Republican leaders of the NCGA postponed a vote on a significant Republican-sponsored elections bill from last week to this week, amid protests over the bill. SB 749 would change the balance of power on county elections boards and the State Board of Elections, splitting them evenly along partisan lines instead of a 3-2 split in favor of the Governor’s party. Democrats and protestors of the bill have raised the alarm about the potential for this change to cause deadlock, thereby significantly limiting the availability of early voting sites across the state since county boards of elections are in charge of choosing early voting sites.
Republicans may not have enough votes to pass a budget that includes proposed gambling measures, according to a recent email from NC House Speaker Moore to fellow Republicans. Negotiations over the budget have continued, with much discussion over a plan to authorize four new casinos in the state and legalize video gambling terminals. Republicans have indicated that the gambling measures will only pass as part of a budget rather than in one or more separate bills, but if there are not 61 Republican votes for a budget that includes the measures, there may be consideration of a budget without the measures. Voting on the budget is expected to take place this week.
On Tuesday the House Alcoholic Beverage Control committee unanimously approved a bill that would change multiple alcohol regulations in the state. SB 527 would allow ABC stores to open on Sundays, lift the ban on happy hours, and allow restaurants to sell mixed drinks for take-out and delivery, among other changes. The bill must be approved by two more committees before receiving a full vote in the NC House.