Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly saw the most bills of any week this session coming to the House and Senate floor for votes. In two long days of heavy voting almost 90 bills came to the House floor. This was after other days of long committee meetings that got the bills ready for prime time. Some bills were unanimous and moved quickly, but others required long debates and close votes.
In attempting to bring some order to our understanding of the procedures, the major bills are grouped below by categories and summarized very briefly:
Education bills: House Bill 644 – Remote Academies allows more virtual schools where that has been positive. Passed 95 – 22. House Bill 755 – Academic Transparency provides more school curriculum information to parents. Passed 66 – 50.
Safety Bills: House Bill 536 – Law Enforcement Duty to Intervene encourages officers to get involved when excessive force may be in progress. Passed 117 – 0. House Bill 410 – Threaten LEO or Correctional Officer increases the punishment for those assaulting officers in the performance of their duties. Passed 62 – 49. House Bill 448 – Authorize Blue Lights on Fire Apparatus allows blue lights as well as red lights on fire trucks in order to get more attention from passing drivers. Passed 101 -11. House Bill 417 – Sgt. Mickey Hutchens Act improves the retirement for law enforcement. Passed 112 – 0.
Firearms bills: House Bill 398 – Pistol Purchase Permit Repeal does away with the outdated permit system and encourages the use of an online background check system. It passed 70 – 47. House Bill 483 – Pistol Permit/Mental Health Record to Sheriff gets more mental health information to the Sheriff from court records and also creates an updated misdemeanor of domestic violence with a deadly weapon. It passed 117 – 0. The N.C. Sheriffs Association and our Sheriff support these bills.
Transportation bills: Without listing the six bills concerning the Dept. of Transportation and Div. of Motor Vehicles, some of the subjects dealt with legislative changes to multiple DOT and DMV laws. Some specific bills dealt with DMV fee exemptions for deployed armed forces, DMV drivers licensing requirements, clarifying dealer franchise laws, and restricting certain vehicle modifications. I encourage anyone to go on line for details to www.ncleg.gov and look up House Bills 165, 297, 403, 650, and 692, as well as Senate Bill 69.
Three other significant bills were: House Bill 453 – Human Life Nondiscrimination Act/No Eugenics requires that abortions not be performed due to a positive test of Down syndrome being detected, which can be flawed. It passed 67 – 42 with some bipartisan support. House Joint Resolution 286 – Urge Congress/Propose “Keep Nine” Amendment urges Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment for the people to vote on keeping the Supreme Court at nine justices. It passed 68 – 44, again with some bipartisan votes. We also had a bill that guaranteed that a patient has the right to see their clergy when confined during an emergency or disaster, House Bill 447. It passed 98 – 19.
All the House bills were sent to the Senate, except the one Senate bill went to the Governor. We expect to be very busy again this week, with the deadline looming to get our bills from one chamber to the other by this Thursday, May 13th.