Pardon Our Dust
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This week in North Carolina politics Governor Cooper signed 18 bills intolaw and vetoed one bill, while legislators met this week to move forward ontheir redistricting efforts. The General Assembly will come back into townnext Thursday, August 3, with veto overrides and conference reports at thetop of their agenda. To read more about what is eligible to be considerednext week, follow thislink.
Bill Signings, a Veto, and two Executive Orders
Five bills remain on Gov. Cooper’sdeskas the bill signing deadline approaches at the end of this month.
Gov. Cooper vetoedHB 140: Dental Plans Provider Contracts/Transparencyon Thursday afternoon. HB 140 originally just addressed standalone dentalinsurance policies, until it was amended on the Senate floor to include aprovision on credit property insurance.Click hereto read the Governor’s veto message.
On Tuesday,Executive Order No. 10was issued to establish the Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound BasicEducation. The 17-member commission is tasked with reviewing the State’s“ability to staff schools with competent well-trained teachers andprincipals and the State’s commitment of resources to public education,” inaccordance with the 1997 decision in Leandro v. North Carolina.
Right after signing HB 589 into law on Thursday, Gov. Cooper issuedExecutive Order No. 11, which he stated will mitigate the effects of the 18-month wind energymoratorium put into place by the legislation. The executive order directsthe Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to continue working onpermits for proposed projects so that once the moratorium expires at theend of 2018, the projects would have already made it through part of thepermitting process, as well as directs DEQ to support the Department ofCommerce in recruiting “innovative energy projects,” and for ExecutiveBranch agencies to promote wind energy.
Additionally, as a result of the damage to a main transmission line, whichcaused for a major power outage on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, theGovernor issuedExecutive Order No. 12andExecutive Order No. 13, declaring a state of emergency and suspending motor vehicle restrictionsfor vehicles working to restore utility services and transportingessentials to the islands. Ocracoke Island has issued a mandatoryevacuation for all non-residents.
Redistricting Moves Forward
North Carolina v. Covingtonwas filed in May 2015, when 31 NC residents sued the State, leaders of thelegislative redistricting committee and the State Board of Elections. InNovember 2016, a three-judge federal panel affirmed that 28 State House andSenate districts were racial gerrymanders and unconstitutional under theEqual Protection Clause, and ordered special elections to be held in 2017.Then in December, the Supreme Court issued a stay and blocked the lowercourt’s order for the special elections. Ultimately, the Supreme Courtupheld the lower courts initial ruling, vacated the order for specialelection, and directed the trial court to re-weigh the balance of equitiesin determining whether special elections are appropriate.
The House and Senate redistricting committees held their first jointmeeting on Wednesday afternoon. The meeting, co-chaired by Sen. Ralph Hise(R-Mitchell) and Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), was mostly organizational,but gave committee members and the public insight on the intended timelineaccording to legislative leaders. Per information set out by Rep. Lewis,the legislature will vote on new maps by mid-November.
The committees posted numerous documents to their websites, including aplace for the public to submit comments on redistricting:
Meanwhile, a three-judge federal panel heard arguments yesterday concerningthe timeline of redrawing the maps and holding elections under the newmaps. Plaintiffs in North Carolina v. Covington asked for thelegislature to redraw the maps in two weeks and hold December 2017primaries and March 2018 general elections for legislative seats, whiledefendants argued to keep the regularly scheduled 2018 elections timeline.