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News & Press: Updates for Members

Legislative Update: Adjournment and 6 Constitutional Amendments

Friday, June 29, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kay Castillo
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Another busy week at the North Carolina General Assembly has come and gone. But with it also comes adjournment! Legislators adjourned the short legislative session on Friday, June 29th but not without passing SIX Constitutional amendments first! These amendments, detailed below, will all be on the ballot in November. NASW-NC plans to prepare voter education materials for members to help inform social workers before they vote.

While legislators did adjourn, they made plans to come back after Thanksgiving with a schedule yet to be decided. This schedule will likely be dependent on the results of the elections in November.

One big, last minute item before legislators adjourned was the restoration of the last Saturday of early voting- but only for the 2018 elections! In a surprise move, legislators quickly passed HB 335, which restores the last Saturday of early voting before an election from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm (this was eliminated when SB 325 was overridden earlier in the week). Counties can also opt to run until 5:00 pm on this day.

Constitutional Amendments

The following is a list of Constitutional amendments that will be before voters during the November elections:

  • HB 551 Strengthening Victims’ Rights
    This amendment would give crime victims the right to receive notice of court proceedings, the right to be present at any proceeding and to be heard at some stages of the legal process, and to "reasonably confer" with the prosecutor in the case. The rights apply to victims of crimes against them or crimes that are equivalent to felony property crimes.

    Voters will vote FOR or AGAINST: “
    Constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for victims of crime, to establish certain, absolute basic rights for victims, and to ensure the enforcement of these rights."
  • SB 677 Protect Right to Hunt and Fish
    As passed, this amendment gives citizens
    the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife as a valued part of the State's heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good. The people have a right, including the right to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject only to laws enacted by the General Assembly and rules adopted pursuant to authority granted by the General Assembly to (i) promote wildlife conservation and management and (ii) preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. Nothing herein shall be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.

    The question before voters will be:
    FOR or AGAINST: “Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife."
  • HB 913 Bipartisan Ethics and Elections Enforcement
    This would establish an eight-member board to administer ethics and elections laws. It will be in the Executive Branch but will act independently. Members will be registered voters in the state and will serve a four-year term. Secondly, the bill directs legislators to control the powers, duties, responsibilities, appointments, and terms of office of any board or commission prescribed by general law. Members of the General Assembly may not be appointed to any board or commission that exercises judicial or executive powers.

    Voters will vote
    FOR or AGAINST: “Constitutional amendment to establish a bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections to administer ethics and election laws, to clarify the appointment authority of the Legislative and the Judicial Branches, and to prohibit legislators from serving on boards and commissions exercising executive or judicial authority."
  • SB 814 Judicial Vacancy Sunset Amendment
    This amendment would create a state commission to vet nominees for any vacancy of Justice or Judge of the General Court. The commission would then forward any recommendations to the General Assembly. The General Assembly would then send at least two names to the Governor for him or her to select for the open position. The selected individual would serve in the judicial position until the next election.

    Voters will vote
    FOR or AGAINST: “Constitutional amendment to implement a nonpartisan merit-based system that relies on professional qualifications instead of political influence when nominating Justices and judges to be selected to fill vacancies that occur between judicial elections.”
  • SB 75 Constitutional Amendment- Maximum Income Tax Rate of 7.0%
    As reported on earlier this week, this amendment caps the state income tax rate at 7.0%. Originally, legislators had proposed a 5.5% cap. Currently, our Constitution caps income tax rate at 10%.

    The question before voters will read: FOR or AGAINST: “Constitutional amendment to reduce the income tax rate in North Carolina to a maximum allowable rate of seven percent (7%).”
  • HB1092 Require photo ID to vote
    This amendment will ask voters to vote FOR or AGAINST: “
    Constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person.” The legislation also directs the NCGA to develop laws governing the regulations needed in state law to oversee voter I.D.

Veto overrides

House and Senate members overrode several vetoes this week. Of most importance to social workers, legislators overrode Governor Cooper’s veto of SB 325 The Uniform and Expanded Early Voting Act. This legislation would change early voting in North Carolina. It states that early voting would begin no earlier than the third Wednesday before an election and would end no later than 7:00 p.m. on the last Friday before the election. For the 2018 general election, these dates would be October 17 through November 2. This provision eliminates the last Saturday of early voting. It would also require each voting location to be open at the same times across the county and requires them to be open for twelve hours. Legislators did reverse their decision to end the last Saturday of early voting through passage of HB 335 as detailed above- however, that is only for the 2018 election cycle!

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