Under the Dome

Dome: NC lawmaker equates Islamic prayer with terrorism

April 10, 2013 

An N.C. House lawmaker is equating any prayer to the Islamic God with terrorism.

In an email exchange with a constituent, Republican state Rep. Michele Presnell of Burnsville was asked whether she was comfortable with a prayer to Allah before a legislative meeting. Presnell responded: “No, I do not condone terrorism.”

The first-year lawmaker who represents a district in the North Carolina mountains is a co-sponsor of House resolution 494, a measure asserting that North Carolina can establish a state religion. She did not return a call for comment Monday about the string of emails obtained by Dome.

“The famed ACLU is telling Rowan County they may not pray before commissioners meetings,” Presnell wrote to Britt Kaufmann, a constituent. “We pray in Raleigh before our legislative meetings, U.S. Congress prays in Washington DC, why can they not pray?”

Kaufmann replied: “Yes, I do understand that the ACLU is suing Rowan County and I think they have clearly articulated why they are not comfortable with prayer before the commissioners meetings. I wanted you, as my representative, to know that I do not think the proposed bill is a good solution to that problem. … Would you be comfortable with a public prayer to Allah before a legislative meeting in Raleigh?”

Presnell equated Islam to terrorism and added, “We just need to start taking a stand on our religious freedom or it will be whisked away from us.”

The email exchange ends with Presnell telling her constituent: “No, you are wrong. Have a good day.”

Her stance appears to differ from that of the primary sponsor of the bill, Rep. Harry Warren, a Salisbury Republican, who later apologized for the resolution’s poor wording and how it embarrassed the state.

‘Anti-Bloomberg’ bill here, too

Not to be outdone by Mississippi, three North Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday filed a bill that would prohibit cities and counties from limiting how big a soft drink can be.

Recently, Mississippi passed such a law, “The Anti-Bloomberg Bill,” which took a swipe at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to limit giant sugary drinks for health reasons.

House Bill 683, filed Tuesday in North Carolina, would also protect food manufacturers from being sued over weight gain, obesity or other conditions stemming from long-term consumption. Packers, distributors, carriers, sellers, marketers and advertisers also would be protected.

Sponsors are Rep. Brian Brown, a Republican from Greenville; Rep. Tim Moffitt, a Republican from Asheville; and Rep. Nathan Ramsey, a Republican from Fairview.

13-year-olds tried as adults

Children 13 and older would have to be tried in adult court for the most serious crimes under a bill pending in the state House.

Currently, only teenagers accused of first-degree murder automatically must have their cases heard in Superior Court, where proceedings are confidential and the punishment is generally less severe.

Judges already can transfer the most serious felonies to adult court if they find there is probable cause that the juvenile committed the crime. This bill would require them to transfer the cases if the prosecutor calls for it.

The bill by Speaker Pro Tem Paul “Skip” Stam, a Republican from Apex, and Rep. John Faircloth, a second-term Republican from High Point, would expand the offenses eligible for adult court to include felonies designed as Class B1 to Class D.

That covers such crimes as first-degree rape, on the high end, down to voluntary manslaughter, first-degree burglary and armed robbery.

A legislative staff report shows that the cases of 19 juveniles who were at least 13 and charged with the most serious felonies were transferred to adult court last year.

There has been an ongoing effort to go in the other direction: to keep more juveniles out of adult court to lessen the likelihood that they’ll be repeat offenders. North Carolina is one of only two states that prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

Rouzer will run again

Former State Sen. David Rouzer of Johnston County formally declared his candidacy Tuesday for Congress, seeking a rematch with Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre. Rouzer lost one of the closest races in the country to McIntyre last November, losing by 654 votes.

Staff writers John Frank, Craig Jarvis and Rob Christensen

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