Voter ID might dominate the agenda when it finally makes it to the House floor Wednesday after having passed its last committee Tuesday. Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Cornelius, has said he expects the debate to fill the next two days.
The Appropriations Committee voted in favor of the bill 58-29. Debate, as it has in every meeting, fell along party lines. The Associated Press reports that the cost of the legislation wasn’t discussed. Legislative staff has estimated the cost at $3.7 million, depending on how many people ask for free photo IDs.
A poll released last week shows strong support for the bill.
SurveyUSA’s poll found that 75 percent of voters back a voter photo ID bill. But 70 percent said they would not turn away a registered voter who didn’t have a photo if that voter signed an affidavit and provided a verifiable date of birth or Social Security number.
Amendments that would have allowed voters to use photo IDs from a high school or private college failed.
The poll of 803 registered voters was commissioned by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Locals know best
The state Senate on Tuesday voted 26-22 to give final approval to a bill that would give select local jurisdictions the option of forgoing publication of legal notices in newspapers in favor of posting them on their own government websites.
The bill would affect Mecklenburg and Guilford counties, most of Wake, and other counties and towns. The bill goes to the House.
Government legal ads are an important source of income for newspapers, especially small, free community papers. Newspapers print zoning notices, new ordinances, lists of delinquent taxpayers, and post them on their websites.
Sen. Martin Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat, said the bill creates a confusing patchwork, where residents won’t know where to look for government notices. More people read newspaper websites than government sites, he said.
“People are going to be less informed, and I think we’re all going to be diminished because of it,” said Nesbitt, the Senate minority leader.
But Sen. Jim Davis, a Macon County Republican, said government payments shouldn’t be part of the business model for newspapers. Local governments should have options for where to place their ads, he said.
“They know what’s best for them,” Davis said. “We don’t in Raleigh.”
Time for second chances
State lawmakers and advocates took to the halls of the Legislative Building on Tuesday to push for second chances for criminals.
They want to remove the question about one’s criminal history from job applications. They’re calling it “ban the box.” Employers could still conduct background checks, but not until later in the hiring process, under House Bill 425.
“The essence of who we are is we give people second chances,” said state Rep. Marcus Brandon, a Greensboro Democrat.
Hunting bill pushed ahead
A Senate bill to allow hunters to use silencers in North Carolina was being debated Monday night when Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the Rules chairman, abruptly moved the measure to Thursday’s calendar before a vote could be taken, reports Patrick Gannon of The Insider.
Gannon writes: “The bill sponsor, Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes, said Senate Bill 201 would help prevent hearing loss among hunters, which she said was ‘irreversible.’ She said the Wildlife Resources Commission supports the bill..”
Gannon says Sens. Michael Walters, D-Robeson; and Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph expressed concerns about the dangers of hunters not being able to hear that other hunters were nearby.
Staff writers Rob Christensen, Lynn Bonner and John Frank
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