Legislative Update for the week ending March 19, 2017, by NC NOW’s lobbyist, Robin Davis
Governor Cooper has issued his first veto. He vetoed the bill that would make elections of District and Superior Court judges partisan. Cooper, who led the fight to make judicial elections nonpartisan in 1990 when he was a state senator, said that judges should be elected based on their experience and ability, not on their political party. He also noted that candidates not affiliated with a party would have a very difficult time getting on the ballot because they would be required to get signatures of 2 percent of the voters in their districts. A three-fifths vote in both houses will be required to overturn the Governor’s veto, which is the expected outcome because Republicans have veto-proof majorities in both houses.
Both the House and the Senate have turned their attention to their respective budgets. The budgets differ in details, but both houses are proposing plans that will benefit business and the wealthy through changes in the tax laws with the Senate plan more drastic than the plan being considered in the House. For more details and a comparison of the proposed plans, see http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article138891468.html
As protest at the legislative building increases, the General Assembly police are studying ways to increase security. This is an issue we need to keep an eye on.
A three-judge Superior Court panel has found the law that gave Republicans majorities on both local and the state elections board unconstitutional. The decision also ruled unconstitutional the law that made it harder to fire Republican political appointees. But the decision upheld the right of the state Senate to advice and consent (i.e., hold hearings and vote) on members of the Governor’s cabinet. The decision will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
The United States stands poised to make women’s rights history this month as Nevada is expected to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) after more than three decades. ERA Bill SJR2 passed the Nevada Senate earlier this month. This past Tuesday, it passed out of the Nevada Assembly (House) Committee and goes next to the full floor of the Assembly (House) for a final vote. There are technical amendments for message transmittal and to add co-sponsors, but the amendments are not expected to impact its substance or delay ratification. The final vote is anticipated to occur March 20th through March 22nd, the latter date coinciding with the original passage of the ERA bill by the US Congress in 1972.
In North Carolina, NC NOW through NC4ERA has issued Action Alerts for ERA bills S85 and H102, both of which were introduced into the NCGA on February 14th of this session and sent to their respective Rules Committees. Primary bill sponsors are Senator Floyd B. McKissick, Jr (S85) and Representative Carla Cunningham (H102). All ERA advocates are asked to contact the Rules Committee members and urge that the bills be heard and passed favorably out of Committee.
See Legislative Update for the week ending March 19, 2017 for the rest of the summary, including lawsuit updates and also for bill tracking.