NCGA Week in Review

October 19, 2018

Pardon Our Dust

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The North Carolina General Assembly reconvened on Monday, October 15th to approve a $850 million relief package for Hurricane Florence. Senate Bill 3 passed unanimously through the House and Senate. Legislators debated the bill throughout the night expressing their gratitude towards first responders, sympathy towards victims, and concerns about unmet needs. Governor Cooper signed the bill into law on Tuesday, October 16th. The General Assembly will re-convene on Tuesday, November 27.

Hurricane Appropriations

The General Assembly held a Joint Appropriations committee to address ongoing needs throughout the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Legislators returned to Raleigh for the committee a few weeks after their initial meeting on relief appropriations. They emphasized the need to allow time to get a better picture of what is needed throughout the state.

The committee ultimately approved $850 million in Hurricane Florence relief. The package includes $400 million that can be spent immediately with an additional $450 million that legislators can use once additional needs are identified. The major goal of the initial round of funding is to rebuild the schools, businesses, and homes that were caught in the path of the storm. Governor Cooper’s budget director, Charlie Perusse, stated during the meeting that North Carolina has suffered about $13 billion in damages. 

Legislators stressed the importance of getting schools and small businesses back up and running. Initial tours through storm-stricken districts have shown schools and business that will take some time to rebuild or have suffered “life-ending” damage. 

A critical part of the bill focuses on money for affordable housing and healthcare. The state plans to spend millions to help the federal government re-build affordable housing through section 8 for those who have been displaced. Anticipating a spike in medical needs, the state will assist with prescriptions, replacing medical equipment, and funding additional mental health care facilities.

The list of designated appropriations can be found here.

Early Voting

Early voting has started in North Carolina. In 2016, 60% of North Carolinians voted early. That percentage could be beat during this contentious year of statewide elections, controversial constitutional amendments, and an uptick in political awareness.

All 100 counties across the state began early in-person voting on Wednesday. Voters may cast ballots at designated locations in their home counties through Saturday, November 3rd. Voters must state their name and address to vote and sign a form stating they are voting early, but do not have to show photo ID. Voters may also update their address or name while at their one-stop voting site.

You can find your early voting polling location here.

Early voting in North Carolina ends November 3.

Judicial Elections

In the upcoming weeks, North Carolina will be electing about 160 judges to the bench — from the state’s highest court to its lowest trial court. The General Assembly has implemented a number of new election-related laws which have changed how our judges are elected.

  • Under a 2015 law, Court of Appeals candidates were made to declare their party designation after filing, with that information included on ballots. There were no party primaries, but voters at the ballot box could see which candidate aligned with which party.
  • In 2016, the General Assembly passed a law that made state Supreme Court races partisan. This will go into effect for this year’s election.
  • In 2017, the General Assembly passed a law that made District Court and Superior Court races partisan, as well. That goes into effect with this election.
  • Tucked into a broader election law passed last year was a provision to end judicial primaries for elected judicial positions from District Court to the Supreme Court — just for this year.

This means that the November ballots will have a number of candidates for judicial positions, with the top vote-getter earning the office. In North Carolina’s two largest counties, Wake and Mecklenburg District Court candidates will no longer be elected countywide. Senate Bill 757: Various Court Changes created districts for those candidates to run in, raising concerns of “double-bunking” some judges.

Here’s a breakdown of the candidates from our friends at the NC Free Enterprise Foundation:

judicial election chart

Want more details?

To see more about judicial elections, candidate breakdowns, and fundraising numbers, check out these fantastic charts from our friends at the NC Free Enterprise Foundation:

2018 Candidate Tracker – NC Free Enterprise Foundation

NC BAR Survey

Judicial Voter Guide