submitted by Chase Foster, NCVCE
NCVCE's number one bill this session–HB-1517 "Voter-Owned Elections Pilot"—was tentatively approved in the House today! The bill passed 53-52, with Speaker Hackney breaking the tie. Though we were hoping for a more solid margin we're happy that the bill was successful in today's vote. On Wednesday, it was reported favorably out of House Appropriations 39-34.
There's a summary of the debate:
Reps. Glazier, Ross, Rapp, Martin, Underhill, and Coleman all did an excellent job explaining why this is such an important and needed program.
Rep. Ross spoke about the success of North Carolina's judicial program and why the Council of State is a logical place to expand campaign public financing because so much of the money raised in Council of State races comes from groups and individuals regulated by Council of State agencies.
Rep. Underhill focused on how the bill would improve education about the role and function of North Carolina's Council of State agencies through its voter guide provision and requirements for participating candidates to run mostly fundraising-free (after collecting "qualifying donations") community-based, grassroots campaigns.
And Rep. Coleman described how the "pay to play" system hurts the democratic process and why "Voter-Owned Elections" help less wealthy candidates, especially women and people of color who are often at a fundraising disadvantage in statewide races.
For more information read Chris Fitzsimon's take on the day's arguments.
Today (Saturday) HB-1517 will be heard in the House on third reading where we're also hopeful there will be a good outcome. Once passed by the House, HB-1517 will head to the Senate. The bill will be referred to the Senate Select Committee on Government and Election Reform which will meet next on Monday at 1pm.