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Power grab or good government?This week, we dive deep into the new proposal to change the State BOE

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

Longleaf Politics, June 19th, 2023

Ever since Gov. Roy Cooper took office, the General Assembly has been whittling away at his power. It’s a time-honored tradition in North Carolina politics, though an exhausting one.

This battle is back in a big way. Once again, the legislature is attempting to change the composition of the State Board of Elections — making the board evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and removing the governor’s office from the equation altogether.

There’s a strong argument to be made that this isn’t just a power grab, it’s actually good government. The bill is also well in line with how other states administer their elections.

But I argue that time for the General Assembly to drop the issue and move on to more important things for one simple reason. Find out why and dive deeper into the topic with our full analysis here:

Also new this week: On paper, 2023 has been a terrible year for Roy Cooper. Republicans now have a supermajority in the General Assembly, and Cooper just lost his first big veto override showdown.

But I argue that this year has arguably been the governor’s most successful yet. Republicans have already handed Cooper a victory on his biggest policy priority, and are on the verge of giving him his biggest political goal, as well.

Read more here:

Catch up quick

Catherine Truitt is running for re-election

The Republican state superintendent of public instruction posted a photo from a campaign fundraiser, adding that House Speaker Tim Moore is endorsing her. She automatically becomes the front-runner in the race, but don't be surprised if she faces a primary challenge from her right. Truitt has earned criticism from some conservatives for not being as active in taking on the education bureaucracy as they would like.

Sen. Jim Perry: Constitutional amendment needed to limit General Assembly sessions

The Lenoir County Republican tweeted out a message last week that North Carolina should approve a state constitutional amendment that would limit how long the General Assembly can be in session.

He's not wrong. The state legislature is set up to be a part-time body, though it has slowly morphed into a full-time commitment. I feel for people like Rep. Karl Gillespie who have to keep hauling themselves all the way to Raleigh for votes throughout the year. A shorter term would help the legislature focus on important issues and get things done more quickly.

No House consensus yet on medical marijuana

It was widely assumed that the medical marijuana bill would move quickly through the House after passing the Senate before the crossover deadline. But the "Compassionate Care Act" has made little progress since then. One House member tells me that while individual members have discussed it, the Republican caucus does not yet have a position on the bill.

Sports gambling is now law. Are casinos next?

As expected, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the sports gambling bill into law last week, touting (without evidence) the "good-paying jobs" and "economic opportunity" it will create. North Carolina's pro sports team will now presumably sprint to get their in-arena gambling operations set up by the first of the year, when the law goes into effect.

Now that that's done, some interest groups are apparently trying to head off any future expansion of gambling in North Carolina. The N.C. Family Policy Council sent out a news alert saying that the rumor is the General Assembly will now take a look at opening up state-sanctioned casinos across the state. I'm not sure how real this is, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Rachel Hunt releases deeply sad campaign video

State Sen. Rachel Hunt is making the abortion issue the centerpiece of her campaign for lieutenant governor. In a two-minute video released this week, Hunt laments the overturning of Roe v. Wade and says access to abortion is crucial to allowing women to live their dreams. I can't help but come away from watching it feeling deeply sad that so many young women today are taught to believe that they can't possibly succeed if they have a family.

Interestingly, her father, former Gov. Jim Hunt, made abortion a key part of his 1984 run for the U.S. Senate, claiming that Republicans would ban abortions in the case of rape and outlaw birth control. The elder Hunt lost that race, and neither of his predictions came to pass. The 86-year-old lion of North Carolina politics is featured heavily in the ad — and he makes an appearance himself at the end of the video.

Worth your time

  • The N.C. Rabbit Hole reports on a presentation from two N.C. State students who argue the North Carolina flag is bad and should be changed.

  • Steve Harrison at WFAE has a good look at how the city of Charlotte is antagonizing other local governments in the region by throwing its weight around on transportation issues.

  • Carolina Journal's David Larson proposed a simple standard for when institutions named for historical figures should be renamed, and when those names should stand.

  • WUNC's Colin Campbell has an interesting update on delays in the General Assembly's budget negotiations and how that might delay the implementation of Medicaid expansion.

1 good idea from another state

Tulsa's remote worker incentive program has been a big success

The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, launched a program in 2018 to lure remote workers — people who can essentially work from everywhere -- by offering a $10,000 incentive to anyone who committed to living there for a year. It's been a huge success, judging from a recent economic report.

Of the 2,200 or so people who have taken part, 90% have remained in Tulsa beyond their one-year commitment, and about three-quarters of them have been in Tulsa for the full five years. In one year, the sales tax revenue generated by these workers more than paid for the entire program. North Carolina's small towns may want to take note — and the General Assembly could consider helping out.


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