NC NAACP Statement Regarding the House Bill 66 / Session Law 2011-169
June 30, 2011
Contact: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, 919-394-8137
Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700
Atty. Jennifer W. Marsh, 919-682-4700
NC NAACP and the Greene County NAACP Condemn House Bill 66:
An Example of Poor Legislation Rushed Through the General Assembly
The NC NAACP and the Greene County NAACP oppose the ratification of House Bill 66, which alters elections for County Commissioners in Greene County. This hastily and poorly written legislation was pushed through the General Assembly, along with hundreds of other bills, without appropriate review and debate. The result was ratification of a bill that is illegal as written.
"The leadership of the General Assembly is obviously more interested in partisan-driven results rather than fairness or accuracy," said Benjamin Lanier, President of the Green County NAACP Branch. "The County Commissioners in Greene County passed a resolution opposing House Bill 66 and the General Assembly’s interference. They, and all interested parties, were not given the time or resources to perform a detailed review of the bill."
"The people of North Carolina deserve a fair and transparent legislative process that allows for appropriate review and meaningful input. We look to the leadership to adopt laws that are legal and fair to all our citizens and allowing appropriate time for analysis. Rushing through bills during marathon sessions will lead to errors such as what is found in House Bill 66," stated Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina NAACP.
As the session wrapped up, legislators from both parties complained that they were unable to properly do their job due to the sheer volume of bills. Nevertheless, each day Speaker Thom Tillis and Senator Phil Berger loaded the calendar with bills and held sessions that lasted late into the night.
House Bill 66 was one of the hundreds of bills passed without proper scrutiny and input. This local bill imposes residency districts in Greene County for the County Commissioner election. The bill requires one County Commissioner be elected from each of the five districts created; however the voting will still be at-large. House Bill 66 contains a serious mistake in that the residency districts created leave out a large portion of the MAUR precinct in the eastern part of the county. Around 1,000 residents live in that area but cannot run for County Commissioner because they do not live in any of the five residency districts.
Prior to the final vote on this bill, our attorneys attempted to contact the General Assembly to bring this error to their attention but their calls were not returned. We believe this is not an isolated mistake but indicative of the sloppy legislation that was passed in the final weeks of the session.
It is no coincidence that the sponsor of this bill is Representative Stephen Laroque. Rep. Laroque is also the lead plaintiff in a federal case Laroque v. Holder, an attempt to have Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was fought for and secured by black and white people determined to move America forward, struck down as unconstitutional.
The Legislature will have many opportunities to fix it over the next few sessions. However, House Bill 66 is a bad piece of legislation even without this glaring mistake. Passing laws that are not fully reviewed, not locally supported, and do not allow public input is not what we sent our Representatives and Senators to Raleigh to do.