Twelve years ago today, former Governor Mike Easley signed legislation establishing the so-called “North Carolina Education Lottery.” From the very start, the proposal sharply divided the public; opponents considered the lottery a regressive, thinly-disguised tax on the poor — and the way the controversial bill became law is a case study in political shenanigans.
During the closing days of the 2005-2006 session, Democrats held a narrow majority in the General Assembly. At the time, the Senate consisted of 29 Democrats and 21 Republicans, while the balance in the House was tighter — 63 Democrats to 57 Republicans.1 The Democrat-led House supported passage of the lottery bill, but its chances to become law seemed unlikely, since it was opposed by a narrow bipartisan coalition of just enough Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate. Enough — by just two votes.
But something tricky was about to happen that would make even Frank Underwood blush.(more…)