Democrats in North Carolina say they could have defeated a bill to repeal renewable energy subsidies on Wednesday if Republicans had not pushed it through committee without counting the votes.
The state Senate Finance Committee debated the bill to end the state's 6-year-old renewable energy program for over 40 minutes before Republican chairman Bill Rabon called for a motion.
"It's still a factor that renewable energy sources really don't provide a constant reliable source of electricity to be put into the grid and that means that we still have to have the baseload plant cost into delivering electricity so that anytime that switch is turned on, there has to be power there," bill supporter state Sen. Bob Rucho (R) argued. "So with that being said, I move for a favorable report."
As one lawmaker shouted out to have the votes counted by a show of hands, Republican chairman Bill Rabon called for the yeas and nays, decided that the motioned carried and then gaveled the hearing to a close.
"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," the Raleigh News & Observer noted. "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," Sen. Josh Stein (D) complained following the hearing. “That was no way to run a proceeding.”
Republican Sen. Andrew Brock said that opponents yelled "No!" so loudly that they must have confused the meeting with the “Spivey’s Corner Hollerin’ Contest.”
Environmental advocates have suggested that Republicans based the bill on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Republican state Rep. Mike Hager, who authored the bill, is an ALEC member.
Watch this video from WRAL, broadcast on May 1, 2013.