Partisan Judgeships Bill Goes to Governor; Senate Committee OKs Referendum To Cap Income Tax

Mar 8, 2017

The state House of Representatives gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would return local judgeship elections to partisan races. Meanwhile, a Senate committee advanced a bill to let voters decide this November whether to lower the constitutional cap on the state income tax to 5.5 percent.

HOUSE OKs PARTISAN JUDGE ELECTIONS

North Carolina General Assembly gave final approval to a Republican bill that would make elections for local court judgeships officially partisan races again.

The Associated Press reports that the House agreed to slight changes made by the Senate to the measure, which is similar to a state law approved quickly in December that restored partisan races for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who could issue his first veto on the measure. Cooper said Tuesday he has "real concerns about throwing judicial elections back to the partisan arena."

Cooper pushed for nonpartisan races for Superior Court while a state senator in the 1990s. But it appears Republicans could have the margins to override any veto based on House and Senate floor votes on the measure.

BILL PROPOSES REFERENDUM TO CAP INCOME TAX

North Carolina voters could be asked to decide this November if they want the state personal income tax capped at 5.5 percent. A bill approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee calls for a statewide referendum Nov. 6 on whether to adopt the change by amending the state Constitution.

The Constitution currently caps the income tax at 10 percent. Until 2013, the state had several personal income tax brackets, with a top rate of 7.75 percent. After tax cuts in recent years, the  tax is a flat 5.499 percent for 2017.

The change wouldn't affect the state business income tax. The bill now goes on to the Senate rules committee.

FANTASY SPORTS

Another bill introduced this week in the House would let the state regulate fantasy sports. House Bill 279 would require fantasy sports operations to register with the state and file annual reports. They'd also be subject to state audits.

RELATED LINKS

Text of Senate Bill 75, calling for an income tax cap,  at NCLeg.net

Text of House Bill 278, on Fantasy Sports Regulation, at NCLeg.net