NC NOW provides weekly legislative updates for members. Most are posted on the NC NOW website. Here are some from 2021, which is a long session, and from 2020, which was a short session. The global pandemic (Covid-19) closed down the US in March, 2020. Each legislative update includes a summary and a list of House bills and a list of Senate bills. These are written by Robin Davis, NC NOW Vice President of Political Action.
This week there were two significant developments on our issues–one good and one disappointing. The good news is that HB 358, which would have barred transgender girls and young women from participating in school sports designated for females, is dead. The disappointing news is that a bill to raise the marriage age to 18 with no exceptions (HB 41/SB 35) was gutted. The amended bill brings the existing law into line with the sexual assault statute– something that should have been done when the marital rape exemption was repealed–while retaining all of the archaic exemptions that allow marriage as young as age 14.
Never a dull moment at the legislature. This week a dispute between House Speaker Moore and a senior Republican legislator went public and culminated in Representative Julia Howard being removed as a senior finance committee chair. Great news on one of the many anti-Transgender person bills filed.
Black Maternal Health Week was observed in North Carolina with the introduction of Senate Bill 632,/House Bill 507, the North Carolina Momnibus Act, that targets the Black maternal health crisis in the state and addresses the gaps in reproductive health care during the pandemic. The maternal death rate is especially high in North Carolina, which ranks 30th out of the 50 states. Nationally Black women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white or Hispanic women.
This week saw the introduction of two terrible bills. The religious right has had so much success on the medical front passing laws to regulate abortion and abortion providers, they have decided to widen the scope of their activities to deny trans youth medical care (SB 514). The second bill (SB 515) would legalize medical discrimination across the board by introducing a bill that would allow doctors and other medical personnel along with hospitals and other medical practices to deny medical care to anyone for conscientious reasons. It is worthwhile to examine these two bills in detail because they provide important insight into the kind of world these religious extremists desire.
This week saw the introduction of what is probably an historic number of bills to protect LGBTQ rights. All are much needed and way overdue. Bills further restricting women’s reproductive rights were also introduced.
Governor Cooper has submitted his budget. North Carolina did not suffer the predicted revenue shortfall due to the pandemic; our reserve funds are flush with 5 billion dollars; and projections are rosy. The Governor’s budget includes substantial pay raises for teachers, smaller raises for state employees, restoring the earned income tax credit, raising the state minimum wage to $15 an hour, and expanding Medicaid. But Republicans have other plans—more tax cuts.
The inevitable has finally happened. North Carolina Republican legislators have jumped on board the voter suppression train. Senate Bill 326, misleadingly titled the Election Integrity Act, is a measure that would restrict voting by absentee ballot in a variety of ways. In short, it is a voter suppression bill. Significantly, the restrictions do not apply to military or overseas voters.
Legislative leaders and the Governor actually reached a compromise on Senate Bill 220, Open our Schools Act, and the bill has been signed into law. Reaching a deal has been a prolonged power struggle between the legislature and the Governor. This week also saw two bills of interest introduced: (1) Senate Bill 190, Prohibit Weapons at Voting Place, and (2) Senate Bill 199, Freedom from Abuse, which would require public schools to provide students information on and resources for neglect and abuse, including sexual abuse.
The big news is a bill to protect women’s rights to abortion. It’s called The Removing Barriers/Gain Access to Abortion Act, ”RBG Act”). The short title honors late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was a strong advocate for abortion rights. The summary also talks about crossover this session.
Governor Cooper has vetoed a bill where the NCGA is trying to force teachers and students back to school without providing protection. An anti-abortion bill amendment TO THE CONSTITUTION has been introduced! One good bill was introduced – the North Carolina CROWN Act (HB 170= SB 165).
This week’s summary talks about Governor Cooper’s response to the NC legislature forcing in person learning via legislation and on how late census data will effect federal and state redistricting and 2021 elections. There are no new bills to track and no action on the bills being tracked. See whole report at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #4.22 February 2021.
The third North Carolina Legislative Update of 2021 gives updates on the child marriage bills in the NC House and Senate, the Ratify ERA bill, legislation to allow some people to carry concealed weapons in the legislative building! The main addition here is riveting testimony from a passionate pro-choice woman in SC on the Fetal Heartbeat bill introduced as Senate Bill 1. NC has one also, as pointed out in the first North Carolina NOW Legistative Update of 2021. See whole new report at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update 3.15 February 2021.
The second North Carolina Legislative Update of 2021 gives updates on the child marriage bills in the NC House and Senate, the Ratify ERA bill, legislation to allow some people to carry concealed weapons in the legislative building! Also, an update on the Fetal Heartbeat bill introduced in SC. NC has one also.
See NC NOW’s first legislative update of the session, courtesy of NC NOW’s Robin Davis. Read about two of the biggest issues this long session will deal with – the state budget (with many bitter battles on many fronts) and reapportionment. And see new bills already filed – ratifying the ERA in NC, a bill to address domestic violence between same sex couples (another big loophole long overdue to be fixed), and a big anti-abortion bill, among others.
Also find at https://wp.me/p22b2e-3a3, and feel free to share on social media using the shortlink.
2020 – NC NOW Legislative Updates
NC NOW Legislative Update – 29 Jun 2020 – Summary of Short Session – They’ve gone home! Both houses have passed an adjournment resolution that sets July 11 as the date of adjournment. Between now and then there will be skeleton sessions, but no further legislative action is anticipated. The date for reconvening is set for September 2. As described here, an astonishing amount of time and energy was expended trying to thwart Governor Cooper’s power to contain the COVID-19 virus, to block measures he ordered using his emergency powers. We explain two approaches the attacks took. There was no action on expanding Medicaid or improving unemployment compensation.
NC NOW Legislative Update – 22 Jun 2020 – Budget Bull and Irresponsible Holiday Games – Normally during a short session, the budget passed during the long session is tweaked, and funding for a few local projects is passed. Budgets passed by the General Assembly cover a two-year period. This year the situation is much more complicated because last year the governor vetoed the budget bill backed by Republicans and no substitute budget bill was ever passed. Instead we are operating by using the level of funding contained in the previous budget supplemented by a series of “mini budget” passed last session that funded certain departments or items. This week action focused on piecemeal budget bills with local targets and one major budget item, pay for teachers. The legislature keeps passing bills to allow various businesses to open during the pandemic, and the governor continues to veto them. The Senate passed a bill that would allow local areas to hold July 4 parades and other activities in spite of the restrictions the governor has ordered for the pandemic. This is no way to run a state.
NC NOW Legislative Update – 15 Jun 2020 – Pandemic Elections Bill – The Elections 2020 bill was ratified and signed by Governor Cooper. NC needed state bill to allocate federal funds to help conduct the 2020 elections. GOP added a Voter ID requirement. Read about what that means, since there is already a lawsuit in process against voter-id provisions claiming they are racially motivated.
NC NOW Legislative Update – 8 Jun 20 – Easier to Vote, Convention, NCGA Needs Better SH Process – Read news about a bipartisan bill to make it easier to use absentee voting (our only vote by mail), updates on next step for rejected Charlotte GOP conference, and how NCGA needs a better process to deal with sexual harassment and assault claims.
NC NOW Legislative Update – Harrassment, Assault & Bullying in NCGA – 01 Jun 2020 – NC NOW Legislative Update for Jun 1, 2020. There have been shocking developments concerning alleged sexual harassment and verbal assault in the General Assembly. Senator Erica Smith has accused Senate colleagues of harassment, assault, and bullying in incidents dating back to 2015. Complaints against legislators are handled internally and secretly by the Legislative Ethics Committee consisting of legislators who are historically reluctant to condemn any of their colleagues. These issues came to a head on September 11, 2019, when reporters witnessed Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) being escorted out of a committee room by other Senators.
NC NOW Legislative Update – During Pandemic – 25 May 2020 – The NC legislature is back in session. See the bills on which they are allowed to consider during the short session (in 2020). Under normal circumstances, the short session would focus on tweaking the budget, local bills, and bills that passed one house or the other during the long session. However, these are not normal circumstances. Read what is happening with state budget, Medicaid expansion, and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
NC NOW Legislative Update – Special Session: Can They Work Together Against Pandemic – The NC General Assembly convened at noon on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, for their session, adopting new rules to continue operating with efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as ReOpenNC protestors gathered outside. Report would include information from the following sources.
“Legislature Refuses Gift of Medicaid Expansion Again – 5/5/20,” NC NOW, https://northcarolinanow.wordpress.com/2020/05/05/legislature-refuses-gift-of-medicaid-expansion-again-5-5-20/
“NC legislature passes COVID-19 relief, without expanding jobless benefits or Medicaid,” 5/2/20, News and Observer, https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article242416181.html.
“NC House moving toward April 28 session, April 30 COVID-19 votes,” WRAL, 4/9/20, https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/nc-house-moving-toward-april-28-session-april-30-covid-19-votes/19049650/
“North Carolina session to begin with COVID-19 aid consensus,” WLOS, https://wlos.com/news/local/north-carolina-session-to-begin-with-covid-19-aid-consensus-04-28-2020
“NC House, Senate closer to agreement on $1.5 billion in COVID-19 relief, ” WRAL, 5/1/20, https://www.wral.com/nc-house-senate-closer-to-agreement-on-1-5-billion-in-covid-19-relief/19080484/
“Legislature reaches deal on $1.6 billion pandemic relief package,” WRAL, 5/2/20, https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/legislature-reaches-deal-on-1-6-billion-pandemic-relief-package/19081671/
2019 – NC NOW Legislative Updates
NC NOW provides weekly legislative updates for members. Some are posted on the website. Here are some from 2019. Each legislative update includes a summary and a list of House bills and a list of Senate bills. These are written by Robin Davis, NC NOW Vice President of Political Action.
NC NOW Legislative Update #29—9/30/19 – The fireworks over the House vote to override the budget veto continue. Updates on the new legislative district maps. New lawsuit against unfair Congressional district maps (in light of lies exposed and other lawsuit). Movement on Medicaid expansion, but includes severe restrictions. Bill was written WITHOUT bi-partisan input.
NC NOW Legislative Update #28—9/16/19 – House votes to override budget veto in explosive session on 9/11/19 with few Democrats and no press present, because they were led to believe there would be no vote that morning. In other big news this week, Common Cause won its lawsuit concerning partisan gerrymandering and the state Supreme Court has ordered the legislature to draw new districts using non-partisan criteria.
NC NOW Legislative Update #27 – 9/3/19 – There has been movement on both the budget and Medicaid transformation. To get around the impasse over the vetoed budget, the legislature has passed a slew of stand-alone budget bills addressing specific areas. We share a Facebook post from one of our NC Senators that exposes the Republican strategy for preventing Democrats from amending a bill. This is almost unbelievable. In other big news, Governor Cooper vetoed House Bill 555, Medicaid Transformation Implementation that would change Medicaid from fee-for-service to managed care. Medicaid transformation is contained in the budget the Governor vetoed, but this stand-alone bill is one of the piecemeal budget bills passed by the legislature.
NC NOW Legislative Update #26 – 8/26/19 This week NC NOW, ERA-NC Alliance and AAUW-NC unveiled 4 new ERA billboards with a press conference at the NC Legislature. The legislature passed and the Governor vetoed HB370, Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE. North Carolina NOW supported the veto. Update on state budget stalemate.
NC NOW Legislative Update #25 – 8/14/19 – includes a summary via gifs of the budget standoff and its negative consequences. Definitely worth a look! And what Democratic legislators are doing in response to the tragic shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. Be sure to read what one of the survivors of the shooting at UNCC said.
NC NOW Legislative Update #24 – 7/29/19 talks about the impasse on the state budget. The update this week is that Rep. Cody Henson, R-Transylvania, has resigned his seat after pleading guilty to cyberstalking his estranged wife, and the larger situations their case illustrates.
NC NOW Legislative Update #23 – 7/15/19 There has been no vote yet whether to override the governor’s veto of the budget. Republicans are scrambling, trying to find enough votes to override (i.e., offering pork), but are meeting Democratic resistance. The governor has advanced budget negotiations by offering a compromise bill that keeps most of the provisions of the vetoed bill but includes an unrestricted Medicaid expansion provision and corporate tax cuts that would provide funding for teachers and education. More in the summary.
NC NOW’s 22nd legislative update summary talks about Governor Cooper vetoing the NCGA’s proposed budget on 6/28/19, a day after the legislature passed it. The NCGA budget did not include Medicaid expansion at all. Governor Cooper believes it also fails in the areas of education and the economy, and he will offer a counter-proposal. The summary also talks about the shocking amount of money the budget hands over to anti-abortion organizations that run crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), including quadrupling the amount to the Texas based Human Coalition organization, even though the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) *CANNOT* recommend the organization, and neither can the Better Business Bureau.
NC NOW Legislative Update #21 (24 Jun 19) talks about budget negotiations and hurdles to the Governor signing (like legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid). The Legislative Update says, “If the governor should veto the budget and his veto be upheld, we are in for a long, hot summer.” And so we are!
NC NOW Legislative Update #20 (17 Jun 19) talks about state budget reconciliation process between the House and Senate. Both budgets give tax cuts to big business. Neither budget expands Medicaid, but the Senate budget actually cut the Medicaid budget. Most appalling is the secretive process – the budget negotiations are taking place in secret behind closed doors, in a process that excludes not only Democratic lawmakers but also the general public and, presumably, testimony from expert witnesses.”