The North Carolina Senate gaveled out members at 1:30 am and the House closed its doors thirty minutes later on June 30th. Originally, I was going to add all of the information I had found on the progress, or lack there of, from our local government into the July 15th newsletter. However, as I began to do more research and found more on the subject, I immediately discovered that this was a topic that needed a bigger platform than just a paragraph summary in the newsletter.
Here is a breakdown of some of the measures passed:
- An expansion on a 2015 law allowing gun owners to hunt on Sunday. The expansion would allow hunting during times normally aligned with church services. Hunters would also be able to hunt on public lands, be able to hunt Wake and Mecklenburg counties, where it was previously barred, and hunt some birds they were previously unable to hunt.
- House Bill 511 passed, allowing non-profits and some private companies to hot charitable gambling events. Groups hosting these game nights, which could include any gaming offering a prize such as raffles and casino-style games, would need a permit and be limited to the number of events they could hold per year.
- The House passed a bill that will allow for cameras to be put on school buses. The hope is to capture motorists who fail to stop while the bus is offloading students. First time offenders are expected to pay a monetary fine starting at $400.
- House and Senate representatives reached a compromise on a bill that changes how Duke Energy purchases solar and biomass electricity. The deal includes a relaxing of some solar guidelines, as well as an 18-month prohibition on wind farms. The changes are believed to save $850 million over 10 years and should help support solar energy growth.
Here is a breakdown of some of the measures that did not pass:
- The impeachment of State Secretary Elaine Marshall. Republican Representative Chris Millis brought the request up before the House, accusing Marshall of illegally commissioning some non-citizens as notaries.
- House Bill 746 would have allowed people as young as 18 to carry a concealed weapon in public without obtaining a permit or undergoing training in gun safety. The bill would have also removed the permitting system’s background-check requirement, which helps prevent violent criminals and stalkers from carrying concealed handguns in public places.
- A number of bills on immigration reform, simplifying the H-2A program, a program that allows foreign agricultural worker entry into the United States for temporary or seasonal work, and the best avenues to take for legal status for undocumented workers.
- A House bill that would have asked voters to borrow $1.9 billion for school construction projects. It would have been the first statewide school-construction bond election since 1996.
- House members voted down a bill which intended to request a national convention to make changes to the United States Constitution. Some of the ideas that had been tossed around for reasons behind the convention were to write a balanced-budget amendment, term limits for Congress, changing how federal judges are chosen, and allowing a vote of state legislatures to override Supreme Court rulings.
- A bill that would have legalized and regulated fantasy sports. The bill would have made fantasy sports outfits register with the Secretary of State’s office and meet minimal operation standards. These standards would have been enforced by State Alcohol Law Enforcement agents, with possible fines for violations.
- Closing up the legal loophole made by the North Carolina Supreme Court: a man cannot be guilty of rape if the woman consented, even if she later ask him to stop.
- A bill which would fine drivers $200 for impeding the flow of traffic in the left lane of a highway.
The House and Senate reconvene in August with plans already on the table to override several vetoes Governor Roy Cooper has already made on several bills. There are also plans in September to address the redistricting of legislature, judicial, and prosecutorial districts.
With the opposition that Governor Cooper has faced from a Republican controlled House and Senate, it is just a reminder that we need a united North Carolina political party. Not one that would try to undermine the governor’s power, as the GOP tried to do earlier this year. That is why, in 2018, we need to vote more Democratic members into the House and Senate, to help Governor Cooper make North Carolina the great state we all know it can be.