State Senator Chuck Edwards writes about his opportunity to improve the state’s election laws.
In this biennium, I’m most proud to serve on the Senate Elections and Redistricting Committee. That has certainly put me at the forefront – and given me the ability to continue to make improvements to North Carolina’s election laws. While we know we have improvements to make, North Carolina has not been at the nucleus of national attention. This has been due to the General Assembly’s foresight and our continued emphasis on secure and accurate elections. I have had calls from concerned parties in other states asking about our model for absentee voting.
I’m also getting a lot of help from you and others that have had observations and great ideas. I’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks listening to those concerns and exploring the possibility of them every one.
At the top of the list is that we must clarify through a statute that the governor, the attorney general, nor the state board of elections has any authority to enter into any court settlement that would change election law as was attempted in the weeks before November’s general election.
Good news! We just won another victory in court defending our commonsense voter ID constitutional amendment that you approved in 2018.
After being ruled against by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Plaintiffs asked for an en banc hearing. That is where they were unhappy with the ruling by the three-judge panel. If they were granted their most recent request, they would have presented their case to all 15 appellate justices. That request was refused, which will allow us to move forward more expediently with the other trials. Those cases will most likely be heard this summer.
This is another step toward implementing voter ID, but the fight isn’t over yet. There are still legal challenges to overcome in state courts. The current momentum is shifting our way.
Another responsibility I have in this biennium is to co-chair the Joint Oversight Committee for unemployment insurance. I’ve been hard at work this week trying to avoid employers having to experience a steep increase in unemployment rates. The State’s Fund balance has dropped from about $4 billion last Spring to now $2.6 billion. Triggers are in place that would otherwise require employers’ base rates to be increased from 1.9% to 2.4%. Next week, I intend to introduce a bill that will keep the rates stable for now.
In an interesting twist, I learned this week that our federal government is now sequestering $6 million that they want back. The federal government has spent too much money. It turns out that there are federal triggers in place where if the national deficit reached certain levels, the federal government can come back and asked for money from the states to be returned to the feds. The federal government is implying that we should now ask recipients of unemployment to send back an additional $6 million. This is a very bizarre way of helping our citizens. To give us money through a stimulus package, then realize they spent too much, and now to ask for a part of it back. Only in government!
That’s it for this week. To follow me and to learn more about what’s happening in state government, visit my Facebook page at ChuckEdwardsNC. You can also now find me on Twitter at the handle @SenChuckEdwards. If you have observations, ideas, or suggestions, please call my Raleigh office or email me at email@example.com.