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GOP lawmakers break transparency pledge

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N.C. House Republicans may or may not have violated the state constitution in convening a middle-of-the-night session to override a veto by Gov. Bev. Perdue.

But they certainly violated the pledge they made last year when they took control of the N.C. General Assembly to bring more transparency to the legislative branch.

Perdue had called for the special session on Wednesday specifically for lawmakers to consider her veto of a bill that would dismantle portions of the 2009 Racial Justice Act. The N.C. Senate quickly voted to override the veto that afternoon, but House Republicans did not have the votes to follow suit.

Instead, Republican legislators passed a resolution late Wednesday night to convene a new session for them to consider other legislation that Perdue had vetoed but the legislature had not overridden. The session called by Perdue was adjourned at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and the Republican leadership convened the new session at 12:45 a.m. The House then voted to override Perdue’s veto of a bill that eliminates the ability of the N.C. Association of Educators to deduct dues from teachers’ paychecks, which the Senate had overridden in July.

Constitutional experts say the legality of calling the extra special session falls into a gray area. North Carolina’s governors did not receive constitutional veto power until the mid-1990s, so the GOP leadership’s late-night maneuvering rests on untested legal grounds.

But regardless of the constitutionality of the session, last week’s actions by GOP legislative leaders have painted them as a cynical and sneaky bunch who have made a mockery of their empty promises to promote open government in the legislature.