Thursday, May 16, 2013

Look who's overruling "the will of the people"

Let me see if I understand this: North Carolina voters elected Republicans to a majority share of the seats in the General Assembly because the Republicans promised smaller, less intrusive, closer-to-the-people government. Now that they're in power, the Republicans are proposing measures that take away from cities (the governmental level closest to the people) the authority to regulate development and construction through zoning laws. They're taking away from some county school boards (also close to the people) the authority to determine when, where and how large schools should be built. They're telling women and couples that their health insurance carriers can deny them coverage for contraceptives. Heck, they're even telling municipalities that they can't regulate smoking in city-owned parks and amphitheaters.

Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson, who is sponsoring the ban on local control over smoking at locally owned facilities, says smokers are upset at not being able to smoke whenever and wherever they desire. Statistics from 2011 show that fewer than 22 percent of North Carolinians smoke. That leaves 78 percent who would prefer to enjoy a walk in the park or a baseball game or concert without having to smell burning tobacco or contend with smoking litter. Newton's bill would even overrule a public referendum that passed overwhelmingly in Wrightsville Beach.

You can't get any closer to the people than a direct public referendum. But the new Republican majority knows better what the people need, even if they have voted to the contrary.

Now, which party is it that wants to create a "nanny state" that dictates what's good for individual citizens?

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