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Senate | May 27, 2015 | Committee Room | Senate Redistricting

Full MP3 Audio File

[xx] committee comes to order. Isn't it great to be back? Indeed is almost felt like we never left. Today Sergeant at Arms [xx] and Jim Hamilton, thanks very much for your help, appreciate it and it's so late we don't even have pages here today so, that being said we'll move forward to discuss House Bill 222, Senator Hays would you come forward and, Senator Hays makes a motion that we accept a PCS for discussion on House Bill 222. All in favor please say aye! Aye! Oppose no, ayes have it, I want to hear a strong ayes you hear me? I don't want weak ayes!, is that right Senator McKissick thank you there you go. Alright. Senator Hays would you give your introduction and then we you have staff help you if need be in explaining what House Bill 222 PCS does for us Thank you Ms. Chair, members of the committee, quite simply what this would do and I think we've all struggled for a while with judicial elections, and as they move down the ballot the retention raise the drop off for voters participating in those what we're doing in this bill is moving the North Carolina Supreme Court effective in the 2016 election, who retain [xx] elections within this State, would allow justice to declare if they were going to seek the seat again, the voters would have the option of voting up or down for whether to retain an individual for a seat that they have previously been elected to and then if they were voted down, it would allow for the appointment of that seat and an election to occur two years subsequent, so Staff willing to help with any questions anybody has, or I'll do what I can on the same motion. Ms. Churchill would you want to enlighten us any further on this? We'll just add a couple of points. The first, this is optional for the Supreme Court Justice who has won a contested election, they would have to make that option by the first business day in July of the year preceding the end of their term, they could withdraw their selection to sit for retentional election before December 15th of that year if they did not withdraw the retentional action would move forward, it would be held at the same time as the general election in the even number of the year Okay, members of the committee do we have any questions? Senator Smith Is that ready that looks like if the Supreme Court Justice did file this retention then if else wanted to run for that office they could not is that correct? That would be contingent upon whether or not the justice was retained, so if the justice that was running was not retained a seat would then be opened for, I was not retained and that seat would be opened for election. Senator Hayes. follow-up Mr. Chair. Hold on one second, Ms. Churchill has a little different response. I believe the Senator Smith is asking about the initial what would happen if the sitting already elected justice opted for retentional election and whether or not that would preclude a contested election for that same seat and the answer is yes, it would preclude a contested election for that same seat, that seat would only up for retention for or against election, if the voters chose for, the Justice would continue to serve. If the voters chose against retention, that justice would be no longer sitting and the vacancy would be filled in accordance with wall[sp?] the governor would make the appointment and that individual would serve until the next election of General Assembly members. Follow up. Follow up Mr. Chair yes ma'am. It just seems to me that this is kind of taking away our right to the voters to elect someone, for someone else to be able to run for office. If we're having supreme court justice elected then we ought to be able to allow people to run whenever they want to, I just don't understand the reasoning for this the reality is going to be that I would think any supreme court justice once they're elected is going to continue to want to be, want to use that with this retention thing and we're basically electing someone for life or until they reach age 72. A question on that mean if the the election would be a yes or no vote, I'm I correct?

Yes or for. It would be a yes then it mean that individual can be rejected and not be to go forward is, it isn't going to be in perpetuity? Follow up again please? You have a follow up I just feel like this would be very confusing for the voters, and I think it's very unlikely because they're going to look at it like this is just one person on the ballot. It's is like no one's running against him. I doubt that anybody will actually be turned down, so we're essentially taking away the elector right, for the voters and making it where people can just stay forever. Senator Hays Yes, just to comment on that I would not underestimate the voters of the State of North Carolina, and if the justice is setting there the day and the intent to wish not to continue to serve, I put full trust in the ability of those voters to vote no, and remove that individual from office Okay. And your questions, right Senator Apadoca Senator Hays, memory serves me did we not receive a recommendation for this process from [xx] Chief justice on both sides of the aisle We have, and not only the recommendation but those justice have [xx] the retention election does serve the constitutional purposes of meeting an election for those judges, in this process okay, [xx] Senator Ingram Thank you Mr. Chair, clarification what what is the age at which a justice can no longer serve? Is it 72? I believe by our constitution is 72 but I'll have [xx] Yes, follow up, yes it is that 72 follow up If we were to enact this to occur for 2016 that will mean that our oldest justice will be born 1949 so he would be right now in 2015 he would be 66 plus that will put him at 74 years old he would be ineligible to serve, so is there any discussion can somebody clarify that Yes we can have a clarification here He is eligible to, you need justice to be held be able to serve until they reach 72 at that point if I can see what occurs in the alphas and would move forward just as right now I just as may [xx] for an election will extend past that they are allowed to serve until and allowed to be servant until the point they turn 72 Ms. Churchill any additional facts on that? No, Okay basically I think chief Justice Parker didn't fill out her term because she has to finish up the 72 so she run an election knowing that she could not do it but she held it up until the point of retirement, Okay, so it's not something that hasn't been done. Any additional question? I'm sorry Senator McKissisck Couple of question in terms of this PCS how does it differ from the House where we mend this bill I see we talked about the supreme court but it's looks it is also feel law would apply to judges in our court appeals as well when this came over to us from the House it apply only to the supreme court and it's also have the judges and if that's not the change then what were the changes from the house version of the bill? Ms. Churchill. Senator McKissick when the bill was passed by the house, the bill applied to both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal so the PCS applies only to the Supreme Court Okay Follow up. So that's a clarification.. So the PCS mail only applies to Supreme Court we've taken out the Court of Appeal. So that is what happens correct, now let me ask you this, because that's now what this summary seems to suggest. How many states do we know of that actually have this retention elections and can somebody give me a survey can I get some context of how many other states are doing retention elections and for how long they have done them if there's data about that available [xx]. Ms. Churchill. Senator McKissick we don't have raw data for you right now but we will do what we can over night to get you something they would get, Staff will get you some information on that question. OK and if you, follow-up Mr. Chair? Follow-up. If there is available data as well as to the extent to which it has influenced the cost of judicial elections, in terms of funds that have either been that have gone into judicial elections on both sides or from retention candidates to see if it has decreased the cost or not. I honestly don't know, my intuitive reasoning is that it might have.

So you're asking, your first question is where else has it occurred and what effect has it had and second of all you want to know if it has any impact on the cost of running elections with judicial officers. That's exactly correct. OK can we do that? Excellent thank you. Any other questions? Senator Clark. Mr. Chairman under our contested I mean should I say contested elections, the party affiliation of the judge or they individuals running for judge must be provided, is that correct? just responding that is not correct, currently this bill does not make any changes to the partisan labels of individual. l mean under current law, in contested elections, individuals running for Judge, you're saying they do not have to have the part of affiliation [xx]? Individuals running for Court of Appeal or Supreme Court do not have a party affiliation listed on the [xx] OK, alright. OK I also I have a [xx] one more follow-up? Yes sir OK. Right now I believe as the bill is written it requires that 50% of the vote be earned in order to be retained in the judgeship[sp?] is that correct? Ms. Churchill.   Yes sir, majority of the votes. OK, would the bill's sponsor be willing to accept an amendment that would raise the bar up to 60% light State of Illinois? I would say that from my point of view I look at, we conduct all of our elections in this state by majority, if an individual receives the majority vote, they have won the election and as this is continued while a retention still is an election of Judges, I would not want to change that precedent to be in to have super majorities required to field office. Okay. All set, Senator Clark   [xx] With the bill sponsor, thank you Mr. Chair, bill sponsor be amenable to adding a line, I understand the vote is yes, no to retain, but perhaps there may be some challenger who would be interested. And so is there any caviar[sp?] that would allow for a write in? I could not see where a write in line would answer the question of whether or not, an individual was to retain a judge or not, I think it would be a simple retain yes or no, I don't see where the question won't be yes no or Judge Smith. OK, just a followup statement. Followup.  As my colleague said Senator I just feel that we are taking away the power of the electorate to determine. They may be interested and they challenge her perhaps, and not be interested in retaining the justice that is there, so in all fairness I believe that we are now restricting opportunities for our people of North Carolina to vote. OK, Senator Smith. Excuse me one more question, why was the appeals court take an out of the House version, if this is such a good idea, why would it not be for the appeals court as well? I was [xx] was removed forward at looking at other areas where this is applied but I think it's simplest to look at our judicial races of state wide that had the most disown them, and to get the retention process in, and facilitate it at least for an election cycle before we start talking about other areas. where this is appropriate. OK, Senator McKissik. In erica maybe you can help with this and we continue with our House Retention Bill with the Court of Appeals being impacted. How many judges would have been subject to this retention type of election potentially going into the next election cycle. Miss Chachulia the answer to that question. I think I can try that one. With the supreme court there is one judge who would be up for election in 2016 and with court of appeals I believe there are two judges that would be up for election in 2016.  Follow up. I know that in Supreme court, who would be the two on the court of appeals or would have been. Well. Let me clarify that. The two seats that would be up for election in 2016 would be Linda Stevens and Bob [xx] there will also be a third reach of Richard Deets[sp?] but that was an appointment by the governor so he will server until the next election of the general assembly thank you and. One follow up question. Follow up, just a comment. You might want to update this summary because it still refers to the appeal's court being a part of the bill so the summary we had is inaccurate. Thank you, will be done. Alright, member s of the committee. Mr Chairman Senator Apadoca. I move for a favorable report unfavorable to the original favorable to the

proposed committee substitute. Alright. Ladies and gentlemen we have a motion before us. Any questions? Seeing none, we do have a motion for favor report on and house bill 222 PCS and unfavorable to the original bill. All in favor please say aye, aye! Oppose nay! Nay! The ayes have it. Alright members of the committee, thank you very much for your attention and we appreciate your help. Have a good day.committee is over.