Crossover Deadline Passes
Special Report - Mary 15, 2009
This year’s May 14 “crossover deadline” marked a defining point in the North Carolina General Assembly’s 2009-10 legislative biennium. State lawmakers have introduced over 2,700 bills so far this session. The majority of these bills do not spend or raise money and must pass from one chamber to the other by the arbitrary crossover deadline in order to remain eligible for the remainder of the 2009-10 Legislative Session. As a result, House and Senate members were scrambling to get their bills heard in committee and past the floor of their respective chambers in order to beat the deadline and keep their bills alive. The following is a summary of the status of select bills of interest post-crossover. It is important to note that while legislation may appear to be “dead” because it did not make crossover, no legislation is truly dead until the legislature adjourns the two-year session “sine die” some time next year.
ADOPTION: Last week, the House passed HB 1463Expand Access/Confidential Intermediaries, which would make it easier for adult adoptees to locate and contact biological relatives and would legalize the release of death certificates when applicable. These changes would violate the understanding of confidentiality many parents have when they place children for adoption through a closed adoption process. By risking the disclosure of identifying information, such processes would result in the significant disruption of families across North Carolina and cause great harm to the public’s perception of adoption at a time when we should be doing all that we can to promote adoption in the U.S. and in North Carolina. The Senate referred HB 1463 to the Judiciary II committee for consideration.
EDUCATION: On Wednesday, the House approved HB 856Modify Charter School Law, which includes a variety of changes, but most importantly, would raise the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state for the first time since their inception in 1996 from 100 to 106. A bill that would implement an income tax credit for children educated in non-public schools did not make crossover.
LIFE: The news regarding pro-life legislation is what did not pass. For the eighth year in a row, neither chamber took any action on HB 168 or SB 210“Choose Life” Special Plate to create a specialty license plate with a positive pro-life message in addition to the over 135 specialty plates already available in North Carolina. Pharmacists and insurance providers continue to be denied conscience protection in the provision of contraception and participation in abortion-related procedures when HB 397Conscience Protection/Contraceptive Coverage and HB 432Conscience Protection/Health Care Providers failed to receive any consideration. Bills designed to ensure accurate information is provided to women considering an abortion (HB 891Ultrasound Before an Abortion and HB 1044Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know) also saw no action. North Carolina continues to deny unborn children who are victims of violence against their mothers or those who survive abortions equal protection under the law by refusing to allow any hearing on HB 890Unborn Victims of Violence Act or HB 895Born Alive Infant Protection Act. Attempts to remove abortion coverage from the state health plan for government employees were thwarted again this year when HB 1420State Health Plan/No Abortion Coverage and SB 1039State Health Plan/No Abortion Coverage was never concidered in committees. A bill of concern that did not make crossover after it was pulled from Thursday’s Senate calendar is SB 440Establish Gestational Surrogacy Agreements, which would have legalized the sale of human children and potentially exploited poor women by establishing a framework for contracts between married couples and women who agree to be a surrogate for a pregnancy. The bill would have established very few guidelines for a practice that should be banned, rather than legalized.
GAMBLING: By nearly a three to one margin, the House approved HB 1289No Lottery at Check Cashing Sites Thursday, which would prohibit the sale of lottery tickets at businesses that primarily cash checks. The Senate referred HB 1289 to the committee on Commerce. Efforts to require that lottery materials only be available in English in keeping with an existing prohibition against advertisement targeting went nowhere when HB 1156English Only Lottery Materials died in committee. Neither HB 1277Ban Server-Based Video Poker nor HB 1418Reaffirm Opposition to Video Poker received any consideration.
MARRIAGE: Marriage has been under attack in recent sessions, and 2009 has been no different. While efforts to abolish North Carolina’s alienation of affection and criminal conversation statutes (HB 1123Abolish Alienation of Affection/Criminal Conversation), which allow a spouse to sue a third party who commits adultery with their mate or intentionally alienates their affections, remain unsuccessful, HB 1110Clarify/Alienation of Affection/Criminal Conversation, which narrows the scope of those torts did pass the House. The Senate approved
SB 992Authorize Mayors to Solemnize Marriage, while both chambers refused for the sixth year to allow any debate on HB 361 and SB 272Defense of Marriage. It is possible that HB 361 and SB 272, which would allow the citizens to vote on a Marriage Protection Amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, may not be subject to crossover or that the supermajority of members required to pass them could change the rules to allow them to be considered.
PARENTAL RIGHTS: While neither chamber considered HB 431Abortion-Parental Consent Notarized or SB 236Notarized Consent for Minor’s Abortion, which would protect parental rights in the procurement of an abortion for a minor, the House approved HB 442Parental Involvement in School Discipline to give all parents of public school children the option of prohibiting the use of corporal punishment on their child. The House Judiciary III committee dealt a blow to continued efforts to strip parents of their Supreme Court-recognized right to “make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children” by voting against HB 590Study Grandparents’ Visitation Rights.
SEXUALITY: Arguably, the two biggest blows to pro-family efforts in the legislature were dealt last week with the House’s approval of HB 88Healthy Youth Act and the Senate’s approval of SB 526School Violence Prevention Act. HB 88 would require the 104 of North Carolina’s 115 school systems that currently teach Abstinence-Until-Marriage (AUM) to now also offer a so-called Comprehensive Sexuality Education program much more focused on condoms and contraception as a risk-reducer than the positive behavior risk-elimination AUM curriculum. SB 526 is the so-called “Bullying Bill” that seeks to use bullying in schools as the mechanism by which to introduce special legal protections based on “alternative” sexual behaviors by inserting the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into state law for the first time. A similar bill failed late last session when the House refused to accept a Senate version that had stripped out a clause enumerating specific characteristics of students that deserve special attention in bullying and harassment policies, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.” SB 526 includes that list of enumerations and is now awaiting consideration by the House Education committee. A more general bill that would protect all children from all bullying, HB 776No Bullying Anyone at Public Schools, was never considered by committee. Other efforts to introduce the same protections and recognition sought in the Bullying Bill all stalled in committee. HB 207Safer Communities Act, HB 1049Nondiscrimination in State/Teacher EMP, and SB 843Nondiscrimination in State Employment did not receive consideration before Thursday. HB 100Conform State Law to Lawrence v. Texas, which would have legalized sodomy in North Carolina by repealing the current ban also died in a House committee.
Finally, SB 7Allow Hunting on Sunday, which would have repealed North Carolina’s 140 year ban on Sunday Hunting failed to make it out of a Senate committee in time for crossover.
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.