July 10, 4pm, Raleigh, Wake County Early Voting Board Meeting. Meeting to discuss early voting sites, dates, and times for general election early voting. Click here to find your county's BOE website with their meeting times.
July 18, 6-8pm, Durham, 2018 Election Updates for YCV Leaders
The North Carolina General Assembly's Short Session began on May 16th and wrapped up on June 29th. As the session began, 20,000 teachers, parents, students, and other advocates marched for educational funding. That afternoon, 3000 teachers were allowed into the legislative building to speak with legislators. Did they accomplish anything? Not as much as they wanted, by a long shot.
The controversial and record-breaking session continued for six and a half weeks with six constitutional amendments to be added to the November ballot and numerous gubernatorial vetoes. Ten bills easily became laws during the short session despite Governor Cooper's vetoes because both the Senate and House have a veto-proof Republican majority.
Another veto overridden by the supermajority was the 2018-2019 State Budget, which became law on June 12. The controversial budget was written by Republican NCGA leadership in a conference committee report behind closed doors. The budget gives raises to correctional officers and state troopers and public school teachers and raised the minimum wage for most state workers to $15/hour. However, public school classified employees and support professionals were not included in the $15 minimum wage.
Here is a summary of some of the most notable bills that became law during the short session:
NC Farm Act of 2018, S711, Session Law 2018-113: Part of this law shields mostly large-scale, commercial hog farmers from liability for nuisances caused to neighbors and disproportionately affects poor, rural families, many of them people of color. Two such suits already heard in court have resulted in awards to the neighbors bringing suit. It also defines milk as coming only from hoofed animals, which means soy, almond, and coconut milks have to be relabeled.
Heroin and Opioid Prevention Enforcement Act, S616, Session Law 2018-44 puts money toward addiction programs and gives law enforcement investigators better access to the state’s prescription database.
Rape Evidence Collection Kit Tracking Act, SL 2018-70 establishes a statewide sexual assault evidence collection kit tracking system and requires testing of previously untested sexual assault evidence collection kits, though without providing additional funding to do so.
Permit Municipal Charter School/Certain Towns, SL 2018-3 allows four white-majority suburban towns outside of Charlotte to create charter schools and give preference to their own residents. Lawmakers separately allowed cities to fund their local schools. This could increase school segregation.
Early Voting: The Uniform & Expanded Early Voting Act, S325, Session Law 2018-112 eliminated voting hours on the popular final Saturday before Election Day. After protests and threats of a law suit, Restore Last Saturday Early One-Stop, H335 was ratified on June 29 and sent to the governor for approval. This bill restores those Saturday hours, but only for the 2018 elections. Eliminating the last Saturday of early voting was seen as a way to suppress African American votes.
Republicans also sank several of Gov. Cooper’s nominees, some of whom have been waiting a year for approval. This included a qualified African American leader who went through three committees without objection. No substantial reasons were given for the refusals.
This session was widely seen as characterized by secrecy and hyper-partisanship, with tensions often running high. They will return on November 27, after the general election, for a lame duck session.