Constitutional amendments setting limits for top legislative leaders, making the state Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed position, curbing the use of eminent domain, and on other topics have been filed. If passed by the legislature, an amendment goes to a vote of the people. STATUS: As of 6/23/13, the state House has passed three proposed constitutional amendments and the Senate has passed one. However, neither chamber has taken steps to pass the proposals sent over from the other.
The most recent amendment to the state constitution added a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Before that, an amendment made it unconstitutional for a convicted felon to serve as sheriff.
In order to pass, a constitutional amendment must garner 30 of 50 votes in the Senate, and 72 of 120 votes in the House. It then goes to a vote of the people. Republican leaders, who now control both chambers, have discussed a number of amendments, including limiting government's ability to take land from private citizens, for years. Several have already been filed this session.
Bills and Status:
Update 6/23/13: As of 6/23/13, the Senate has passed one constitutional amendment. Senate Bill 399 would allow criminal defendants to wave a jury trial in favor of a bench trial, in which a judge decides on guilt or innocence. The House has not yet taken up the measure.
Update 6/23/13: The House Government Committee has approved HB 274: Taxpayer Bill of Rights., which would limit the growth of government to a calculation of population growth and inflation. The measure is now pending in the House Finance Committee.
Update 6/23/13: The state House has passed three constitutional amendments, none which have gotten a hearing in the Senate. House Bill 311 would lead to the repeal of the literacy test in the state constitution, a Jim Crow era measure designed to exclude people from voting. House Bill 9 would place limits on the terms a single individual could serve as House Speaker or President Pro Tempore of the Senate. House Bill 8 would limit the government's ability to take private property through eminent domain proceedings.
Update 7/29/13: When the legislative session ended, only one proposed constitutional amendment had passed. The proposal would allow criminal defendants in Superior Court to wave their jury trials in certain circumstances. Such bench trials are common in others states, where judges can review both the law and the facts of a criminal case. Defendants in capital cases would not be able to wave this right. Voters will decide whether to add this provision to the state constitution in November of 2014.
Other amendments that have been filed include:
- SB 12: Appoint Superintendent of Public Instruction. This would make the head of North Carolina's school bureaucracy an appointed rather than statewide elected position.
- HB 6: NC Right to Work Secret Ballot Amendments. This would make North Carolina's union-weakening right to work law a part of the state constitution. It would also require a secret ballot for union elections and void any agreements between unions and local governments. House Bill 53 is very similar.
- HB 9: Speaker / Pro Temp Limits. This would limit how many terms top legislative leaders could serve.
- H 79: Annexation Amendment. This amendment would limit the ability of cities to bring land into the corporate limits. Such actions would be subject to a vote of those who live in the affected area.
- HB 246: Gun Rights. This amendment would bolster the gun rights guaranteed in the state constitution.
- HB 397: Expand District Judge Eligibility. This measure would allow certain non-lawyers, such as former sheriffs, to serve as district court judges. Currently, the state constitution requires all district and superior court judges to be lawyers.
- HB 274: Taxpayer Bill of Rights. This amendment would require a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly to exceed an annual expenditure limit set by the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The measure would limit the annual growth in government to a calculation that involves the prior year's spending, population growth and inflation.
No constitutional amendment other than HB 8 has been heard in committee yet.