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Chris Fitzsimon: Ending a legislative session that hasn’t ended

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The Republican propaganda machine is spinning as fast as it can these days, trying to make sure people don’t actually find out what really happened in the General Assembly this year.

But they will find out eventually. You can only tell people so many times who have seen teachers fired that no teacher will be fired as a result of the budget passed past week.

One of the most absurd taking points making the rounds in the columns and press releases by Republicans is the claim that the legislative session ended earlier this year than any long session since 1973.

That is true except for one pesky fact. The session is not over. Lawmakers are coming back to Raleigh next month for redistricting and to consider legislation about elections and creating a new agency to oversee lobbying, ethics, and campaign finance reporting and compliance.

The General Assembly will be in session again in August or September too, to talk about constitutional amendments including the GOP’s cynical and offensive get out the fundamentalist vote plan, otherwise known as the gay marriage amendment.

It is easy to finish earlier than anybody else when you leave before you are finished.

It is understandable that legislative leaders don’t want to talk about what their budget really did, but enough already with all the shortest session on record talk.

Republicans are beside themselves over Gov. Beverly Perdue’s wise veto of the voter ID legislation that passed in the last few days of the session, claiming she is only playing to her liberal base and that is refusing to restore confidence in elections in North Carolina.

Please. Republicans know their bill is ridiculous. That’s why they offered a compromise version that allowed people to use other forms of ID. It still fell short of what Perdue could support but it shows that Republicans know their plan is too punitive and will make it harder for thousands of people to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

George Gilbert, who runs the Guilford County Board of Elections, told the Greensboro News and Record that he didn’t know what problem the legislation was trying to address. That has been a common theme throughout this absurd debate.

There is no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud. It is instead an effort by the Republicans to make it harder for people who usually support Democrats to vote. It is the Republicans who are playing partisan politics here, not Perdue.

In other news, pundits are having a field day with the news that the state is spending roughly $30,000 to send a Commerce Department contingent to an international air show in Paris to promote the state’s aeronautics industry.

Any overseas trip these days prompts criticism, which may be understandable given the state’s budget situation. Commerce officials argue that the money is worth it if it brings foreign investment and jobs to North Carolina.

It is interesting though that none of the complaints about the trip have put that $30,000 in perspective. That’s the same amount of money as the raise House Speaker Thom Tillis recently gave to his Chief of Staff Charles Thomas.

This week’s From the Fringe features Locker and recent Speaker Thom Tillis appointee Donna Martinez who is aghast about a new study from UNC that suggests new child care regulations.

The new release that has Martinez so upset says that child care centers should promote healthy sleep durations in their facilities and should be required to offer kids healthy meals.

That is some radical stuff there, suggesting that it is better for kids to get enough sleep and eat right when they are at a child care center. Next thing you know they might recommend exercise.

Chris Fitzsimon is director of NC Policy Watch