NCGA Week in Review: Spotlight on Parties in Political Power

October 7, 2016

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Laws Effective October 1

Twenty lawspassed during the short session went into effect on Saturday, October 1, including:

HB 632: Student Online Protection Act:Regulates the release of data related to personal and other information of students by independent educational applications. The data and information canbe released with the approval of the parent of guardian of the student.

HB 972: Law Enforcement Recordings/ No Public Record:On October 1, the portions of the bill which deal with law enforcement recordings went into effect and applies to recordings made after that date, thesection of the bill that establishes needle exchange programs went into effect when the bill was signed by the Governor on July 11.

HB 1044: Law Enforcement Omnibus Bill: Effective October 1, the legislation gives the Division of Motor Vehicles authority to refuse registration or issuance of a certificate of title if theyhave been notified by the State Highway Patrol that the owner has not paid a civil penalty or fees. The remainder of the legislation went into effect whenit was signed by the Governor on July 11.

SB 770: NC Farm Act of 2016: Makes numerous regulatory changes effecting the agricultural community, including the following provisions which went into effect on October 1:

  • Excludes minor repairs, such as replacement of windows and doors, from building permit requirements.
  • Authorizes certified well drillers to install certain water pipes and electrical wiring in a single ditch.

The remainder of the bill went into effect on July 26, when it was signed by the Governor.

Interim Committee Meetings

Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee met to discuss occupational licensing boards. The committee heardpresentations from the Program Evaluation and Legislative Analysis Divisions and reviewed recommendations to consolidate and eliminate certain occupationallicensing boards.

Clickhereto view all of the presentations made at Tuesday’s meeting.

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance met on Wednesday where they heard updates from the Division of Employment Security andtheir partnership with the NC Government Data Analytics Center.

Click hereto view all of the presentations made at Wednesday’s meeting.

Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee

The Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee is meeting this morning to hear numerous presentations including an update on the Map Act and decision in Kirby vs. the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and a review of NCDOT’s legislative requests for the longsession.

Click here to view allof the presentations made at today’s meeting.

Spotlight on Parties in Political Power

History of the Parties in Political Power

Federal Period to Civil War

In 1787 there were no political parties in the United States; as the country began to build apolitical system, parties became necessary for campaigns to win popular support. The first five governors of North Carolina, as well as President GeorgeWashington, did not belong to a political party.

Although documents from the early history of the NC General Assembly do not recount the partisan affiliations of members, NC tended to favorDemocratic-Republican candidates in both state and federal elections. TheDemocratic-Republican party was opposed to powerful central government, while its counterpart, the Federalist Party supported the ratification of the USConstitution. North Carolina was one of the last states to ratify the constitution as Federalists and Democratic-Republicans debatedtheir concerns regarding centralized power.

Leading up to the Civil War, NC was politically divided between eastern and western regions of the state. Like much of the Southeast, the primary source ofdisagreement between political parties rested upon slavery. In the eastern part of thestate, the cash-crop based economy relied heavily on slave labor and tended to favor the Democratic Party. The western region of the state, where yeomanfarmers did not rely on slave labor, was supportive of the Whig Party, and then later, the Republican Party.

Post-Civil War

Immediately after the Civil War, Republicans, including newly freed slaves, controlled the state’s government. From 1866 to 1871, the Republican Party hada strong majority over the Democratic Party in both the House and Senate and held control of the Governor’s Office until 1877.

From 1871 to 1895, the Democrats controlled both chambers but were briefly ousted by a Republican-Populist alliance from 1895 to 1898 before regaining the majority inthe 1896 elections. During this time, the Democratic Party passed legislation to disenfranchise black voters through literacy tests and poll taxes. By 1904, these laws effectively eliminated theAfrican-American vote.

20th Century

With the exception of some western parts of the state that continued to vote Republican, NC became part of the “ Solid Democratic South” in 1900.

In the General Assembly, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in at least one chamber from 1899 through 2010. Throughout the early half of the 20thcentury Democrats held a strong supermajority, holding anywhere between 84 and115 of the 120 seats in the House and between 38 and 49 of the 50 seats in the Senate between the years of 1900 and 1950. In the second half of the 20 th century, the supermajority of the Democrats became less pronounced and the Republicans held a slim majority in the House from 1995 to 1998.

Though NC was a solid blue state in statewide races, after the Civil Rights Movement, the Republican Party gained the support of many white voters infederal elections. Aided by the landslide reelection win of President Richard Nixon, Republicans elected their first governor and US senator of the 20th centuryin 1972. United States Sen. Jesse Helms, said to be one of the most conservative politicians in the post-1960s era, is often credited with renewing the Republican Party in the state and turning NC into a two-partystate once more. With the exception of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 election, NC voters favored Republicans in all presidential elections following the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

21st Century

The past 16 years have been marked by a political shift in NC. After a century of the Democratic Party having control over most state and federal offices,the state has become a red state.

In presidential elections, NC continued to favor Republican candidates in the early 2000s, supporting President George W. Bush in his 2000 and 2004 campaigns. President Barack Obama turned the state blue in his first campaign but was narrowly defeated in NC byMitt Romney in 2012. In the US Congress, NC has been represented by both Republican andDemocratic members in recent years.

The most dramatic shifts in NC’s party politics have occurred at the state level, where Republicans have secured political control.

In the state legislature, the Democratic Party retained a slim majority in the early 2000s before losing both chambers inthe 2010 elections. The Republicans have held a growing majority in both the House and Senate since. Governor Pat McCrory was elected in 2012 as the first Republican Governor in the 21 st century, following Democratic Governors Mike Easley and Beverly Perdue. With a veto-proof majority in the legislature and a RepublicanGovernor, the party currently has substantial control over policy in NC.

Current Political Dynamics

Both the sitting Governor and Lieutenant Governor are Republicans completing their first terms and running for re-election against Democratic opponents. Inthe General Assembly, Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers with34 seats in the Senate and 74 seats in the House.

In the US Congress, both of the state’s senators are Republicans and the Party holds 10 of the 13 seats in the US House.

2016 Election Forecast

As a battleground state in the presidential race, NC has become a frequent stop for this year’s presidential candidates and campaign surrogates. In the polls, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been locked in a closerace. Polls have also demonstrated that down ballot races, especially the US Senate race between Republican incumbent Sen. Richard Burr and Democraticchallenger Deborah Ross, are tied to the presidential ticket.

The governor’s race between Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper has been similarly close. According to the most recent poll, Cooper leads McCrory by 6 points. ShouldCooper oust McCrory, the dynamics between the governor’s office and the legislature could change significantly.

In the legislature, the Democratic Party has set sights on ridding the GOP of its veto proof majority. The NC Civitas Institute has identified 20 legislative races to watch, most of which are in the metropolitan areas in Wake andMecklenburg counties.