Reform of the House Needed

April 5th, 2006 by

Representatives Capps, Dollar and Stam
Call for Immediate Reforms in the House

Every day it becomes more evident that there will be a change in the Speakership by opening day of the General Assembly. Yet, more important than changing the Representative who holds the gavel is changing how the House operates.

North Carolina desperately needs to transform our state government into a modern 21st Century democracy. It’s time to leave behind the secrecy, the log rolling and the perception that trading campaign cash for legislative favors is required or helpful.

There are issues the House can address on opening day – fundamental reforms that will create a climate of open and honest government, restore integrity to the legislative process, and renew the public’s confidence in our governing institutions and leaders.

  • Place a limit of three terms on any future Speaker of the House.
  • Each party caucus to determine its own membership on all committees, (standing, select and conference) proportional to its representation in the House.
  • No Legislation in the main budget beyond that necessary to carry out the appropriations and revenue items.
  • No provisions in the conference report which were not previously in the House or Senate version of the budget or which are necessary to effectuate a true compromise of provisions in dispute.
  • No voting by floaters (ex-officio members) on any committee.
  • No closed-door sessions of the budget conference committee. Public announcement of meetings of the committee or its subcommittees.
  • Independent redistricting commission.
  • Rules revised to restore the Regular Order employing standard parliamentary principles to the operation of business in the House.

All of these reforms can be subverted by a speaker or rules chair who won’t enforce the rules. More than anything we need presiding officers who will commit to actually apply the rules adopted by the House in a fair and transparent manner. We will be requesting any new incoming Speaker of the House publicly address these issues, and pledge to implement and uphold the reforms we need to restore open government to the citizens of our State.

The writer represents Southern Wake County in the North Carolina House of Representatives.