State House Moves Forward On Multiple Amendments To State Constitution

Republicans in the General Assembly rode their majority to pass three more proposed constitutional amendments Tuesday. 

Photo Identification Requirement At The Polls

One proposed constitutional amendment passed Tuesday would allow legislators to craft a law to require voters to use a photo ID at the polls. Democrats say the bill gives the public a perception that the legislature is trying to disenfranchise some voters.

 

Republican Representative David Lewis said if voters support the amendment, lawmakers will work to write a law that preserves voters' rights and prevents fraud.

"I will work with you to make sure that should the voters pass this, that we pass a bill that fully allows people to be able to exercise their vote and to have improved confidence in the real and perceived integrity of our election system," Lewis said.

Democratic Representative Verla Insko said that any photo ID requirement would ultimately keep some eligible voters from voting.

Ethics and Elections Amendment Also Shifts Power Over Other State Boards

Another ballot question would ask voters if they are for or against the formation of a bi-partisan ethics and elections board. The General Assembly would appoint eight members to that panel. Current law gives the governor power to appoint a nine-member ethics and elections board.

The amendment also makes clear the legislature controls the appointments, terms and duties of all boards and commissions it creates. The language counters recent state Supreme Court opinions that found lawmakers went too far giving themselves power to fill half or most of the appointments to regulatory panels.

Democrats say giving the legislature that ability would disrupt the balance of power between North Carolina's branches of government. They also say that the measure's full effect is not apparent from the way the question will be written on the ballot.

"This bill is among the least clear that we have looked at during this legislative session," Democratic Representative Graig Meyer said.

Voters To Decide Whether To Rework Section That Lays Out Rights of Crime Victims

Voters will be asked this fall to decide whether to change the North Carolina Constitution to rework a current section that lays out the rights of crime victims.

The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to accept changes in the proposed constitutional amendment made by the Senate. Now the item will be placed on all ballots in the state this November in an up-or-down referendum.

Supporters say the amendment known as "Marsy's Law" would expand rights already in the state constitution approved by voters two decades ago. The changes make clear victims can go to court and seek redress when they feel their rights aren't being satisfied.

Chief sponsor Rep. Nelson Dollar of Cary says the proposed changes won't cost the state any additional money for court officials to comply with in the near future. Some House members questioned why the changes couldn't just be altered using conventional legislation.

House To Vote On Amendment To Cap Income Tax Rate

Wednesday the House will vote on a fourth amendment to cap the income tax rate at 5.5 percent.