N.C. Legislature approves education cuts, voting & abortion restrictions
Yasmine Regester | 8/2/2013, 11:27 a.m.
The N.C. General Assembly wrapped up its 2012-2013 session
last week after pushing through some final legislation.
The last bills to gain approval included a measure loosening
environmental regulations, legislation allowing new
restrictions on abortion providers and a host of changes to
state elections laws.
A final version of House Bill 589, the Voter Identification
Verification Act, has been presented to Gov. Pat McCrory for
signing. The changes significantly shorten the early voting
period, eliminates Sunday voting, same day registration, and
straight ticket party voting. Voters now must present a state
issued photo ID to vote, and the law bars college students
from voting outside of their parents’ voting precinct if their
parents still carry them on their taxes. It also eliminates a
popular high school civics program that registers high school
students to vote in advance of their 18th birthday.
“This latest voting rights attack represents the most
comprehensive attack on the right to vote that this state has
enacted since the institution of Jim Crow laws in the 19th
Century when federal troops pulled out of the South,” said
North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II.
Barber added, “Extremist members of the General Assembly
viewed the Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 4 as once again
federal protections being removed, thereby giving them the
freedom to undermine and disenfranchise the poor, African
Americans, and all people of color.”
N.C. legislators were able to pass the bill after a 5-4
decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June that changed a key
provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that required
states with a history of racial discrimination to get prior
federal approval before making changes to elections law.
“After the damage they’ve done to the people of North Carolina
this year, Republicans realize their only hope in clinging to
power is to change the rules of voting otherwise they will be
voted out of office. That’s an affront to our democracy,” said
District 60 N.C. House Representative Marcus Brandon (D) who
voted against the voting restrictions. Brandon, who is also
running for U.S. Congress in NC’s 12th Congressional District
said, “When I am elected to Congress, I will continue to
fiercely fight for voters’ rights at a federal level.”
The North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Movement
held the final Moral Monday of the 2013 legislative session on
July 29 with a rally at Halifax Mall and a march to the State
Education took a hit this legislative session as well with
sweeping cuts to the budget, cutting pay for teachers,
eliminating the graduate degree incentive, ending teacher
tenure and including a measure that will allow taxpayer money
to be used to pay tuition at private schools.
The North Carolina Association of Educators joined protestors
for Moral Mondays in Raleigh this past Monday to oppose the
new education measures passed in the N.C. General Assembly.
NCAE Vice President Mark Jewell said, “It is dismantling our
public school system that North Carolina has built upon for 50