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House | March 27, 2013 | Committee Room | Elections

Full MP3 Audio File

[Speaker changes.] Gavel...House Committee on Elections will please come to order. Members will take their seats. Chair would like to begin by extending his thanks to our pages who are here today: Deanna Austin???????, Drew Mag?????? and Bailey ???????? Thank you so much for being with us and, of course, our House Sargent-at-Arms Staff always does such a good job...John Brandon, Fred Hines and Billy Jones. Ladies and gentlemen, the first bill on the agenda today is House Bill 11. Chair is going to recognize Representative Warren to present that bill; however, there is a proposed Committee Substitute for that bill and the Chair has been assured by Staff that all of the changes in the proposed Committee Substitute are technical in nature but the Chair will certainly allow the Staff to explain ???????? But, Representative Warren, you have the floor and, upon motion from Representative Bert Jones, the proposed Committee Substitute is before us for discussion. Without objection, so ordered, you have the floor...Representative Warren. [Speaker changes.] Thank you, Mister Chairman. Afternoon ladies and gentlemen, thank you for giving me a few minutes to present this bill. This bill was filed last year and passed out of the House on a vote of 69 to 44 with five members not present and two not voting. It is the same bill that passed over to the Senate and languished over there. Hopefully we wanna get that through. What the bill does is...Special Election Bill requires that any special election or referendum will be held on the same time as any county or municipality general election. It does make exceptions for special elections related to public health or safety and recall elections. If you look at your bill summary, the second page under bill analysis...first couple paragraphs and the bullet points pretty much explain the bill. The rest of it is just conforming language. The reason I put the bill out there is to ensure that when an issue is put before the public to vote on, that it is put on at such a time that the majority of the public or the electorate is available to vote on it. To give you a quick example, over the last three years, we've have 43 special elections...the average voter turnout was 11.9%. Some of the typical special elections are a tax referendums. Another example is .... I will forego naming the counties...the county sales tax referendum where they're at 34,900 eligible voters...2300 decided the fate ... that was a 6.8% turnout. In another county tax referendum, 108,400 eligible voters...3800 decided...that was a 3.5% voter turnout. And I've got plenty more examples like that...actually much more....in fact, this one I like. There's 14,684 voters...349 made a decision. That was 2.3% voter turnout. When I passed the bill last year, we had the ?????????? municipalities and the Mayor's Coalition and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners took no position on the bill. The Chamber didn't take any position on the bill either. And this bill was filed on January 30th this year and no one has expressed any complaints to me about this bill so I put it before you and ask for your kind support. [Speaker changes.] Representative Avila, please state your purpose. [Speaker changes.] To offer a favorable motion when the time is appropriate. [Speaker changes.] Yes, ma'am...the Chair will come back. Representative Michaux, please state your purpose. [Speaker changes.] Just...thank you, Mister Chairman, just how does this effect any...for instance, if a member of Congress gets elected and dies within, say three months of his taking office, how does this effect that? [Speaker changes.] I'm gonna refer to...defer that question to Staff here please. [Speaker changes.] Ms. McGraw???????? [Speaker changes.] This bill only applies to county municipalities or other special districts that have authority so it's only local elections that would be statewide or non-congressional. [Speaker changes.] The gentleman... [Speaker changes.] It does not apply to statewide or congressional races. Is that what you're sayin? [Speaker changes.] That's correct. [Speaker changes.] Are there....

Gentleman will stand. Please state your purpose. [SPEAKER CHANGES] To ask a question and say in favor of the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The gentleman is recognized to ask a question and speak to the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’m in favor of the bill. The question is this. Could you set up, set a special election at the May 2014 Primary Election? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir, I believe you can. I’m going to ask staff to confirm that, but I believe we do have that on there on an even year? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Even year. The regular primary. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That’s correct. On page one, line 21. It’s general election or the same time as the primary in an even numbered year. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Could I say something else? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Gentleman to stand to speak on the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Rep. Warren mentioned some really low turnout races. I remember one that was set for I think it was a land transfer tax like the day before the Labor Day holiday. I remember another on that was the 5th of January in a blizzard. Of course, they didn’t know it was going to be a blizzard when they set the election. They sure knew no one would show up for the election. In other words, these weird dates are designed to manipulate the voters so that only the select few will make the decision. I think this is a great bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Rep. Ross, please state your purpose. [SPEAKER CHANGES] To ask a question of staff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The lady is recognized. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman. I haven’t gone through the whole bill, so it may be an obvious thing. I think it’s an important question. Can a municipality, that might be, just say they get elected on odd years in October. My city council they get elected on odd years in October, but they want to do a bond issue. They want to set it for the date of a county election. Which would be the November of an even year. They don’t want to wait two years. Can a municipality pick the county election date for their bond issue and then conversely could the county pick a municipality date for its issue? I’m asking that question because sometimes you don’t want to wait two years. Do you see what I mean? I just want to make sure, since there both going to be high turn out elections, that a municipality could pick the county date and the county could pick the municipality date if they’re on different cycles. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Referral? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. It does not just restrict them, to just being if it’s a city, within the city. If there’s another election occurring on that date, they would be able to. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is there further discussion? Debate? If not, Rep. Avila has moved for a favorable report for the proposed committee substitute for House Bill 11 unfavorable to the original bill. Is there further discussion or debate? Seeing none. Those who favor the motion will please signify by saying aye, those who are opposed will please signify by saying no. The opinion of the chair. The ayes have it. The motion carries. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Rep. Warren. At this time, the chair is going to yield the chair to… [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chair? Mr. Chairman? [SPEAKER CHANGES] If you will, just one minute. Rep (??). Rep. Warren? Rep. Warren?Would you hold on just one minute? Although, we’ve already given the bill a favorable report. Rep. Richardson wanted to pose one more inquiry. Yes, ma’am. You can state your… [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’m sorry. I pressed the button before the vote was taken. I didn’t know I was going to… My question is concerning page two under sections 69-251. Are you saying the voters can petition to have a special election even though you’re saying special election will be held on a particular date? Page 2, line 38, section… [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chair, I’m going to ask staff to clarify on that. The bill itself. I’m going to say, the bill itself, does allow for exceptions for any issue that’s public safety. I’m not sure that would fall under that category. I’ll refer to staff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Ms. Roll. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Section 6 actually deals with special taxes for rural fire protection districts. The current law allows that petition procedure. The only change would be that they would be that they would have to follow these special election…

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