2018 Constitutional Amendments

During this year’s short session, legislators approved six proposed constitutional amendments to be placed on the November 2018 ballot. Learn more about what each of these amendments is proposed to do if they are approved by voters. #NCREALTORSVote2018

NC REALTORS® chose to take no formal position on any of the proposed amendments and provides the following summaries of each for information purposes only. Multiple groups have issued formal statements regarding one or more of the amendments, both in favor and in opposition. Check out a summary of some of these positions.

1. Require photo identification to vote

On June 29, legislators passed a proposed amendment which would require all persons to show photo identification in order to vote in person in an election.

This requirement would not apply to those who vote by mail-in absentee ballots, as those require a separate verification process. If approved in November, legislators would have to determine the acceptable forms of identification which would comply with this requirement.

Currently 34 states have some form of voter identification law. Previous attempts to require voter id via statute have been struck down in the courts due to questions related to limiting access for minority voters.

2. Cap the state income tax rate at 7 percent

Currently, the state constitution sets the maximum state income tax rate at 10 percent. Legislators presented a proposed amendment to decrease that cap in an effort to lessen the tax burden on individuals and allow for additional revenue streams to support state expenses. Previous versions of this proposal had set the cap at 5.5 percent, roughly the 2018 tax rate, but legislators ultimately settled on a 7 percent cap.

If approved, more analysis will be needed to understand the impact that this cap could have on state and local government spending in the event of a future decreases in state revenue.

3. Provide rights for victims of crimes

Commonly known as Marsy’s Law, this proposed amendment would grant rights to persons who have been the victims of crimes. These rights include:

  • Being notified of criminal proceedings against the accused perpetrator
  • The right for the victim to speak at all hearings involving plea, sentencing, parole, or the release of the defendant.
  • The right to “full and timely” restitution.
  • The right to be “reasonably protected” from the defendant.
  • A “prompt conclusion” the case.
  • Victims’ attorneys can petition the court to enforce any of these provisions.Similar amendments are being proposed in multiple other states.

4. Create a bipartisan elections board

This proposed amendment would make changes to the make-up of the state’s chief ethics and elections oversight body.  Recent legislation combined the formerly separate state boards of elections and ethics into one agency which is governed by a common board. Through previous statute, the Governor has held all appointments to the State Board of Elections and the majority of the appointments to the State Ethics Board.

Under this proposal, a new 8-member “Bipartisan State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement” would be created. Four members of the group would be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and four would be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. They also set a requirement that no more than four members may be registered with the same political affiliation.

**Please note that there was a previous version of this amendment proposed by the General Assembly, but the language was modified due to a judicial order.

5. Protect the right to hunt and fish

Under this amendment, the right of all persons in North Carolina to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife would be “forever protected.” Similar amendments have been passed in multiple other states and this proposal does not seem to have any significant opposition.

6. Create a merit-based selection system for judicial vacancies

State law currently allows the Governor to make appointments to fill judicial vacancies when they occur outside of normal election cycles. Through this proposed amendment, that process would be changed to create a nonpartisan “Judicial Merit Commission” who would be tasked with receiving nominations, evaluating individual’s “fitness for service” and making recommendations to the General Assembly. From there, the General Assembly would choose two names to recommend to the Governor for appointment.

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