Bill Summary for S 306 (2023-2024)
|View NCGA Bill Details||2023-2024 Session|
AN ACT AMENDING THE NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH A NONPARTISAN REDISTRICTING PROCESS; REENACTING LEGISLATION THAT ESTABLISHED A NONPARTISAN METHOD FOR JUDICIAL ELECTIONS; EXTENDING THE WAITING PERIOD FOR FORMER LEGISLATORS WHO BECOME LOBBYISTS; ELIMINATING THE REQUIREMENT FOR WET INK REGISTRATION; PROVIDING FOR ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THAT PURPOSE, AND AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION; INCREASING TRANSPARENCY BY REQUIRING ADEQUATE NOTICE OF MEETINGS OF ALL LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES AND SESSIONS OCCURRING IN THE LEGISLATIVE COMPLEX AND REQUIRING LIVE VIDEO AND AUDIO STREAMING OF ALL LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE AND COMMISSION MEETINGS AND SESSIONS OCCURRING IN THE LEGISLATIVE COMPLEX; ENSURING VOTING PLACES ON CERTAIN COLLEGE CAMPUSES; PROHIBITING VOTER ROLL PURGING; MAKING VARIOUS CHANGES TO THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS REGARDING TRANSPARENCY IN SOURCES OF SPENDING, DIGITAL ADVERTISEMENT CAMPAIGNS, PROTECTIONS AGAINST FOREIGN INTERFERENCE IN ELECTIONS, AND LIMITING SUPER PAC INFLUENCE; REESTABLISHING PUBLIC FINANCING FOR JUDICIAL CAMPAIGNS; AND RESTORING CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS OF CERTAIN OFFENDERS.Intro. by Marcus, Mohammed, Salvador.
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Includes whereas clauses.
Subject to approval by voters at the November 2024 statewide general election, amends the North Carolina Constitution as follows.
Adds new Section 25 to Article II requiring the NCGA to establish a nonpartisan process to revise electoral districts for the NCGA and the US House of Representatives after the return of every decennial census. Requires that under this process: (1) the NCGA will have no role in revising electoral districts for the NCGA or US House of Representatives; (2) each member of the NC Senate and NC House of Representatives and the US House of Representatives must represent, as nearly as may be, an equal number of inhabitants; (3) each electoral district must consist of contiguous territory; (4) to the extent practicable and consistent with federal law, no county can be divided in the formation of an electoral district for the NC Senate or NC House; (5) when established, the electoral districts for the NC Senate and NC House remain unaltered until the return of another decennial census; and (6) electoral districts adopted pursuant to the process have the force and effect of acts of the NCGA.
Makes conforming changes to Sections 3 and 5 of Article II. Makes a conforming change to Section 22(5) of Article II by removing redistricting bills from those exempt from the Governor’s veto.
Sets out the language to be included on the ballot.
Enacts new Article 26 to GS Chapter 163, Nomination and Election of Appellate, Superior, and District Court Judges, providing the following.
New GS 163-350 provides for the applicability of Article 26 to the nomination and election of justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, and superior and district court justices (hereafter, justices and judges).
New GS 163-351 provides for a nonpartisan primary election method for the nomination of justices and judges when there are more than two candidates for a single office or the number of candidates for a group of offices exceeds twice the number of positions to be filled when the filing period closes. Provides for the canvass of the primary and determination of nominations in the primary and election winners.
New GS 163-352 provides for the form for notice of candidacy, the withdrawal of candidacy, and the certification of the candidate as a registered voter. Requires justices and judges to file their notices of candidacy with the State Board of Elections (State Board) no earlier than noon on the first Monday in December and no later than noon on the third Friday in December preceding the election. Prohibits any person from filing a notice of candidacy for more than one office or group of offices governed by Article 26 or GS 163-106.2, including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, all State executive officers, superior and district court judges, US Congress members, and district attorneys. Requires designation of candidacy at the time of filing when there are two or more vacancies for the office of justice or judge; sets out requirements for seeing election for a specialized district judgeship. Requires a person filing notice of candidacy for superior court judge to be a resident, at the time of filing, of the district as it will exist at the time the person would take office; sets out the same requirement for the nomination of a person as a superior court judge.
New GS 163-353 establishes a filing fee of 1% of the annual salary of the office sought. Provides for fee refunds for the withdrawal of candidacy or upon death of the candidate, as specified.
New GS 163-354 provides for the filing of a written petition in lieu of payment of the filing fee, as specified.
New GS 163-355 provides for the certification of notices of candidacy by the State Board and subsequent notification of local boards of elections.
New GS 163-356 sets out the requirements for filling a vacancy occurring in a judicial district for superior court judge, which requires there to be an election for one or more terms in that district to fill the vacancy(ies), setting out special rules for nomination and election.
New GS 163-357 authorizes the State Board to extend the filing period for five days for any offices for which candidates have not filed that are to be filled under Article 26. Details the process to be followed when a candidate is disqualified or dies before the primary, a candidate is alive and fails to withdraw after close of filing, or a candidate dies, is qualified, or fails to qualify after the person is elected.
New GS 163-358 provides for elections to fill a vacancy in an office that is created after the primary filing period opens but more than 60 days before the general election. Provides that the State Board must designate a special filing period of one week for candidates for that office. Provides for a second primary election if two or more qualified candidates file and the vacancy occurs more than 63 days before the date of the second primary for members of the General Assembly, and a general election if two or more qualified candidates file and the vacancy occurs more than 64 days before the date of the second primary which must be held on the same day as the general election for members of the General Assembly.
New GS 163-359 permits any person who will become qualified by age or residence to register to vote in the general election for which the primary is held, even though not so qualified by the date of the primary, to register for the primary and general election prior to the primary and then to vote in the primary after being registered. Prohibits such persons from registering earlier than 60 days nor later than the last day for making application to register for primary elections pursuant to GS 163-82.6(d) prior to the primary.
New GS 163-360 sets the primary date for the same date as established for primary elections under GS 163-1(b), which provides for primaries to be on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in May preceding each general election to be held in November.
New GS 163-361 provides for the form of official ballots. Requires official ballots to be printed by the county board of elections, as specified. Provides requirements for the distribution of official ballots.
New GS 163-362 provides for counting ballots in primaries and elections to be in the same manner for nonpartisan municipal elections under Article 24 of GS Chapter 163.
New GS 163-363 establishes that the conduct of elections are governed by Article 12 of GS Chapter 163 (Precincts and Voting Places), except as provided by Article 26.
Makes conforming changes to GS 18C-112(e)(1), GS 163-1(b), GS 163-22.3, GS 163-82.10B, GS 163-106.2(a), GS 163-106.3, GS 163-106.5, GS 163-107(a), GS 163-107.1, GS 163-108, GS 163-111(c)(1), GS 163-114, and GS 163-165.5. Makes additional clarifying changes and makes language gender neutral.
Amends GS 163-122 to exempt elections under new Article 26 of GS Chapter 163 from the provisions for unaffiliated candidates nominated by petition. Amends GS 163-123 to exempt nonpartisan elections, except for elections under new Article 26 of GS Chapter 163, from the statute's provisions concerning declaration of intent and petitions for write-in candidates in partisan elections.
Effective January 1, 2024, and applies to primaries and elections held on or after that date.
Amends GS 120-304, extending the amount of time that a former legislator must wait before registering as a lobbyist to two years. Previously the waiting period was either the close of session or six months after leaving office, whichever was later. Extends the amount of time a public servant or former public servant must wait before registering as a lobbyist to two years after leaving office or end of employment (was, six months). Extends the amount of time an employee of any State agency must wait before registering to lobby the State agency that previously employed them to two years (was, six months). Effective October 1, 2023.
Amends GS 163-82.6 to allow an electronic signature on a voter registration application.
Enacts new GS 163-82.5A to require the SBOE to ensure that the following are available to the public on its website: (1) online application for voter registration, the content of which must be equivalent to the form provided by designated voter registration agencies; (2) online assistance to those applying to register to vote; (3) online completion and submission by applicants of the voter registration application, including the applicant's signature; and (4) online receipt of completed voter registration applications. Deems an application to be submitted to the election authority on the date it is received. Sets out requirements for an applicant's signature. Requires the website to generate an immediate electronic confirmation that the application has been received. Requires the SBOE to accept an online voter registration application and ensure that the individual is registered to vote in this State if: (1) the individual meets the same voter registration eligibility requirements applicable to individuals who register to vote by mail and (2) the individual provides a signature in the specified manner. Requires the SBOE to ensure that a registered voter may update their registration information online.
Makes conforming changes to account for the online registration in GS 163-82.3, GS 163-82.6, and GS 163-82.10.
Requires the SBOE to establish appropriate technological security measures to protect against unauthorized access to information and requires ensuring that online voter registration is provided in a way that is accessible to persons with disabilities.
Above provisions are effective December 1, 2023.
Appropriates $215,000 in recurring funds for each year of the 2023-25 biennium and $90,000 in nonrecurring funds for 2023-24 from the General Fund to the SBOE to implement online voter registration. Effective July 1, 2023.
Amends GS 163-82.3 and GS 163-82.6 authorizing county boards of elections to accept automatic voter registration.
Amends GS 163-82.19 to require, beginning January 1, 2024, the Division of Motor Vehicles, in consultation with the State Board of Elections, to develop and implement a method by which eligible individuals shall be automatically registered to vote. Requires DMV officials taking driver's license applications to affirmatively inquire whether the applicant wishes to register to vote or update their registration, note the applicant's response, and register the applicant to vote if the applicant wishes. The applicant must attest to the information provided for voter registration. Confidentiality of voter information must be maintained by the State Board of Elections.
The above provisions are effective January 1, 2024.
Amends GS 163-82.20 to require, beginning January 1, 2025, voter registration agencies (which include state offices that accept applications for public assistance or provide services for persons with disabilities or for unemployment benefits) to provide, in consultation with the State Board of Elections, an application process for automatic voter registration with each recertification, renewal, or change of address relating to the service or assistance of the agency. Specifies certain procedural requirements substantially similar to those provided for in GS 163-82.19, as amended. Requires electronic transmittal of applications to the appropriate board of elections. Provide that if an ineligible person registers to vote, the person is not eligible to vote but is not automatically subject to criminal penalties. Makes it a Class I felony to willfully and knowingly and with fraudulent intent give false information on the voter registration application.
Amends GS 163-82.20A to require informing a person when they are restored to citizenship and all required filings are complete of automatic voter registration. Effective January 1, 2024.
Amends GS 143-318.14A to specify that reasonable public notice (might intend to require adequate public notice, as defined below) of all commission, committee, and standing subcommittee meetings must be given to all General Assembly members; members of the commission, committee, or subcommittee; and to the Legislative Services Office (was, only that reasonable public notice must be given without specifying the recipient of the notice). Requires that the notice be posted on General Assembly’s website by the Legislative Services Office. Defines adequate public notice as written or electronic notice that is posted and mailed or e-mailed to those who requested notice at least 48 hours before the time of the meeting. Requires that the notice include the time, date, location, and to the extent known, the agenda of the meeting. Requires that the agenda for a noticed meeting be readily available for public inspection no less than 24 hours in advance of the time of the meeting and prohibits changing the agenda except for items of an emergency nature, after the notice has been made available to the public. Requires that commission, committee, or standing subcommittee members receive the text of all bills, proposed committee substitutes, and amendments that will be considered during the scheduled meeting no later than 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Prohibits considering or acting on a bill, proposed committee substitute, or amendment that has not been made available to the members as required.
Requires the Legislative Services Officer to ensure live audiovisual streaming of all floor proceedings and committee meetings held in the Legislative Complex, to include public participation and comment to the extent allowed by the technology, and access to the recorded live stream on a centralized website within 48 hours after all floor proceedings or committee meetings.
Amends the procedure for absentee voting under GS 163-231 to only require one witness instead of two. Makes conforming changes including removing the provision allowing one notary to act as a witness instead of the two witnesses. Makes conforming changes to GS 163-229. Amends GS 163-230.2 to allow a request form for an absentee ballot to be delivered to the county board of elections in person or by mail, email, or fax.
Amends GS 163-129 by adding that the county board of election’s ability to demand and use any school or other State, county, or municipal building, or any other building, which is supported or maintained with tax revenues, also includes ensuring the use of voting places on college campuses. Also requires the State Board of Elections to make reasonable efforts to provide means for other college campuses to be used as voting places.
Amends GS 163-82.14 to require before the county board of elections removes from its voter registration record any person the Department of Health and Human Services has listed as deceased, that the county board confirm that the complete date of birth of the deceased person and the last four digits of the Social Security number are identical to the person to be removed from the voter registration records. Sets out alternative record matching when the last four digits of the social security number are not available. Allows the county board of elections to remove a person from its list if the registrant fails to respond after no less than 60 days (previously, no time frame was specified) to a confirmation mailing and does not vote or appear to vote in an election beginning on the date of the notice and ending on the day after the date of the second general election for the US House of Representatives that occurs after the date of the notice. Adds to the requirements for the confirmation notice that if a voter has provided the county board of elections with an email address, to allow the use of an email that (1) provides the confirmation mailing has been sent, (2) contains information on how the registrant may confirm the registrant's current address online, and (3) contains information on how the voter may continue to be eligible to vote if the registrant has moved outside the county. Allows, if no email is provided, contacting the voter via phone. Prohibits a county board of elections from removing a registrant from its list of registered voters solely based on the county board receiving a return mailing as "undeliverable" without taking steps to confirm the registrant's current address by other means.
Amends GS 163-278.12 (special reporting of contributions and independent expenditures) and GS 163-278.12C (special reporting of electioneering communications) by adding the following. Requires that filers reporting donations of $1,000 or more under the aggregate (except for political committees that do not receive more than $6,400 or the amount set in GS 163-287.13, which sets out limitations on contributions, from any one person in an election) disclose the identity of the original source (as defined in the act) of the funds, the amounts of those donations, and any intermediaries who transferred the funds before they were contributed to the filer. Requires any person or entity making a donation of $1,000 or more, in the aggregate, in an election to a person or entity required to report donations under these requirements to inform that person or entity of the identity of the original sources of funds being transferred, the amounts of the persons' original funds being transferred, and the identity of any persons who previously transferred the original funds.
Amends GS 163-278.39 by adding the following requirement to those that must be met in order for any sponsor to sponsor an advertisement in the print media or on radio or television that constitutes an expenditure, independent expenditure, electioneering communication, or contribution that is required to be disclosed. Requires that an advertisement made by a sponsor other than a candidate, political party organization, an individual solely spending the individual's own personal funds received through wages, investment income, or bequests or a person solely spending money received through ordinary commercial transactions include the legend or include the specified statement naming the top three donors who helped pay for the message.
Amends GS 163-278.6 (applicable to Article 22A, Regulating Contributions and Expenditures in Political Campaigns) by defining the term digital communication as any communication, for a fee, placed or promoted on a public-facing website, web application, or digital application, including a social network, advertising network, or search engine. Amends the definition of electioneering communication to include a digital communication that meets all of the already specified criteria. Also amends the definition of advertisement in GS 163-278.38Z (applicable to Part 1A, Disclosure Requirements for Media Advertisements), to include messaging through digital communication that constitutes a contribution or expenditure.
Amends GS 163-278.39 by making the statute’s requirements for political advertisements applicable to the sponsorship of an advertisement through digital communication. Establishes size and content requirements for digital communication advertisements. Makes conforming changes.
Amends GS 163-278.39C to make the statute’s disclosure requirements applicable to the sponsor of an advertisement though digital communication.
Enacts new GS 163-278.39D requiring that digital communication covered by GS 163-278.39(a) (setting out the requirements to be met for any sponsor to sponsor an advertisement in the print media or on radio or television that constitutes an expenditure, independent expenditure, electioneering communication, or contribution required to be disclosed) to submit that digital communication to the State Board of Elections along with the disclosure information required under G.S. 163-278.39. That information is to be on the State Board of Elections website and is deemed public record. Sets out information that must be included on the website.
Effective September 1, 2023.
Amends GS 163-278.39 by adding that a foreign national expending funds for political advertising that addresses a specific issue to influence State or local government policy, a State or local government officer, or an election must include a statement in the advertisement (1) that identifies the foreign national and (2) disclosing that the foreign national sponsored the advertising.
Enacts GS 163-278.12B requiring a political committee that makes only independent expenditures to notify the Board of Elections of any: (1) contribution in excess of $1,000 received by the committee before an election but after the period covered by the last report due before that election and (2) any contribution or donation in excess of $1,000 made by the committee before an election but after the period covered by the last report due before that election. Sets out required timing of the notifications. Requires a person who receives such contribution or donation and transfers more than $1,000 of the funds to another person to disclose specified information on the contribution to that person when the transfer is made.
Recodifies GS 163-278.69 as GS 163-278.158.
Enacts new Article 22I of GS Chapter 163 providing as follows, effective when the act becomes law, with distributions from the Fund beginning in the 2022 election year. States the purpose of Article 22J. Establishes the North Carolina Public Campaign Fund (Fund) as an alternative source of campaign financing for candidates who demonstrate public support and voluntarily accept strict fundraising and spending limits. Provides that the Article is available to candidates for justice of the Supreme Court and judges of the Court of Appeals in elections held in 2024 and thereafter. The Fund is to finance the election campaigns of certified candidates for office and to pay administrative and enforcement costs of the State Board of Elections (Board).
The following are sources of money in the Fund: (1) designations made by taxpayers to the Public Campaign Fund, (2) Fund revenues distributed for an election that remain unspent or uncommitted at the time the recipient is no longer a certified candidate in the election, (3) money ordered returned to the Fund, (4) voluntary donations made directly to the Fund, and (5) money collected from the $60 surcharge on attorney membership fees (this provision is effective January 1, 2024, and applies to membership fees due for 202).
Requires individuals choosing to receive campaign funds from the Fund to file a declaration of intent to participate as a candidate for a stated office. Sets out requirements for the timing of the filing and for an affirmation that only one political committee will handle all contributions, expenditures, and obligations for the candidate and that the candidate will comply with the contribution and expenditure limits and other requirements. Requires participating candidates seeking certification to receive campaign funds from the Fund to first obtain qualifying contributions from at least 425 registered voters for Supreme Court candidates, or 400 registered voters for Court of Appeals candidates, in a sum not to exceed the specified amount of maximum qualifying contributions. Sets out the procedure under which the Board will certify candidates as meeting the necessary requirements.
Sets out the following restrictions on contributions and expenditures with respect to participating and certified candidates. (1) Beginning January 1 of the year before the election and before the filing of a declaration of intent, a candidate for office may accept in contributions up to $25,000 from sources and in amounts permitted by Article 22A and may expend up to $25,000 for any campaign purpose. Candidates exceeding these limits will be ineligible to file a declaration of intent or receive funds from the Fund. (2) From the filing of a declaration of intent through the end of the qualifying period, a candidate may accept only qualifying contributions, contributions under $10 from North Carolina voters, and personal and family contributions. The total contributions the candidate may accept during this period must not exceed the defined maximum qualifying contributions for that candidate. In addition to these contributions, the candidate may expend during this period only the remaining money raised under (1). With named exceptions, multiple contributions from the same contributor to the same candidate must not exceed $500. (3) After the qualifying period and through the date of the general election, the candidate must expend only the funds the candidate received from the Fund pursuant to GS 163-278.155(b)(4) (funds distributed in a contested general election in specified amounts for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals candidates) plus any funds remaining from the qualifying period. (4) During the qualifying period, the candidate may contribute up to $1,000 of that candidate's own money to the campaign. Allows accepting contributions of $1,000 from each member of that candidate's family (spouse, parent, child, brother, and sister). Allows treating up to $500 of a contribution from the candidate's family member as a qualifying contribution if it meets specified requirements. (5) Requires a candidate and the candidate's committee to limit the use of all revenues permitted by this subsection to expenditures for campaign-related purposes only. (6) Any contribution received by a participating or certified candidate that falls outside what is permitted must be returned to the donor as soon as practicable. Contributions intentionally made, solicited, or accepted in violation of this Article are subject to civil penalties. (7) Requires a candidate to return to the Fund any amount distributed for an election that is unspent and uncommitted at the date of the election, or at the time the individual ceases to be a certified candidate, whichever occurs first. Allows a decision to participate in the Fund to be revoked by the specified deadline.
Allows candidates in elections under GS 163-358 (appears to intend GS 163-357, as enacted, filling vacancies in office created after primary filing period opens) to participate in the Fund and sets out requirements for such candidates.
Requires distributions from the Fund to be made within five business days after a certified candidate's name is approved to appear on the ballot in a contested general election, but no earlier than five business days after the primary. Sets out the amounts to be distributed from the fund in contested general elections.
Sets out candidate reporting requirements.
Violations of the Article can result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation or three times the amount of any financial transaction involved in the violation, whichever is greater. Also, for good cause shown, may require candidates to return distributed amounts to the Fund.
Amends GS 84-34 by requiring active members of the North Carolina State Bar to pay a $60 surcharge for the Fund, with the option for the member to designate that the surcharge required be used in its entirety for the Judicial Voter Guide described in GS 163-278.158, as recodified. Effective January 1, 2024, and applies to membership fees due for 2024.
Enacts GS 105-159.3, directing the Department of Revenue to allocate $3 from the income taxes paid each year by each individual with an income tax liability of at least that amount to the Fund, subject to each taxpayer's individual approval. Provides for notice and opportunity for the taxpayer to elect this allocation, as well as instructions for individual income tax returns. Provides for requirements for the Department under the new statute, including consultation with the State Board and parameters regarding software packages used to prepare income tax returns. Effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2024.
Makes conforming changes to GS 163-278.5, GS 163-278.23, GS 163-278.99E, and SL 2013-381, Section 38.1(a).
Makes conforming repeals of SL 2013-360 Section 21.1(i), (j), and (l); and SL 2013-381, Section 38.1(l), (m), and (o).
Amends GS 13-1 by amending the triggers to the automatic restoration of the rights of citizenship to a person convicted of a crime, to now include: (1) the release from active punishment to a period of post-release supervision or parole of a person whose sentence was not suspended by the court (was, unconditional discharge of an inmate, probationer, or of a parolee by the State agency having jurisdiction over that person or of a defendant under a supervised sentence by the court); and (2) upon the suspension of an active sentence resulting in the imposition of an intermediate or community punishment. Makes conforming and clarifying changes to GS 13-2. Amends GS 163-82.14 concerning the State Board of Elections’ program to update the official lists of eligible voters, to require the State Board to report to the county board of elections specified information on an individual whose rights have been forfeited and not yet restored. Also requires the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections to notify the appropriate county board of elections of any conviction for which citizen rights have been forfeited and not yet restored. Provides that when a county receives one of these notices and the person’s name is removed from the voting records, if the person objects to the removal, then the notice the county board received is prima facie evidence for the preliminary hearing, not only that the person was convicted of a felony, but also that the registrant’s citizenship rights have not been restored.
Makes it unlawful to try to evade the reporting and disclosure requirements of Parts X through XIII of the act by structuring, or attempting to structure, any solicitation, contribution, donation, expenditure, disbursement, or other transaction, punishable by at least the amount contributed or undisclosed, but not to exceed double the amount contributed or undisclosed.
Includes a severability clause.
Provides that the act is effective on the date the act becomes law, unless otherwise provided.