Free and Proper Elections

NCFPE Poltical Blog and News Tracker

Free and Proper Elections - NCFPE Poltical Blog and News Tracker

Campaign finance investigation of Senate Elections Committee chair continues

More than a month after a deadline to correct faulty campaign finance reports, N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) has yet to fully explain missing donor information and what appears to be a misappropriation of around $10,000 by Hise himself.

The campaign finance violations have drawn the ire of voter rights advocates and activists, including a billboard campaign to publicize Hise’s problems and pressure him to recuse himself from the legislature’s efforts to restructure state and local elections boards. Hise, a four-term Senator who chairs the powerful Senate Select Committee on Elections, has said little about the controversy.

The post Campaign finance investigation of Senate Elections Committee chair continues appeared first on NC Policy Watch.

State lawmakers expand funding for anti-abortion centers, even as women’s health suffers

Women and their access to health care has been in the news these past few months, as the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made headlines for, among other things, what it potentially leaves out of women’s health care coverage. Under the bill passed by the U.S. House known as the American Health Care Act, it’s quite possible that insurance companies could revive their old rules that treated sexual assault, domestic violence, postpartum depression, pregnancy, and Caesarean sections as “preexisting conditions,” and thereby charging women who have experienced them more or denying coverage entirely.

The post State lawmakers expand funding for anti-abortion centers, even as women’s health suffers appeared first on NC Policy Watch.

Bill to deregulate concealed carry poses political dilemma for GOP

Royal Diadem Jewelers in Greensboro sets itself apart in a number of small ways – fast and friendly service, an intimate small business feel, Christian messages packed with your receipt for a pair of earrings or luxury watch repair.

And then there’s the message, painted on the glass next to the front door beneath the business hours.

The post Bill to deregulate concealed carry poses political dilemma for GOP appeared first on NC Policy Watch.

Private owners of Woodlake Dam are broke, so DEQ will spend nearly $1 million to fix it

Over one weekend last October, more than a half-foot of rain fell on the small town of Vass in Moore County. By Monday evening, when Hurricane Matthew had moved north and out to sea, a middle section of the spillway at Woodlake Dam had collapsed. Thousands of residents downstream were in danger.

The dam and lake are privately owned by Woodlake LLC, a troubled company with a dicey financial and environmental history: spinoff real estate ventures, multiple bankruptcies, broken promises to residents of its upscale development, violations of court orders and an opaque web of German investors and banks.

The post Private owners of Woodlake Dam are broke, so DEQ will spend nearly $1 million to fix it appeared first on NC Policy Watch.

Federal courts: Racial gerrymandering in NC must end

What a relief and cause for celebration it would be if North Carolina’s legislative chiefs collectively slapped their brows and exclaimed, “Oh, now we get it! We’re not allowed to draw voting districts on the basis of race! We’ll get busy right away and fix the problems!”

The post Federal courts: Racial gerrymandering in NC must end appeared first on NC Policy Watch.

The Follies: GOP leaders desperate to distract attention from their racially gerrymandered districts

The GOP spin machine is overheating this week as Republican legislative leaders continue to scramble to distract attention from the fact that the U.S Supreme Court, with a Republican majority that includes President Trump’s appointee, unanimously ruled that they violated the constitution by racially gerrymandering state legislative districts. Thursday, they refused a call by Governor Roy Cooper to convene a special session to draw new districts to replace the ones the court threw out while feigning outrage that he would even suggest it. Never mind that the court ruling means that the General Assembly is currently operating while representing districts that violate the constitution or that the voters of the state, and potential candidates, deserve to know what the new districts look like as soon as possible. Legislative leaders instead mounted an all-out rhetorical attack on Gov. Cooper for suggesting that they abide by the court’s ruling and draw new and legal districts. There were dozens of ridiculous claims made, but statements by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest were the most absurd.  Berger said that he didn’t make the decision lightly to refuse Cooper’s call of a special session—that’s reassuring— and then added this gem. “We need to be serious about what the Constitution requires.” The U.S. Supreme Court says what the Constitution requires are legislative districts that are not racially gerrymandered. Maybe Berger should try addressing that—if he wants to be serious. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest released a slick video (who paid for that you have to wonder) as part of his ongoing campaign for governor in 2020 because he thought the public “might want to know why” he ruled Cooper’s request for a special session unconstitutional. The reason he ruled that way of course is that he is the presiding officer of the Senate and Senate leaders told him to. He ends the well-lit appearance with this deep philosophical thought. “Be reminded, what the progressive movement cannot attain at the ballot box, they are attempting to attain from the courts” Nice of him to remind us. But that’s an odd thing to say about a ruling from the conservative U.S. Supreme Court that Republicans violated the constitution to stay in power with their racial gerrymandering. It is actually Republicans in North Carolina who are trying to thwart the will of the people at the ballot box by violating the Constitution they have sworn to uphold. The late week histrionics are not surprising considering the immediate reaction of GOP leaders when the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision Monday to uphold a lower court ruling and affirm that the racially gerrymandered General Assembly districts drawn by Republican legislative leaders were illegal. The court did not agree with the lower court that the state should hold special legislative elections in 2017 under new districts, but that is still possibility. The remedy to address the unconstitutional districts will be decided by the lower court. Not long after the news of the ruling broke, NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse tweeted that “Supreme Court Issues Brutal Takedown of 4th Circuit Call for Special Elections.” Two key Republican legislators involved in redistricting issues, Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise, issued an equally bewildering statement, celebrating the court’s decision not to order a special election in 2017, even though the ruling left open that possibility. The statement didn’t mention that the conservative Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Republican legislative leaders violated the Constitution by racially gerrymandering the districts. The right-wing groups that support them haven’t addressed it much either, focusing instead on the election date and dissecting Cooper’s call for a special session. None of that is an accident of course. It is all part of a plan not to talk about their efforts to stay in power as long as they can with their illegal districts. They would rather rail against Cooper than admit they violated the Constitution. But the charade can only last so long. The Supreme Court has spoken. The districts have to be changed. The voters deserve to have it done as soon as possible.          

The post The Follies: GOP leaders desperate to distract attention from their racially gerrymandered districts appeared first on NC Policy Watch.