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Welcome to The Kicker from Carolina Public Press, a North Carolina news show bringing you conversations with journalists, sources and newsmakers from across the state.
In this episode, Carolina Public Press capital bureau chief Kirk Ross talks about the return of legislators to Raleigh and what they hope to happen on congressional maps and other fronts through the end of the year.
Perhaps the top issue in front of lawmakers has been congressional maps. Although the General Assembly acted on new maps last week, the resulting vote was highly partisan.
Republicans would have an 8-to-5 advantage in districts on the new map, down from their current 10-to-3 advantage, but still skewed in their favor in a state in which registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters each outnumber registered Republicans.
What happens next may be up the plaintiffs in the case that led to the new maps.
To many observers, the new districts look like more partisan gerrymandering, though it would be up to the courts to decide. But many observers expect the 3-judge panel that placed an injunction on using the old maps to exercise its jurisdiction over the election schedule and for North Carolina to conduct its congressional primaries later than the March date currently scheduled.
A related issue that legislators still will need to address is voter ID for university students. Currently, it looks like the ID cards state universities issue to tens of thousands of students wouldn’t be accepted as valid IDs at the polls.
In addition to elections, lawmakers have dealt with other pressing issues, such as disaster relief. A measure approved last week will bring needed aid to victims of Hurricane Dorian and provide support for other changes across the state. The key word surrounding this legislation has been “resiliency,” though what that means to different people in Raleigh and elsewhere has not always been clear.
The complex issues facing lawmakers as 2019 winds down promise to linger into 2020. Voters and legislators alike are also likely to keep their eyes on the drama unfolding in Washington, as impeachment hearings could make the upcoming political season especially unpredictable.
About The Kicker
The Kicker is a production of Carolina Public Press. It also airs weekly at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on WPVM radio 103.7 FM in Asheville. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contact the staff of Carolina Public Press about The Kicker.