We're close to ordering our fall voter photo ID postcards, so if you've been thinking about signing up as a poscard captain, do it now! Find nine folks to chip in $15 each (to cover hard costs), register, and you're all set! You'll find details and answers to LOTS of your questions here - be sure to read the FAQs and check out the links!! PLEASE SHARE THIS widely. Round up some friends, gather some colored pens, and get ready to STAMP NC BLUE IN 2020!
SB683, upon which I reported early last month, has gotten a facelift by the House to include a provision that allows counties with touchscreen voting machines to continue using them for the 2020 elections. That's a shame, considering how hard we worked to urge the State Board of Elections to support a change to paper ballots for 2020. But the bill still contains lots of good provisions, including a restoration of the last Saturday of early voting, and an adjustment to the absentee ballot process designed to cut down on fraud of the kind that resulted in the upcoming special election in NC-09 (that's less than a month away, on September 10th). Even better:
“The bill sets aside $250,000 to cover postage costs, an experiment that could increase voter turnout. State Board of Elections staff requested the program, but it was not included in an earlier version of this bill crafted in the Senate.”
Now it goes back to the Senate for another round of debate and voting. You know the deal: contact your Senators and urge them to approve the bill with the added provision of $250,000 for postage.
As you might have remembered from last week, another part of the reason why the Board of Elections was unsuccessful in tackling the change from touchscreen to paper ballots was the sudden resignation of its chair, Bob Cordle. Governor Cooper has appointed Damon Circosta, who has served on the Board before, back to that body. He's not chair-- that's not up to Gov. Cooper-- but now that the Board is full, it will choose its chair soon. That person will be the fourth chair this year. Circosta served as an unaffiliated voter previously; he's a Democrat now. That puts the Board at 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans.
In other Board of Elections news, Kim Strach, the previous executive director of the BoE, has now joined the Republican-dominated UNC system as the director of its search committee for the next UNC system president. As an alum, I'm less than enthused, but Strach's record isn't as damagingly partisan as it could be.
Late last week, a bipartisan group of former governors, including former Republican governor Jim Martin filed an amicus brief against the NCGA Republicans in Common Cause v. Lewis:
“'Partisan rancor and legislative attacks on the other branches are no longer temporary,' they wrote. 'They have become the new normal.... Increasingly sophisticated gerrymanders produce increasingly partisan legislators — legislators who are beholden to the sectarian interests of the party leaders who draw their district lines and the very small number of voters who are most likely to vote in primary elections.'”
The last time this group spoke out, they helped us get two of the six Constitutional Amendments proposed by NCGA Republicans knocked out of the running. I'm glad they're throwing their combined weight into this particular ring.
Since we can't email judges, I guess we'll have to settle for emailing and tweeting our legislators and urging them to
While state Republican lawmakers continue to sit on their hands and insist there's “not enough time” in the legislative session to address the gun control debate-- despite the fact that there are two bills ready to be voted on-- our US lawmakers are doing the exact same thing and then some. I mentioned both Sens. Burr and Tillis's multimillion-dollar relationships with the NRA last week, but it bears repeating, especially in light of US Senate leader Mitch McConnell refusing to let two bills passed by the House this past spring be heard in the Senate. As above, so below.
#onetermthom should be trending on Twitter until he's gone.
It should be clear by now what Republican lawmakers' long game is: the state's largest, longest, most expensive temper tantrum. Since they can't do whatever they want anymore (read: since they lost the supermajority), they're changing tacks from aggressive action to aggressive inaction: doing everything they can to slow us down, gum up the works, throw a wrench in the state's gears, whatever metaphor you fancy. They're doing it with gun safety laws, Medicaid expansion, and, most tellingly, the budget:
Constituent: Do you members of the House have any clout with Phil Berger? [Laughter in the room] As you said, we are adults, let’s sit down and talk. Because it appears to me that Phil Berger is not willing to sit down and talk unless he can have his way.
Faircloth: He’s…uh…he’s been invited to a lot of discussions.
Constituent: Why should we give in to Phil Berger? Because he’s acting like a spoiled child.
Faircloth: He chooses that style and he’s the head of the Senate.
In less than two weeks, the NC Supreme Court will hear “oral arguments in six death penalty cases involving the Racial Justice Act– a law enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly and Gov. Beverly Perdue in 2009 and later repealed after Republicans took control of the legislature and the Governor’s mansion in 2013.”
The main question at play in these six cases is whether North Carolina will address the blatant racial bias in our punitive system or if it will rule that, essentially, racial discrimination in death penalty cases is the law of the land. Scroll to the bottom of the article for ways to take action and demand that justice be done.
North Carolina has the somewhat dubious honor of being in 3rd place in terms of costs to the country for protecting its coastlines against damage from the changing climate. Costs include building seawalls as well as other projects to protect infrastructure and prepare for stronger hurricanes, more intense heat, and other climate-driven factors. Dare County alone projects a $5.5 billion price tag in the coming years. Guess who's expected to pay for it? Let's just say it's not the oil and gas companies whose activities over the past decades have caused this whole climate chaos.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline might lose one of its key permits if activists have their way. Yesterday they filed a petition with the Department of Environmental Quality to revoke the permit based on inaccurate information in the permit application. This wouldn't be the first permit revoked, nor the first time that activists have gone up against the ACP. I'm hopeful for another victory.
If you live in Durham, you might have to BYOB (bring your own bag) or pay soon. Last week, the Durham Environmental Affairs Board endorsed a proposal to charge 10 cents per single-use plastic bag. There are quite a few steps between now and an actual policy or law (and its thorough enforcement), but other states have enacted similar laws; we could do it too. For the sake of our environment, we should.
Last but amusingly not least, a round of applause for the NCGA: “The North Carolina General Assembly’s website took home the 2019 Online Democracy Award for having a superior legislative website this week during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 2019 Legislative Summit in Nashville, Tenn.” The yearly award is presented is presented "annually to a legislature, legislative chamber or caucus whose website makes democracy user-friendly in an outstanding way."
If I don't post next week, it's because I was recovering from an accidental overdose of irony.
*Tags: (ICYMI, NCGA, budget, gerrymandering, medicaid expansion, NC-09, voting rights, voter issue: environment, climate change)
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