The legislative hallways were bustling with politicos on Wednesday as North Carolina’s General Assembly convened for its short session. While members and staffers greeted one another with excitement for the first day back, they were also greeted by several advocacy groups voicing their concerns to legislators.

The gun rights group Grass Roots North Carolina was seen handing out literature and speaking with legislators around the building. The group is calling on the General Assembly to pass constitutional carry in North Carolina, eliminating concealed carry permit requirements to better comply with the Second Amendement. Members were delivering petitions to Senate President Phil Berger’s office. 

Consideration of House Bill 189 – legislation that would make it legal to carry a concealed firearm without a permit – was postponed last year and is not eligible as a crossover bill this year, official documents indicate. The group would like to see action while Republicans still maintain a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature. 

Outside the legislative buildings were additional groups with firm messages. The Poor People’s Campaign, a group connected to left-wing billionaire George Soros and led in part by familiar North Carolina agitator Rev. William Barber, roamed down the sidewalk with signs, drums, and a megaphone. Their signs read, “the war on poor is immoral,” and demanded “living wages and the right to unionize.” The group’s demonstration was at noon during the middle of the work day. 

The organization has previously advocated for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is a likely topic the General Assembly could take up in the months ahead as it relates to illegal immigration and ICE detainers. According to Influence Watch, “PPC was founded to build a “new electorate” of low-income Americans in support of left-of-center policies.” The organization is working to mobilize voters in key battleground states ahead of the general election, according to reports.

Source: Carolina Journal

On the other side of the aisle, the Conservative Coalition held a press conference outside the front doors to call for oversight and accountability in North Carolina’s election system. Speakers discussed the need for updated voter registration rolls and also expressed frustration over the state Board of Elections. They argue a loophole in the North Carolina Constitution exists that could allow non-US citizens to vote in state elections. State senators have said they plan to readdress a bill this session that could close the loophole via a ballot referendum, allowing citizens to vote on an amendment requiring citizenship to cast a ballot. 

SEE ALSO: NC Senators to address non-citizen voting in upcoming session

“The bottom line is there’s a loophole in our Constitution,” said Jim Womack, President of the North Carolina Election Integrity Team. “And what we want to do is require only US citizens to be allowed to vote in North Carolina elections. That’s the simple side of it. We would like to see the passage of a constitutional amendment in North Carolina to grant voting rights only to US citizens. That’s the short of it.”

Another concern raised by the group was what they contend are inaccurate voter rolls in the statewide election information management system, which doesn’t recognize registered voters without a driver’s license or social security number. Since the Help America Vote Act was passed by Congress in 2002, more than 224,000 new voters have been registered in North Carolina who don’t have the required verification information under federal law. Verifiable information helps keep records updated by flagging duplicates, deceased people, and noncitizens.

The General Assembly is expected to delve into budget matters next week, but a range of policy matters remain on the table this year. Lawmakers are expected to consider bolstered school choice funding and further tax relief, weighed against infrastructure investments and an anticipated revenue surplus of approximately $1.4 billion.