Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Two of six constitutional amendments fail, keeping balance of power in Raleigh

Two of the amendments that failed Tuesday would have given power to state lawmakers and taken if from the Governor.

State lawmakers have presented the newest state budget in Raleigh (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy State of North Carolina)
State lawmakers have proposed several constitutional amendments of which four passed the general election on Tuesday (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy State of North Carolina)

WILMINGTON — Voters in North Carolina have spoken and voter identification is in; transferring more power to state lawmakers away from the governor, on the other hand, failed to appeal to the masses.

Four of six constitutional amendments were approved during the general election including the requirement of photo identification to vote, but the two that did fail would have given more power to state lawmakers and take it from the governor.

New Hanover County (NHC) voters followed the same footsteps as the rest of the state with the approval of four of the six amendments.

Below is a list of the six amendments and voting outcomes both statewide and in NHC.

  • Protect the right to hunt and fish, passed with 54-percent in NHC, 57-percent statewide
  • Strengthening victims rights, passed with 60-percent in NHC, 62-percent statewide
  • Maximum income tax of 7-percent, passed with 56-percent in NHC, 57-percent statewide
  • Require photo identification to vote, passed with 55-percent in NHC, 55-percent statewide
  • Nonpartisan judicial merit commission failed with only 33-percent in favor in NHC, and 33-percent statewide
  • Bipartisan board of ethics and elections, failed with only 38-percent approval in NHC, 38-percent approval statewide

What it means

So what exactly do these amendments do — or not do — for N.C. residents?

The right to hunt

The amendment establishes that public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. It also acknowledges the right to hunt and fish and harvest wildlife.

Expanding victims rights

The amendment to strengthen victims rights, as defined by the N.C. Board of Elections (NCBOE):

“The amendment would expand the types of offenses that trigger victims’ rights to include all crimes against the person and felony property crimes. These rights would also apply in these cases if committed by juveniles.This amendment directs the Legislature to create a procedure, by motion to the court, for a victim to assert his or her rights.

“Nothing in this proposed amendment creates a claim against the State or allows the victim to challenge any decision the court makes. The defendant may not use failure to provide these rights as a ground for relief in any civil or criminal matter. The public fiscal note that accompanied this legislation estimates that these changes to our justice system will cost about $11 million per year.”

Income tax at 7-percent

Prior to the passing of the amendment, the maximum personal and corporate income tax rate was 10-percent, now the limit is 7-percent.

The amendment will not reduce taxes since the current tax rate is below the 7-percent level.

Photo ID to vote

The passing of this amendment means photo identification must be shown to poll workers before voting can take place.

According to the amendment, the legislature will make laws outlining the acceptable and unacceptable forms of ID at a later date.

Non-partisan juridical merit commission

The failure of this amendment to pass means the Governor will retain the power to appoint a new judge if the position is vacated before the expiration of a term.

Lawmakers wanted this power for themselves and the amendment would have weakened the rights of N.C. voters to appoint judges and given it to the legislature, according to the NCBOE.

“This proposed amendment weakens voters’ constitutional right to elect judges by lengthening how long an appointed judge will serve before an election is held. Today, appointed judges serve until the next election. If the amendment passes, appointed judges would serve up to 4 years before voters could elect or replace them,” according to the NCBOE summary of the amendment.

The legislature has the ability to create two additional seats on the State Supreme Court; if the amendment would have passed lawmakers could have, in theory, added these seats and then appointed two Supreme Court justices to the highest court in the state without an election.

Bipartisan board of ethics

The failure of this amendment means the Board of Ethics and Elections will remain a nine-person board instead of the eight-person proposed in the amendment.

The board is made up of appointed members by the governor from the two majority parties, and one non-party affiliated member. This uneven number prevents gridlock.

If the amendment would have passed, the board would consist of only eight members which could have led to 4-4 deadlock votes; the amendment would have also removed the unaffiliated member, intended to represent the state’s 2 million unaffiliated voters.


 

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