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Democrats sound alarm on fast-tracked bills

"I think they want to leave town just as soon as possible."

That was Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt's parting words on Thursday, a day that saw Republicans speed-voting two major pieces of legislation toward quick approval with little public discussion.

Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat, and Rep. Larry Hall, the House minority leader from Durham, were joined by a couple dozen other General Assembly Democrats to complain about two bills that would cut unemployment benefits and reject expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Picking up on a theme from last session, the Democrats said GOP committee chairs are not allowing public comment, sharing information with Democrats only at the last minute and then rushing into law bills crafted in private with help from business interests.

House Republicans, meanwhile, countered that the unemployment insurance bill has been studied and debated in the open for several months leading up to Thursday's committee meeting.

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