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Hi, and welcome to my "Editor's Blog"! In this space I'll be attempting to keep our readers informed on fast-breaking news and issues affecting our islands. Visit often. There's a lot going on!

Enjoy the Island Free Press and, even more importantly, enjoy our wonderful barrier island!!!

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A full frontal assault on the voting rights of North Carolinians

Friday 26 July 2013 at 4:59 pm

North Carolina is poised to enact sweeping new restrictions on voting in the state.

House Bill 589, which began as a relatively straightforward bill that would require voters to show picture identification when they vote, was turned by the Senate this week into what some are calling the most restrictive and regressive voting law in the nation.

HB 589 with the changes was passed yesterday by the House and the Senate and has been sent to the governor for his signature.

In addition to requiring a government issued ID card, the bill includes:
 

  • The end of pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds.
  • Elimination of same day voter registration.
  • A provision allowing voters to be challenged by any registered voter of the county in which they vote rather than just their precinct.
  • A week sliced off early voting.
  • Elimination of straight party ticket voting.
  • A provision making the state’s presidential primary date a function of the primary date in South Carolina.
  • An increase in the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 (the limit will continue to increase every two years with the Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • A provision weakening disclosure requirements for “independent expenditure” committees.
  • Authorization of vigilante poll observers, lots of them, with expanded range of interference.
  • An expansion of the scope of who may examine registration records and challenge voters.
  • A repeal of out-of-precinct voting.
  • A repeal of the current mandate for high-school registration drives.
  • Elimination of flexibility in opening early voting sites at different hours within a county.
  • A provision making it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for the elderly or voters with disabilities.
  • The repeal of three public financing programs.
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This summer is a season for public comments

Friday 19 July 2013 at 2:08 pm

The public is currently invited to comment on two projects that are important to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

One project involves the National Park Service’s Environmental Assessment of its proposals to facilitate additional public beach access. This public comment period is open until 5 p.m. on Aug. 2.

The other involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ call for public comments on the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s request that the Corps authorize the state’s plan for emergency beach nourishment near the S-curves in northern Rodanthe to protect Highway 12 from overwash and damage in storms.

You can submit comments whether you are a resident, non-resident property owner, or a visitor.

Here is a brief summary of each project with information on commenting.

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Here comes the judge – again

Friday 12 July 2013 at 4:28 pm

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle has scheduled another status conference in the case of a lawsuit filed against the National Park Service by environmental groups in 2007 over the lack of an off-road vehicle plan at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The status conference will be on Wednesday, July 31, at 11 a.m. in the federal courthouse in Elizabeth City. It is open to the public.

The lawsuit was settled with a consent decree in April of 2008 that dictated the park’s management of ORV access and resource management until the seashore had an ORV plan and final rule.

Officially, the case was closed on April 30, 2008, though Boyle has continued to have regular status conferences about the status of ORV planning and resources.

The consent decree was scheduled to end when the seashore implemented its ORV plan and final rule, which happened in February of 2012

So the case is closed and the consent decree ended more than a year ago, but Boyle has continued to have status conferences on the plan and the protection of birds and turtles at the seashore.  He had a status conference earlier this year, and he had two last year.

Interestingly, Boyle is also presiding over a lawsuit filed last February by the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance to overturn the park’s final ORV plan. Defendants in that case include the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. The same environmental groups that sued the Park Service in 2007 have been allowed as defendant-intervenors on the side of the federal government.

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