10/07/04 — Amendments: One deserves your vote; another is a toss-up

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Amendments: One deserves your vote; another is a toss-up

First of a two-part series

First, the easy one: Among the three constitutional amendments facing North Carolina voters in the Nov. 2 election is one that alters the terms of magistrates.

If it passes, magistrates will be appointed to four-year terms instead of two-year terms, except that a magistrate’s first term will always be two years.

There seems to be no reason to oppose this amendment to the state constitution. The initial two-year term would give a magistrate an opportunity to demonstrate his competence. The longer appointments after that would provide a measure of job security for the magistrates, and they would be more efficient for those who run the system.

Vote in favor of this one.


Another amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot would allow the revenue from civil penalties, civil forfeitures and civil fines collected by the state to go into a state fund to be distributed to the counties for schools.

The distribution would be based on the number of pupils in each county’s public schools.

The money comes from such sources as fines levied by environmental agencies, or charges imposed by the Department of Transportation for overweight trucks.

Currently, some of this money goes to the agencies which levy the fines, like the Transportation Department. There is no provision in the amendment proposal for the replacement of that money in those departments. They might have to make some cuts during the first year.

But in the big picture, it’s a wash as far as the taxpayers are concerned. The amendment would not change the amount of money going to the state; it would only redirect it to a statewide school fund.

For? Or against? Take your pick.


Tomorrow: “Tax-increment financing” — beware.

Published in Editorials on October 7, 2004 11:28 AM