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Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Bipartisan State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement

House Bill 913 gives voters the opportunity to change the North Carolina Constitution so that the Legislature has more control of State Boards and Commissions

There are several proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that will appear on the November 2018 ballot.

The House Bill 913 ballot will read as follows:

[  ] FOR [  ] AGAINST

Constitutional amendment to establish a bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections to administer ethics and election laws, to clarify the appointment authority of the Legislative and the Judicial Branches, and to prohibit legislators from serving on boards and commissions exercising executive or judicial authority.

This amendment adds the following language to Section 6 of Article I of the North Carolina Constitution:

(2) The legislative powers of the State government shall control the powers, duties, responsibilities, appointments, and terms of office of any board or commission prescribed by general law. The executive powers of the State government shall be used to faithfully execute the general laws prescribing the board or commission.”

As is true of the proposed Voter ID amendment, the backstory is instructive. The power struggle between the Legislature and the Governor over the Board of Elections is well documented in both the local and national media. The fight descended into protracted litigation, which the Legislature lost.

The first sentence appears to shift control of state boards and commissions (there are apparently about 400 of them) from the Governor to the Legislature. The second sentence seems to place the Governor in the position of having to oversee the boards in the manner that Legislature sees fit. It is questionable whether this would be workable, at best, or an invitation to ongoing disputes over the operation of hundreds of boards, at worst.

Changing the election board from the current nine member board to eight members makes tie votes more likely.

Five former North Carolina governors are opposing this amendment, and held a press conference to explain the bases for their opposition.

The full text of Senate Bill 814 and the North Carolina Constitution are available on the Legislature’s website.

Six Constitutional Amendments will be on the ballot in November. They are:

1. Right to Hunt, Fish, and Harvest Wildlife (Senate Bill 677)

2. Selection of Judicial Vacancies (Senate Bill 814)

3. Bipartisan State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement (House Bill 913)

4. Rights of Victims of Crime (House Bill 551)

5. Seven Percent Cap on Income Tax Rate (Senate Bill 75)

6. Voter ID (House Bill 1092)

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