On Monday, the North Carolina House overwhelmingly voted against a bill to redistrict the Greensboro City Council. Yet House members found themselves voting on the measure again Thursday, twice.
If at first you don’t succeed, take it up with a conference committee. House and Senate negotiators hastily arranged the meeting to make changes both chambers could, in theory, agree upon.
The Greensboro City Council is currently comprised of eight members, three of which are elected at large. The original bill shrunk the size of the council to seven members. The conference committee decided maybe eight was a good number after all. In support of the measure, Republican Rep. Pat Hurley offered to answer any questions.
Democratic Representative Rick Glazier had one.
"Just who do we think we are?"
Glazier had a problem with representatives voting again on a measure they had already defeated 35-73. And that they were being asked to support a plan "that is multiple double-bunking all the minority members," Glazier said.
Double-bunking is when two incumbents are foreced to run for re-election in the same district.
While this revised version of the bill would leave Greensboro with eight council members, it still redraws districts in a very partisan way, said Democrat Pricey Harrison.
"All the Democrats have been double-bunked, but none of the Republicans have been double bunked. And one Democrat that hasn’t been double bunked has been put into a Republican district."
This bill was sponsored by Republican Senator Trudy Wade. She’s backed by other powerful senators, including Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg.
"I don’t know why the House is conceding to the bullies in the Senate," Harrison said.
She was not alone. Democrat Ralph Johnson said "everything is going to be done based on what the Senate recommends. That’s not right being pushed around."
Democrat Cecil Brockman added: "They’re (the Senate) a bunch of bullies and they’ve been threatening our colleagues here, every one of you."
Republican John Blust elaborated, "There have been some indications from some of the members, from at least what they’ve told me is what they want in the Senate could be affected by how they vote on this."
Meaning, if true, some House members were told their legislation would die in the Senate if they voted against the Greensboro bill. But just enough representatives did for the measure to fail again 50-53.
Then, after a 45-minute recess and a caucus meeting, the House brought up the bill yet again. Seven representatives flipped their view on the issue and it passed 57 to 46. Minutes later the Senate also passed the conference bill. North Carolina statues say redistricting bills don’t need the governor’s signature, so now it’s law.