Do rules not apply to Bob Rucho?

Sen. Bob Rucho, left, helped push through a renewable energy bill supported by Rep. Mike Hager (right).
Sen. Bob Rucho, left, helped push through a renewable energy bill supported by Rep. Mike Hager (right). cseward@newsobserver.com

We’ve watched for years as Bob Rucho’s thirst for power has grown insatiable. With each bit of authority he was given, the state senator and retired dentist from Matthews became increasingly brazen.

Now, even some of his fellow Republicans in the Senate have had enough.

Rucho declared a bill had passed in his Senate Finance Committee Wednesday even though a voice vote suggested it had failed. Rucho may have violated Senate rules by not allowing a show of hands instead of the voice vote despite a request for one from a committee member.

Two of Rucho’s fellow Republicans on the committee objected. Craig Jarvis of the News & Observer reports that Sen. Jerry Tillman, a seven-term Republican from Archdale, told Rucho, “It wasn’t even close” after the voice vote. And Sen. John Alexander, R-Wake, also voted against the bill and was frustrated with Rucho’s heavy-handedness. Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat, called Rucho’s act “a crass abuse of power.”

The bill in question, HB 332, freezes the state’s renewable energy standards. It was pushed through the House by Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, a former manager at Duke Energy. Rucho refused to allow debate on that portion of the bill, turning away four members of the public who intended to comment for and against the proposal, WRAL reported.

Senate rules say if “division” – a show of hands or standing up to vote – is requested, the presiding officer shall call for a vote on that. If division is desired by one-fifth of those present, the presiding officer shall conduct a vote on the bill by a show of hands. Instead, Rucho declared that it was his prerogative as chairman to not ask for a show of hands and just declare who won the voice vote. (There seems to be internal debate about whether the rule applies to committees or only on the Senate floor.)

Many of those present say the “Nos” were louder than the “Ayes.” But Rucho insisted it had passed and adjourned the meeting.

So this is (one reason) why Charlotte radio host Keith Larson calls Rucho “Napoleon Rucho.” His thirst for power knows no bounds, his arrogance about how democracy works consistent.

If the renewable energy bill is wise policy and had the support of the committee, what does Rucho fear from a show of hands? -- Taylor Batten

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