Editor’s note: The following excerpt is from Rep. Chuck McGrady‘s weekly email newsletter, used with permission.
This week [which ended May 2] will probably be remembered as a time when bipartisan squabbling was put aside. The House committees that drafted the bills had Republican and Democratic chairs, and they largely worked by consensus. The bills passed unanimously and quickly. While there were differences of opinion, lawmakers were willing to compromise.
The only obvious partisan trend related to the wearing of masks. Republicans often didn’t wear them, and Democrats generally did. Of course, there were plenty of exceptions to that generalization, but I had to laugh when I heard a staffer quip that he never expected wearing or not wearing a mask would become a partisan fashion statement.
As for me, my constituents are probably not surprised to learn that I was sort of in the middle. I wore a mask during the two times I was on the floor to vote, and I voted a third time by proxy, which didn’t require me to go to the floor. On the other hand, while crafting the final bills — much of which was done by the full Appropriations Chairs, which are all Republicans — it was rare to see a mask even though we were in tight quarters. I tried to stick to the end of tables, allowing me increased space, but it was usually only staff that consistently showed up with masks for meetings.
As already noted, the committee processes were all electronic. More importantly, no one other than legislators and staff were allowed in the legislative buildings, and legislators and staff had their temperatures taken prior to being allowed access to the buildings each morning.
It was strange not having the usual crush of lobbyists and constituents in the buildings or being stopped by reporters for a legislator’s perspective. Of course, the ReOpenNC group held a rally outside the legislative chambers, creating some difficulty in getting around — that made it feel just like normal.
This article is part of COVID Conversations, a series of short features based on interviews with members of our community during the coronavirus pandemic in Western North Carolina. If you or someone you know has a unique story you think should be featured in a future issue of Xpress, please let us know at email@example.com.