The action inside the State Legislature resumed at full speed last week. On Monday evening, the House gave final approval on Senate Bill 10, which passed with a vote of 71-43. The measure is now headed back to the Senate for concurrence.
I strongly believe that this bill is an unprecedented partisan power grab. This reorganization will cost the state valuable expertise and institutional knowledge on these boards and commissions by replacing them with representatives who favor profits over consumer protection. Some Democratic amendments were offered, which would have cut six figure salaries for political appointees, but a GOP parliamentary maneuver ultimately defeated them.
It is my hope that the final decision is one that will best reflect the needs of North Carolinians in our efforts to create a better reorganization of the state boards and commissions.
A press conference was also held this week regarding House Bill 184 – a recently filed measure restricting the state Department of Transportation from issuing specifically-designed licenses with a pink strip, which distinguishes immigrants qualifying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program I believe that we are sending the wrong message to those who have made our state their home.
Voter ID is back on the horizon next week as legislators outlined a process to draft a voter ID bill and bring it to a vote. I firmly opposed this measure in the previous session, and my stance remains firm for this new session. The ID requirement would discourage the poor, older adults and minorities from voting because they are more likely to not have an ID card; and we simply cannot afford to disenfranchise more than 600,000 voters for not having proper identification. Voting is more than just a privilege, it is a right…and it is our responsibility to protect these rights.
For those interested in voicing concerns regarding Voter ID:
The House Committee on Elections will hold a Public Hearing in Raleigh on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm in Room 643, Legislative Office Building to accept comment and opinion on all of the following related to voter ID:
• Whether the requirement of a photo ID upon voting is good policy
• If required, the impact of the requirement of a photo ID on elections, and other governmental services
• If required, suggestions and ideas of how to implement a requirement for photo ID, including how to assist voters in obtaining a photo ID
There are a limited number of speaker slots and speakers will have up to 3 minutes for presentation to the Committee. Please go to the NCGA web page “House Committee on Elections of the 2013 General Assembly — Public Hearing on Voter ID” if you would like to speak at this meeting. This sign-up will close at 5:00 p.m. on March 11, 2013.
NC State Boards
SB 10: NC House votes to fire more than 100 commission members
House Republicans on Monday approved its version of a plan that would fire more than 100 members of state regulatory boards and commissions, setting up a clash with Senate Republicans who wanted more people removed. Democrats characterized the stripping of regulatory boards as a partisan power grab, while Republicans called it an important reform. The House passed the measure by a vote of 71-43, with all but three Republicans present voting for it. All Democrats present voted against it.
McCrory signs bills on Medicaid expansion, group home funding, and possums
Gov. Pat McCrory signed four bills into law Wednesday afternoon, all of which have been the subject of a fair amount of public discussion. The bills included Medicaid expansion, the annual possum drop, group home funding, and fallen heroes.
Gun Rights Amendment
SB 246: Pittman fires off gun bill
Earlier this year, Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, outlined a state constitutional amendment he planned to file that would restrict what limits the state could place in gun ownership. Titled “The Gun Rights Amendment,” Senate Bill 246 makes good on that promise. Along with the amendment, the bill contains several changes to state statute that would allow those with concealed handgun permits to carry firearms at parades and in establishments where alcohol is sold and consumed.
House GOP plans to slow walk voter ID bill
House Republicans announced plans to Tuesday to begin moving the politically divisive voter photo ID bill through the legislature, saying they would slow walk it to give all parties the opportunity to comment on it.
GOP lawmakers, who have enough votes to pass the measure, disclosed a schedule that will begin with a public hearing on March 12th followed by two House committee meetings in which expert testimony will be heard. The bill will likely be introduced in late March and voted on by the House in mid-April.
North Carolina voters support new gun restrictions and Voter ID
The Elon Poll found that nine out of 10 support background checks, 83 percent said they support waiting periods before citizens can purchase handguns, 56 percent support the banning of the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles, while 55 percent would limit the number of rounds of ammunition in clips or magazines. The survey also found that 72 percent of North Carolinians support the idea of requiring voters to show photo identification before being allowed to vote.
State Lottery Bill
HB 156: NC lawmakers, gov looking at lottery changes
Members of the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory are interested in scaling back or altering how the lottery advertises. Doing so could hurt annual sales that reached $1.6 billion last fiscal year and helped send $457 million to the state for education initiatives — records that have a chance to be broken again this summer.
There’s also a bipartisan bill scheduled for House debate this week that would delete the name “education” from the lottery, bar advertising at college sporting events and require ads to give the long odds of winning multimillion-dollar prizes. State law only now requires the overall odds of winning a game prize.
Pulse Oximetry Bill
HB 105: N.C. bill requires testing newborns for heart defects
The state House has given unanimous approval to a bill that would require all hospitals to perform a test to see whether newborns have a heart defect before they are allowed to go home. The bill, endorsed by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, has been sent to the state Senate for deliberation. The bill also has a provision for ear screening in newborns to identify temporary or permanent hearing loss. The American Heart Association says nine of every 1,000 babies are born with a congenital heart disorder.