On Tuesday, the state’s top legislators said The U.S. Supreme Court should rule against a lower court that just found North Carolina’s Congressional districts to be illegally gerrymandered.
“In yesterday’s decision, the three-judge panel forecasted voiding the results of primaries and canceling the November election for Congress,” their statement said.
The judges did not say they were going to cancel the November elections.
They said that the state’s Congressional districts are unconstitutional and that they were intentionally drawn to give Republicans an undue amount of power and to diminish the voting rights of non-Republicans.
The judges gave some suggestions to both sides. One was that the state could cancel the results of this spring’s primaries and hold a new primary election with constitutionally acceptable districts in November, followed by a general election before Congress returns in January. Another is to accept the primary winners and have them run in November in new districts.
In the meantime, someone will need to draw new maps for the state. The current maps were drawn up to replace a different set of maps that were also unconstitutional. According to the courts, the current maps are unconstitutional on partisan grounds and the old maps from 2011 were ruled unconstitutional on racial grounds.
Since 2010 we haven’t had a Constitutional election. The current congressional delegation is the result of unfairly biased voting districts and so are not true representatives of North Carolinians or the broad spectrum of their values.
Yet another tragic shooting, this time at a newsroom in Maryland. Five people were killed and another three seriously injured. The gunman did not use an assault style weapon but was apparently harboring a vendetta that authorities knew about for years.
More thoughts and prayers came from the White House but no discussion of sensible gun safety. Shockingly, I was talking to a local Pastor that same day about safety measures we have been taking at our own house of worship and his thoughts went to his own congregation. We must have been discussing this at the very moment that it was taking place in Maryland. We had not yet heard about the day’s violence.
As a newly minted public figure, I can’t help but get a little protective of my own family. We know that the hatred and vindictiveness needs to stop. We also know that a lot of it comes from our own government officials. It’s time to bring people together, to show the kind of love and caring for each other that our faiths teach us.
I am running for office to bring that kind of thinking to Raleigh. If you believe that we need more action and less rhetoric from our elected representatives then I hope you will support our campaign and others like it.
Do you believe that our state government should be run by and for the benefit of the people? Do you believe in the constitutional separation of the branches of government?
The Republican legislature does not. Friday was the final day of the legislative “short” session, and the Republican super-majority used their unmitigated powers to seize control of North Carolina’s future.
They passed bills that will enable them to pack the courts, using a special session that will convene after November’s elections, to take back the NC Supreme Court with a “lame-duck” Republican majority.
They rejected four out of seven of Governor Cooper’s nominees to state positions for no apparent reasons.
And that’s not even the worst of it…
They added constitutional amendments to November’s ballot that will keep the legislators you elect in the future from being able to do the things you elect them to do:
One amendment would take away the power of all the Governors that you ever elect to appoint members to state boards and commissions—more than 300 of them, including those that control education, transportation, utility rates, and environmental protection—and gives it to the legislative branch.
A second one sets a tax cap that will limit our ability to fund schools, healthcare, and infrastructure, while shifting the tax burden away from high-income people and onto local sales and property taxes. Thus placing the burden on working class North Carolinians.
A third would require a photo ID at the polls, keeping young, elderly and poor North Carolinians from their fundamental right to vote.
But, with your help we can change things;
I’ll be out there meeting voters, talking, listening and working hard to improve schools, health care and the economy (none of which were even addressed by our representatives). Please help bring sense and balance back to North Carolina!
What might be the biggest threat to the State of North Carolina’s economic future is called Senate Bill 75. A very non-threatening moniker for a referendum to amend our state constitution by permanently freezing the state’s current income tax rate. Voters will have the opportunity to oppose this debacle in November.
How will this permanent change to the constitution affect you?
Given that our state’s tax rates are already some of the lowest in the country; our ability to meet the needs of our citizens is severely limited. Working families and their communities are experiencing overcrowded and underfunded schools, decreasing access to health care and an absence of the infrastructure needed to spur job growth. County and city municipalities will need to pick up the slack by raising the money to fund things previously covered by the state budget.
The proposed change to the state Constitution would likely lead to increases in taxes paid by working North Carolinians. Additional sales taxes on goods and services and property tax increases are already in the works in Moore County. Higher excise taxes, fines and fees will surely follow. These revenue options are needed because the low income tax rate that would be locked-in doesn’t allow the state to meet current needs and we will fall further behind as the needs of our state continue to expand.
Changing the state constitution would tie the hands of all future lawmakers. That means all the leaders you elect in November will be unable to invest in the things you put them there to fix. It means that all the leaders you ever elect will be unable to solve the unforeseen problems that an uncertain future brings. It means that state emergencies like hurricanes, floods, drought, disease or even war can never be dealt with by state government. It means we can never do better, what we have is as good as it ever gets.
The super-majority Republicans currently possess in our state legislature wants their tax policies to control our lives even after they are voted out of office. But more importantly, they are trying to give their base a reason to turn out and vote. Their candidates are not compelling enough on their own. They require some imaginary call to defend the constitution against the “liberal left.” If the referendum wins voter approval in November, it will take three-fifths of a new legislature and another voter referendum to change it.
This unfettered challenge to democratic principles cannot be allowed to see the light of day. We must search for sense and balance in government, not the fascist-style suppression of opposition and the infernal need to restrict a future in which current leaders might not be in control.
This week our State Legislature put out a 300+ page budget for 2018-2019. This is part two of last year’s two-year budget and one might assume that we write two year budgets so that we don’t have to redo them every year. But one would be wrong.
This budget is packed with partisan pork. It directs tax money to schools in the district of a closely contested Republican, organizations that fight women’s rights, hunting clubs and promotes increased segregation in some public schools.
The budget includes raises for teachers but mostly ignores other state employees, like cops and detention officers. While paying teachers more it does nothing to increase classroom spending, implying that teachers can use their raises to pay for more supplies.
This budget makes one-time investments in mental health and broadband expansion while ignoring the billions of dollars turned away by Medicaid expansion and corporate tax breaks.
There are so many problems with this budget that it is clear now why Republicans did not want it to see the light of day until it was too late to do much about it. There was no open debate by Democrats or even by constituents. It was written behind closed doors, without any public discussion.
Well if they think they can slide this budget under the doors of North Carolinians, then run away in the night they are wrong because “Here’s Johnny”
Today I spent an amazing day with teachers from all over NC. I am certain you heard them. They were in Raleigh to let legislators know that our schools are still drastically underfunded. It was not just about pay, although that is still a big issue. It was also about funding basic school supplies like textbooks, pencils and paper. Governor Cooper spoke about his version of the budget and Mark Jewel lead a group of teachers and friends of education who each described different problems teachers face everyday. One thing I heard loud and clear is “We’ll remember in November.”
Trump taking credit for the decrease in unemployment is like NC Republicans taking credit for increasing teacher pay. When you manipulate numbers out of context you can change the message. Maybe numbers are like guns – numbers don’t lie, it’s the people using them that do.