Thursday, March 24, 2011

Legislators Debate Cell Phone Limits for Drivers

Members of the NC House are debating a bill that would increase restrictions on cell phone use for those behind the wheel. There is already a ban on young drivers from using cell phones and no one is allowed to text while driving. Some legislators, however, feel that current laws are insufficient and are pushing for further restrictions.

House Bill 31, which was introduced by Rep. Garland Pierce (D – Scotland), would make using a cell phone while driving illegal unless the driver is able to talk hands-free. (Using a wireless headset or a voice-activated phone would be permissible.)

Fines of $100 or more would be levied upon those who violate the law, but driver’s license points would not be imposed. Exceptions would be allowed for making emergency 911 calls and for law enforcement officers and rescue workers performing official duties.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Republicans Introduce Voter ID Legislation

In an effort to protect against possible voter fraud, North Carolina Republicans are pushing legislation that would require citizens to present valid photo identification before voting.

The legislation, which was recently filed in the North Carolina House by three Republicans, would require voters to present one of eight valid photo ID cards. Valid forms of identification would include a driver's license, U.S. passport, and a new voter ID card that would be issued for free by county election boards.

Supporters of the legislation contend that voter fraud is a serious concern and requiring voters to show photo ID would protect the democratic process. Opponents argue that fraud is not a serious problem and the requirement will discourage people from voting who may not have a photo ID.

As far as public opinion is concerned, a recent Elon University Poll found that 76 percent of North Carolina citizens support photo ID requirements for voting.

In 2010, Republicans campaigned on promises to implement photo ID requirements for voting, and that is exactly what they are trying to do. There will be plenty of debate on the subject, but the legislation is likely to pass the House and go to the Senate for consideration.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Republicans Unable to Override Perdue's Veto

Yesterday, North Carolina Republicans attempted to override Governor Perdue's veto of House Bill 2, which would have expressed a firm challenge to federal health care regulations. The Republican majority in the Senate had the votes to override the veto, but they were four votes short in the House.

House Republicans knew that it would be difficult to achieve the three-fifths majority required to override the veto. But given the importance of the issue, they thought that it was worth a try. When it was all said and done, all Republicans and one independent voted in favor of the override, while all Democrats voted against it.

Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R - Mecklenburg) released the following statement in response to the General Assembly's inability to override the veto:


This afternoon, we debated the VETO override for House Bill 2 (Protect Health Care Freedom Act). My House GOP colleagues knew we had an uphill battle, but we strongly believe that the Governor must not have the last word on our efforts to defend North Carolina from the overreach of the Federal Government.

Contrary to the contrived/official name, we believe the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" will NOT protect more patients and we are absolutely convinced that it will NOT be affordable. In fact, we strongly believe OBAMAcare will create another fiscal crisis for our Great State. It is a job killing bill that is opposed by pro-business (read: job creating) organizations across North Carolina and the United States.

To say that I am disappointed with the loss of the override vote is an understatement. However, I am proud of my GOP colleagues who fought the good fight. We may have lost this battle but the war continues. We must educate the citizens of North Carolina, and we need your help. I hope you will continue to join us in future battles to protect the future of North Carolina.

Good Night and God Bless, Thom T.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Governor Perdue Vetoes Challenge to Health Care Law

On Saturday, March 5, Governor Bev Perdue vetoed House Bill 2, which would have set forth a firm challenge to federal health care regulations.

If House Bill 2 were enacted into law, it would have exempted North Carolina citizens from the federal mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance. It also would have directed North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to join other states in lawsuits challenging the federal health care law.

In an attempt to explain her veto, Perdue called the legislation "unconstitutional" and "ill-conceived." She went on to say that the General Assembly should not enact laws that conflict with federal law.

The Republican majority in the General Assembly will more than likely attempt to override Perdue's veto. Republicans on the Senate side have a veto-proof majority, so they will have no trouble overriding the veto. Republicans on the House side, however, will need to pick up at least four Democratic votes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spending Cap Legislation Introduced in North Carolina House

Representative John Blust (R - Guilford) recently introduced a bill in the North Carolina House that would tie budget growth to inflation and population. The legislation (House Bill 188) is widely known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

Blust, a Republican, has pushed for this kind of legislation for the better part of 10 years. But because Blust has been in the legislative minority, he was not able to get the legislation through the Democrat-controlled legislature. Now that Republicans are in the majority, however, Blust will likely have more success in getting the legislation to pass.

TABOR would limit the growth of the state budget by tying allowable spending to changes in inflation and population. This is a good thing, because it will help to keep the state budget under control and force politicians to be more accountable with taxpayer dollars.

If the bill ends up passing the General Assembly, it will go before the voters as a constitutional amendment. If approved by the voters, the amendment would require a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly in order for lawmaker's to exceed the spending limits.

If TABOR ends up becoming law, it will help to stabilize the financial future of North Carolina.