North Carolina - Constitutional Amendments Since 1971

The 1971 General Assembly submitted to the voters five (5) Constitutional Amendments, all of which were ratified on November 7, 1972:

- Constitutionally-specified voting age set at eighteen (18) years
- General Assembly must set age limits for service as justices and judges of the State courts
- General Assembly to prescribe procedures for the censure and removal of State judges and justices
- Add a statement of policy with regard to the conservation and protection of natural resources
- Limit the authority of the General Assembly to incorporate cities and towns within close proximity of existing municipalities


The 1973 General Assembly submitted to the voters an Amendment changing the title of Solicitor to that of District Attorney. The voters approved in 1974.
The 1974 General Assembly submitted to the voters an Amendment authorizing the issuance by State or County government of revenue bonds to finance industrial facilities. The voters rejected this amendment.
The 1975 General Assembly submitted two Amendments authorizing legislation to permit the issuance of tax-exempt revenue bonds by State and local governments to finance health care facilities and by Counties to finance industrial facilities. Both were rejected by the voters on March 23, 1976.
The Constitutional Amendments of 1835 permitted voters to elect a Governor for two successive two-year terms. The Constitution of 1868 extended the Governor's term to four years, but prohibited the Governor and Lt. Governor from serving successive four-year terms of the same office. The 1971 Constitution retained this limitation.

The 1977 General Assembly submitted an Amendment to empower voters to elect both the Governor and Lt. Governor to two successive four-year terms, and it was ratified by the voters on November 8, 1977. Four other Amendments were ratified at the same time:

- State required to operated on a balanced budget at all times
- Widows given the benefit of homestead exemption
- Women are allowed to insure their lives for the benefit of their spouse or children free from all claims of creditors
- Municipalities owning or operating electric power facilities authorized to do so jointly with other public or private power organizations and to issue electric system revenue bonds to finance such facilities


The 1979 General Assembly submitted one Amendment to the voters requring all justices and judges of the State courts be licensed lawyers as a condition of election or appointment - approved by voters in 1980.
The 1981 General Assembly submitted five (5) Amendments to the voters for decision on June 29, 1982. Two Amendments were ratified by the voters:

- General Assembly authorized to provide for the recall of retired State Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeals Judges to temporary duty on either court
- General Assembly authorized to empower the State Supreme Court to review direct appeals from the Utilities Commission

Voters rejected three Amendments:

- Extending the terms of all members of the General Assembly from two to four years
- Authorizing the General Assembly to empower public agencies to develop new and existing seaports and airports and to finance and refince seaport, airport, and related commercial and industrial facilities for public and private parties
- Authorizing the General Assembly to empower state agency to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance facilities for private institutions of higher education


The 1982 General Assembly submitted two (2) Amendments to the voters for decision on November 2, 1982.

The voters approved an Amendment shifting the beginning of legislative terms from the date of election to January 1 following the election.

The voters rejected an Amendment that would have permitted municipalities to issue tax-exempt bonds without voter approval


The 1983 General Assembly submitted two (2) Amendments for voter approval:

- Authorize the General Assembly to create an agency to issue tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance agricultural facilities. This was ratified on May 8, 1984.

- Attorney General and all District Attorneys required to be licensed lawyers as a condition of election or appointment. This was ratified on November 6, 1984.


The 1985 General Assembly submitted two (2) Amendments for voter approval:

- Shift elections for state legislative, executive, and judical officers and for county officers from even-numbered to odd-numbered years. The voters rejected this Amendment on May 6, 1986.

- Revert back to the pre-1971 policy that barred Governor and Lt. Governor from two successive term. This was repealed by the General Assembly before it was sent to the voters.


The 1986 General Assembly submitted three (3) Amendments to the voters, who ratified them on November 4, 1896:

- Authorize legislation enabling State and local governments to develop seaports and airports and to participate jointly with other public agencies and with private parties and issue tax-exempt bonds for that purpose
- Authorize the State to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance or refinance private college facilities
- Provided that when a vacancy occurs among the eight (8) elected State executive officers (not including the Governor and Lt. Governor) or elected Judges and Justices more than sixty (60) days (it had been 30 days) before a General Election, the vacancy must be filled at that election


The 1987 thru 1994 General Assemblies sent only one proposed Constitutional Amendment to the voters. It wa the 1993 General Assembly that submitted a proposal to allow cities and counties to issue tax increment bonds without voter approval. This was rejected by a wide margin by the voters on November 2, 1993.
The 1995 General Assembly submitted three (3) Amendments to the voters, all of which were approved on November 5, 1996:

- End North Carolina's unique status as the only State that did not allow its Governor to veto legislation enacted by State legislature. Effective January 1, 1997, Governor may veto ordinary statewide legislation enacted by the General Assembly. His/Her veto may, however, be overridden by a vote of 3/5 of the members present and voting in both houses
- Expand the types of punishment that State courts may impose on persons convicted of crimes without their consent. Strengthens the basis for more modern forms of punishment, such as probation and community service, not previously permitted by the State Constitution
- Assure victims of crimes (as defined by the General Assembly) of certain rights, such as the right to be informed about and attend court proceedings held with respect to the accused


Several other potential Constitution Amendments were initiated by the Senate but did not pass in the House of Representatives between 1996 and 2004.
Three (3) Amendments were approved by voters in November of 2004:

- Allow local governments to create economic development districts and to pay for infrastructure improvements in those districts via tax levies on the enhanced property value of the districts
- Allow the General Assembly to place the proceeds from civil fines, forfeitures, and penalites in a fund used exclusively to maintain public schools
- Change the term of magistrates of the General Court of Justivce to two years with subsequent terms lasting four years each


This is all this Author has found so far. When more are uncovered, they will be added here. Stay tuned.


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