- Associated Press - Monday, June 25, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Latest on the North Carolina General Assembly debating and voting on a handful of proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution (all times local):

10:25 p.m.

The House has given initial approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would mandate registered North Carolina voters to show photo identification while casting an in-person ballot.

The chamber voted 74-44 on Monday night to submit the amendment in the form of a referendum in November. The proposal must be given another affirmative House vote Tuesday before it moves to the Senate.

The House debated for two hours, revisiting similar passionate discussion like five years ago, when the GOP-controlled legislature passed an election law that required photo ID. That law was struck down by a federal appeals court in 2016 as racially discriminatory.

GOP legislators contend voter fraud exists and putting the requirement in the constitution will build public confidence in elections. Democrats say the fraud problems are minuscule and that photo ID will disproportionately prevent black residents who lack ID from voting.


9:25 p.m.

The North Carolina General Assembly has put its first constitutional amendment on this fall’s ballot.

The legislature gave its final approval late Monday to a proposal that would add to the state constitution the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife. The Senate voted 41-6 for changes made earlier Monday by the House.

The amendment will be submitted to the voters to decide in an up-or-down decision in November.

Supporters of the idea say the amendment would ensure that traditions going back hundreds of years would be preserved. They say the General Assembly could place limits on such activities when they promote wildlife conservation and preserve fishing and hunting. Some opponents are worried that some current hunting restrictions could be challenged in court.


8:40 p.m.

A new method for filling vacancies for trial court and appellate court seats in North Carolina has cleared the state Senate in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment. Republicans say it will promote transparency and having highly-qualified lawyers on the bench.

The Senate voted 34-13 on Monday night for the new procedure. The House would have to go along as well in the final days of this year’s session before it could go to voters in a referendum in November.

Right now the governor appoints someone to fill a vacant seat on the bench. That person serves until the next election. The proposed amendment would create nonpartisan judicial merit commissions that would receive nominations for pending vacancies and evaluate them. The legislature would then recommend at least two nominees, from which the governor would have to choose for the appointment.


8:10 p.m.

An expanded crime victims’ amendment in North Carolina’s constitution is close to going on statewide ballots this fall now that versions have passed both the Senate and the House.

The Senate voted nearly unanimously Monday night for a bill that’s called “Marsy’s Law,” named after a crime victim from the 1980s. The House approved another version last year, and would have to back the Senate changes before the proposal qualifies for a referendum.

The crime amendment - if added the constitution - would guarantee victims the right to attend more court proceedings and provide them a legal avenue when rights aren’t getting met. The rights of crime victims also would apply in many more types of criminal matters.


7:40 p.m.

A proposed change to the North Carolina Constitution ensuring the right to hunt, fish and trap animals has now been approved by the House.

House members voted 92-23 Monday night for the proposal, a version of which already has passed the Senate. Supporters of the idea say it will preserve and protect long-standing traditions and heritage.

Some Democrats questioned why the amendment is needed and argued the language was too vague and could lead to litigation seeking to overturn limits on Sunday hunting.

The Senate would have to accept the alterations to the proposed amendment before it could come to voters statewide in November.


3:35 p.m.

North Carolina General Assembly committees have advanced proposed constitutional amendments addressing judicial vacancies, crime victims’ rights and the composition of the state elections board.

A Senate judiciary committee recommended Monday two pieces of legislation that if approved would go to voters in November. Another bill cleared the House rules committee.

The crime bill would guarantee victims the right to attend more court proceedings and provide them a legal avenue when rights aren’t getting met. The judicial bill would change how the governor fills court vacancies by giving a commission and the legislature input. And the elections board measure would shift appointments from the governor to the legislature.

These and other proposed amendments requiring photo identification to vote and the right to hunt and fish could get floor votes Monday night.

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