Friday, April 5, 2013

North Carolina Goes South

North Carolina won’t have a state religion after all.  Well, at least not this year.  Yet.

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis’ office said Thursday that a resolution asserting North Carolina has the power to set an official state religion is dead, and won’t go any further.

The resolution, filed by two Republicans from Rowan County, declared “each state is sovereign and may independently determine how the state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion” – thereby claiming the federal government and courts have no authority to decide what is constitutional.

The bill’s primary sponsors were Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, a tea party member. Eleven other legislators signed the resolution. Legislators introduce hundreds or even thousands of resolutions every year, honoring constituents or declaring their stances on issues, but they carry little legal weight.

Warren said in a statement that the bill was only intended to allow Rowan County officials to open their meetings with prayer, not to establish a state religion.

Instead, they’ve turned their attention to another GOP obsession (no, not gay sex):  voter suppression.

A bill filed in the state Senate Tuesday would carry a tax penalty for parents whose children register to vote at their college address.

Senate Bill 667, known as “Equalize Voter Rights,” would remove the tax exemption for dependents who register to vote at any address other than their parents’ home.

“If the voter is a dependent of the voter’s parent or legal guardian, is 18 years of age or older and the voter has registered at an address other than that of the parent or legal guardian, the parent or legal guardian will not be allowed to claim the voter as a dependent for state income tax purposes,” the bill says.

The measure would affect only state income tax, so it wouldn’t have much effect on out-of-state students. But it could effectively cut student voting in counties like Watauga and Orange, where college voters have been a key part of the Democratic Party’s dominance.

The bill would also require voters to have their vehicles registered at the same address as their voter registration. That also could cut down on college student registration, since many students maintain their vehicle registration in their home counties.

Between state-mandated Christianity and tax hikes to punish college-age voters and their families, the Republicans in North Carolina sure have a strange view of smaller government and freedom.  Apparently it only applies to white straight Christian men.