Isn't it about time to have a legislative response plan?

Published March 19, 2020

By Joe Mavretic

When faced with the possibility of a nuclear war, the US Congress built a top secret, 535 person bunker beneath the Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia in order for our Federal Legislative Branch of Government to assemble, meet and act for this country. There was no internet, no high-tech telephones, no laptops or desktop computers. Our Congressmen and Senators had to meet physically together. The Bunker at Greenbriar took about three years to build (1958-1961) and was called "Project Greek Island." It remained a national secret until 1992. Today, tourists can take a ninety minute tour of this facility for about $40.00 ($20.00 for children).

The current Chinese Flu pandemic provides our General Assembly with the opportunity to develop a legislative emergency connection plan for the 21st century. This plan would insure that our House and Senate could follow our state constitution, follow the rules of each body and enact legislation lawfully to address emergencies. There is no compelling reason for our Assembly to convene physically during a medical emergency.

Neighborhoods are already connected by "Listserv." Mediations are now being conducted by phone. University classes with more than thirty students are held on the internet. Legal documents can be signed and filed over the internet. We communicate with our friends by email, messages, twitter and tweet. My friend Jeff Winstead connects daily with his three-year old granddaughter on "Face Time."  

We live in a wireless, connected state and all the equipment necessary for our Assembly to meet from home, in emergencies, is in place. Each legislator can have a laptop, a desktop computer and a cellphone. There already is access to the federal and state statutes. The legislative staff can easily interface with our legislators.

Before this pandemic ends, our legislature can cobble together an improvised plan for emergency assembly, test it and act upon it. As the Chinese Flu pandemic winds down, a Select Committee of our General Assembly can propose a detailed plan.

 North Carolina’s Executive Branch already has one of the best emergency response plans in America. That plan has been tried, tested, critiqued, amended, and improved for years in response to hurricanes and floods.