The Transylvania Times -

By Derek McKissock
The Transylvania Times 

Edwards Eyes Election Changes

 

March 27, 2017



Editor's Note: The Transylvania Time has recently published stories about the bills sponsored and co-sponsored by N.C. Sen. Chuck Edwards and N.C. Rep. Cody Henson during the current session of the General Assembly. The following story is about some of the other bills, as of Friday, Edwards has supported since those other stories ran. An update about Henson's activities will appear in an upcoming edition.

N.C. Sen. Chuck Edwards, a Republican who represents District 48, which includes Transylvania, Buncombe and Henderson counties, is a primary sponsor of a bill that would require all municipal elections be held in even-numbered years.

If approved, Senate Bill (SB) 206 would mean that all municipal elections beginning in 2022 would occur every two or three years thereafter.

Edwards said the UNC School of Government supports the bill, saying it would increase turnout by 20 percent or more.

Tracie Fisher, the Transylvania County Election Center director, said she sees "both pros and cons" with the bill.

"The largest pro, of course, is the money savings for the county and the municipalities," she said. "Anytime a municipal election coincides with a countywide election, the charges billed to the municipalities is substantially lower than if it was solely a municipal election. The county will see savings with the elimination of funding for an election all together.

"The main con that we envision is working through the logistics involved in merging the elections and the modified training for the officials working at the polling sites.

"The Election Center staff is dedicated to ensuring all elections in Transylvania County are conducted according to the law. Therefore, we will do whatever is necessary to continue giving the voters a professional and accurate voting experience."

The bill passed the Senate on first reading and is currently before the Select Committee on Elections.

Edwards is also a primary sponsor of SB 216, which, if approved, would simplify various local firefighters' relief fund board reporting requirements.

The bill passed the Senate on first reading and is currently before Appropriations on Pensions, Compensation and Benefits.

Edwards is the lone sponsor of SB 285, which, if approved, would make the city of Asheville amend its charter to create electoral districts governing the nomination and election of City Council members. The districts would be applied to the 2019 municipal elections. If the city doesn't create the districts, the proposed bill calls for their creation.

Edwards has said residents in South Asheville have complained about the control Democrats have over the council. The Ashville City Council currently has six Democrats and one unaffiliated member.

The bill passed the Senate on first reading and is currently before the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

Edwards is also a co-sponsor of the following:

•SB 137: If approved, state auto insurance surcharges imposed to subsidize the losses of the N.C. Motor Vehicle Reinsurance Facility would be clearly communicated to policyholders.

The bill passed the Senate on first reading and is currently before the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

•SB 145: If approved, "additional incentives" will be placed on local governments to comply with state laws related to immigration. UNC institutions would also be prohibited from becoming "sanctuary universities," and the Department of Public Safety would enter a "memorandum of agreement" with the Department of Homeland Security.

Municipalities that don't meet the law could face losing some tax money, while UNC institutions could lose flexibility on how they allocate their budgets.

The bill passed the Senate on first reading and is currently before the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

•SB 197: If approved, the bobcat would become the official state cat.

The bill passed the Senate on first reading and is currently before the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

•SB 252: If approved, the bill would reestablish the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program.

The bill passed the Senate on first reading and is currently before the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

•SB 325: If approved, the state would enact a two-year roughly $1 billion tax cut. The personal tax rate would fall from 5.49 percent to 5.35 beginning in 2018. The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly would go from $17,500 to $20,000. Head of household would go from $14,000 to $15,000, and single would go from $8,750 to $10,000.

The corporate tax rate would be cut by a quarter of a percent in 2018, from 3-percent to 2.75-percent; then again in 2019, taking it down to 2.5-percent.

The plan also increases the existing child tax credit and increases the amount of the mortgage interest and property tax deductions and eliminate the marriage penalty for itemizers.

The bill passed the Senate on first reading and is currently before the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

All bills do not become law until passed by the House and Senate, are ratified, and, if required, signed by the governor.

For more information about these bills and others, go to http://www.ncleg.net.

 
 

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