GenX, Constitutional Amendments, And The Judiciary Top The Docket For NCGA's New Year
The North Carolina General Assembly is wasting no time getting back to work. A committee has already considered plans to study a potentially toxic chemical that was dumped into the Cape Fear River.
But GenX might not be the only thing on the docket in this year's first session.
On rumors that new constitutional amendments may be introduced:
It would be unusual if they bring up any constitutional amendments that we haven't seen before. There's several constitutional amendments that came up during last year's legislative session and some of them passed one chamber, perhaps got a committee hearing, but never fully made it into a final form.
Those would include the one that would cap the level of income taxes in the Constitution more or less to the level it is now, which would make it very hard for future legislatures to raise the personal income tax and the corporate income tax in North Carolina. That's something that could come up.
Another one is this one about the right to hunt and fish which is more of a ceremonial constitutional amendment. But that's something that could sort of prove to be red meat for Republican voters.
On potential changes to judicial elections in North Carolina:
There's been sort of a general trend towards politicization in the courts. We've moved towards more partisan elections for judges as opposed to nonpartisan elections. You see the party label of the judges on the ballot. And a lot of times, the courts end up being the arbiters of some of these legislative battles in the end where Republicans pass a law, Democrats are very opposed to the law, they sue and take the legislature to court and then it ends up being judges that decide whether the law stands or not.
So there's a desire, I think, in some quarters to try to ensure that their party's judges end up on the bench in higher numbers than the other party. So that's certainly a concern for Democrats that are arguing that Republicans are trying to rig the judiciary in favor of Republican judges and in favor of Republican laws.
Republicans say that's not the case. They're simply looking to make some common sense reforms to how the judges are elected drawing districts that make more sense in terms of size. We have judicial districts where hundreds of thousands of people may be electing only a handful of judges and in districts where tens of thousands of people may be responsible for electing judges. So it's kind of a patchwork system we have right now.