The “Press” Teams Up on NC’s Election Reform Bill

In an article from The Insider, written by Michael Biesecker of the Associated Press and Jodi Leese Glusco of WRAL, it was reported that Gov. Pat McCrory was not familiar with some provisions in the landmark election reform bill, HB 589 Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA), passed by both the state Senate and House last week.

They quoted McCrory as saying; “There is plenty of opportunity for voter registration — online, offline, through many methods.” And then the writers go on to proclaim that “North Carolina has never allowed voters to register online.”

Mr. Biesecker and Ms. Glusco might be embarrassed to know that they got this little piece of information in their “gotcha” article wrong.

In mid-February this year, Civitas released a study that documented how State Board of Elections (SBOE) bureaucrats conspired with a private company, working for the Obama campaign, to facilitate a form of online voter registration for the 2012 General Election – in violation of state law.

 “In a blatantly partisan move, the staff of the North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBE) successfully subverted state law to facilitate online voter registration in North Carolina by the 2012 Barack Obama campaign. In doing so they coordinated with partisans behind closed doors, lied about the NC Attorney General’s Office concurring with the SBE staff on the issue, and dodged oversight by their own board and the legislature. The end result was to add thousands of people to the North Carolina voter rolls illegally.”

Evidently, Biesecker and Glusco aren’t aware that the legislature took steps in HB 589 to prohibit this kind of online voter registration. NCGS 163-82.6(b) was rewritten to make sure that the SBOE will not allow such an end-run around the  law to happen again. Part 13 of the legislation was named “Wet Ink” on Voter Registration Forms and makes it very clear that only state generated forms and forms included in Article 21A of the North Carolina election code (Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act) can include an electronically captured signature.

In their article, Biesecker and Glusco went on to point out that the Governor wasn’t familiar with the provision that would put an end to registering 16- and 17-year-olds. The real question is: Who else would be familiar with this law but the ultra-liberal organizations who pushed this legislation through the legislature in 2009 in order to obtain personal information about teenagers that they couldn’t get anywhere else?

HB 589 brings quite a few changes to North Carolina’s election law – most of which will not been reported on by the mainstream media. And, we can be sure that any reporting they do will come straight from the liberal-left’s talking points.

Voter Watchdog Group Claims Nearly 400 Dead People Remain on Voter Rolls

(RALEIGH) – The Voter Integrity Project is demanding the Wake County Board of Elections clear its voter rolls of 386 deceased citizens. The group says it matched the voter rolls against the same official death records the state Department of Health and Human Services provides to the State Board of Elections each month.

“North Carolina election law mandates a monthly process for election officials to remove the dead people from the rolls,” says project spokesman Jay DeLancy. “One of the big loopholes in our fraud-friendly election laws is that nobody is held accountable if it doesn’t get done,” he says.

Voter Integrity Project research director John Pizzo says he found similar problems in 2010 in Congressional District 13, which includes Wake County. Pizzo says the election officials were notified and given the names of the deceased found on the rolls then. His team was surprised to find 74 of the names of the deseased given the officials were still on the rolls two years later.

“There may be some other explanation,” says Pizzo, “and I would be interested in hearing it, but I’m beginning to think somebody in that office dropped the ball.”

Volunteers working with the Voter Integrity Project filed similar challenges in two other counties. They notified the Alamance County Board of Elections about 123 names of dead people still on the rolls. Volunteers came up with 77 deceased citizens on the rolls in Halifax County. Similar challenges could be filed in other counties in the coming weeks.

New NC Gun Law Explained

Last night, HB 937, “An Act to Amend State Firearm Laws,” passed in both houses of the General Assembly. The bill is headed to the governor, where it will be signed in to law. Here is a quick breakdown of the provisions included in the law.

The Good:

  • Concealed carriers may now leave their weapons in a locked vehicle on a college campus. In 2002, an active shooter at a Tennessee law school was halted by two concealed carry permit holders who retrieved their handguns from their cars when they heard gunfire.
  • Increased penalties for violators. Felons who use or brandish a firearm can have added years tacked on their sentence – up to 72 months. The law also creates a status of “armed habitual offender” that can be applied to felons who commit more than one firearm-related felony.
  • Enhanced enforcement of existing laws. Involuntary commitment (institutionalization) and other legal findings of mental incapacity are now reported to NICS, the national criminal background check used for firearms purchases. This allows gun stores to identify mentally ill people who attempt to obtain weapons.
  • Concealed carriers may now carry at funerals, parades, establishments that sell alcohol, and establishments that charge admission. The last two are a particular improvement over existing laws.
  • Handgun purchase permits and concealed carry permits are no longer public records. Earlier this year, a New York newspaper published a database of concealed carry holders. North Carolina has passed legislation to prevent a similar thing from happening in the Tar Heel State.
  • Hunters can now use suppressors. Suppressors reduce recoil slightly and minimize the potential for hearing loss.

The Bad:

  • The handgun purchase permit system is still in place. We wrote about this previously – NC is one of only 12 states that require citizens to have a permit to purchase a handgun. Sheriffs will retain control over the purchase permit system, but under the new law they must give a written explanation if a purchase permit is denied.

The Verdict:

All told, this is a victory for North Carolina gun owners and for gun rights. HB 937 is not perfect, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

NC Tax Reform 2013: Mission Accomplished or a First Step?

The N.C. House and Senate are expected to give final approval today to tax reform legislation. From there, it will go to Gov. McCrory for his approval and then it will become law.

As reported today by the Carolina Journal, national tax analysts are saying North Carolina’s tax reforms “blew other states away.”

Patrick Gleason, director of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, spoke to the reduction in the top marginal income tax rate of 7.75 percent that would be drop in 2015 to 5.75 percent

“North Carolina, with a 25 percent reduction in the top rate, pretty much blew the other states away,” Gleason said. Gleason and Elizabeth Malm, an economist with the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, said that North Carolina ranks at the top of the nation in magnitude of tax reforms this year.

Malm said the changes would make North Carolina’s tax code friendlier for business, jumping the Tar Heel State from 44th to 17th in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index.

The Wall Street Journal has also taken notice:

After months of deliberations and legislative slips and slides, North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, and the GOP leaders who run the House and Senate have finally reached a deal on tax cuts. The plan is an impressive trifecta that will slash the personal income tax to 5.75% from 7.75%; cut the corporate tax to 5% from 6.9%; and eliminate the state death tax.

“This is a big deal for growth, and we still think we can come back in the next couple of years and get the rates even lower,” says state Senate President Phil Berger. More than anyone, Mr. Berger gets credit for making this cut happen when it looked like it might die a slow death. State think tanks like the Civitas Institute, which provided the intellectual ammunition, also deserve praise. (Thanks for the shout-out!)

There is little doubt that the new tax code will be far more favorable to economic growth than the current code. Now the question becomes: is this the beginning or the end for tax reform? Senate leader Phil Berger and tax reform champion Bob Rucho have indicated this is the first step in a transition to more comprehensive tax reforms.

Indeed, the legislation includes a section directing the Revenue Laws Study Committee to study ten tax issues and report its findings next year. Included in  those ten are:

  • possible repeal of privilege taxes
  • the impact of the sales tax refund for nonprofits
  • potential elimination of the franchise tax on corporations
  • the feasibility of expanding the sales tax base to additional services

Each of these issues were included in various earlier tax proposals but didn’t make it into the final bill. The fact that legislators are mandating more study on these items suggests they will be on the table in the near future.