The Latest: 2 bills OK’d by legislature heading to Cooper
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the North Carolina legislature holding a special session to consider ballot language for constitutional amendments (all times local):
The General Assembly has wrapped up for now its work on legislation addressing language being placed on state ballots this fall about proposed constitutional amendments and court races.
Republicans controlling the House and Senate voted during Tuesday’s special session for two bills and sent them to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. Lawmakers could meet again in Raleigh very soon if Cooper vetoes the legislation, which appears likely based on Democratic opposition to the measures.
One bill would leave off the ballot the party affiliation of a judicial candidate who changed party registration 90 days before the candidate filed. Republicans acknowledge the change would affect a Supreme Court candidate who was previously a Democrat but became a Republican a few weeks before joining the race. But GOP leaders say it would apply to some other candidates.
The other bill puts generic titles on each of the six proposed amendments.
Republican legislators have decided to intervene in a North Carolina Supreme Court race this fall where a candidate’s late party switch could make it harder for the Republican incumbent to win re-election.
The state Senate unveiled a measure during Tuesday’s special session that appears to address the situation where a registered Democrat became a Republican only a few weeks before filing as a Supreme Court candidate.
The new Republican, Chris Anglin of Raleigh, is running against GOP Associate Justice Barbara Jackson and Democrat Anita Earls.
All judicial candidates will have their party affiliations on the ballot, so the conventional wisdom has Jackson and Anglin splintering the GOP vote.
But the Senate measure would leave Anglin’s affiliation blank because he had changed his voter registration. The bill also would give him or any other judicial candidate a second chance to withdraw from the election.
North Carolina Republican legislators believe the best way to identify individual constitutional amendments on November ballots is to essentially not identify them at all.
House GOP members advanced Tuesday a measure that would put the short titles on each of the six amendments, rather than let a three-member panel of state officials do that work.
That panel is currently tasked in state law to create titles that attempt to describe the topic of each referenda, but Republicans say they didn’t trust Democrats on the panel would do a good job. The bill would simply attach a header to each amendment that says “constitutional amendment,” followed by the content of each question.
A House committee approved the bill and sent it to the House floor. The House and Senate would have to approve the bill before it goes to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
The North Carolina General Assembly is back at work less than a month after lawmakers adjourned because Republicans want to decide on the names for the proposed constitutional amendments on ballots this fall.
The legislature began a special session Tuesday. They plan to take up legislation to put short titles on each of the six amendments.
That job is supposed to be done by a three-member panel that includes Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Attorney General Josh Stein, both Democrats. But Republican lawmakers say they don’t trust the panel to avoid outside pressure to politicize the titles. Gov. Roy Cooper and other Democrats argue Republicans just want to conceal what exactly the amendments would do.
Republican legislators also are weighing whether to consider legislation addressing the upcoming judicial elections.