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NC Legislative Update: June 29, 2018

June 29, 2018

This Week

The North Carolina General Assembly has adjourned until November 27th, and lawmakers now return to the campaign trail.  This cycle is a “blue moon” election for North Carolina, meaning there is neither a statewide federal race, nor a statewide council of state race, and historically has resulted in lower turnout.  The NC Supreme Court and the NC Court of Appeals are statewide races, but they appear at the end of the ballot.

The General Assembly has asked voters for their approval of six amendments to the State’s Constitution, which will go before the voters this fall on the general election ballot.  Constitutional Amendments require approval of the voters and a simple majority, and whether or not these amendments will drive voter turnout for either side remains to be seen.  Voters will be asked to approve:

  • Requiring a photo ID to vote
  • Legislative appointment of judicial vacancies
  • Establish a Bipartisan Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, consisting of eight members appointed by the General Assembly, two recommended by the Majority Leader and two recommended by the Minority Leader, in each chamber.  It also would clarify that the legislative powers to control the powers, duties, responsibilities, appointments, and terms of office of any board or commission prescribed by general law, and the powers of the Governor to faithfully execute those laws.
  • Enshrining the right to hunt and fish
  • Reducing the cap of the maximum allowable income tax rate from 10% to 7%.

Marsy’s Law – Expand the definition of victim and requires victims of an expanded list of crimes, be notified of court proceedings at their request.

You'll be voting on a 'max tax' this November – N&O
Voter ID amendment goes to voters – WRAL
Senate passes 'Marsy's Law' for crime victim notifications – WRAL
NC governor doesn't have much power — and could get weaker: 'He’d be a nice figurehead' – N&O
Elections board, appointments amendment on the ballot – WRAL

Internally with this team, Gov. Cooper deliberated 77 bills over the weekend, as the 10-day clock for him to take action expired either Sunday or Monday, depending on when the legislature initially passed the bill.  He did not to take action on nine bills, opting instead to let them become law without his signature.  He vetoed seven bringing his total to 23 for the 2017-18 General Assembly.  In his first year-and-a-half in office, he has vetoed more legislation than any Governor since the veto was established.  The following bills were vetoed, five were overridden not withstanding the objections of the Governor, and two (*) did not receive a vote:

Cooper goes on veto binge, rejecting seven bills – WRAL

Nine bills became law without the Governor’s signature:

On Tuesday, the House Finance Committee unveiled a proposed committee substitute (PCS) for House Bill 471, which would make it a class G felony to operate more than one electronic gaming machine.  A similar measure that was unlikely to pass this year, has been parked in a Conference Committee, and would have brought the same charge for operating more than four machines.  The bill received a favorable report from the Committee, but did not move to the floor.  Leadership in both chambers had previously noted they were unlikely to handle any more measures subject to gubernatorial action.  This issue will likely resurface when the next legislature convenes in 2019.

Lawmakers look to crack down on sweepstakes machines – N&O
New video gambling ban surfaces in House – WRAL

On Thursday, passed House Bill 335, restoring early voting hours on the last Saturday before the elections, from 8:00 AM until 1:00 PM on that day required and from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM on that day optional.  Holding early voting the last Saturday before the election was made optional earlier this session for counties in Senate Bill 325, which was vetoed by the Governor and overridden.

On Thursday, lawmakers held a Joint Session to vote on the Governor’s nominees to the State Board of Education.  Lawmakers unanimously confirmed Reginald Keenan of Duplin County, but the Governor’s nominees for two other seats on the Board, Sandra Byrd of Buncombe County, and John B. Buxton of Wake County, were rejected.

House, Senate reject two of governor’s three nominees for State Board of Education – Carolina Journal
NC Republican lawmakers reject 4 of Gov. Roy Cooper's nominees – N&O

In Other News

Two fixtures of the Senate will not be returning for the 2019-20 NCGA.  Chief of staff, and longtime confidant to Senate Pro-Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), Jim Blaine, and Senate Sargent at Arms, Phil King.
'One of the most powerful people that no one's ever heard of' – Meet Jim Blaine – N&O

After the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the partisan gerrymandering case challenging North Carolina’s congressional districts, back to the lower court, asking plaintiffs to show how they have been harmed by the maps.
U.S. Supreme Court punts N.C. partisan redistricting challenge – Carolina Journal

The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled 8-1 that the State’s current legislative districts used in the primaries, which includes some redrawn by a court appointed “special master”, will remain intact for the 2018 election.
Remap ruling keeps North Carolina’s current lines intact – AP
Supreme Court upholds part of Stanford law professor's redistricting plan for NC – N&O

NC Health News profiled Matthew Schwab, intern to Rep. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg).  Matthew has Down syndrome and has excelled in his role this summer at the NCGA.
Intern Brings Unique Perspective to the NCGA –NC Health News


In addition to providing Government Affairs Services, the Nexsen Pruet Public Policy team provides attorneys and clients with a newsletter summarizing the week's activities and conveying the inner workings of the legislative process and state government in Raleigh during the legislative session. Please feel free to pass this along to your clients or other interested parties.  If you would like to receive the update in your inbox, please email kdjones@nexsenpruet.com to be added to the list.  If you are interested in learning more about how Nexsen Pruet can help you achieve your public policy goals and acquiring legislative representation in North Carolina or South Carolina, please reach out to Sandy Sands at ssands@nexsenpruet.com or TJ Bugbee at tjbugbee@nexsenpruet.com.

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