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The Senate recently passed legislation to increase access to public and legal notices by providing local governments an option to make those notices free to view on their own websites instead of requiring citizens to purchase newspapers to view them. The increased efficiency of allowing city and county governments to post their own notices will save local tax dollars, and revenues generated from other posts will be used to help pay public school teachers more.

 

Last Friday, two out of three judges on a Superior Court panel decided to issue a temporary restraining order blocking Senate Bill 68, in spite of the legislature’s full compliance with the same three-judge panel’s earlier order and our override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.

Senate Bill 68 created a bipartisan ethics and elections enforcement board with eight appointments, all made by the governor, evenly split between the two major political parties in the state.

The three-judge panel had concerns with an earlier version of the law regarding the division of appointments between the legislature and the governor. Despite Gov. Cooper’s veto, SB 68 addressed those concerns by allowing him to make all appointments to the new board.

In an earlier order, the three-judge panel wrote, “this Court has no desire to ‘hang up its robes’ to assume a legislative role, and thus respectfully declines to assume that role.”

The two out of three judges’ decision to override the legislature’s constitutional authority to create a bipartisan elections and ethics enforcement board – even after we modified the board exactly as they required – is little different than the legislating from the bench they specifically promised they would not do. They have taken the first, disturbing step toward giving Roy Cooper total control of the board responsible for regulating his own ethics and campaign finance conduct, and we will continue to defend the law evenly dividing elections and ethics enforcement between both political parties.

 

Last week, the Senate passed legislation that I co-sponsored that will create penalties for local governments, law enforcement agencies and public universities that act as ‘sanctuary cities’ and ‘sanctuary universities’ by defying federal and state laws against illegal immigration.

In 2015, the General Assembly passed a law to prevent counties and cities from enacting ordinances that violate or ignore federal immigration laws. But since the law went into effect, several law enforcement officials have contacted legislators to blow the whistle that some local governments are not complying with the law. And in recent months, officials in the cities of Winston-Salem and Charlotte have made public statements casting doubt on their willingness to abide by the law. So Sen. Norman Sanderson filed legislation to:

 

I was successful in getting my first piece of legislation, S285 Equal Representation for Asheville passed in the Senate last week. This legislation involved many hours of research, then lively debate in our Elections Committee, in the Rules Committee, and on the Senate floor. The best and most brief news coverage regarding the matter may be read at the Asheville-Citizens Times. I will now have the honor to present the bill to the House Elections Committee.

 

HB13 addresses one of the most highly charged topics with which we have yet engaged this session, due largely to- imagine this- false information. While the General Assembly has funded the reduction of K-3 class sizes to the tune of about $100 million dollars over the past six years, the flexibility given to local school boards has not resulted in the desired lowered class sizes. The General Assembly responded in 2016 by requiring that specific reductions take place in the 2017-2018 school year. Many citizens falsely claimed that this was an unfunded mandate. Many school administrators falsely claimed they could not meet the requirements without hundreds of thousands of additional dollars.

The Senate Education Committee on which I sit, employed a very inquisitive approach to this problem and requested detailed spending information from each of the state’s 115 school boards.