You know, you have to give the Republican majority, and particularly the GOP legislative leadership in the NC General Assembly, credit.
They pretty much know that the good people of North Carolina have had enough of their legislative double-dealing, and sinister attempts at voter oppression aimed at African-Americans, so they’ve come up with a plan.
And it’s a real doozy!
Realizing that they might not still be in power come 2019, the GOP has designed six broadly worded constitutional amendments that, if passed, would be almost impossible to remove.
You see, statutory laws are always amended, or even stricken from the books. All it takes is a simple majority vote of both the state House and Senate.
But a constitutional amendment is a special animal. The state constitution, according to Ballotpedia, is the “highest legal document for the state.” It is our governing document, creating the structure and function of North Carolina governance.
In short, it’s our state “bible.”
Thus, it takes much more than a simple up-or-down vote to change anything per the state constitution. At least 60% of all the members of both the House and Senate have to put a submitted amendment to a statewide vote, which is why we’ve never seen six amendments proposed in one year before.
One or two, yes, but definitely NOT six.
But just because a state constitutional amendment is ludicrous on its face, doesn’t necessarily mean that lawmakers can easily remove it.
For example, and we didn’t know this until we researched it, Section Four of Article VI of the 1868 North Carolina Constitution states that a person must be literate in the English language before registering to vote. The provision was used to deny African-Americans the right to vote then, and guess what – it’s STILL in the state Constitution today.
Obviously, it is not being enforced today, but it remains because several attempts to remove it have always fallen short.
Republicans know how difficult it is to remove anything from the state Constitution, which brings us back to six ridiculous constitutional amendments they’ve put forth on a ballot referendum for the November 6th elections.
If Republicans can get citizens to vote “for” these six proposed amendments, then all the GOP has to do is reconvene in Special Session right after the election, and pass laws based on the broad language of the amendments on the ballots – language so broad that Democrats claim is “misleading”, allowing Republicans can get away with whatever, because voters will have voted to allow them to.
For example, let’s look at the proposed ballot amendment most civil rights activists, especially the NC NAACP, are concerned with NUMBER ONE– Constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person. FOR or AGAINST.
THAT’S IT! NO DETAILS! Republicans say if voters pass this, they’ll fill in all the details later (like during that Special November Session they’re planning for). Dangerous!
NUMBER TWO – Constitutional amendment to reduce the income tax rate in North Carolina to a maximum allowable rate of seven percent (7%). FOR or AGAINST.
No one likes high taxes, but by that same token, no one wants to see state government go broke and not fulfill the basic needs of its citizens. Capping the income tax rate to just 7% constitutionally is a gift to the rich. But how many hurricanes and other disasters will it take to convince Republican lawmakers (since they’ve been in charge since 2011) that when disaster strikes, or the economy goes bad costing us jobs, or we fail to invest in our public schools, or cut services to our poor, all because we deliberately fiscally handcuffed ourselves so that no more revenue can come in when needed?
Setting the income tax rate at 7% means even if Democrats do take over in 2019, they CAN’T change it by themselves. Thus, it never gets changed.
THIRD PROPOSED AMENDMENT – taking the power to fill judicial vacancies away from the governor, and give that power primarily to state lawmakers. Why? So that they can handpick partisan judges who will rule their way, NOT according to the law or justice. And don’t let the ballot language fool you. They may involve the governor in the process, but they have the last word!
FOURTH – Constitutional amendment to establish an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement in the Constitution to administer ethics and elections law. FOR or AGAINST.
Another “let’s weaken the governor even more” attempt, taking his power to appoint members away, and eliminating the ninth member position (an unaffiliated member), and thus, allowing for a stalemate vote more times than not when it comes to election issues.
The fifth and sixth proposed Constitutional amendments are designed to arouse conservatives into believing that some basic state’s rights are being trampled on, or are at risk, when in fact, they’re not.
THE FIFTH PROPOSED AMENDMENT – Constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for victims of crime; to establish certain absolute basic rights for victims; and to ensure the enforcement of these rights. FOR or AGAINST.
For starters, North Carolina is replete with laws on the books that adequately protect the rights of crime victims. Ever hear of North Carolina’s “Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights?”
From the NC Attorney General’s Office (https://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/afe94055-3b62-42be-86bc-499a0a8e2d46/Crime-Victims-Bill-of-Rights.aspx) – “Under this law, victims have the right to be notified of the dates and times of court proceedings and the status of appeals. Victims also get priority rights in restitution and get the right to be heard.”
So why is the GOP trying to make you believe that you’d be buck naked for rights if you become the victim of a crime in North Carolina?
Because if they scare you enough, you’ll come running to the polls on Election Day, and may also vote for all of their other nonsensical, misleading proposed constitutional amendments.
And finally (we’ve saved the best for last), NUMBER SIX – Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.
Now seriously…when was the last time you heard of ANYONE seeking to outlaw your right to hunt or fish in North Carolina? Really?
And yet, just because the Republicans are saying so, there are those who will swear by it, and come out to the polls in droves, to stop those “ornery liberals from takin’ away my right to catch bass and shoot rabbits!”
Again, why this silly, worthless amendment? Because if the GOP scare conservatives enough, they’ll come running to the polls on Election Day, and may also vote for all of their other nonsensical, misleading proposed constitutional amendments.
It is a slick way of codifying what Republicans want, even when they’re out of power – suppress the black vote; assure the rich that their taxes will ALWAYS remain low; grab control of the judiciary; and limit or deny the governor his constitutional power of appointing to boards and commissions. Those are the main agenda items on the ballot for the Republican legislative leadership.
The Black newspaper publishers of this state, which includes Greater Diversity News, say NIX ALL SIX! Vote AGAINST on the ballot for ALL six! Tell your friends, family and neighbors! NO on ALL SIX AMENDMENTS!
Early voting has begun between now, and Saturday, Nov. 3rd. Tuesday, Nov. 6th, is Election Day! VOTE! This election is too important not to!