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County boards of elections must allow voter registration for those on felony probation, post-release supervision

By Natalie Anderson, Salisbury Post

A three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court entered a preliminary injunction Monday to restore voting rights to all North Carolinians on felony probation, parole or post-release supervision.

The ruling comes from a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Community Success Initiative, an advocacy organization for incarcerated people. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are petitioning judges to strike down the state law that only reinstates the right to vote for such individuals upon completion of their community supervision outside prison. Members of the North Carolina Board of Elections and State House Speaker Tim Moore are the defendants in the case and can still appeal the ruling to the state appellate courts.

The ruling means all county boards of elections must immediately allow North Carolinians on felony probation, parole or post-release supervision to register to vote, according to a statement from the North Carolina Board of Elections. The state board also says its attorneys are reviewing the decision and it will work to update communication materials and all forms and documents as quickly as possible to comply with the order.

It is estimated that the ruling applies to more than 55,000 North Carolinians who were convicted in state or federal court. In September 2020, the Wake County Superior Court ruled North Carolina’s felony disenfranchisement law violates the state constitution by conditioning the right to vote on a person’s ability to pay fines, fees and other debts. The court granted relief that allowed some voters to begin to register to vote.

The state board’s statement also said staff are working with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety to update data regarding individuals who are ineligible to register to vote due to a felony conviction. This data is used for voter roll list maintenance and automated checks of new registrants.

Gov. Cooper signs six bills into law

Gov. Roy Cooper last week signed into law six bills, including one from Rep. Wayne Sasser related to pharmacists administering vaccinations.

Sasser, a Republican who also represents parts of Stanly and Cabarrus counties, is the General Assembly’s lone pharmacist. House Bill 96, of which Sasser is a primary sponsor, expands the number of vaccines and medications that pharmacists who are qualified to immunize patients can administer. The bill also requires parents to provide written consent before a vaccine approved under and emergency use authorization, including the COVID-19 vaccine, can be administered to a minor.

While pharmacists are currently allowed to inject patients with a range of vaccinations, this bill broadens those to include any vaccines approved by the FDA, nicotine replacement therapy, prenatal vitamins, oral or transdermal contraceptives, HIV post-exposure prophylaxis, vitamin B-12, glucagon and testosterone.

In signing the bill, Cooper said this legislation would help the state administer vaccinations more quickly and efficiently.

The signing of H.B. 96 marks the 18th bill Sasser has successfully passed through the General Assembly this legislative session. Sasser is the chairman of the House Health Committee.

Other bills that received Cooper’s signature include H.B. 312, which requires a candidate or appointee for the office of sheriff in each county to disclose all felony convictions, including any that have been expunged. H.B. 73 temporarily waives ABC permit renewal fees.

Cooper also signed Senate Bill 507, which makes various changes to the North Carolina Business Corporation Act recommended by the North Carolina Bar Association.

H.B. 121 clarifies funding of certain water resources projects under the Environmental Quality Incentives program to exempt certain dredging projects for ferry channels. H.B. 554 designates 2023 “The Year of the Trail” in North Carolina.

Cooper anticipates 25,000 job opportunities, millions invested from ongoing film projects

During a news conference last week at EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, Gov. Cooper announced that ongoing film projects in North Carolina are on track to invest a record amount of money this year.

Cooper said the record comes from an allocation of $409 million into the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grant of 2014, which is the largest amount since the grant’s inception. The bipartisan grant program offers 25 percent rebates for film makers to attract film and television productions, but no money is received by film makers until they meet direct in-state spending requirements. He estimates the latest investment will create more than 25,000 job opportunities across the state.

“We’ve all worked hard toward this banner year for North Carolina’s film industry,” Cooper said. “With our resilient communities and local businesses, and our growing reputation for inclusion and diversity, North Carolina will continue to provide a beautiful stage for film projects of all sizes in every corner of the state.”

Major productions that have been awarded NC Film and Entertainment Grants include “Florida Man,” “Christmas in Harmony,” “George and Tammy,” “I.S.S,” season one of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and season one of “Our Kind of People,” which are all filmed in or near Wilmington. The film “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” was filmed during the spring across Cabarrus, Gaston, Mecklenburg and Union counties, while season one of “The Peripheral” will be filmed in Madison County.

A handful of films are undergoing or have completed filming in New Hanover County, including season one of “Echoes,” “Along for the Ride,” “Line Sisters,” “One Summer” and season one of “Welcome to Flatch.”

Projects filmed in or near Charlotte and Mecklenburg County include season one of “Delilah,” “County Line: All In,” “County Line: No Fear” and “Evolution.”