NC NOW’s Legislative Update #32 Summary – Sep. 25, 2015
NCGA waging wars on women, immigrants, the poor, and on non-partisanship!
This week’s legislative update is focused on progress in the various wars our legislature has been waging on the citizens of North Carolina. There have been developments in the War on Women, the War on Immigrants and the Poor, and the War on Non-Partisanship. The only good news to report is that the legislature is expected to adjourn next week. But adjournment probably will not mean that the bad proposals that did not pass before adjournment will die. They can be kept alive by assigning them to study committees. Bills based on the recommendations of study committees can be considered in a short session—the tactic that was used to bring up the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982 to circumvent a “gentleman’s agreement” that it would not be considered in that short session.
The War on Women (via Planned Parenthood)
The War on Planned Parenthood has escalated and expanded into a war on medical research. A last-minute budget provision by Rep. Paul Stam defunded Planned Parenthood (without naming it) by barring any agency that provides abortion services from receiving state funds for family planning or teen pregnancy prevention programs. This budget provision was written into law when the Senate Rules Committee stripped a bill on child support (House Bill 297) of its contents and rewrote it to include this budgeting provision. But the main point of the rewrite was to prohibit the sale of fetal remains (already against federal law and not done by Planned Parenthood) and to restrict tissue donations to miscarried fetuses. As written, it is unclear if an organization is even permitted to recover its administrative costs for donated tissue. For a dramatic illustration of how this tactic of substituting one unrelated bill for another works, just go the NC General Assembly website and take a look at the first and second editions of House Bill 297: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2015&BillID=H297&submitButton=Go.
War on Immigrants (and the Poor)
A bill dealing with E-Verify requirements (House Bill 318) was amended in committee to prohibit municipalities from passing or implementing sanctuary ordinances and also to deny food stamps to poor childless adults who live in counties where unemployment is high and work is scarce. For the background and impact of this proposed legislation, see http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2015&BillID=H297&submitButton=Go. Providing this assistance requires obtaining a federal waiver to the SNAP program and meeting rigid requirements. North Carolina has applied for the waiver because 77 of our counties and an estimated 85,000 to 105,000 adults are eligible for this federal assistance. This bill would put a halt to the waiver application. Attaching this provision to an E-Verify bill seems reflect a concern that perhaps some poor immigrants might receive assistance that would enable them to eat. This bill has passed the House and is scheduled for a final vote in the Senate on Monday, September 28.
What changing NC’s primaries means
A last-minute addition to House Bill 373, moving all of North Carolina’s political primaries to March, will allow the leadership of both parties in each house to raise and disburse money as though they were a political party. This form of political fundraising is not subject to restrictions and limitations that apply to other forms of campaign fundraising. The legislative leaders of each party presently raise money to give to candidates, but they do it through their respective parties. But these days legislative Republicans have issues with leaders of the NC Republican Party and would prefer not to have to work with them on campaign money matters. See http://jonesandblount.com/2015/09/25/caucus-campaign-committees-would-be-new-to-raleigh-but-have-a-long-history/. Moving our primary elections up to March will give North Carolina more say choosing nominees for President, but it is also widely viewed as a measure that will help incumbents keep their seats by reducing the amount of time challengers will have to raise money and organize campaigns. This bill has been ratified; however some Republicans are urging the Governor to veto it.
War on Non-partisan Judicial Races
A bill to make judicial races for the Court of Appeals partisan (House Bill 8) passed the House back in April and sat dormant in the Senate Rules Committee until this week when it suddenly broke out and passed the Senate. All that remains before the bill can go to the Governor for his signature is for the House to concur with the minor revisions in the Senate bill.
More interference in sex ed
UPDATE ON SB279: Senate Bill 279 is a House committee substitute for a bill that dealt with licensing requirements for counselors. The new version opens the door for faith-based sex education programs in the public schools. The Senate did not concur with the committee substitute, and a conference committee has been appointed. To keep sex education programs in public schools, contact members of the conference committee—especially of one of them is your own legislator. A list of the committee members may be found at http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/confcomm/confcommittee.pl?BillChamber=S&BillID=279&session=2015.
VP-Action, NC National Organization for Women
p.s. Medicaid update. “North Carolina is on the verge of privatizing its Medicaid system, the $14 billion program that provides health care for 1.9 million of its most vulnerable residents — low-income elderly, children, pregnant women and disabled persons.”
“Opponents to the plan warned Tuesday that the state’s continuing refusal to expand Medicaid and then privatizing the existing system would leave North Carolinians paying more in the long run for an inferior level of care.”
p.p.s. Are you upset with the legislature and the shenanigans this session? You are not alone! The NC NOW state conference is a great opportunity to recharge and renew with like-minded feminists. Please join us in Winston-Salem on Oct 10. Our theme is “Focusing Women’s Power NOW!” See more at https://northcarolinanow.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/2015_nc_now_conference_flyer-v51.pdf and at https://northcarolinanow.wordpress.com/conferences/
President, NC National Organization for Women