CONSISTENTLY DELIVERS

Dec 2, 2016

NCGA Week in Review: Spotlight on Election Updates

Interim Committee Meetings

Joint Legislative Study Committee on School Based Administrator Pay

The Joint Legislative Study Committee on School Based Administrator Pay met on Monday to continue their discussions regarding the current pay structure for school based administrators, including strategies to recruit and retain highly qualified principals.

Click here to review the presentations made to the committee.

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety, Subcommittee on Gangs

On Monday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee on Gangs met to review proposed changes to current statutes related to gangs. A draft bill was reviewed which would make numerous changes to the NC Street Gang Suppression Act. The legislation will likely be formally introduced in the upcoming long session.

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services Oversight

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services Oversight met on Tuesday where they heard from Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Rick Brajer and reviewed several other presentations, primarily on behavioral health.

Click here to review the presentations made to the committee.

Joint Legislative Medicaid Oversight Committee

The Joint Legislative Medicaid Oversight Committee met on Tuesday to review several presentations and updates on Medicaid and NC Health Choice, including the status of the state’s Medicaid reform plan.

Click here to review the presentations made to the committee.

Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee

On Tuesday the Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee met to review an overview of the state’s Emergency Management Division, which responds to manmade and natural disasters across the state. The committee had a discussion with representatives from the Charlotte Police and Fire Departments regarding their recent response to civil unrest in the city.

Click here to review the presentations made to the committee.

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources met on Tuesday to review several presentations on the agriculture industry in NC ranging from the state’s new International Recruiting Coordination Office to a state program that issues grants to agriculture businesses to aid in setting up natural gas lines.

Click here to review the presentations made to the committee.

Legislative Research Commission on Savings Reserve Account

On Wednesday, the Legislative Research Commission on Savings Reserve Account met to receive a presentation on savings policies designed to promote long-term budget stability and to discuss the committees work to date during the 2016 interim.

Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission

Yesterday, the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission met to receive several presentations, including a presentation on recovery efforts in the agriculture industry following Hurricane Matthew and the recent string of wildfires.

Click here to review the presentations made to the committee.

Governor’s Race Update

Three weeks after Election Day, the NC governor’s race remains undecided.

On Election Day, Democratic challenger Roy Cooper was roughly 5,000 votes ahead of Republican incumbent Pat McCrory. Cooper has held onto a narrow, but growing lead, throughout canvassing – his lead has surpassed 10,000 votes as of Wednesday, the threshold needed to prohibit McCrory from requesting a statewide recount.

There are several factors delaying the resolution of the race – including a recount in Durham County, complaints filed with county boards across the state, a lawsuit regarding same day registration, and delayed verification of votes in some counties.

Over the past three weeks, the McCrory campaign filed election complaints in 52 of the state’s 100 counties while supporters of the Republican incumbent filed additional complaints. The complaints have alleged fraudulent voting by deceased individuals, felons who are ineligible to cast ballots and voters who casted multiple ballots in different states. The State Board of Elections rejected all of the campaigns complaints. As it stands, Durham, Bladen and Graham counties have not completed certifying vote totals. 

The Civitas Center for Law and Freedom filed a federal lawsuit in November requesting that ballots cast via same-day registration in the election are restrained pending further investigation. 90,000 people registered to vote and voted on the same day during NC’s early voting period. The complaint argues that the state is not treating all voters fairly because the voters’ addresses are not verified in the same way when they utilize same day registration. Traditionally, when a voter registers their address is confirmed by a county elections board, and if the mail comes back as undeliverable, the registration is not valid. When voters register using same day registration, they must provide proof of residency – such as a utility bill or photo ID to verify their identity.

The McCrory campaign has also requested both a statewide recount and a recount in Durham County, where 94,000 provisional ballots were counted late in the evening on Election Day and tipped the scales in Cooper’s favor. On Wednesday night, the State Board of Elections voted to order a machine recount of those ballots in Durham. Over the weekend, McCrory’s campaign announced that he may drop his request for a statewide recount so long as the Durham recount went through without any problems. Further, if Cooper maintains his 10,000 vote lead, McCrory will not be entitled to a statewide recount. The Durham County Board of Elections will meet next week to move forward with the recount.

Last night, the State Board of Elections ordered the Durham County Board to complete the recount by Monday at 7:00 pm.  Pending the recount in Durham, it is likely that the results of this race will be determined in the coming weeks.

Special Legislative Elections

On Tuesday, a federal court ordered NC to hold a special legislative election in 2017 after the current legislative maps were ruled unconstitutional in August. The initial ruling allowed the 2016 elections to continue, where all 120 seats in the House and 50 in the Senate were on ballots across the state, and ordered the General Assembly to draw new maps in 2017. Tuesday’s ruling requires the General Assembly to redraw maps by March, hold primaries in August or early September, and general elections in November. Any member whose district is effected by the new maps will have their term cut short.  

The August ruling determined that 28 House and Senate districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.  While partisan gerrymandering is legal, the Supreme Court has interpreted racial gerrymandering to be unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause.

The most recent legislative maps were drawn in 2011, the first year which the GOP had a majority in both chambers since the 1800s.  Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) chaired the Senate and House redistricting committees that year and maps were drawn by Thomas Hofeller, who was hired by the General Assembly as private counsel. According to the August ruling, the Sen. Rucho and Rep. Lewis instructed Hofeller to identify geographically compact minority populations and draw majority-minority districts. The maps were passed by the General Assembly in July 2011 and received preclearance from the DOJ in November that year.

The maps have been challenged by litigation since November 2011. In the August ruling, the majority opinion cites evidence that race, not politics, was the predominant motivation for drawing the districts in question and that the map intentionally packs black voters into predominately black districts.  

Twenty-eight districts are directly impacted by the ruling, nine in the Senate and 19 in the House.

In the Senate, districts 4, 5, 14, 20, 21, 28, 32, 38, and 40 were impacted by the ruling. Each of these nine districts are presently represented by a black Democrat. 

NC Senate Districts:

North Caroline Senate Districts 2016

In the House, districts 5, 7, 12, 21, 24, 29, 31, 32, 33, 38, 42, 43, 48, 57, 58, 60, 99, 102, and 107 were impacted by the ruling. These districts are all presently represented by Democrats.

NC House Districts:

North Caroline House Districts 2016

Should the ruling stand, any district, not exclusive to the 28 challenged districts, affected by the new maps will be subject to the special elections, and the member presently elected to represent those districts will have their term cut short.

In a joint statement, Sen. Rucho and Rep. Lewis called Tuesday’s ruling politically-motivated and expressed their continued belief that the 2011 maps are constitutional; they plan to appeal the decision. Attorneys representing NC are scheduled to give oral arguments in front of the US Supreme Court next week, they are seeking to overturn the federal court’s ruling on state’s US Congressional maps, which were also deemed unconstitutional this year.

If the decision stands, the new legislative body will have to begin work on redrawing the maps when session beings in January. Rep. Lewis will be returning to Raleigh for his 8th term in the House and will likely remain the chairman of the House Redistricting Committee. Sen. Rucho did not seek reelection in November, his position as chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee will be replaced.