Raleigh, NC - Like it or loathe it, Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly are churning out bill after bill that, if passed, will bring sweeping changes to state laws, including how North Carolinians vote and how quickly divorces are granted.
The conservative shift comes after Republicans increased their majorities in both the State Senate and the State House, giving them veto-proof majorities and sole control over the legislative agenda in Raleigh.
One of the first priorities of State House Republicans has been drafting voter ID legislation, and on Friday, House Speaker Thom Tillis released details of a bill that will be debated later this month.
In the bill, changes to the voting process include a requirement to provide a photo ID to vote. Acceptable forms of ID, according to Rep. Tillis, would include college IDs and state issued employee IDs.
The proposed legislation would also shorten early voting from two and a half weeks to only one week, and Sunday voting would be eliminated.
This focus on voter ID and early voting has puzzled many state Democrats who point to statistics from the North Carolina Board of Elections that show there is almost no evidence of voter fraud in state elections, less than one percent out of all votes cast. Even so, Republicans often state preventing voter fraud as a reason for the legislation.
Both the voter ID law proposal and early voting changes would, according to many state Democrats, disenfranchise minority and elderly voters. These two groups are reliable voting blocs for Democrats, and many state Democrats say this bill targets those voters to suppress turnout.
Voting changes are almost assuredly to become state law, as both Governor Pat McCrory and leaders in the State Senate and State House have said they will approve such legislation, in some form, this calendar year.
While voting changes have been expected by observers of the General Assembly, there have also been some unexpected issues finding their way into debates, divorce law for example. A bill proposed on Monday lengthens the period required for couples to wait before being granted a divorce from one year to two years.
On top of the two-year wait, the legislation would require couples to take classes on communication skills and conflict resolution, and if the couple has children, they would need to complete course work on the impact divorce has on families.
Elon University Asst. Professor Jason Husser spoke with WFMY News 2's Patrick Phillippi about the impact of these changes.
Watch the video for the full interview.
WFMY News 2