I was asked to put together a “normal people” version of the proposed amendments voters in Stanly County will see on the ballot in November, along with my recommendation on each. I was originally going to make each of these their own article, but I figured it would get lost in the mix on social media if I did it that way. So, all the amendments are here on one page.

Do me a favor, ok? If you comment (either here or on social media) use the amendment number so I know what one you’re referring to. Mmm’kay? Thanks!

How many amendments are there?

There are six NC constitutional amendments coming up for you to vote on this November and one Sales Tax item for Stanly County.

Who wrote them?

All six amendments were written by the Republican controlled General Assembly. Therefore it won’t surprise you that the NC Republican Party is urging everyone to vote FOR all six amendments. The Stanly County sales tax issue is mentioned last at the bottom of this page, listed as Amendment 7 for my purposes, though that doesn’t reflect at all how it will appear on the ballot form for Stanly County Voters.

Is there any opposition to them?

Of course. Since Republicans wrote them, the Democratic party is urging people to vote against all six. Governor Cooper and the NAACP went so far as to challenge them and prevent them from ever even being on the ballot, but the NC Supreme Court denied their request.

What are the amendments?

I’m going to cover each one of them below, along with how they will be worded on the ballot, what they mean (in my own words) and a link to each one so you can read the full proposed amendment yourself.  Since I have the honor of this being my own site, I will put my personal opinions on each one below that information, so you know where I stand on each of them. I will keep my personal opinions clearly stated in the section that calls for it – so as not to confuse anyone with conjecture.

Amendment 1: Voter ID for in-person voting

What you will see on the ballot: “Constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person.”

Your options will be: For or Against

Description: To create a voter ID requirement for in-person voting. The legislature will draft the details IF the amendment passes.

Link to Official Bill: House Bill 1902

My Personal Thoughts:

I will be voting FOR this amendment. Whether I think voter fraud is an issue or not in our state (and I’m not sure there’s any evidence that it is) I can’t for the life of me see where this puts any sort of undue burden on any individual that would be voting. If you have a job, you have to have an ID by state law. If you’ve ever had a driver’s license, you have a valid ID. (Unless laws have changed an expired driver’s license is still considered a valid state ID even though some people don’t think it is.) Almost anything you do in life that requires being an active part of society (banking, working, lending, borrowing, driving, etc) requires an identification to do so.  If you aren’t an active part of society in any way that has ever required you to have an ID, then why bother voting? I would assume that means you don’t work, don’t own a gun, don’t drive, don’t bank, don’t pay a mortgage, don’t employ anyone, and generally have some way to live off-the-grid, so you probably don’t have any reason to care what’s going on anyway.

If for some reason you’ve come up with a way to argue against that, then I’ll go with the fact that an ID only costs $13. That’s about $1.75 a year.

If you’re homeless, over 70, or legally blind, you can get one for Free. Don’t argue – check the DMV website for yourself. Further, if you ONLY want the ID to vote, you can get a FREE voter ID – valid for voting only. So there’s really absolutely ZERO reason not to be able to get one. I literally don’t see where this harms a single person.

Addendum: The only thing I’m NOT a fan of is the legislature drafting the bill AFTER it gets approved. I dislike in-general being asked to support something I can’t read before I give you my support to do it.  If you want me to totally support it, then I’d expect you to be able to already have something drafted I can read to fully determine I can support it. After all, suppose they choose to only allow passports as valid ID? They’d never do that, but assume they did… now you’ve made ME a total idiot for supporting it because you went and made it overly complicated. We already have multiple forms of easily affordable/free ID cards, so why not clearly lay out which of those would be accepted and THEN ask for my support?  That’s just a pet-peeve of mine though…

Amendment 2: Set Income Tax Rate at 7%.

What you will see on the ballot: “Constitutional amendment to reduce the income tax rate in North Carolina to a maximum allowable rate of seven percent (7%).”

Your options will be: For or Against

Description: The current NC tax rate is capped at 10%, but our tax rate is currently only 5.499%. This would lower the cap to 7% instead of ten.

Link to Official Bill: Senate Bill 75

My Personal Thoughts:

I’m voting for this one too, but I could really go either way. I’ve read this bill, two or three times now, and can’t figure out why it’s a bad idea. So, me being me, I googled what the naysayers had to say about it. The arguments basically seem to say that this bill favors the top 1% of tax payers in NC- the wealthy. Well, if the wealthy already only pay 5.5% now, then putting a cap at 7% knowing full well it’s going to be 5.25% next year already, doesn’t seem to hurt ANYONE to me. If we’re capped at 10% now, but not utilizing it, that means the state really doesn’t need our money that badly. They’re only charging us half that already. So lowering the cap to a number that’s still higher than what we’re paying now, doesn’t exactly seem like a huge change to me that favors ANYONE.

Further, they argue that this is worse than the previously graduated-tax we had from 2001-2006, because this tax affects poor people worse than wealthy, and that any additional burden that state needs will need to come from either a sales tax hike or a property tax hike.. which they somehow think will affect poor people more than wealthy people.

Someone need to ‘splain sum’fin to me… cuz.. umm.. dis do no make sense to me.

If that’s the argument, the my rebuttal is:

  • If you’re saying you’d need to raise property taxes to offset future needs of the state – then I’m pretty sure wealthy people would wind up paying a LOT more than poor people. They not only own property, they might own two or three.
  • And not to put too simple a point on it – we can always raise it back if we need to. We can lower it, so we can raise it. We need the voter’s support to lower it, and you’d need the voter’s support to raise it back. Doesn’t sound like an insurmountable obstacle to me unless you just want to retain the right to raise people’s income tax without getting their OK on it.

Granted, maybe I’m being too simplistic in my views on this one, but that’s my opinion.

Amendment 3: Hunting Amendment

What you will see on the ballot: “Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.”

Your options will be: For or Against

Description: Protect hunting and fishing, and make hunting and fishing “a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.”

Link to Official Bill: Senate Bill 677

My Personal Thoughts:

I’ll vote FOR this amendment, but really I think it’s an attempt to draw more republicans to the polls this year because they want to gather support from the base. That’s really it. There are no current issues in North Carolina at all that challenge our right to hunt and fish. It’s almost baked into who we are.. you’re born in NC and they give you a birth certificate, social security card, and a hunting license…. I’m pretty sure it’s all done at the same office. (kidding there, kinda.)

When asked about the reasons behind this legislation the NRA and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation said this is needed because there have been challenges to hunting methods in other states, citing examples in Maine and Michigan. Twenty-one other states already have a similar constitutional provision, including all states contiguous to North Carolina. Basically half the country already has it, and it’s not going to hurt anything. That’s what I read into it.

So I’m going to vote for it because it’s not a harmful piece of legislation. I just can’t see anywhere where it will be beneficial in the immediate future either. As a hunter myself, and someone that teaches Hunter’s Education, I’d like to support anything I can to enshrine the right to hunt in NC for today’s youth and tomorrow’s as well.

Amendment 4: Filling Judicial Vacancies

What you will see on the ballot: “Constitutional amendment to change the process for filling judicial vacancies that occur between judicial elections from a process in which the Governor has sole appointment power to a process in which the people of the State nominate individuals to fill vacancies by way of a commission comprised of appointees made by the judicial, executive, and legislative branches charged with making recommendations to the legislature as to which nominees are deemed qualified; then the legislature will recommend at least two nominees to the Governor via legislative action not subject to gubernatorial veto; and the Governor will appoint judges from among these nominees.

Your options will be: For or Against

Description: This would give legislators major power in deciding who should fill judicial vacancies, limiting the power of the Governor.

Link to Official Bill: House Bill 3

My Personal Thoughts:

I’m going to give you a few links on this one to read through yourself:

I’m a Republican, and as of the time of writing this article, I’m pretty much officially a politician -whether I like the term or not. I find myself wondering if we’d be pushing for this legislation to go through if we currently had a republican governor or not…

Let’s break this one Barney-style, ok?

Is this going to affect how judges are appointed?

Not in general, no. It WILL affect how interim judges are appointed. Let’s say Judge Judy was supposed to retire in December of 2024, but decides for some reason to retire in September of 2022. The process we’re talking about changing is how the interim judge to fill that gap is appointed.

How do we do it now?

If an interim judge needs to be appointed, the Governor picks one from anyone qualified to hold the office. Sure, there’s more to it, but that’s basically it.

How would we do it differently if this passes?

The legislature would put together a panel of lawmakers who would select appointees. This panel is supposed to be based on merit of the individual, not the individual’s political affiliations or other criteria. (Yeah, I’ve never seen the politics be left out of politics, but ok, sure.) The panel then forwards their top two (at least two) candidates to the Governor and he has to appoint one of them.

I’ve read a lot of articles on this one trying to make up my mind. Every single living retired Supreme Court Justices (Rhoda B. Billings, James G. Exum, Henry E. Frye, I. Beverly Lake, Burley B. Mitchell, Jr. and Sarah E. Parker) have spoken out against this idea. They WERE judges and they say this gives too much power to the legislature.

Five former Governors (Jim Martin, Pat McCrory, Beverly Purdue, Mike Easley, and Jim Hunt) and our current governor have all spoken out against it.

That’s a lot of sway in my opinion. Literally almost every single person in a position to truly understand the ramifications, and who now longer have dogs in this fight, all say it’s a bad idea.

My first thought was that “well, maybe I don’t want the governor being able to just appoint who they want all willy nilly like that.” I read something that reminded me though – our governor (for better or worse) was elected by the ENTIRE state of North Carolina, just to make decisions of this nature. That’s why we elected him or her. They have the support of the majority of the state. The legislators who would be making these decisions if we let them, don’t have that kind of support. They represent their own little fiefdoms, their own little areas of interest, and could very well stack the deck in a way that doesn’t have the majority of the state’s votes behind their decisions.

So, as much as it might shock some of you, I’m not voting for this one. I think both ideas have consequences, but I think the current system we have, all other things being equal, is more representative of the state’s voter’s desires. We elected a governor to make these kinds of choices when and if they come up. We did NOT elect these judges to do that.

Feel free to comment below… I’m interested in your thoughts on this one.

Amendment 5 Bipartisan Elections and Ethics Board

What you will see on the ballot: “Constitutional amendment to establish an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement in the Constitution to administer ethics and elections law.

Your options will be: For or Against

Description: This would change the State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement from 9 members to 8 members, leaving four members from each party but removing the ninth seat that’s now reserved for an unaffiliated person. The amendment would also take away the governor’s power to choose members of the elections board, and give that power to the legislature.

Link to Official Bill: House Bill 4

My Personal Thoughts:

This one -whew – where to start. You mark my words – I’m liable to make some enemies from former-friends over this one, but I’m going to tell you how I honestly feel. I can sum it up in one phrase my mother used when I was a kid. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

If you remember when we had a Republican governor, we had a five member board with the majority being the party of the Governor (that’s my understanding of it anyway). We had a republican governor so we republicans were happy with a majority on the board.

As soon as Cooper was going to be the new democrat governor for sure, the GOP swiftly threw a hail-mary and changed that to an even numbered board. My personal thinking is because they already had a democrat for Governor, so they didn’t want to lose any power to a democratic elections board. I won’t say it doesn’t make sense, as long as YOU don’t pretend it’s not self-serving of one’s own interests…. because it is. For decades both the local and state boards had been chosen by the governor but all of the sudden this is a horrible idea and we have to evenly split the board to stop the democratic party from taking control of the board? Hogwash.

The CURRENT board is nine members; four republican, four democrat, and one independent. Governor Cooper sued and won to get it that way. Ok, fine. The proposal on the books is to take it back to an even number of eight members.

Once again I have to ask myself, as a voter, would we be having this discussion if we had a republican governor? Would we instead be taking it back to the 5-member board with the governor’s party holding sway? We probably would. And that’s the kind of crap that needs to stop. What’s good for us with a republican governor should be good for us with a democrat for governor. Cooper wont be governor forever and this constant nit-picking, power-grabbing crap takes away from the actual act of DOING something with their political careers – which is why we elected them in the first place.

Personally, I can’t think of a SINGLE instance where an even-numbered board of ANYTHING is a good idea. Never. Not only never, but never ever. Tie votes. Grid Lock. Permanent inaction. That’s what we’d be left with.

I loved how someone, and I can’t remember whom, said that having an even numbered board would force one side to convince someone from the other to their way of thinking -therefore generating bi-partisanship. Yeah, because that works so well for us most of the time, right? We’re SO non-partisan all the time – especially while wrangling to insure that the bi-partisanship is only valid while someone from the other side might be holding sway. Again, hogwash!

Just like with the other election-related vote, the same five former governors and six supreme court justices came out against this proposed legislation. Well, we elected them and we respected their decision for quite a while and every single one of them says this is a bad idea. I’m inclined to agree.

I went outside my own thinking and did some web research of the prevalence of even-numbered boards. Every single source I found from the Harvard Business Review to Forbes Magazine pointed back to odd-numbered boards. The sheer number of FAQ’s on Robert’s Rules of Order relating to tie-votes and the obstacles therein is mind-numbing.

Regardless of whom is in office, our election boards should be odd numbered to prevent deadlocking on election issues. Deadlocking the elections boards could have disastrous affects in NC, as some counties have seen in recent history while we had to wait for a ninth member to be elected. Nothing got done for months, and when the issue was handled, the sheer backlog took a very long time to recover from.

I’m voting NO on this one. You should vote your conscience.

Amendment 6 Protect Victims of Crimes

What you will see on the ballot: “Constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for victims of crime; to establish certain absolute basic rights for victims; and to ensure the enforcement of these rights.

Your options will be: For or Against

Description: This would add additional rights for victims of felony crimes.

Link to Official Bill: House Bill 551

My Personal Thoughts:

I’m voting FOR this one. It’s nickname is Marsy’s law, and let me quickly tell you why. In 1983 Marsy Nicholas was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. A week later, Marsy’s parents were walking through grocery store and ran smack into…. the accused murderer. There was no system in place to let victim’s know, or have access to information related to the accused.

If you fast-forward to 2018, things have thankfully come a long way since 1983. Victims and their families do have rights today for many types of crimes; major felonies, domestic violence charges, certain other serious crimes as deeded by the state.

This amendment would simply add one more layer of protection. It would extend the law to include ANY crimes against the person. (Rape, robbery, assault, and basically anything any person can be convicted of doing “to” another person come to mind in my own mind here, but I could be mistaken as to the scope.)

The amendment doesn’t guarantee to notify every victim of every crime it covers, but it does agree to do so upon request of the victim. So my advice is – if you’re the victim of a crime of that sort, simply ask the court to notify you of any change in the defendant’s status. There’s probably a form involved somewhere, but I’d think the process would be fairly self-explanatory once invoked.

The issue that people are clamoring about, and this might be true but I can’t fact-check it easily at the moment – is that the cost of implementing this law effectively would be somewhere between 11 million to 30 million per year in additional funding the justice system would need. One demcratic lawmaker, Representative Pricey Harrison, is against it for this reason. Pricey said in a quote to WFMY News “We don’t have funding to pay for the current requirements and DA offices all have victims services offices, or most of them do, but we haven’t been able to adequately fund them so what we’re doing with this constitution amendment is we’re adding in some cases duplicative rights or regurgitated rights, but we’re not providing the funding needed to get the victims counseling that they need or transportation that they need to get to the hearings.” 

That may very well be true, but if we’re already providing most of this information to victims on a “doing the best we can with what we’ve got” mentality, then I don’t think adding one more additional layer is going to be such a huge strain. But… we’d better be ready to  pony up the money sometime in the future because as much as I support the issue from simply a humanitarian place in my heart – I also realize that increasing government work means increasing expenditures and it WILL cost and someone WILL have to foot the bill for it.

Normally, I’d not readily support adding additional strain to a system that isn’t properly funded anyway, but this is one of those situations we’re already coping with – so we can cope on a little longer while we figure out where to get the money. At least the law is already on the books and people are trying the best they can to help victims. I do appreciate that and I’ll be voting for this amendment in November.

Amendment 7: Stanly County Sales Tax Increase

What you will see on the ballot: I don’t have the actual ballot text available at the moment, but it’s the same sales-tax referendum we’ve had fail four times in the past. It’ll be obvious! (and I’ll edit this when I get the actual wording.)

Your options will be: For or Against

Description: A 0.25% sales tax increase on goods and services in sold in Stanly County, proceeds to go towards the school system.

Link to Official Bill: See info below

My Personal Thoughts:

There are quite a few articles related to this topic I think you might find interesting. First, they’re informative and give you the opinions of those you’ve elected to you know where they stand on the issue. Second, it will save me the time of retyping what a lot of other people already said… so take five minutes out of your day and read some of them. The information is important.

In February 2018, Stanly County Schools elected Jeff James as the new superintendent. Now, regardless of what I might think of his decisions long term, he started off with something I can truly appreciate – a dedicated plan for what he wanted to do, how he wanted to do it, what it was going to cost, and why it needs to be done. That seems to be his approach from what I’ve read so far. Put all the information out there and let the people decide based on the facts. I can respect that. I might not even always agree with the ideas, but I very much like that I can see a PLAN rather than just “hey, give us some money, we’ll put it to good use, I promise.”

That’s been tried in Stanly County four times in the past and it’s failed four times in a row.

I sincerely hope this time it passes. I’ve voted for it in the past and I’m going to vote for it again this year.

Rubber meeting the road:

As much as I’d like to see every dollar go into things that make me feel good like new backpacks, better lunches, new books, non-wobbly desks, nicer projectors, graphic calculators for everyone, and a million other items my mind thinks are cornerstones of a child’s education – the truth is our school system has laid out a pretty danged convincing argument for exactly how and why they want to spend the money for this year, next year, and the foreseeable future. You can’t ask for more than that. What other government agency has been that upfront and transparent in recent history? I can’t think of one.

The immediate need appears to be making our schools safe. Personally, I don’t think Stanly County is a rife target for the next school shooting, but I bet every parent at every school that DID have one probably thought that at some point, so I’m choosing to accept the facts as they’re given to me. The statistics and people that study this put us in the top 10% to be likely to be affected. The plans the SCS has laid out address how they plan to meet that threat, right on down to what order they’ll do it, what school will get what, when they’ll get it, and how long it will take. They want to start with elementary schools. That makes sense to me. When that’s completed, the upgrades begin at middle and high schools. Ok, that sounds smart to me.

After that threat is met and handled, the next immediate needs are  technology upgrades, roof repairs, repainting, repairs to heating and air conditioning systems. They’re saying about four years of the anticipated revenue should cover those costs.

It’s just too cheap to NOT do it

If we raise property taxes, only people who own property are going to absorb the burden. Raising property taxes by one penny on every dollar would gain the schools an extra $450,000 a year. If we instead use the sales and use tax, we don’t increase property taxes one red penny (literally, actually) and we could raise about 1.5 million a year.

Sure, I’d pay an extra one dollar out of every four hundred dollars I spend on certain things. Ok. I’m fine with that. I literally can’t think of how I’d even bother to try to save one dollar out of every four hundred. I’ve probably spend more than that on the energy used to power this computer while I wrote this article…

No, not everything is going to be subject to the tax. Groceries, for example, aren’t part of the tax, but prepared foods are, so that Five dollar foot-long at Subway would cost me $5.35 cents instead of $5.34 cents (that’s the literal exact difference.)

If I spent $400 at a store, it would now cost me a whopping $401 instead. I’ll gladly pay that all day long it if improves the educational experience of today’s children.

And no, it’s not a self-serving thing because I think my child deserves better. My daughter is grown and out of school and my son goes to Gray Stone. My family literally gets nothing out of this, and no one’s family gets enough out of it to be doing it for selfish reasons.

One of the reasons I REALLY think this is a great solution to helping fund our schools is because Stanly County is growing. Every person that travels through here on business or pleasure is spending money here and much of that money will be taxed for the school system just like it is for us locals. The more Stanly grows, the more that number will go up in the future. When we bring more businesses to Stanly, that 1.5 million becomes 1.55, then 1.6, then 1.8 million.

There’s just no good reason I can’t see for ANYONE not to support this sales tax increase!

And I know this can be a contentious topic, and I welcome your thoughts and comments below. Just please remember to be respectful of others in your comments and keep the conversation civil, ok?

I hope you’ll vote for it, and if you’re on the fence about it, I hope you’ll comment and ask questions and get the answers you need to make an informed decision on this and all the other ballot items in November!


  • Posted October 11, 2018

    Brenda Outlaw

    Thank you so much. I know you spent a lot of time working on this, probably to the detriment of some more important work you had to do. I thoroughly understand every amendment proposed and now feel I can cast a vote based on my knowledge of the amendment.

  • Posted October 16, 2018

    Richard Russell

    Thanks Tommy

  • Posted October 18, 2018

    Cathy Furr

    Thank you very much. Great info and much needed.

  • Posted October 19, 2018


    I understand your logic but CONSTITUTIONAL amendments are scary. Re prohibition

  • Posted November 1, 2018

    Kevin Tremblay

    Thank you, Tommy. I knew I could visit here and get the grit on these. You mentioned not having the official ballot text yet on Amendment 7 Stanly County Local Sales and Use Tax. From the sample I picked up at early voting:

    “Local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (0.25%) in addition to all other State and local sales and use taxes. ”

    “For or Against”

  • Posted November 3, 2018


    Please correct the title of Amendment 6 on your list to reflect the correct subject matter, i.e., “Protect Victims of Crimes.” It currently carries the same title as Amendment 5 “Bipartisan Elections and Ethics Board”.
    Thank you. Otherwise, great job!

    • Posted November 4, 2018


      Thanks so much for catching that. I was using cut and paste to apply formatting and forgot to re-title the section when I started writing it. I appreciate the proofread!

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