Don’t Pass Laws You Can’t Enforce

The Raleigh News & Observer presented a false dilemma last week when it published a story with the headline, “Is North Carolina’s biggest teachers’ lobby breaking the law, or being targeted?” Both things can be true at once.

The state’s Republican majority moved a bill through the state legislature in 2014 that requires public employee associations to have more than 40,000 members in order to be eligible for paycheck deduction of dues. At the time, only one organization met that threshold, the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Since then, NCAE has experienced a dramatic downturn in fortune. It currently has fewer than 33,000 members.

The law gives the state auditor the responsibility of determining NCAE’s membership totals. Each year he does this by asking them. Each year they refuse to answer. The auditor has no authority to compel a response.

NCAE is required to provide its total membership numbers to the National Education Association each year, however, so it is no mystery that the organization does not meet the payroll deduction requirement and hasn’t for years.

Still, what’s the point of having the law? If it is meant to cut off NCAE’s paycheck deduction privileges, why doesn’t it have an enforcement mechanism?

Cut off private organization access to public paychecks or leave them all alone. As the song goes, don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

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