Editor's Note: This article was corrected to reflect the Supreme Court's action regarding the Voting Rights Act.
The newly passed Voter ID Bill stands to change the nature of Election Days across the state. Strict voter ID requirements, prohibition of provisional ballots, the elimination of same-day registration and a shortened early voting period mean North Carolinians will have to be more vigilant about the rules to cast their ballots. And that's not necessarily all--we could see changes at the local level, too.
Since Governor McCrory signed the Voter ID Bill into law on Monday, three civil rights groups have filed lawsuits. They challenge new requirements for state-issued IDs, elimination of same-day registration--and an early voting period that will be shortened by seven days. Critics of the bill say the latter in particular will cut off voting opportunities for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians—particularly minorities. About 64 percent of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender County citizens voted early in the 2012 election.
Wilmington and its nearby beach communities are enjoying record visitor spending. New Hanover County saw an eight percent increase in tourism dollars last year -- the second-biggest statewide gain after Currituck County. The Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau credits this hike to increased in-state visitors.
Carteret County’s public officials may be even more opposed to designating their beaches as critical habitat for endangered loggerhead turtles than Cape Fear-area leaders. Thursday night’s Morehead City public hearing on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule drew more than 100 citizens—compared to around 30 who attended Tuesday’s hearing in Charleston, and Wilmington’s 80 on Wednesday. Fish and Wildlife will now draft another version of the rule.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faced local opposition at last night’s public hearing on its proposed rule that would designate hundreds of miles of beaches along the North Carolina coast as critical habitat for endangered loggerhead turtles. Much of the same land doubles as a critical habitat for the wintering piping plover, a threatened shorebird. Fish and Wildlife faced similar contention in 2001 when this rule went into effect. But since then, they’ve seen a gradual recovery in the piping plover population.
More than 70 Cape Fear citizens spoke out about cement manufacturer Titan America’s requested extension on its proposed Castle Hayne plant at Monday night’s public hearing. The state Division of Air Quality, or DAQ, reports that so far, it has received about 800 additional written comments. However, the DAQ will only be able to consider public input addressing the technical aspects of the permit request.
More than 400 people attended a public hearing that the state’s Division of Air Quality, or DAQ, held at UNCW last night. About 70 spoke out about an air permit extension application from cement manufacturer Titan America. If granted, the permit would loosen emission standards for the company’s proposed Castle Hayne cement plant. While about 55 publicly urged the DAQ to deny the permit and 16 others spoke up in support of Titan, the one sentiment both camps share is dismay that zero elected officials attended the hearing.
Under a newly passed House bill, North Carolinians will see a price hike in movie tickets, live performances and museum admission. The “Tax Simplification and Reduction Act” cuts personal and corporate taxes and imposes a uniform tax rate, as well as a 4.75% privilege tax on many leisure pursuits--including non-profit events. And local representatives say they were given inadequate time to consider the bill before voting on it.