Standing For Life As Session Ends
Special Report - June 18, 2011
The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned today, having completed the first part of what is arguably the best pro-family legislative session in more than a decade. They will return on July 13 for a brief session to consider redistricting and a limited number of other issues. Then they plan to adjourn for another month and return for the final part of the 2011 session to consider constitutional amendments, including a marriage protection amendment. Here's how several bills ended up.
“Choose Life” License Plate
Capping off a very busy week, the Senate and House approved a compromise version of HB 289-Authorize Various Special Plates on Saturday morning. Included in this measure was a specialty plate that would help to support the work of pregnancy life care centers across the state. The “Choose Life” plate, which bill sponsor Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell) tried for 10 years to have considered, was the lone plate of contention as the bill moved through the process. The compromise version allows a full graphic “Choose Life” plate, but provides for a study of the design of all specialty plates by the N.C. Department of Transportation. The bill provides that current specialty plates with the full color design would be phased out by 2015. Rep. Gillespie and Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) were the conferees from the House and Senate who worked out the details.
Informed Consent for Abortion
In a long-awaited and monumental victory for women and unborn children, HB 854Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know received final legislative approval on Wednesday, passing the Senate by a vote of 29-20. The measure, which would help ensure that women considering abortion are properly informed about the procedure and its risks, passed after nearly half an hour of debate on the Senate floor.
Senators opposed to the measure argued that the bill was an “insult” to women that implies that they are not able to make their own decisions, but Senators supportive of HB 854 were quick to point out that the legislation was meant only to ensure that women are provided with the information they need to be properly informed before making a life-long, life-altering decision. Many women who have had abortions report that they were not given medically accurate information about the procedure and the developmental stage of their child prior to the abortion.
Sen. Warren Daniel (RBurke), a sponsor of the Senate companion legislation to HB 854, voiced his support for the bill, remarking that the measure “statistically makes abortion more rare.” In fact, the bill’s fiscal note prepared by legislative staff estimated that, as a result of this law, 2,900 more births would occur annually in the state, a decrease of almost 10 percent of the roughly 30,000 abortions that occur in North Carolina each year.
It remains unclear whether Governor Perdue will veto the bill. The measure passed both the House and Senate just one vote shy of a veto-proof majority. Supporters are being encouraged to contact the Governor to allow this reasonable measure to become law.
Gambling Threat Rises
This week also saw a fight behind the scenes in both chambers as lobbyists attempted to gain the votes necessary to pass legislation to allow the Governor to grant Class III (Las Vegas style) gambling for the Cherokee casino, which is located on their reservation in western North Carolina. Fortunately, this effort was thwarted as gambling opponents, both Democrat and Republican, heard about the effort and quickly worked to secure the votes to defeat the measure, thereby insuring that sponsors were not likely to attempt to advance the proposal. Interestingly, no copies were ever made available to the public and the measure was never actually introduced as a bill.
This gambling “event” was a wake up call to those who thought this issue would not surface in this session of the General Assembly. It is a reminder that many of the traditional family issues require a continual process of research and education.
Another gambling measure, this time a real bill in the form of SB 621-Simulated Gaming Allowed/Certain ABC Outlets, was re-referred on Monday night and considered by the Senate Rules Committee, on Tuesday, June 14. The bill would legalize the possession of certain gambling equipment in North Carolina that is now illegal, such as craps tables, and roulette wheels, etc. and allow these to be used by individuals or organizations who were renting a private room from a hotel or restaurant to hold a private gambling event. Real money could not be used, only chips and script provided by the sponsor.
After members began discussing the measure, it quickly became apparent that a number, if not most of the members of the committee had serious questions and concerns about the bill. Sen. Linda Garrou (D-Forsyth) said she would like to hear from members of the public about their concerns. Committee Chairman, Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) then recognized Bill Brooks, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, who outlined some of the problems with the bill and the introduction of this form of gambling to the state. He was followed by Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League who pointed out that legalizing the gambling and the equipment under SB 621 would pave the way for the Cherokee to demand Class III gambling for their casino.
Sen. Apodaca realized that this was not going to be a quick discussion, so being near the end of time allotted for the meeting, he adjourned the committee.
Victory for Life in NC House - June 9, 2011
Expanding Indian Gambling - Findings - August 2005
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