Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly we had a shortened week, but managed to squeeze in some very interesting and controversial bills, had long committee meetings and almost finalized one phase of the state budget process.
The week was shorter than usual, due to an Easter break that had been planned at the beginning of the session. Monday and Tuesday were much busier than usual, and we were able to come back to our districts on Wednesday rather than late Thursday.
I started the week on Monday in Pinehurst at a conference of the Railway Association of North Carolina. Four of our House and Senate Transportation chairs were on a panel and discussed issues pertaining to the operations of the 2 large railroad companies and almost two dozen small ones. It was very interesting, and they allowed us to go early and sprint to Raleigh for meetings starting just after noon. Committee meetings went on all afternoon and the voting session started at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday was similar, with meetings all day considering dozens of bills and the voting floor session in the House at 4:00 p.m.
Our most controversial bill was Senate Bill 359 – Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This was a companion bill to House Bill 602, but the Senate version crossed over first, so we voted on it Tuesday. The bill makes it clear that if an infant survives to birth, whether or not it is the survivor of an attempted abortion, it must receive the same medical care as any other human. To refuse care or to kill the infant after birth would be felony murder. I was amazed at the level of debate and controversy on this bill. The vote split 65 – 46, almost on party lines, but with 4 Democrats voting with all Republicans present to pass the bill. It went to the Governor’s desk on Tuesday, and he vetoed it on Thursday. I was frankly surprised, as I believe that he is a good father, and that he would have taken this subject personally, not politically.
Also, on Tuesday, we had three other bills of interest. House Bill 437 – Education on the Holocaust and Genocide passed unanimously 112 – 0. It requires the inclusion of the history of these subjects in middle and high school curricula. There were several touching stories of visits to the Holocaust death camps during the floor debate.
House Bill 350 – Designate NC Time Zone/Observe Daylight Saving Time All Year says that North Carolina will go to daylight saving time all year if and when Congress approves a bill to do the same across the country. It passed 85 – 27.
House Bill 151 – Katelyn’s Law says that a student will not lose school days against a perfect attendance record if they are attending a legislative event (like Youth Legislature) or visiting the legislature (like serving as a page). It passed 110 – 2.
The budget process moved along in high gear, with the full chairs having received the area budgets. They will come back to us, we will be able to present and pass each part of the budgets in our respective committees, hold the full House Appropriations Committee meeting to pass the entire budget, take it to the floor for a vote by early May, and send it to the Senate within the next two weeks.