Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports on action in the House yesterday that — thankfully — saw principle trump special interests and principled legislators refuse to return to the past.
Twenty-eight House Republicans bolted party ranks Tuesday, joining 26 Democrats to defeat an economic incentives program that some labeled “corporate welfare.” It was a rebuke to House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and Gov. Pat McCrory, all of whom championed the legislation.
The 47-54 vote against House Bill 1224 signaled that the end of the meandering 2014 “short session” of the General Assembly could be nigh, arriving perhaps as early as today.
The GOP leadership split on this bill, with Tillis, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, supporting the measure along with House Rules Committee Chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and House Finance Committee Co-Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett.
Speaker Pro Tem Skip Stam, R-Wake, and Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, opposed the legislation. Also in opposition were the Finance Committee’s senior chairwoman, Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, and Co-Chairman Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba.
First-term Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, made an impassioned plea for members to oppose the bill. Speciale spoke about watching House sessions from the chamber’s balcony for 14 years, watching Republicans argue against “walk-around money” for special incentives to politically favored businesses.
“I thought, ‘Oh, if only the Republicans could be in charge — and that’s what a lot of the state thought — if only the Republicans were in charge, they would fix this,’” Speciale said. “They would quit taking money out of my pocket and give it to someone else.”
Speciale said Republicans now were being asked to support “the very thing that we argued year after year after year [against]. … The only thing I can say is, Please think about what you’re doing here.”