read of expanding early childhood education, increasing university funding and more, something we’re sure most legislators, regardless of political party, support if it wasn’t for that pesky requirement that we balance the budget.  

Sure, Senator Jackson conveniently side-stepped the $271 million shortfall in the budget in his lawmaking spree yesterday, but it was entertaining  to imagine bills sailing through the legislative process on a day when no one was around to object or amend or vote no.  

I have my list of bills, I’m sure you have yours, too.  And if you have kids, I bet your lists includes passing a law that kids must return to school immediately.