North Carolina Expands Opportunities for Certificates of Relief

In mid-June, the North Carolina Senate passed House Bill 774, “Amend Certificates of Relief.” Courts can issue “certificates of relief” to individuals. With this certificate, if that person is hired and commits a crime involving their job or employer, the employer is not held liable. Because the new law gives people with criminal records more opportunities to gain employment, it has the potential to reduce recidivism.

Proposed NC Constitutional Amendments

As the 2018 legislative session draws to a close, the General Assembly has introduced a slew of proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot for voters in the fall.

This move comes before elections that threaten the Republican supermajority in both houses. Overriding vetoes from the governor and amending the constitution both require a 3/5 supermajority.

One proposal is to make photo identification a requirement for in-person voting. Other proposals include capping the state income tax and protecting the right to use “traditional methods” to hunt. Additionally, “Marsy’s Law” would support victim’s rights.

Two of the proposals have the potential to move power from the gubernatorial branch to the legislative one. First, one would give the general assembly the power to appoint the state board of elections and ethics enforcement. Second, Senate Bill 814 would change the process by which judicial vacancies are filled. A commission would review judicial nominations from the public and recommendations would be forwarded to the General Assembly. From there, the legislators would then send a minimum of two names to the governor, who would then pick the person to fill the vacancy.

Read more about all of the proposals here and here, and about the Senate bill 814 here.

NCGA Try to Force ID for Voting…AGAIN

Despite being told that it is unconstitutional to require and ID for voting, NC General Assembly is trying again to force an voting ID requirement on the citizens of North Carolina. This time they are trying to use a constitutional amendment, that will appear on Novembers ballot, to make showing ID mandatory for voters in North Carolina.

When you see this constitutional amendment on your ballot, VOTE NO! An ID requirement for voting disproportionally chills the voting rights of African Americans and senior citizens. Read more about the proposed constitutional amendment here.

Judicial Redistricting On Hold…For Now

After what seemed like a special session with no end, the North Carolina General Assembly finally adjourned on February 13, 2018. The good news is that opponents to the proposed judicial redistricting plan were able to stave off a vote that has the potential to drastically change the diversity and make up of the North Carolina judicial branch. The bad news is that when NCGA returns to session in May, or possibly before, this debate will quickly heat up again.

CJPC will keep you up to date on this important issues. For a quick overview of where things stand, click here.

The Fight for Judicial Primaries

The NCGA is trying to take away our right to elect judges. If you are like most people the previous sentence is alarming, but you aren’t quiet sure what it means. CJPC is here to help you make sense of this important issue.

What is the law right now related to judicial elections?

  • There will be no judicial primaries. This means you will not have an opportunity to narrow down the potentially long list of people who want to be elected as a judge on the November ballot in your jurisdiction.
  • Each candidate for judge will also list the party affiliation. This is a recent change in the law. Many fear making our judicial elections partisan can politicize what should be a non political branch of state government.

Is anyone challenging these changes?

  • YES! The North Carolina Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit asserting the NCGA violated its free speech and equal protection rights by eliminating judicial primaries. Oral arguments were heard last week and a decision on whether to block the law is pending.

Why should you care about ending judicial primary elections?

  • Because the elimination of primaries could result in having lots of names on the ballot. So, a candidate with just 30 percent of the vote could become a judge!
  • Another reason to be concerned is because no legislature in the history of this country has ever eliminated primaries in partisan elections.

NC One Step Closer to Raising the Age

With a 104 to 8 vote, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed the Raise The Age bill.  The Senate now has the bill for consideration. The Senate budget does include policy language supporting Raise The Age legislation, however no funds were allocated in the Senate budget. The recently passed House budget includes both language and funds supporting Raise The Age legislation. This is a major step towards finally raising the age in North Carolina.
The next step for Raise the Age will likely happen during budget negotiations.  The House and the Senate must hash out the differences in their budgets.  It is important that we maintain as much of the original bill as possible, most importantly including low level felonies.  Please reach out to your elected representatives and let them know you want North Carolina to raise the age on all misdemeanors and low level felonies.  North Carolina deserve to get a fair chance in life like the children in every other state in the nation.