On July 11 a federal judge blocked North Carolina laws that would have limited who can help request, fill out, and return absentee ballots for people with disabilities. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said that the restrictions imposed by the law conflict with the federal Voting Rights Act, which allows people with disabilities to choose who assists them in voting. As a result of the ruling, people with disabilities in North Carolina may now choose anyone they like to assist them with their absentee ballots, not only a close relative or legal guardian.
Economic and Housing Policy
This week the leaders of the NCGA established a Subcommittee on Hurricane Response and Recovery to investigate the response of the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency (known as ReBuild NC) to Hurricane Matthew. ReBuild NC’s slow response to the disaster has left many affected by the hurricane without adequate housing, as reported by NC Policy Watch. The committee’s first meeting has not yet been announced.
The new NC state budget includes over $3 million for crisis pregnancy centers, places that counsel pregnant people against abortion and often provide misleading information about abortion. These funds are allocated to 11 crisis pregnancy centers across the state. Though he signed the budget, Governor Cooper said he was concerned about such funding.
On Thursday NC Attorney General Josh Stein said he won’t move to enforce North Carolina’s 20-week abortion ban. The ban, passed by the NCGA decades ago, was previously not enforced due to a federal court injunction. Given the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the law was expected to go into effect, but Stein said he would not follow the procedure that would likely remove the injunction. Republicans in the state legislature accused Stein of disregarding his oath of office and pledged to do everything they could to make sure the law goes into effect.
The NC Supreme Court recently decided a pair of cases governing de facto life sentences for juveniles, ruling that juveniles sentenced to consecutive life sentences with parole must be given the real possibility of parole. The decisions in State v. Kelliher and State v. Conner, which set a 40-year cap on the time a juvenile can be required to serve before the possibility of parole, align with a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that mandatory life imprisonment for a juvenile is unconstitutional. Both cases were decided 4-3, with the 4 Democratic justices joining the majority opinion and the 3 Republican justices dissenting.