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Voting law heads back to court

Voting law heads back to court

The fight over North Carolina’s 2013 voting law heads to a Winston-Salem courtroom Monday.

Organizers of lawsuits against the voter identification measures are asking U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder to delay implementing the law until after the November midterm elections.

Challengers to the law include the U.S. Justice Department and the NAACP.

They argue that black voters are more likely to use early voting and same-day registration and were more likely to have cast ballots in the wrong precinct, both practices prohibited under the new law.

Opponents say the new elections law harkens back to a time when North Carolina legislators used poll taxes and literacy tests to disenfranchise black voters.

State attorneys argue that North Carolina legislators have the authority to draft legislation regulating the time, place and manner in which elections are held.

The law, signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls starting in 2016. It also shortens early voting from 17 to 10 days and eliminates counting provisional ballots by people who voted in the wrong precinct. Winston-Salem Journal

Kumbaya committee room

N.C. House and Senate budget negotiators appeared to surprise even themselves during a meeting last week.

Negotiators met in a rare public meeting in front of a standing room crowd in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building.

After days of trading insults over the budget, the two sides moved closer together, especially on the contentious issue of Medicaid, and neared wrapping up the budget.

“We need to have all committee meetings in this room,” said Sen. Louis Pate, a Wayne County Republican. “It’s magic.” Jim Morrill

Stepping into the film debate

Gov. Pat McCrory didn’t take film executives up on their invitation to visit a studio during a trip to Wilmington last week. But he did meet with about two dozen pro-film demonstrators outside a TV studio.

Advocates say if lawmakers don’t continue the state’s current film tax credits, the industry could leave, along with thousands of jobs.

After an interview with WECT, McCrory walked over to a group of demonstrators who showed up trying to get his attention.

One of the demonstrators asked McCrory about a comment made in Wilmington last month by Charlotte’s John Lassiter, the head of the state’s economic development board.

Lassiter told a luncheon group that he believes a grant program will work, if it is paired with other draws such as sales tax credits. Lassiter also said the state of New Mexico has a strong grant program with a cap on it and “we know that has worked.”

Asked whether Lassiter was indicating McCrory’s approval for a New Mexico-style program in North Carolina, the governor responded: “I’m trying to get a bill passed. It’s going to take some compromise and reform, but I’m trying to keep the film subsidies that are most important to the long-term film studios in North Carolina, including here in Wilmington. So that’s my goal.”

Members of the group seemed satisfied that they had McCrory’s attention and were able to relay their concerns and questions.

“It was a little bit of political speak, but that’s par for the course, so we’ll see,” said Robbie Beck, who is a prop master for “Under the Dome,” the CBS television series shooting in Wilmington. Wilmington Star-News

History credits could be history

Republican Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews, along with other current GOP lawmakers, co-sponsored 1997 legislation that created the state’s historic preservation tax credit program. That’s the same program today’s Republicans are considering allowing to expire at the end of the year.

For the past two sessions, Rucho has railed against tax credits and incentives in favor of lower tax rates for all businesses. He now supports allowing the historic preservation program to sunset and said last week he believes that will happen.

Rucho said repealing tax credits and exemptions is part of the change in the way the state does business. The state, he said, couldn’t continue down the path of the past couple of decades, during which it has seen a decline in personal income and increases in poverty, and, until recently, unemployment.

“We made a decision to move in another direction, and it’s proven to be valuable as far as economic growth and job production,” Rucho said. “We knew what didn’t work.” The Insider