Under the Dome

Dome: Voter ID hearing scheduled for Tuesday

March 11, 2013 

Lawmakers return to Jones Street Monday night, but Tuesday promises to be the most interesting day. That’s when the House committee on elections holds its first public hearing on voter identification. Democrats and other critics of the proposal, including the NAACP, have promised to fight any such law. Last week, Penda Hair, co-director of the national civil rights group Advancement Project, called North Carolina “ground zero” in the fight. The group has promised legal challenges.

House Speaker Thom Tillis promised a deliberative approach, saying last week that the public hearings would allow lawmakers to “arrive at a policy that is fair and that takes into account legitimate reasons why voters may not have an ID and puts into effect a way in which those IDs can be issued.”

Tuesday’s hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Room 643, Legislative Office Building. But don’t just show up and hope to have your say.

You must sign up to speak and there are a limited number of slots with each speaker getting 3 minutes. Comments must be related to:

• Whether requiring a photo ID to voting is good policy.

• The impact of requiring a photo ID on elections, and other governmental services.

• Suggestions on how to implement the of a photo ID, including how to assist voters in obtaining a photo ID.

You must sign up to speak by 5 p.m. Monday at www.ncleg.net/Applications/RTS/hce.aspx.

Legislative recap: Guns and autos

Last week went by in a whir of Medicaid and MetLife so let’s recap a few bills you might have missed:

• Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake County, filed HB 265, a companion bill to Republican Sen. Wesley Meredith’s insurance bill, SB 154 which would allow auto insurers in the state to opt out of the rates negotiated by the N. C. Rate Bureau and the Department of Insurance and develop their own rates. The Insurance Commissioner would have to sign off on deemed excessive. (Increases under an aggregated 12 percent aren’t considered excessive.)

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin opposes the measure and the industry itself is divided.

• Meanwhile over in the Senate, Tom Apodaca, R-Hendersonville, introduced his own auto insurance legislation. SB 180 allows auto insurers to introduce new optional products here with the insurance commissioner’s approval. SB 181 clarifies current law so that drivers 19 and older don’t have to pay extra if they can’t prove they’ve been driving three years or more. Rates are set by experience, not age, under state law.

This would be a good time to note that Apodaca and Meredith co-chair the Senate insurance committee but Apodaca, as Rules Chairman, decides which bills move forward.

• Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Concord, filed HB 246, which would amend the state’s constitution. The Gun Rights Amendment has a narrow list of places (courthouses, federal buildings and the like) and circumstances (while under a domestic violence order) that people with a concealed carry permit couldn’t have guns. It also says “the shall never engage in a campaign of general confiscation of weapons or cooperate in any effort with another entity to confiscate the weapons of its citizens.”

• Finally, on a tastier note, HB 241 adopts the East Arcadia Blue Monday Shad Fry as the state’s official Blue Monday Shad Fry. The fry has been held for 60 years but in case you’ve missed you can this spring: it’s held the Monday following Easter Sunday on the old river locks of the Cape Fear in the Bladen County community of Arcadia.

Siler has new job

President Barack Obama’s former North Carolina campaign director Lindsay Siler is no longer with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s office. Siler joined Hagan at the beginning of December as a senior adviser to the Democratic senator, a big move ahead of the 2014 election. Hagan’s office said Siler left in February to take a job with Organizing for Action as the national director of issue campaigns. Siler worked for the Obama campaign in 2008, and headed Organizing for America, the group’s previous iteration, in the state the three years before the 2012 campaign.

Hagan honored by Navy

Speaking of Hagan, the Greensboro Democrat recently received the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award from U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Mabus said it was for her efforts to improve the lives of service members and their families. It is the highest Navy award for a civilian. Hagan is chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. Hagan’s father-in-law was a two-star Marine General, and her husband, father and brother all served in the Navy.

Staff writers Mary Cornatzer, John Frank and Rob Christensen

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