Moral Monday, WCHL Get National Attention

CHAPEL HILL – Moral Monday protests that continue to bring attention to new bills, received national attention on the Ed Schultz show Monday afternoon.  Schultz says that several of his colleagues have been “Frothing at the Mouth” over Moral Mondays.

“Moral Monday, there are going to be some more people who are going to be arrested today down in North Carolina, and why would you want to take away the hopes and dreams of a young person or someone that would be actively involved?” said Schultz.

North Carolina Senate Democratic leader, Martin Nesbitt, joined Schultz on the show and discussed the current law that the General Assembly passed regarding voter IDs.

“Cut back a week of early voting, eliminate straight ticket voting, counties can’t extend the poll hours on Election Day in response to long lines, eliminate pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, bans voter registration drives, by the calculation of the people who know we think the changes will about 416,000 hours to North Carolina’s voting process” Nesbitt commented.

The new Voter ID bill is just one of many bills that have passed.  Many people like Ed Schultz, Martin Nesbitt, and Moral Monday protesters say they disagree with the laws. Nesbitt says passing unpopular bills could hurt a party’s chance for re-election.

“And the legislature rating is down around 20 percent right now, the margin on a generic ballot for the legislature is nine points to the democrats, the highest it has ever been since public policy polling asked the question” Nesbitt said.

Nesbitt references that Carter Wrenn said the Republicans shouldn’t think they won’t lose it as quick as they won elections while on WCHL’s show, Who’s Talking with DG Martin.  Republicans in office have been under fire from many different groups like the Moral Monday protesters, Democrats in office, and the media.  Nesbitt says Republicans have been hard to find toward the end of session.

“They’re, they about gone silent now, they use to get on and brag and do this sort of thing, and now they just kind of gone silent and they continue to do what they had to do and pursue this agenda, and once again I think the plan is just lay low and express the vote and hope nobody comes get us” Nesbitt remarked.

Governor Pat McCrory will have many bills to either veto or pass in the near future.

Legislative trading and sausage making

“If someone ties a love note to a nuclear bomb, do you take ‘em both?”

That was State Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat, complaining about the legislature’s Republican majority tying a controversial budget cut provision to a popular proposed extension of unemployment benefits.

Of course, as Sen. Nesbitt knows, this kind of posturing goes on all the time in the General Assembly and in the Congress. The best way to get an unpopular piece of legislation passed and signed by the president or a governor is to tie it tightly to a very popular bill.

When I first started my former job representing the university system in the legislative halls, I had a lot to learn. (And to be fair, I still had a lot to learn even after I had spent years on the job.)
One of the hardest things for me to understand is the marketplace character of the legislature. What do I mean? Simply this: It is where a lot of trading goes on. When a legislator or a lobbyist wants to get something done, he or she quickly finds out that it will not automatically happen just because it is a good idea.
It usually takes some trading.
Here is an example. When the legislature gives inflationary increases to the pensions of state workers, it regularly makes similar adjustments for the faculty members who participate in a nationwide academic retirement plan. The university system views this adjustment as something that should be automatic.

But, towards the end of one session, when we approached the chair of the committee responsible for the retirement provisions of the budget, he let us know in no uncertain terms that the adjustment would not be automatic.

“We’ll see about that,” he said as he quickly shifted his eyes away from us to meet those of another supplicant.

I panicked, but my mentor, the late Jay Robinson, was calm. “Don’t worry about it too much,” he said. “Old Joe just needs something to trade. He will hold it back so that if he needs something from a university partisan, he can trade his approval of the pension provision to get what he wants.”

It didn’t seem right. “But,” explained Robinson, “that is the kind of trade every legislator wants—trading something that is probably going to happen anyway, in exchange for something he really wants but would not have happened if he hadn’t held something back he could give up.”

Does it seem complicated and unfair?

It did to me, too. But once I learned how the system worked, I got a lot more done than when I was just arguing the merits of the case.

However, there is a risk to this tactic. When the public becomes convinced that some person or some group is, in Sen. Nesbitt’s words, “tying an atom bomb” to something the government ought to be doing without condition, that person or group can be in trouble. They can get tagged with putting politics ahead of the public interest.

I learned another lesson about legislative trading in 2007 when I was interim director of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Although the fund was popular with most legislators, the House of Representatives reduced the fund’s appropriation in its preliminary budget. When I asked why, the House budget leaders told me privately, “The fund will get its appropriation in the end, but Sen. Basnight really loves that program, and we need something to trade when we negotiate a final budget with him.”

If it were not so important, watching our legislators could be fun.

Like watching all the insider signals at a baseball game–or watching sausage being made.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours? Comment below!

D.G. Martin hosts UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at 5 p.m. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at
This week’s (Sunday, May 1) guest is Lee Smith, author of “Mrs. Darcy & The Blue-eyed Stranger.”