Reece Gardner: Six Constitutional Amendments
Six Constitutional Amendments have now been approved by the General Assembly and are slated to appear on the ballot in November. Here are the details:
Amendment # 1: This will require voters to provide photo ID before voting in person. As you may recall, North Carolina has had a voter ID law before, but it was struck down by the courts. This amendment will put it in place permanently. Thirty-four states have some form of Voter ID, including every state in the Southeast except North Carolina.
Amendment # 2: Bi-partisan Election Board: This will establish an 8-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement in the Constitution to administer ethics and elections law. Under current law, the Board has 4 members of the governor's party, 4 members of the other major party, and one member who is neither. This Amendment will set up a new system that includes an 8-member board appointed by General Assembly leaders. No more that 4 members can be from the same political party.
Amendment # 3: Income Tax Cap at 7%: This will reduce the income tax rate in NC to a MAXIMUM allowable rate of seven percent. This will replace the current provision in the state constitution capping income tax rates at 10%,
Amendment # 4: This changes the rules for who appoints judges when vacancies occur between elections. Currently, the governor makes these appointments. This Amendment will set up a system whereby anyone in the state could submit nominations to a "Judicial Merit Commission," which would evaluate their qualifications and send them to the General Assembly. The legislature would then choose two names from that list to send to the governor to pick one of them.
Amendment # 5: Victims' Rights: This Amendment is for the purpose of strengthening protections for victims of crimes, to establish certain absolute basic rights for victims and to ensure enforcement of these rights.
Amendment # 6: Enshrines in the state constitution the public's right to hunt and fish, setting potential challenges to hunting restrictions. Some background on these Amendments: Gov. Cooper initially sued to challenge
Amendments # 2 and # 4, which went under review. The NAACP also sued to challenge these two amendments, as well as two others - Voter ID and the Maximum Income Tax Rate. The court ruled, however, that the ballot text of these last two adequately describes what they do and cannot be challenged. The way seems to be clear now for all 6 Amendments to appear on the November ballot.
Let's end this on a humorous note: A grandchild went to his grandfather and asked him if he could make a noise like a frog. His grandpa said, "Why to you want me to do that?" The little boy replied, "Well, Mom and Dad said when you croak we're going to Disney World!"