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Old North State Report – Oct. 17, 2023
Tuesday, October 17, 2023


The North Carolina House and Senate voted on Tuesday to override five vetoes issued by Governor Roy Cooper in an effort to finish their work for the current general session before moving on to redraft the state and congressional voting districts.

All of the veto overrides were approved on Tuesday, the majority entirely along party lines. This was a demonstration of the power of the GOP supermajority as they overrode the governor's vetoes and rolled back environmental protections, altered voting laws in advance of the 2024 elections, and seized control of the governor's authority. Lawsuits were filed shortly after two of the bills were enacted.

The legislature has already overridden vetoes on matters like abortion, LGBTQ rights, and adjustments to the regulations for charter schools. Tuesday's veto override votes are an addition to those earlier this year. Republican legislators have now overridden more vetoes in 2023 than in any other single year in history, as well as in any two-year session since 2017–18, Cooper's first year in office.

Some of those overrides were backed by a few Democrats. Nine of the 14 vetoes that have already been overridden this year received support from some members of the governor's party, mostly those from conservative or swing districts.

Following the successful veto override votes on Tuesday, the following bills became law:

  • Senate Bill 747, a package of election law amendments that ends the current three-day grace period for post-election mail-in ballot delivery. On Election Day, ballots would need to be delivered to the local boards of elections by 7:30 p.m. to be counted. Additionally, it would eliminate the use of private grants to help finance elections, relax the regulations governing partisan poll observers at voting locations, and mandate a 10-county pilot test of software for absentee mail-in ballot signature verification.

Just moments after Senate Bill 747 took effect on Tuesday, two prominent Democratic organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court contesting several aspects of the legislation. The lawsuit brought by the Democratic National Committee and the North Carolina Democratic Party is specifically focused on asking for preliminary relief regarding the provisions of Senate Bill 747 regarding same-day registration, which impose additional photo ID and address verification requirements.

Another lawsuit was also filed on Tuesday in US District Court by Plaintiffs Voto Latino, Watauga County Voting Rights Task Force, Down Home North Carolina, Sophie Jae Mead, and Christina Barrow. The only focus of this second lawsuit is the "undeliverable mail provision" of Senate Bill 747 (Section 11). The provision, according to the plaintiffs, could "undermine" same-day voter registration in North Carolina.

  • Senate Bill 749, a legislative takeover of the county and state election boards. New, four-member boards would be appointed by the General Assembly with an equal representation of Republicans and Democrats, replacing five-member bodies appointed through the governor's political party with that party holding a one-seat majority. Democrats caution that the boards could deadlock along party lines, preventing them from making crucial decisions about elections and possibly passing those decisions on to the General Assembly, which Republicans control. Republicans claim the even split will increase voter confidence in elections.
  • Senate Bill 512, which restructures appointments to several important state boards, typically taking appointments from the governor as part of a long-running legislative effort to strip the Democratic governor of authority.

Governor Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit against Republican lawmakers just hours after Senate Bill 512 was overridden, claiming the new law is a "blatantly unconstitutional legislative power grab."

  • Senate Bill 678, which encourages nuclear energy by changing state laws that support "renewable energy" to say "clean energy."
  • House Bill 600 a broad range of adjustments that would relax various rules governing business and the environment. Every year, the Republican-controlled legislature passes the Regulatory Reform Act, which they claim is intended to reduce business regulations and promote the state's economy. It will, among other things, expedite the approval of the MVP Southgate natural gas pipeline into Alamance County and rewrite state regulations governing stormwater runoff.

During this session, every veto Cooper issued has been overturned by the Republican majority, bringing the total of bills vetoed to 19.

WRAL News (Leslie, Doran & Fain)  / WRAL News (Dorna) 

Read more by Politico

Read more by Axios 

Read more by The Carolina Journal


A new set of 23 laws went into effect on October 1 in North Carolina.

Senate Bill 20, Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, reduced the length of an elective abortion from 20 to 12 weeks and granted paid parental leave to all state employees and was effective July 1, 2023. However, the portion of the law that dealt with the safe surrender of infants only became effective on October 1. The law was created to protect newborn children by offering a safe alternative for parents who might physically abandon or harm their child in an emergency or out of desperation, as well as to inform parents of their options and rights.

House Bill 116, Modify Laws Affecting District Attorneys, deals with the cost of dispute resolution. On July 1, the remaining provisions of the law came into effect.

Senate Bill 240, Permit Choice, Certain Airport Authorities, provides airport authorities with a choice of erosion and sedimentation control permitting authorities.

Senate Bill 329, Retail Installment Sales Act Amendments, changes the maximum finance charge rates that may be used in consumer credit installment sale contracts and, among other things, raises from $15 to $18 the default fee for past-due installment payments.

Senate Bill 331, Consumer Finance Act Amendments, includes a number of modifications, such as requiring a license under the Consumer Finance Act for anyone lending $15,000 or less at interest rates higher than those permitted by North Carolina's usury laws. The maximum loan amount would rise to $25,000, and the loan servicers would need to be licensed.

Senate Bill 582, North Carolina Farm Act of 2023, defines a qualifying farmer for certain exemptions as a person who earned at least $10,000 from farming operations in the previous tax year or who earned at least $10,000 annually from farming operations on average over the previous three tax years. This section exempts certain goods from sales and use tax, such as fuel, industrial fertilizer, potting soil, compost, and seeds.

The law also modifies how the Veterinary Medical Board inspects facilities and charges it with inspecting boarding kennels run by veterinarians.

House Bill 813, The Pretrial Integrity Act removes the need for magistrates to set bail for some violent offenses. Instead, judges will decide whether a person accused of committing a specific violent crime will be released from custody prior to trial.

House Bill 815, The Loving Homes Act, would remove the "arbitrary" five-child limit for foster homes and permit decision-makers to consider additional factors. The former law prohibited foster care homes from housing more than five children in the home for any reason, even if the majority are not foster children.

Other bills that became law include:

House Bill 125

NC Health & Human Services Workforce Act

House Bill 190

Department of Health and Human Services Revisions

House Bill 193

AOC Court Changes/Amend Expunction

House Bill 344

Mental Health License Fair Practice Standards

House Bill 484

Mental Health Confidential Information Disclosure

House Bill 488

Code Council Reorganization and Various Code Amendments

House Bill 790

Innocence Inquiry Commission Provision

Senate Bill 45

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors Supervision Requirements

Senate Bill 171

Department of Public Safety Agency Bill

Senate Bill 429

Modify Charitable Solicitation Licensing Laws

Senate Bill 452

DOI & Ins. Law Amd/Revise High School Athletics (This bill became law without Governor Roy Cooper’s signature.)

Senate Bill 477

Amend  Business     Corporation    Act/Business      Opportunity


Senate Bill 492

Adult Correction/Law Enforcement Changes

Senate Bill 507

Chiropractic Preceptorship Modifications

Senate Bill 722

Child Care Flexibilities

Read more by The Carolina Journal


Legislators in North Carolina are currently drawing new redistricting maps three years after the 2020 census, which could change the political landscape before the 2024 election.

Following three public hearings, legislative leaders have stated that they are working to complete new maps for state and federal offices by the end of October. It is the third attempt in as many years to redraw political boundaries to reflect changes in the population as determined by the decennial census.

The General Assembly's 2021 maps were immediately contested in court and ultimately declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. The justices, with the support of four Democrats, ordered the boundaries to be redrawn by the majority-Republican legislature. A second attempt was also unsuccessful, and special masters were forced to draw a new congressional district that resulted in a 7-7 split of the delegation between Democrats and Republicans in the 2022 election.

The congressional maps may differ significantly from the state legislative maps, which are predicted to remain largely the same as those used in 2022.

Political analysts anticipate that at least three Democratic incumbents will be placed in new congressional districts that will be challenging for them to win: Representatives Wiley Nickel in the 13th District, which covers a region between Raleigh and Goldsboro, Representative Jeff Jackson in the 14th district covering south Charlotte and extending west to Gastonia, and Representatives Kathy Manning in the 6th District, which includes Guilford, Rockingham, Caswell, and a portion of Forsyth counties.

“Jackson is certainly the most likely target to lose his seat,” says Chris Cooper, political science professor at Western Carolina University. Cooper claims that is due in part to the district's location and the fact that he is a well-liked incumbent freshman Democrat.

“There has long been speculation that Speaker Tim Moore is interested in a congressional seat and his home in Cleveland County is a stone’s throw away from Jackson’s home in Mecklenburg," Cooper stated. "In addition, Patrick McHenry resides nearby as well, and he will certainly be protected and will not be double-bunked with a Republican. If you put all that together, Jackson seems likely to be a short-timer with any new map.”

It is a similar situation with Wiley Nickel, who is in one of the more competitive districts that could easily be shifted to a Republican advantage, while Manning “is probably the safest of the three,” Cooper said.

“Then there’s Don Davis. His district is the question mark,” Cooper said. Davis, from Snow Hill, represents the eastern and northeastern counties of Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, part of Pitt, Tyrrell, Vance, Warren, Washington, and Wilson.

Davis' District 1 has historically been an African American district, but in recent years, the population has shifted toward whites and Republicans. In a decision issued in late September, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court's finding that the Republican-drawn congressional districts in Alabama violated the Voting Rights Act by including only one district out of seven with a majority of Black voters, despite a 27% Black population. This week a map was introduced asking for a second. Approximately 20% of North Carolina's population is Black, but no districts have a majority of Black voters. The closest district is Davis', with 47.29% of the vote.

The General Assembly is anticipated to begin voting on the updated maps on October 24.

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