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Deadly legacy
Thank you for relaying the "stupid" comments that Rep. Jennifer Weiss received as sponsor of the bill requiring adults to store guns to prevent children's access (HB 320) [Front Porch, May 23]. Some of our fellow citizens and legislators apparently do think guns are more important than children. At the press conference at the legislature on April 5, the N.C. Million Mom March displayed 3 of 4 panels showing the names and ages of North Carolina gun victims for 1999 and 2000. There are 2,169 victims listed on the panels, 94 of which are children. Our legislators who voted against HB 320 should take a hard look at the memorial and the legacy they have chosen to maintain.

Balance of power
In The Independent's June 6 article on the budget, I made strong statements in reaction to the disappointment I felt to a budget that wreaked havoc on our most vulnerable citizens. While many of us are frustrated at our inability to influence and shape public policy as we would like, I want to give some background about improvements in the process, in particular Senator Basnight's role in that change. Senator Basnight is the most democratic of any President Pro Tem in the history of the Senate. Until his tenure, one couldn't speak on the floor or have any information about the budget until just before the vote. Under Senator Basnight's leadership, any senator can speak on the floor, Senator Basnight's door is always open and he allows any senator, including the newest elected freshmen, to speak in the caucus. We have heard the horror stories of the dictatorial and hierarchical way the senate was run in the old days. To his credit, Senator Basnight has persistently worked to open the process in which decisions are made. While there are still closed doors in some areas, Senator Basnight has worked consistently to change the system over the years. One also has to realize that as liberal as I am, there are senators as conservative on the other side. What my liberal constituents want may be exactly what conservative senators' constituents don't want under any circumstances. We will continue to speak out for the public policy we believe in and to shape a system that is responsive and open to all ideas.

While I spoke for myself in the article on the workings of the Senate, I want to make clear that the group of progressive Democrats that meets, only discusses bills we are interested in following, and makes no decisions on how each will act on any bill, including the budget.

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