While the supposed short session of the General Assembly, which should have ended long ago, continues on because of a budget impasse, we’ve seen most of the legislature’s work for the year well enough to comment on a few items.
It was good to see Surry County’s delegation to Raleigh vote for a limited, defined use of marijuana for specific medical conditions while maintaining their overall stand against legalizing the drug.
Rep. Sarah Stevens, of Mount Airy, and State Sen. Shirley Randleman, of Wilkes County, both supported a bill that allows hemp oil to be extracted from marijuana plants in order for the oil to treat people with epilepsy.
The bill allows for the extract, which is low on the marijuana component responsible for the drug’s psychological effects — or high — to be used for epilepsy patients suffering from seizures related to the disease.
As the bill was written, it can only be used in patients who have gone through several treatment options, under the supervision of a neurologist, but who are still plagued with the seizures and can find no other relief.
What is most gratifying about their support is that, at least in Stevens’ case, she was admittedly skeptical of the measure until researching the condition and finding this wasn’t just some way to put marijuana in the hands of more people. This is a bona fide, scientifically backed method of treating those with one of the worst types of epilepsy.
Both legislators were quick to point out they are remain adamantly opposed to any sort of loosening of anti-drug guidelines, including the use of marijuana for other medical conditions, and we think that’s a good stand that represents the view of a majority of those in their districts.
Too bad we don’t see more of this — legislators actually reviewing the facts of an issue and making a decision, rather than making blind votes on ideological or party loyalty grounds.
It was also good to see Gov. Pat McCrory stand up to the senate this week, stating he would veto any budget that has an unreasonable raise for teachers in it which endangers the budget.
The senate version of the budget calls for an 11 percent pay raise, but that would mean cutting millions of dollars from the budget elsewhere. In the senate proposal, that means eliminating 7,400 teacher assistants in second- and third-grade classrooms around the state.
The senate, in its proposal, is simply pandering to a popular cause, that of teacher pay raises, without any thought to the fallout for such a move. The senators don’t really care about the fallout — all they care about is re-election, and afterward they no doubt can find a scapegoat for the negative consequences of their actions.
McCrory, who to this point has been a mostly do-nothing governor more concerned with bending facts to say whatever he wants, has the good sense to stand up to the senate, even tough it is controlled by his GOP.
In siding with the House proposal of a 6 percent raise, the governor is going with the more fiscally responsible of the two plans, and in so doing showing a glimmer of leadership.
Perhaps this is the start of building a true legacy, working for good rather than worrying about re-election or polling data, or ignoring facts that don’t fit his version of the world.
If so it’s a small, but still important, step in that direction.