Neighbors on Call's Weekly Policy Update for 6/14/21


COVID-19


Voting Rights

  • The NC Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee moved forward three Republican-sponsored bills that would affect voting rights on Wednesday after significant debate. SB 326 would set a deadline for the receipt of mail-in ballots at 5:00 PM the day of any election but does not include a provision from an earlier version of the bill that would require absentee ballot requests to be submitted 7 days before an election. SB 725 would prohibit boards of elections from accepting donations for election administration from private organizations. SB 724 would improve online voting portal accessibility for visually impaired voters, create a program to provide photo IDs to prospective voters who otherwise lack them, and mandate the State Board of Elections to develop an online voter registration system. Though this last bill claims to improve voting access, Democrats and civil rights groups worried that inconsistent and confusing systems and processes introduced by the bill could actually disenfranchise many North Carolinians.



  • On Wednesday the NC House voted unanimously in favor of SB 722, which would require that municipal elections with one or more offices determined by districts be delayed from 2021 to 2022 to allow for redistricting. The bill would move City Council elections in Raleigh from October of this year to November of next, and it would also keep Raleigh’s elections on even-numbered years going forward. Other municipalities that need the census data to redraw their districts would hold their elections on March 8 (and subsequent dates, if necessary), at the same time as the statewide primary. The bill, which was amended in the House, has been sent back to the Senate for approval.


Education Policy

  • On Wednesday the NC House voted to delay the implementation of new K-12 social studies standards by one year as part of a COVID-19 relief bill, SB 654. Republicans have criticized the new standards for presenting U.S. history too negatively and backed the delay to the new curriculum in part because of this criticism. Many Democrats did not support the delay, with some saying that the change comes too close to the start of the next school year, and most voted against the bill, despite favoring other provisions in the bill.


Economic and Housing Policy

  • On Tuesday Republican legislative leaders released a statement about their plans for the 2021-2022 state budget. Though no budget agreement has yet been reached, the statement included an agreement to cap spending in the budget at $25.7 billion, $1.6 billion less than the budget proposed by Governor Cooper, as well as a plan to cut taxes. The plans did not include Medicaid expansion or a bond for school construction, both priorities of the Governor.




Environmental Policy


Health Care Policy



Women’s Rights and LGBTQ Rights



Criminal Justice

  • On Tuesday the NC Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would make malicious online impersonation a felony. HB 341 would allow felony charges for “anyone ‘knowingly and without consent’ impersonating someone else online for ’purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person.’" Though some lawmakers were concerned that an amendment added by Senator Warren Daniel (R-Burke) to classify "fictitious communications designed to elicit a response" as an "unfair and deceptive trade practice" might be overly broad, the bill passed the committee with “no audible dissent.”



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