Democrats break GOP veto-proof control of General Assembly

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina Democrats - particularly Gov. Roy Cooper - will have more influence when state government policies are hammered out once more Democratic legislators take office in January.

Democrats picked up at least 11 additional legislative seats Tuesday and ended the GOP's veto-proof control of the General Assembly. Republican lawmakers are weakened but still in charge of the House and Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue called the election a "reset for the General Assembly" that will put a check on Republicans. Democrats hope some of favored initiatives now get approved, like Medicaid expansion.

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said Wednesday the election results still show voters support the GOP agenda. Berger says he believes there can still be accommodations for Cooper while Republicans approve budgets and policies.

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Voters have approved four of the six constitutional amendments on the ballots in the midterm elections.

With 99% of precincts reporting, voters passed the voter ID amendment by a 56% to 44% margin. The amendment requires voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to cast their ballot. Legislators still need to decide how this will be enforced.

An amendment to cap the state income tax rate at 7% compared to the current rate of 10% was also approved. This does not mean you will be paying less taxes; the individual income tax rate is still 5.4%, it just means the state is prohibited from increasing the state income tax above 7%.

A proposal to expand the rights of crime victims was overwhelmingly passed by voters. It will give victims of assaults or other crimes the right to be notified of court hearings and be heard at those hearings.

More than two million voters were in favor of the constitutional amendment to protect fishing and hunting rights. It establishes that hunting and fishing are preferred ways of managing and controlling wildlife.

On the other hand, voters rejected two proposals that focused on shifting power from the governor to the General Assembly.

By a 67% to 32% margin, voters turned down an amendment that would give legislators more power in picking judges for vacant seats. The proposal would have shifted the power to appoint judges from the governor to lawmakers. Lawmakers would have nominated two people to fill a vacancy, which the governor would then pick.

Voters also rejected the amendment to make changes to the Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, which administers ethics and election laws.

The amendment would have increased legislators say in the board make-up, giving them more power in appointing members. Right now, it's a nine-member board made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent member appointed by the governor. If approved, the amendment would have gotten rid of the last member of the board and legislators would have nominated potential members for the board, with the governor choosing the finalists. More than half of voters rejected this proposal.

For more election results across the state, click here.