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Last-minute attempt to change how judges appointed stalls bill

A last-minute attempt to change the way the governor fills district court judge vacancies has been sidelined after House members questioned why it was suddenly so urgent.

Currently, the governor must choose a replacement from nominations by lawyers in that district’s bar. The change would free up the governor to choose from the bar’s recommendations or select someone else.

The provision was inserted into an unrelated bill during a House recess Thursday in a hastily called session of the Rules Committee.

State lottery debate hits big question: Are people dumb?

The debate on a bill to neuter the state lottery hinged on one question Wednesday as a House panel considered the measure. "Do you really think the people of North Carolina are dumb?" state Rep. Mickey Michaux asked. "What you are trying to do here is regulate people's actions."

Michaux, a Durham Democrat, meant it as a serious question and Republican Paul "Skip" Stam said he considered it a good one. "It's variable," said Stam, a lead sponsor. "Even the smartest person given false information will act in a different way."

The measure -- dubbed "The Honest Lottery Act", or HB156 -- is aimed at limiting the N.C. Education Lottery's advertising and games, which the bill sponsors consider misleading. Stam agreed to remove a provision to change the lottery's name to the N.C. State Lottery because it would cost $6 million to rebrand.

Democrats object to voter ID legislation, suggest process is smokescreen

Democratic lawmakers stood firmly against the voter ID vetoed in the previous session and don't see a need for the legislation now. "You can't tell me voter ID is needed, particularly in this state, where you have less than one percent of voter fraud even attempted," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat. "No one has shown me any reason to require that you walk up and present a voter id to vote."

Michaux and other lawmakers spoke hours after House Speaker Thom Tillis outlined a plan to bring a voter ID measure to a vote.

Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick argued that the measure would disproportionately affect Democratic and independent voters. "That is their goal -- to oppress that vote by any means necessary," he said.

At the same time, Democrats noted that absentee voting -- which is favored by Republicans -- would not require a photo ID to cast a ballot. "I'm one who believes in equal protection," Michaux said. "If you put voter ID out there for some folks and not for other folks you are not getting equal protection."

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