Legislative roundup

Legislative roundup: Abortion, preterm-birth link advances

From Staff ReportsJune 28, 2013 

After cutting off debate, the House passed a bill that would require schools to teach students about the connection between abortion and preterm birth.

The bill will now return to the Senate for concurrence, and then head to the governor’s desk for a signature.

An amendment that would delete “causes of” and substitute “risks for,” sponsored by Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, passed in a vote of 110-4. The Committee on Health and Human Services struck down a similar amendment previously.

Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, a Republican from Apex and the bill’s main sponsor, supported the amendment, saying that “risk is not incorrect.” In a previous interview, though, he stated that “cause” is the correct “scientific term.”

“We’re going to tell them that a 12-year-old is supposed to make a connection that if they have an abortion … and what that is, that they may then later on in life have a miscarriage?” asked Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Fayetteville. He said the law would “scare teachers” who haven’t broached the subject before and aren’t comfortable doing so.

The bill actually doesn't mention miscarriages but does require teachers to explain that an abortion is one of several things that is a risk factor for pre-term births in the future.

In the closing arguments, Rep. James Fulghum, a Republican from Raleigh, argued that the bill was needed.

“If you don’t believe that a 9- or 10-year-old is experimenting with sex, you better wake up,” Fulghum said.

Staff writer Annalise Frank

DOT will not study 75-mph speed limit

The N.C. House didn’t want a law allowing posted speeds of 75 miles per hour on some highways. And as it turns out, even studying higher speeds was too much for most members.

The House rejected in a 44-64 vote a bill that would have had the state Department of Transportation study highways and propose four places where 75-mph speed limits would be safe to test. The bill was a watered down version of a bill that would have allowed DOT to increase speeds on some highways to 75 mph, 5 mph higher than the current limit.

House members said Thursday that raising the limit is dangerous, and asking for four test projects would mean that higher speeds would eventually be allowed. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican, sped through the Senate with little opposition.

Staff writer Lynn Bonner

‘Big Gulp bill’ approved

A Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would prevent people from suing food suppliers for making them fat and prevent municipalities from limiting the size of sodas for sale.

Known as the “Big Gulp bill,” it is based on model legislation from the free-market group American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat, called the bill “a solution in search of a problem,” because it would be nearly impossible for someone to win a lawsuit blaming food for making them obese. In North Carolina, if someone contributes 1 percent to their injury, they have no claim.

Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg Republican, said the law would prevent “legal extortion.”

Staff writer Lynn Bonner

Private nonprofit to handle Commerce Department duties

A McCrory administration effort to begin the creation of a private nonprofit corporation to handle several Commerce Department duties will soon become law.

The measure was approved 86-27 by House lawmakers Thursday. It was passed by the Senate last month.

Senate Bill 127 establishes a nonprofit – run by a board appointed from the private and public sectors – to recruit new business and expansions to the state. That role is now handled by the Commerce Department and various regional economic groups. Associated Press

House Republicans vote to extend sewer and water lines to 751 South project

House Republicans voted over objections of Durham-area lawmakers and other Democrats to require the city to extend sewer and water lines to the 751 South project, a business and residential development project, even after City Council members refused to do so. Durham County House members complained that Republicans were interfering again in local government, but GOP lawmakers said the project would create jobs and that city officials had thwarted property rights.

The House vote was 73-31. The House must vote a second time on a separate day on the bill before it goes to the Senate. Associated Press

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