Thanks to all who responded to our call to action yesterday. We heard from Sec Elaine Marshall’s office that they greatly appreciated our calls of support following a resolution to hold an investigation to impeach her. The General Assembly adjourned without further consideration of this matter. See below for more details.
Update on Final General Assembly laws passed before adjournment
With two or three possible extra sessions this year, it seems the NCGA is moving towards becoming a full-time legislature.
State lawmakers passed an adjournment resolution early Friday that will bring them back to town in August, September and then again by November to draw new legislative districts.
For many years, the state’s part-time legislature went home in the summer after the long session in odd years and didn’t return until after the primary elections the following year. But beginning with the Republican takeover in 2011, that practice changed, and “extra” or special sessions became standard procedure in interim periods.
The resolution to adjourn mandates that lawmakers will return on Aug. 3, a Thursday, to consider overrides of any vetoes issued in the interim by Gov. Roy Cooper, as well as the impeachment of state officals, conference committee agreements struck in the interim or any other live bills eligible for the session.
The bill sets the next convening date on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at which time lawmakers can take up judicial redistricting – a proposal that remains on hold after its unveiling Monday in the House Judiciary I Committee – as well as city and county redistricting. That session could also include veto overrides, constitutional amendments, appointment confirmations, impeachment of state officials and litigation.
Considering how many months legislators will be in Raleigh this year must call into question the ability of working members to perform the duties of their full-time profession. Is it time for a full-time legislature?
Compromise solar bill:
A compromise bill to overhaul solar policy in North Carolina is on its way to the governor. But critics say wind energy paid too high a price for the deal. The final deal includes an 18-month moratorium – through the end of 2018 – on issuing any state permits for wind farms. No exceptions are made for the Timbermill Wind and Alligator River wind projects currently in development. These projects are being constucted in two of the state’s poorest counties. Opinions are divided about whether the jobs associated with these projects will be lost. What is not in doubt is that the moratorium is the direct result of Sen Harry Brown’s opposition to wind energy projects. The original bill (no moratorium) had broad bipartisan support in both chambers.
Pay your Way out of a Criminal Charge?
It seems a bill supported by Wake Senator John Alexander has passed into law. Legislators were divided on the benefits of fining those who pass stopped buses vs facing criminal charges. Counties are at liberty to decide whether to follow this law and are still encouraged to pursue prosecution.
Drivers who pass a stopped school bus could soon be given a steep fine instead of facing criminal charges under a measure state lawmakers approved Thursday night.
Senate Bill 55 would allow counties to install and use video cameras on school buses to catch drivers who don’t obey stop arms. The counties would be allowed to enact non-criminal ordinances to fine a driver $400 for the first offense, $750 for the second and $1,000 for the third.
North Carolina Values?
Wake and Mecklenburg residents may get to vote on whether to permit hunting on Sundays.
In the waning hours of session Thursday, state lawmakers sent Gov. Roy Cooper measures that would expand Sunday hunting and allow “casino nights” with alcohol for charities and other groups.
Hunting is currently banned between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sundays, and Sunday hunting is banned in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. House Bill 559 would expand Sunday hunting to state gamelands in addition to private property, but morning hunting is still prohibited and no hunting can take place within 500 yards of a place of worship. The legislation also mandates that Wake, Mecklenburg and all other counties must allow Sunday hunting unless voters choose to ban it by countywide referendum.
Supporters say the change will encourage family hunting excursions on the weekends, but religious conservatives were opposed to the change.
It appears that North Carolina has narrowly avoided signing on to the call for a Constitutional Convention. Although this proposal is raised every other year or so, this year the resolution failed by a mere 6 votes in the house. Even leading members of the GOP were concerned about implications for the US Constitution if such a convention was convened.
With thanks as ever to WRAL’s NC Capitol writers, News and Observer reporting and WUNC’s Jeff Tiberii. Their reporting makes untangling the NCGA much easier.
The End of Civility?
We have been reading many articles about whether the toxic environment in DC has affected discourse in other areas of government. It’s hard to avoid this conclusion with the Tweet storm unleased by the President yesterday. At the local level, it certainly appears that the gloves are off. The personal attacks on the integrity of one of our foremost public servants, Elaine Marshall, appear baseless and unnecessary. As you saw in our Call to Action yesterday, the motivations behind the charge of illegally granting notary public licenses to non-citizens does not seem to have a basis in the law.
Fortunately the push for an investigation seems to have come too late for this session. The resolution to adjourn did include specific language regarding impeachment to be reopened on the August return date .
We will have to wait to see if it will be brought to the floor for a vote at that time. We do know that all the legislators we contacted were planning on voting against it.
Gutter Language in the NCGA
The same representative who raised the Marshall question was involved in another incident late Wednesday. Rep Chris Millis of Pender County is associated with the NCCPAC. Tweets from their account used defamatory language about legislators and their aides as well as anti-LGBTQ slurs. Millis has denied any involvement but the tone brings into question the attitude of those associated with this group.
A little light reading – or not!
A sobering reminder from Bob Hall about the dangers of reintroducing a Voter ID requirement. Those of us who worked the polls during the primaries when it was required can attest to the entire revamping of the election process to accommodate the problems of those who didn’t have id.
A case study of gerrymandering from the Guardian. As the Wisconsin case will be heard by the US Supreme Court the Guardian digs into what is involved.
And one more on gerrymandering, this time from the UNC School of Government summarizing the current state of gerrymandering cases in NC.
We need you! Please consider joining one of our crews.
Community – We loved meeting our newer members as well as signing up 8 new members on Tuesday! We’ll be in touch.
Judicial Work – We are in full planning mode for the Judicial event on August 29th. Save the date. More info coming soon.
Programming – July 18, a Documentary, Discussion and Drinks. An invitation will follow soon.
Social/Media – After an excellent meeting this week, work proceeds apace on branding and on the website.
Voter Education – this crew is busy researching voting patterns, survey techniques and rural outreach. We welcome new members.
Voter Registration – check out the You Can Vote website for Wake county opportunities.
Political Engagement – We are always looking for people to help with our quick response campaigns as well as visits to the NCGA.
And to finish…..what we’d all like to do…..