Apparently counting votes is no longer necessary to reach a majority decision.
Over the objections of Democratic lawmakers, a Senate committee approved legislation Wednesday to end the state’s 6-year-old renewable energy program.
Opponents of the bill shouted “No!” when voting to show their frustration at Republican chairman Bill Rabon’s refusal to count votes with a show of hands. In what was clearly a razor-thin margin, both sides said they would have won if the votes had been counted.
“North Carolina is not a banana republic,” Democratic Sen. Josh Stein of Raleigh, one of the no votes, said after the meeting. “That was no way to run a proceeding.”
It was also evident that the Republicans are split on the legislation that would end a state policy of requiring electric utilities to buy green electricity from solar farms and other renewable generators.
At least a half-dozen Republicans voted with Democrats against the controversial bill Wednesday. Supporters say the program has created new jobs and generated economic activity.
“It looks very bad to the public,” Nesbitt said. “And it clearly appears to the public that the vote was called the wrong way.”
The Senate bill, which had languished for nearly six weeks, now moves to the commerce committee. Supporters need to get the bill to the House side by May 16 to keep the legislation alive for this session.
The bill, which is closely watched by 16 national and state conservative organizations, has become a measure of party discipline. The American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute are among the organizations pushing to make North Carolina a testing ground for rolling back policies that favor renewable energy.