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NC Constitutional Amendments on the 2018 Ballot

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The legislative building of the North Carolina General Assembly, where the six constitutional amendments on the 2018 ballot originated and were passed.

The legislative building of the North Carolina General Assembly, where the six constitutional amendments on the 2018 ballot originated and were passed.

The legislative building of the North Carolina General Assembly, where the six constitutional amendments on the 2018 ballot originated and were passed.

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Any changes to the North Carolina constitution require a referendum vote by the citizens of North Carolina. This election cycle North Carolina’s legislature, the North Carolina General Assembly, has passed six amendments which voters can pass judgement to on November 6th. Listed below are the titles of these amendments along with a short description of their effect, purpose, and potential drawbacks.

 

Right to Hunt and Fish: The passage of this amendment would strengthen language in the constitution regarding hunting and fishing rights. Opponents of this amendment have argued that the new passage could be used to weaken current environmental law due to the vague language of the amendment.

Changes to Current Victim’s Rights (“Marsy’s Law”): This amendment strengthens victim’s rights in the NC Constitution, primarily by notifying accusers of the status of the accused’s trial, as well as notifying the victims when their attacker is freed from prison. Opponents of the amendment have correctly claimed that the amendment, if passed, will undermine due process and the rights of the accused. Nonetheless, Marsy’s law has gained national support and attention, being enacted previously in several other states.

Cap Maximum State Income Tax at 7%: This amendment would put a maximum amount the state can tax income at 7%. Currently the state income tax is set at around 5.5%, but the cap as outlined in the NC constitution is at 10%, meaning the state cannot tax income more than 10%. If passed, this amendment would lower this cap to 7%. Opponents claim that this lowered cap could harm the state if a financial crisis were to occur, though 7% is still higher than the original 5.5% cap as the amendment was originally proposed.

Require Photographic Identification to Vote: This amendment would require the use of photo ID when voting in any election in-person. North Carolina previously had a law requiring the use of photo ID when voting, but was struck down by the 4th circuit appellate court because it was passed specifically to block African Americans from voting, a group which is less likely to own a photo ID. The implementation of “voter-ID” as an amendment rather than a law makes it more likely to stand when put up against federal courts, and also uses language that makes clear the amendments purpose is to prevent voter fraud, not to block African Americans from heading to the polls.

Change the Process for Filling Judicial Appointments: This amendment would put more power into the legislature, being responsible to choose two candidates from a list made by a commision when filling in a judicial vacancy. Judges in the North Carolina court system are elected, and currently when a vacancy arises within this system the governor appoints a temporary judge to fill this seat before the next election. If this amendment is passed the legislature would be responsible for choosing two judicial candidates to fill the vacant seat, from which the governor chooses one. Opponents of this amendment argue that it takes away too much power from the governor and gives too much to the NC General Assembly.

Establish an 8-Member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement: This amendment makes the General Assembly responsible for establishing an eight-member board of elections. Currently there is a nine-member board which is appointed by the governor, of which four are democrats, four are republicans, and one is from neither party. If this amendment is passed the board would become eight-members, four being from the majority party and four being from the minority party, each of which would be appointed by the legislator. This board is responsible for administering ethics and enforcing the outcome of elections. Previous attempts at change to the board of elections have resulted in the NC Supreme Court declaring the changes unconstitutional, so an amendment to include the changes within the constitution would be “court proof” in this respect. Opponents of the amendment argue that shifting the appointment of members of the board to the legislation takes power away from the governor.

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