Legislative Update: June 29, 2018
June 29, 2018
As many as four proposed amendments – maybe more – to the North Carolina constitution could be on the ballot this fall. Many speculate that the proposed amendments are designed to appeal to the Republican base in hopes that they will increase conservative voter turnout.
VOTER ID/STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
This proposed amendment to the state constitution (H1092) would require a photo ID for in-person voting on the November ballot. The language on the ballot will be general; however, the (presumed) Republican majority will write the actual bill following the election. There is little reason to assume that any new bill will not be another unconstitutional measure aimed at voter suppression that will go far beyond voter ID alone. It should be noted that voter ID is not required for absentee voting or early voting, which is technically a form of absentee voting. Republicans hope that this measure will appeal to their base and boost their turnout in an election in which they are expected to lose legislative seats.
CAP STATE INCOME TAX AT 7% STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
The North Carolina Constitution currently places a 10% cap on the state income tax. Again, this proposed amendment to the state constitution is designed to encourage the Republican base to turn out for the 2018 elections. At a time when federal support for programs is being slashed, freezing the level of the state income tax could have serious consequences for people who depend on these programs.
PROTECT THE RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH, AND HARVEST WILDLIFE STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
This proposed amendment (S677) would ―forever preserve the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife using traditional means. It is unclear what “traditional means” is referring to.
JUDICIAL VACANCY SUNSHINE AMENDMENT
This is a new bill (S814) filed 06/20/2018. It would essentially transfer the power to fill a judicial vacancy from the governor to the legislature in a convoluted way. The language is so vague that it is difficult to determine exactly what implementation could involve.
RESTRICTIONS ON EARLY VOTING
This bill (S325) began life as a tax bill that passed the Senate last session. In this session a House subcommittee stripped out the original language and transformed it into a bill that places new restrictions on early voting. Both the process that produced the bill and its contents have been criticized.
The state Board of Elections was especially concerned that it was given no notice that the bill was being considered. It appears to be another voting bill that targets African American voters―with surgical precision- by eliminating the last Saturday of early voting, the day the largest percentage of African Americans early vote, and rescheduling early voting in a way that could reduce the number of early voting sites. In a rushed process, this bill has been ratified.
More details – as they become available – will follow this update, as well as a description of the League’s response and strategy to educate North Carolininans about the potential impact of these amendments.