Legislative roundup

Bill touts future risks of abortion

From Staff ReportsMay 8, 2013 

Students would have to be taught that abortion increases the risk for subsequent premature births, under a bill a Senate committee approved Wednesday.

There are conflicting studies about whether that is true. But the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force included that recommendation in its list of issues for the legislature to consider this session.

If enacted, the legislation would require that seventh-grade health classes include a discussion of preventable causes of pre-term births, specifically that abortion is one of the risk factors.

“This bill is about giving our young people scientific information about health risks,” Sen. Warren Daniel, a Republican from Morganton, told the Senate Health Care Committee. “It’s based on science, not political ideology.”

The committee heard from Dr. Marty McCaffrey, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor with expertise in neonatal medicine. Last year, McCaffrey asked the Child Fatality Task Force to develop a bill like this. He told the task force committee there are “potentially avoidable” deaths of 119 infants and 32 new cases of cerebral palsy annually. He cited a list of studies showing the link between abortion and pre-term births.

Dr. David Grimes, an obstetrics-gynecology professor and epidemiologist at the UNC School of Medicine, mocked the idea as “state-sponsored ideology.” He said claims that there is such a link are scientifically false and have been rejected by prominent health associations.

Sen. Gladys Robinson, a Democrat from Guilford County with a background in health services, said the reports weren’t definitive.

She offered an amendment that would require students to be taught about preventable causes of premature births without requiring that abortion be included, but it was defeated.

Sen. Ralph Hise, the committee chairman and a Republican from Spruce Pine, rushed the bill to a voice vote because there was a time limit on the meeting. He ignored Democrats’ request for a show of hands.

Staff writer Craig Jarvis

Parental consent slows

The parental consent bill approved Tuesday in committee slowed Wednesday. Instead of coming up for a vote by the full House, it was removed from the calendar and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

The legislation, HB693, would require minors who want to receive birth control or treatment for substance abuse, mental illness or sexually transmitted diseases to bring either their parents or guardians or notarized permission to the doctor’s office. It would also require notarized permission for minors to have abortions; parental approval is already required.

It passed a House committee Tuesday with a vote largely along party lines.

Staff writer Craig Jarvis

Cancer drug bill advances

The House gave preliminary approval to a measure that supporters say would have insurance companies treat cancer drugs taken by mouth the same as intravenous chemotherapy.

The measure was approved 86-27. It will come up for a final vote Thursday. Some House members want to add a provision allowing insurance companies to charge up to $500 a month for the cancer-fighting pills.

Insurance companies and the National Federation for Independent Business oppose the bill. The business group said it will lead to higher insurance costs.

Oral chemotherapy is much more expensive than chemotherapy at a hospital or doctor’s office. Traditional chemotherapy is a medical benefit for which insurance plans usually cap out-of-pocket expenses. But drugs from the pharmacist are covered differently, with patients usually paying a percentage of the cost with no annual limits.

Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat, described the issue as a “contest between Blue Cross Blue Shield and the pharmaceutical companies,” with patients caught in the crossfire.

Staff writer Lynn Bonner

Term limits pass House

The House on Wednesday approved 85-34 legislation limiting the terms of the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Proposed as a constitutional amendment, it would limit both leaders to no more than two terms.

Staff writer Craig Jarvis

State timber gets a boost

The House on Wednesday tentatively approved a bill that would promote the use of North Carolina-grown timber in state government construction at the risk of barring state agencies from seeking the prestigious LEED green building certification. The 78-34 vote followed a lengthy debate that saw several Republicans expressing reservations about the GOP-sponsored bill. The final vote will be Monday

Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican, said there was a lot of uncertainty and concern after the bill unexpectedly changed from calling for a study of the issue to changes in state law that would restrict which green building certifications state agencies would be allowed to use. Her amendment to delay implementation of the bill for one year narrowly lost.

Staff writer Craig Jarvis

Regs may be reviewed

A House committee overwhelmingly approved a bill that would require state agencies to review regulations every 10 years by revising some and junking others.

The state has an estimated 25,000 regulations dictating terms for waste disposal, fishing, hunting, mining, nursing homes, environmental protection and a host of other functions.

The bill the House Committee on Regulatory Reform approved Wednesday would require a detailed review only of a subset of those rules – the ones that are necessary but remain controversial. Every decade, they would be researched, debated and negotiated, a process that can take several years.

Rules deemed obsolete would be allowed to expire, and those deemed necessary but uncontroversial would be remain on the books.

Staff writer John Murawski

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