We made it through the holiday season and have finally closed the door on the political freakshow of a year that was 2015. After sustaining cuts to our social services, attacks on education and health, and a divisive political climate, North Carolina is suffering a bit of a New Year’s hangover.
But what does 2016 hold in store? Will it be more of the same? Or is this the year we all take a deep breath and a step back, and realize that we’re all mostly on the same side? My crystal ball is broken at the moment, but I can hope. In the meantime here are a few things we can be sure of in the coming year.
- The primaries will be early. Instead of in May, we’ll be casting our first presidential ballot in March this year. This means candidates will be focusing their efforts in North Carolina to try to pull an early win. This also could lead to voter confusion. Folks used to a late spring primary could forget to vote, or might not be ready to choose when the time comes. Tell your friends, and make sure everyone knows to show up at the polls on March 15th.
- The governor’s race in North Carolina will heat up. The candidates in this race have already began campaigning heavily. No matter who wins, the political landscape will be shaped by debates over the future of the Tar Heel state. In many ways this is great news, because any time we talk about policy, it opens the door for progress.
- Most voters will need to show ID at the polls. A law passed last year requires photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Those without can vote provisionally and then plead their case as to why they don’t have ID. This policy is a solution in search of a problem. Voter fraud is extraordinarily rare. This will only serve to punish those who already are marginalized. Rich, white people almost always have photo ID. Who doesn’t? Those whose voices we need to hear most.
- The Department of Health and Human Services will begin to collect ultrasounds from women who terminate after 16 weeks. In theory, this is for data collection purposes. In reality? Who knows. Even women who end their pregnancies for medical reasons will have their medical data sent to DHHS. There is pressure to end this new policy, but for now, it stands.
- The state General Assembly will meet for a “short” budget session. Every other year the legislature convenes for what should be a very short session used to just pass monetary bills. Recent history shows that lawmakers often use this time to shoehorn in controversial bills, hoping the general public doesn’t notice. Stay tuned starting in April for the news from Raleigh. Rumor has it, this might be the year state employees get a pay increase.
- The State Department of Instruction will evaluate, and possibly revamp, public schools’ curriculum, again. A commision charged with evaluating Common Core recommended some changes to the system in December. Some lawmakers had hoped the commission would recommend completely gutting the system, but after 15 months of evaluation, only small changes were recommended. By next school year, next steps in curriculum should be more clear.
What are you looking forward to in 2016? Do you think it will shape up to be a better year than 2015? Comment and let us know!