This online publication is unlike any you have ever seen. It consists of transcripts of many of the debates in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 2009-2016. Some debates in the Senate and some debates in committees are included. I have prefaced each section with my comments for context.
I enjoy primary sources. When an historian or analyst tells me what somebody said, I am not as convinced unless I can actually read or hear the words.
Aside from the public interest in the subjects of these debates there is also a bit of legislative history here from which lawyers might argue legislative intent. For rules on how legislative debate is used in law you might want to see pages 5 – 9 of a law review I authored, 28 Issues in Law and Medicine 3 (2012), entitled “Woman’s Right to Know Act: A Legislative History” and an article that I co-authored with Amy O’Neal entitled “The 2011 Tribal-State Gaming Compact: A 2012 North Carolina Legislative History,” 6 Charlotte Law Review 17 at 20-27 (2015).
It is no surprise that my own debates are featured in this collection and that House debates predominate. Beginning in 2009 House floor debates have been archived electronically on the Internet at www.ncleg.net. For House floor debates we provide links to the audio. Senate debates are recorded but they are not archived on the Internet. House Committee debates are recorded but they are not on the Internet and the recordings are usually discarded after the minutes have been prepared.
These debates cover the waterfront: Budgets, Incentives, Property Rights, Criminal Procedure and the Death Penalty. They include extensive debates on each of the pro-life bills that have been passed since 2011. Since there are always threats to sue over every pro-life measure, see this article for the legal end result on each. I also include parts of the debates on the marriage amendment, SB 2 (magistrate recusal) and HB 2 Privacy and Security Act of 2016.
Opponents of legislation will often say there was little or no debate or that there was no separate vote. In the Opportunity Scholarships litigation, opponents told the Superior Court there had been little debate and no separate recorded votes. The full transcripts of those 2013 debates were ninety-eight pages with four separate recorded votes–two in committee and two on the floor–on the precise issue of Opportunity Scholarships.
Grammar: I did not realize until beginning this project how different grammar and syntax are for oral speeches than when the same thought is written. Few members speak from a written text. After a sentence is begun we often change our mind as to where it is headed. Those sentences are difficult to diagram. I have made grammatical corrections so that the transcripts will be clear and so that those who taught us English in “grammar school” will not be ashamed. These “corrections” have not changed the meaning. Check the audio.
Rep. Paul Stam
North Carolina House of Representatives
Speaker Pro Tem, 2013-2016
House Republican Leader, 2007-2012
Member 1989-90 and 2003-2016