North Carolina Constitutional Amendments on the 2018 Ballot

Right to Hunt and Fish - (Vote: NO)(Passed)

The title and summary provided by the state legislature for this amendment is misleading. One might assume that this amendment is intended to ensure all North Carolina citizens will be given the "right" to hunt and fish without government regulation (that is what a right is after all), but this amendment will not deliver on that assumption. In fact, this amendment changes nothing. The official explanation from the NC Sec. of States office states:  


"This right would be subject to laws passed by the Legislature and rules (i) to promote wildlife conservation and management and (ii) to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. If it passes, the amendment will not affect any laws regarding trespassing, property rights or eminent domain. The amendment does not address its effect on local laws concerning public safety or on commercial hunting and fishing."


So this "right" does nothing to limit government regulation and even fails to define what is protected under "traditional methods". This amendment solves no issue, it is merely political posturing and campaign fodder. As with any empty promise made to the voters for the sake of winning an election, I will vote NO. 

Safeguards to Victims of Crimes - (Vote: NO)(Passed)

Although this amendment comes with an $11 million price tag, it provides a great benefit to the general public and victims of crimes by expanding the types of offenses that trigger victims’ rights to include all crimes against the person (ie: assault, stalking, harassment, etc...) and felony property crimes. These rights would also apply in these cases if committed by juveniles.


Currently, the North Carolina Constitution guarantees victims of certain crimes the 

following rights:  

•The right to be informed of and present at proceedings related to the accused.

•The right to be heard at sentencing of the accused.

•The right to receive restitution. 

•The right to information regarding the crime, how the criminal justice system works, 

and the rights and services available to victims.

•The right to be informed about the final result of the case.

•The right to be informed of an escape, release, or pardon.

•The right to express views to the Governor or appropriate agency considering release.

•The right to confer with the prosecutor.


If this amendment is adopted, the Constitution would also guarantee victims the following rights:

•To be treated with dignity and respect.

•Reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of a proceeding, upon request.

•To be present at any proceeding, upon request.

•To be reasonably heard at 

additional kinds of court hearings.  

•Restitution in a reasonably timely manner, when ordered by the court.

•Information about the crime, upon request.

•To reasonably confer with the prosecutor


I believe this is well within the intentions of the "Confrontation Clause" of the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, however, I also believe that this issue can easily be addressed by expanding the language of our state's current Victim's Rights legislation. Because there is an easier fix, and I believe that a constitutional amendment should be used only to enshrine rights that the government can never take away or alter, I will vote NO on this amendment.  

Limit the Maximum State Income Tax Rate at 7% - (Vote: Yes)(Passed)

This is easily the most straight forward amendment presented on the ballot this year. The language of this amendment does one thing, and only one thing; it modifies the language of Section 2 of the NC Constitution setting the maximum income tax rate at 7% (previously 10%). 


The simplicity and transparency of this amendment makes it an easy win for the tax payer. I will vote YES on this amendment.  

Photo Identification Required to Vote - (Vote: NO)(Passed)

(*In my best Johnny Cash voice* "I hear that train a comin', it's roll'n round the bend") That train is the sound of Republicans leadership lining up to call me a fake-Republican or say that I'm not a true conservative. 


First, I am one of the largest and loudest supporters of Voter ID. I openly supported Voter ID during my congressional campaign, even though I was the only Republican candidate present.  I believe that photo ID is the most efficient way to limit voter fraud and bring integrity back to our elections. 


That said, this amendment is voter-bait and does nothing to address the reasons why North Carolina voters are requesting Voter ID. This law promises future performance for your vote today, that is all. The amendment does not address: What IDs will be accepted? or How will the IDs be obtained? or How will the IDs be paid for? or Will there be exemptions for those who are placed in an "undue burden" by the new law? These are all issues that the Court used when previously striking down our Voter ID law. 


Here is the Sec. of State summary:

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"The Legislature would make laws providing the details of acceptable and unacceptable forms of photographic identification after passage of the proposed amendment. The Legislature would be authorized to establish exceptions to the requirement to present photographic identification before voting. However, it is not required to make any exceptions. 


There are no further details at this time on how voters could acquire valid photographic identification for the purposes of voting. There is no official estimate of how much this proposal would cost if it is approved." (Emphasis added)

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There it is, in their own words, they want to make it a constitutional amendment before they figure out how it will work. (Any one else having flash backs to Nancy Pelosi and ObamaCare?)


This amendment is deceptive and provides a massive disservice to voters who think that they are voting on an amendment that will provide substantive change to our voting process. I would strongly support this amendment if it laid out a plan of how it would actually create a functional Voter ID process, or referred to any existing voter ID law that it might mirror, however, I do not believe that this amendment will provide true Voter ID (more likely a watered down version that does nothing to verify the identity or residency of a potential voter); I will vote NO.

Establish an 8-member Board of Ethics and Elections - (Vote: NO)(Failed)

I will start this one with the Sec. of State summary:

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"Today, North Carolina has a 9-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections to administer ethics and elections law. The Governor appoints 8 of 9 members of this board from nominees provided by the 2 largest political parties. The Governor appoints the 9th member, who is not a member of a political party, from nominations provided by the other 8 members.


The Legislature passed a law in 2017 establishing an 8-member board to administer elections, ethics, and lobbying laws. The North Carolina Supreme Court struck that law down as unconstitutional because it took executive authority from the Governor.


The 2017 law also lacked representation of unaffiliated voters. This proposed amendment would overturn that Supreme Court decision. It would reduce the current board from 9 members to 8 by removing the only member who represents unaffiliated voters. If the amendment passes, majority and minority political party leaders in the Legislature would nominate the potential members of the board. 


There is an argument that nominated members could include members of the Legislature itself. 

The Governor then would have to choose the 8 members from the finalists the legislative leaders

selected. This process would likely create a board of 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans. If the amendment passes, there would be no 9th nonpartisan member."

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I know that's a lot to read, but let's break it down. The Republicans (2.1 million registered voters) and Democrats (2.6 million) want to remove the only representative of the Unaffiliated voters (2.2 million voters) from the board that controls elections. This does not benefit the voters and only works to consolidate power within the two major parties. It would be similar to allowing Google and Facebook to select the members a panel formed to investigate the Ethics and Legality of their algorithms and account practices. 


A better option: Maintain a 9-member board (to avoid votes ending in a tie) in which the seats will be allocated proportionally to state-wide voter registration roles (the goal is to protect the voters from a corrupt process after all). Each party representing no less than 11% of total registered voters will be guaranteed a seat on the board, with the remainder of the seats split proportionally between the larger parties; to include Unaffiliated voters.  Each party shall provide a list of nominees equal to the number of seats allotted plus one alternate.  The Governor must appointment from nominees provided by the parties. The Governor will also appoint members to the seats that represent the unaffiliated voters. Under this system the board would currently be composed of 3-Democrats, 3-Republicans and 3- Unaffiliated representatives. 


This amendment will consolidate power within the two major political parties and silence roughly 30% of NC voters. For this reason, I will vote NO

Legislature to Control Judicial Appointments - (Vote: NO)(Failed)

This amendment claims that it is necessary to keep the selection of judges as close to the voter as possible. Again, straight from the Sec. of State summary:


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"This proposed constitutional amendment would create a new process for filling 

judicial vacancies. The Legislature would play the dominant role in this process.


In North Carolina, the people have a constitutional right to elect judges

Currently, when a judge leaves office before the end of his or her term, the Governor appoints a new judge. In most instances, the person who is appointed by the Governor holds office for less than 2 years, until the next general election. 


This proposed amendment would take away the Governor’s current authority to select a replacement judge. The amendment would give the Legislature most of the control over judicial appointments.  


Under the amendment, the Legislature chooses  2 or more finalists after they are reviewed by a commission to determine if they are qualified. A person is qualified to hold the office of Justice or Judge if the person is an attorney who is licensed to practice law in North Carolina, is registered to vote, and has not yet reached mandatory retirement age. 


The Governor then must choose one of the 2 or more finalists that the Legislature selected.  If the Governor does not appoint someone from the Legislature’s approved list within 10 days, the Legislature elects someone to fill the vacancy. 


Under the amendment, the Governor cannot veto any bill that recommends or selects the person to fill a judicial vacancy.


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.


The amendment applies to judges on the State Supreme Court, Court of 

Appeals, and trial courts in each county. 


The Legislature has the constitutional authority to add 2 additional seats to the Supreme Court. If this amendment passes, then the Legislature could use this newly-granted power to choose unelected Supreme Court Justices for 2 newly created vacant seats. These legislatively-chosen judges would serve for up to 4 years before voters could elect or replace them."   (Emphasis added) 

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This amendment is not intended to bring judicial appointments under the voters control, if so, there would be no need for a minimum of 4 years on the appointment before the decision could go before the voters or the two brand new seats that get appointed without any input from the voters. Again, this is an effort to consolidate power within the legislative branch of the government. 


A better idea: Since NC has frequent and regular elections where voters elect judges (and our Governor), allow the Governor to appoint the replacements to fill vacancies within the courts. Then, put the appointed judge seat on the ballot during the  next available election, by way of special election. Since we have elections every year here in North Carolina, that would ensure that no governor appointed judge sits on the bench for more than 12 months prior to going before the People for a vote. The winner of this special election would fulfill the remainder of the original term and then be up for re-election upon the seats regularly scheduled cycle. This allows more weight to be placed on the vote of the People and does not consolidate power in a single branch of the government. 


A simple test: would we (as Republicans) be upset if this amendment was presented by a Democratic legislature while Gov. McCory or Gov. Dan Forest (fingers crossed) were in office? If the answer is YES -- and it is -- (imagine if this were proposed when Trump appointed Gorsuch or  Kavanaugh) then we should not support it when our party is doing it. This amendment consolidates power within the legislature and works to weaken the power of voters, I will vote NO

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