NC NOW’s Legislative Update #21 Summary – June 27, 2015

The House Rejects the Senate’s Budget
The House has voted unanimously to reject the Senate budget (House Bill 97), and the final compromise budget will be negotiated by a conference committee behind closed doors.   Considering what happened in the conference committee for House Bill 836: Election Modifications, it looks like anything goes.

House Bill 836: Election Modifications
In a surprise move, the conference committee on House Bill 836 added a provision to allow voting without the photo identification required under a law that will go into effect next year.  The move was a complete surprise because the normal process for a conference committee is to work out a compromise bill by accepting some differences between the House and Senate versions and rejecting others.  Although doing so is not explicitly prohibited, a conference committee adding entirely new material to a bill is unheard of—until now.  Senator Josh Stein of Wake County called it a “joke of a process.”

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Voters without the required photo identification will be able to cast a provisional ballot by signing an affidavit–a “reasonable impediment declaration”–and providing alternative identification, which can be as simple as stating date of birth and the last four digits of a Social Security number.  For a more detailed account of what happened, see: http://www.wral.com/lawmakers-agree-to-allow-affidavit-at-polls-in-lieu-of-photo-id/14724244/.

This rushed change came while North Carolina’s Voter Identification Verification Act (VIVA) is facing serious challenges in both federal and state courts.  Plaintiffs have collected an impressive number of personal testimonials about the barriers the unamended voter identification law presented along with expert testimony about the disproportionate impact of the law on African-American voters.  Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted implementing and defending the unamended law.    Now it will be necessary to spend millions more to publicize the about-face to insure that voters intimidated by the old identification requirement (which has been highly publicized) will not refrain from voting. See “Why NC lawmakers caved on voter ID” at
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article25354246.html.

The Governor has signed House Bill 836.

House Bill 97: 2015 Appropriations Act
This is “The Budget Bill”.  Mid-June, the NC Senate made dramatic changes to the House budget, making it a ‘504-page budget manifesto’, according to NC Policy Watch, as included in NC NOW’s Jun 20, 2015 legislative update.  Read the overview again at http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/06/16/the-senates-504-page-budget-manifesto/

NC Policy Watch expanded upon the Senate budget’s attacks on public education in “The secret Senate attack on the teaching profession” at http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/06/25/the-secret-senate-attack-on-the-teaching-profession/.  Also, the governor has started kicking NC Policy Watch reporters out of press conferences, even when they received invitations with the rest of the press.

NC Policy Watch said the Senate budget also took aim at NC’s Fair Housing Act and the NC Human Relations Commission, among other things.  More at
http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/06/25/senate-budget-also-took-aim-at-anti-discrimination-law/.

ACTION CALENDAR
FORWARD TOGETHER (formerly known as MORAL MONDAY) continues.
Demonstrations are scheduled through July 13.  In addition to the weekly demonstrations at the General Assembly, there is a series of local Moral Monday events held around the state focusing on issues of local interest.  For details consult the NAACP website: http://www.naacpnc.org/moral_monday_schedule.

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Hope that you were able to attend one of the protests against the NC Senate Budget attacks on public education around the state. The last one was in the Press Conference room at the NCGA in Raleigh on Tuesday, 6/30, at 10:30am –https://www.facebook.com/events/1642610655957543/.

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