Free Voter Freedom Act from Senate Rules Committee

The legislative session is coming to a close, but HB 794  Voter Freedom Act is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.  This bill was sponsored by the Free the Vote Coalition, an alliance of groups spanning the political spectrum that includes the Libertarian Party of North Carolina.

Here is a message from Jordon Greene, President and Founder of Free the Vote NC:

The legislative session is coming to a close, but HB 794  Voter Freedom Act is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.

The original bill would have dramatically lowered our state’s high ballot access barriers. We agreed with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Saine, when he urged us to support transforming the bill into a study bill in order to get it passed. And it did pass the House with an overwhelming 109-5 vote.

That was a month ago. Since then, both houses have been busy working on various budget and tax reform bills. The bill has been left dormant in the Senate Rules Committee.

Time is running out. The legislature may adjourn by the end of June. We need to take action now if we want real ballot access reform to begin.

Please call Sen. Tom Apodaca, Senate Rules Committee chair, at 919-733-5745 and urge him to move HB 794 to the Senate floor.

Call your state Senator as well and ask them to let Sen. Apodaca know they support this legislation. You can look up your state Senatorhere.

HB 794 is a study bill. It would make no change in the law.

But it would authorize the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee to study amending the definition of political party, and the nomination process, amending the requirements for unaffiliated and write-in candidates, allowing for nomination by convention by smaller parties, and providing that smaller parties electing to have primaries will have the results determined by plurality.

These are all the points covered in the original bill.

If the bill is not passed by the Senate, we will essentially be back to square one. We’ll have to begin the process again in January 2014, during the short session when the legislature is supposed to focus solely on budget issues. And even if this study bill is passed, the results of the study will not be ready for the 2014 election.

Making a direct telephone call is the best way to have your voice heard.

Ask to speak to the Senator; but if that is not possible, leave a message with the secretary or legislative assistant, and be sure to mention you are a constituent (if appropriate) and that you support the Free the Vote Coalition.

It would not hurt to follow up your call with a personal e-mail message, something you write yourself. You can use one or two of the following points for your call and in your e-mail:

  • HB 794 is a bipartisan bill that has wide support. Representatives Jason Saine (R), Paul Luebke (D), David Lewis (R), and Rodney Moore (D) were the primary sponsors; Representatives Alma Adams (D), John Bell (R), Mark Brody, (R), Becky Carney (D), Beverly Earle (D), Pricey Harrison (D), Jonathan Jordan (R), and Michael Speciale (R).
  • In addition, HB 794 has the support of the Free the Vote Coalition, an alliance of public policy groups and political parties from across the political spectrum. Members include the Libertarian and Green parties, as well as the John Locke Foundation and Democracy NC, and other groups representing diverse political opinions.
  • When political parties, public policy groups and individuals with such divergent views unite in any cause, it clearly attests to the fact that ballot access reform is not a partisan or special-interest group issue, but a question of fundamental freedom that transcends political differences.
  • North Carolina has the second most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation. NC law imposes an excessive and unreasonable requirement on new political parties and unaffiliated candidates that’s far and above the standard prevalent in most other states.
  • 33 states require 10,000 or fewer signatures for a new political party to obtain ballot access; 22 of these states require less than 5,000 signatures or some other simpler means for a party to be recognized by the state.
  • 36 states require 10,000 or fewer signatures for independent statewide candidates to obtain access to the ballot; 29 of this group require 5,000 or less, or some other simpler means (such as paying a filing fee) for an independent candidate to be listed on the ballot.

Remind Sen. Apodaca that he’s been a champion of ballot access reform.

In 1988, he was the leader of a small group of Republicans (and one Democrat) who proposed an amendment to a ballot access reform bill to lower the number of signatures required to get on the ballot to one-half of one percent. That amendment was defeated by the then Democratic majority.

We need to take action now to keep the Voter Freedom Act alive.

A viable democratic process and fundamental freedom requires that ballot access laws encourage and promote – not limit – the individual’s right to self-government by securing their right to free choice at the ballot box.

Call (and e-mail) Sen. Apodaca and your state Senator today.

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Annual State Convention Focuses on Growth, Activism

Liberty in action was the theme and focus of the Libertarian Party annual state convention held in Flat Rock over the weekend.

J.J. Summerell, who was reelected state chair, noted that the 50 percent increase in party membership in 2012 can be attributed to the growing dissatisfaction of voters with the Republican and Democratic parties. “A healthy part of that growth can also be attributed to youth groups such as Students for Liberty, which are spreading like wildfire on college campuses,” he added.

That activism was evident at the convention. During the Saturday session, there were a series of seminars and discussion groups on various topics, including fund raising, candidate recruitment and training, team building, and communicating libertarian ideas.

Carla Howell, Libertarian Party executive director, conducted a training session on the LP’s new training initiative “Who’s Driving.” The game is designed to teach Libertarian candidates, activists and spokespersons in the most fundamental skill needed to be effective communicators: controlling the agenda.

During his state of the party address, Summerell talked about the developing 2020 political plan. “The goal is simple: to win one seat in the state Senate and four seats in the state House by 2020, making statewide races viable for the LPNC in 2020 and beyond,” he said.

In the business portion of the convention, in addition to re-electing Summerell, John Caveny was re-elected treasurer. New officers elected were Alex Vuchnich of Charlotte, vice chair and Barbara Howe of Oxford, recording secretary.

The convention also elected eight at-large members of the executive committee. They are: Jon Byers, Arden; Britton Correll, Waxhaw; Ginny Godfrey, Morganton; Kevin Innes, Morganton; Brian Irving, Cary; Jason Melehani, Durham; Bjørn Pedersen, Chapel Hill, and; Erik Raudsep, Durham.

The convention made some changes to the bylaws, including replacing “Robert’s Rules of Order” with “Democratic Rules of Order” as the party’s parliamentary authority.

Media coverage

Hendersonville News Times – NC Libertarians converge in Flat Rock

News & Observer (Raleigh) – Under the Dome: NC Libertarians set their goals

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Is Health Care a Right?

by J.J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

Is health care a right?

No, health care is not a right.  Health care is a commodity.  Rights are conceptual, not material.  Consider things that are rights:

Right to free speech, right to assemble, right to contract, right to due process, right to privacy, etc,etc,etc

Health care is just a thing, not a right anymore than cars, houses and food are rights.  However, having said this, it is of utmost importance to point out that health care is one of the most important commodities in our lives because it has such an important impact on our lives.  Health care, more than any other commodity, determines the quantity and quality of the life we live.  That is, how long will we live and what will be the quality of health we have during that life.  This is certainly an extremely important commodity, but not a right.

Given the importance of this commodity it may well be that we want to provide a level of health care to all of our citizens – we are a productive and generous society.  However, to label health care as a right is to denigrate genuine rights.

If you think health care is a right, you have your rights all wrong!

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Banning Direct Auto Sales a Backward Idea

The bipartisan bill banning direct auto sales is a misguided and backward idea, the chair of the Durham and Orange County Libertarian Party said today in a letter to the Chapel Hill News

“The threat technological advancements pose to job security has been used as justification for stifling advancements for centuries,” said Jason Melehani. “Imagine all the jobs we could create if we banned electronic printing of books or banned computers from automating manufacturing processes.”

“These obviously are backwards ideas,” he said. “The ban on direct auto sales in SB 327 is backwards as well.”

Full text of the letter

When Milton Friedman visited China and saw thousands of workers digging a canal with shovels instead of tractors and excavators, his guides told him that this approach created more jobs. Famously, Friedman retorted, “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”

On Monday, May 13, the North Carolina Senate, in bipartisan fashion, unanimously approved Senate Bill 327 to ban direct auto sales to consumers by companies like Tesla Motors under the premise that it threatened the jobs of thousands who work at auto dealerships. I suspect the North Carolina Auto Dealership Association played a major role in bringing both parties together to pass this protectionist legislation.

The Senate has missed the point entirely. Their vote is stifling innovation and hurting consumers by preventing competition and leading to increased costs. The NC Senate clearly lacks an understanding of opportunity costs. When consumers are forced to pay more for a good, they ultimately can afford less of that good and others too. As Friedman pointed out, jobs are only as beneficial as the value they add to a process or product.

The threat technological advancements pose to job security has been used as justification for stifling advancements for centuries. Imagine all the jobs we could create if we banned electronic printing of books or banned computers from automating manufacturing processes. These obviously are backwards ideas. The ban on direct auto sales in Senate Bill 327 is backwards as well.

Jason Melehani
Chair, Durham and Orange County Libertarian Party

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