Under the Dome

Dome: Abortion-rights supporters plan vigils outside governor’s mansion

July 27, 2013 

Following Gov. Pat McCrory’s confirmation on Friday that he will sign the omnibus abortion bill the Legislature sent him last week, abortion-rights advocates are planning a two-day vigil outside of the executive mansion in Raleigh on Monday and Tuesday.

The Planned Parenthood protest is expected to last at least 12 hours each day – from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. – to make a statement and serve as a last-ditch effort to convince McCrory to change his mind. Organizers contend McCrory would be going back on his word if he signs the bill because he made a campaign promise that he would approve no new restrictions on abortions. He contends the bill provides safeguards, not restrictions.

The legislation would require the state to develop new, stricter regulations of abortion clinics, which some contend could put them out of business. It would also deny insurance coverage for abortions for those participating in the coming state health insurance exchange, or for city and county employees; prohibit abortion for sex selection; and allow some additional medical personnel to refuse to participate in abortion procedures as a matter of conscience.

The bill passed the House a couple weeks ago and cleared the Senate on a vote of 32-13 along party lines, except for the “no” vote cast by Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican from Southport, who was one of the sponsors of the original bill. The House reworked the bill to address concerns of state health officials, saying the intention wasn’t to make abortions harder to get. The House vote was 74-41, with freshman GOP Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville the only Republican to vote against it. He said he was elected to work on the economy, not vote on social issues.

Also, the final “Moral Monday” mass protest will happen this week, even though the General Assembly left town on Friday.

Attorney General dodges bullet

Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper has dodged a big bullet: the governor’s proposal to transfer half of his legal staff out from under his control.

In a technical corrections bill to the new budget, unveiled late Thursday in a Senate committee, only 19 positions would be transferred.

McCrory’s proposed budget would have moved 210 attorneys and support staff from the state Department of Justice to 14 different state agencies where they already specialize. The move would put them under the budgetary control and supervision of those agencies.

The General Assembly’s recently approved budget didn’t include the transfers. Justice Department staff has been working with the governor’s office on the issue.

Cooper opposed the move, which he said would hamper his staff’s ability to perform their jobs. Republican governor McCrory’s budget director had said the attorneys would handle routine legal work.

The transfers in the new bill involve the departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Health and Human Services, Transportation, N.C. Banking Commission and the state treasurer.

Democrats decry session

Republicans left town on Friday declaring victory. Democrats, not so much.

In a parting-shot news conference on Friday morning with the House Democratic Caucus, Minority Leader Larry Hall said Republicans had not kept their promise of job creation this session.

“We end this session knowing we did nothing to create jobs; we don’t have that prosperity,” he said. “We created a tax cut for the millionaires and raised the taxes on the least of these.”

Caucus members rebuked the other party’s efforts, asserting that the state GOP has not adequately represented the real people of North Carolina.

“Every interest was served in this General Assembly, except one: the public interest,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat. “And that was never probably clearer than what happened last night.”

He was speaking specifically about House Bill 589, dubbed the Voter Information Verification Act, which requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, ends registering to vote and voting on the same day, and shortens the early voting period. Some of the lawmakers say they will travel county to county to inform people of changes to the voting laws in preparation for the 2014 election.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Annalise Frank

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