NC NOW Legislative Update #8 – 25 March 2019 – Modernizing Sexual Assault Laws

See whole legislative update at NC NOW Legislative Update #8.

This week [ending March 22, 2019] saw important actions on bills pertaining to sexual assault and rape.  SB46 (identical to HB29) passed out of the Judiciary Committee and now is in the Senate Rules Committee.  This bill appropriates funds to begin testing of the backlog of untested rape kits.  The bill will need to be heard by the Appropriations Committee, where it will be considered for inclusion in the budget.

North Carolina is the only state that does not permit a woman to revoke consent once sex has begun.  Senator Jeff Jackson has repeatedly introduced legislation to correct this omission in our law, and he has indicated that he will try again this session. He believes that this time the legislation has a real chance of passing.  His bill has not yet been introduced.

An important bill (HB393, Modernizing Sexual Assault Laws) has been introduced to tighten North Carolina law concerning how sexual assault is defined and prosecuted and to increase the chance that prosecution could result in a conviction. 

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ERA: Alyssa Milano Wants It. How About You?

Women have been working to get equal rights in the United States for 170 years! Too many people don’t realize women don’t have equal rights. Why is ERA catching fire now? What will it do for women and families? How can you help? North Carolina women are pushing now and pushing hard! Learn more and join the effort!

Actresses Alyssa Milano and Patricia Arquette are on board, and using their star power to bring more attention to the need for ERA. Milano said at a press conference in DC, “It’s 2019 and I still don’t have equal rights under the Constitution. Neither do any of you, the nearly 162 million women across the U.S. The absurdity is mind-boggling: because I have a vagina, my opportunities for equality and justice are limited.”

Patricia Arquette and Alyssa Milano in front. Ellie Smeal behind. 

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Raising Minimum Wage Helps Women More! 3/19/19 Press Conference

Lawmakers, workers, business owners to announce on 3/19/19 legislation raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years, ending sub-minimum wages, repealing exemptions for agricultural and domestic workers. This $15in5 type bills has been introduced before and would help women more than anyone else. 2/3 of minimum wage workers are women, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Full time minimum wage workers are paid only $15,080 a year. Near impossible to live on that, especially for a woman with children.

This picture is from outside the Legislative Building Press Conference Room on International Day in 2017, 3/8/17, when women showed up en mass to support a previous $15in5 bill.

View from outside the Press Conference Room on 3/8/17. Photo Credit: Amy Hellmers

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NC NOW Legislative Update #7, GOP Overreach ICE and Medicaid Bill Issue– 18 Mar 19

See whole NC NOW Legislative Update #7.18Mar19 here.

In 2018, voters in North Carolina’s biggest counties elected seven new sheriffs who campaigned on pledges to no longer work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because their practices have become increasingly brutal under the Trump administration.  The will of the voters was clear.  But this week Republicans filed a bill (HB370) that would force sheriffs to cooperate with ICE or face fines of up to $25,500 per day.  This bill is yet another example of the conservative Republican majority in the legislature attempting to force its agenda on urban counties that elect more moderate to liberal Democrats to local offices. This bill has the support of Republican leadership; Governor Cooper has not stated a position.  For more information, see https://abc11.com/politics/nc-republicans-file-bill-to-force-county-sheriffs-to-work-with-ice/5194070/

Sign from Tuesdays With Tillis protest against ICE taking children. Photo Credit: Michael Eisenberg

The drive to expand Medicaid hit an unexpected hitch this week.  Expanding Medicaid is a priority of Cooper’s legislative agenda, and companion bills (SB3/HB5) have been introduced in both the House and Senate.  But hopes for passage of a bill during this session (2019-2020) were crushed through a rookie error by a freshman legislator. 

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Triad NOW International Women’s Day Luncheon a Big Success! 2019

Triad NOW International Women’s Day Luncheon was a big success! The event had 5 sponsors, and over 40 guests. The speaker from Kenya got a standing ovation, and attendees loved the food provided by 3 international caterers.

3 international caterers provided the food. Everyone LOVED the food! Photo Credit: Ana Tampanna

The Keynote Speaker was Purity Ruchugo from Kenya, who shared her life story and talked about the work that she does as a result of her experiences.

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Domestic Gag Rule Subverts Title X, 3/12/19 Event Summary

The Trump administration finalized sweeping changes to Title X, the federal program that provides birth control and other reproductive health services to millions of low-income Americans on 2/22/19.  The new #DomesticGagRule was published in the Federal Register on 3/4/19. Lawsuits were filed the same day. 

Changes are scheduled to go into effect on 5/3/19.

NC NOW, Naral Pro-Choice NC, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic (PPSAT) and #Fight4Her spoke out against the #DomesticGagRule in front of Senator Thom Tillis’ office in Raleigh on 3/12/19. The event included music, including a new song, “No! No! No! You Don’t!” to the tune of Row Your Boat, from the Raging Grannies. “No! No! No! You Don’t! by Raging Grannies.

Group gathering before the event. Photo Credit: Michael Eisenberg

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Press Release: 3/12/19 Event: Domestic Gag Rule Brings the Trump/Pence War On Women Stateside

Domestic Gag Rule Brings the Trump/Pence War On Women Stateside

On 2/22/19, the Trump administration finalized sweeping changes to Title X, the federal program that provides birth control and other reproductive health services to millions of low-income Americans. These regulations ban federal family planning funds from going to health providers who perform or refer patients for abortion services, and force abortion providers under the program to physically separate abortion services from other family planning services. These regulations ban federally funded health-care providers from even mentioning the word “abortion.” Limiting what U.S. health providers can say to patients amounts to a domestic “gag rule.” Gag rules are designed to hurt women, and they do so with devastating efficiency. Join NOW, Naral Pro-choice NC, Planned Parenthood (PP) and #Fight4HER at 11:30am on 3/12/19 at 310 New Bern Ave in Raleigh to learn more and communicate issues to Senator Thom Tillis.

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NC NOW Legislative Update #6, ERA Bills Filed – 11 Mar 19

NC NOW Legislative Update #6, 11 Mar 19 includes the ERA bills filed on 3/5/19 while women and allies filled the Legislative Building with hours of activities. It also talks about Governor Cooper’s budget and what we may expect this session.

March 5 was an exciting day at the General Assembly.  Bills for North Carolina to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) were introduced in both the House (HB271) and the Senate (SB184).  The ERA-NC Alliance (North Carolina NOW is an lead member organization) organized events that brought over 150 ERA advocates to the General Assembly to advocate for the ERA, hear speeches, participate in a press conference, and lobby legislators to sign on as sponsors the bills.  So far all Democratic members of the House and Senate are sponsors.  The halls were filled with women wearing green and white and waving ERA YES rounds.  Thirty-eight states are needed to ratify the ERA, and 37 have already done so.  Let’s make North Carolina number 38!

One of the groups of women and allies at NCGA on 3/5/19, Photo Credit: Aylett Colston

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NC NOW Legislative Update #5, Bad Sex Ed Bill Filed – 4 Mar 19

NC NOW’s 5th Legislative Update, dated March 4, 2019, is available at NC NOW Legislative Update #5. The summary includes a bad sex education bill that was filed in the House, a good bill which contains the recommendations of the Commission on Human Trafficking, and a bill addressing paid parental leave for state employees.

A bad sex education bill has been filed. The bill, HB196, Parental Consent for Sex Education, would require parents to sign off for a student to take a class in reproductive health and safety education: The definition is sweeping and includes “a program that pertains to or is intended to impart information or promote discussion or understanding in regard to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, or the avoidance of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, or a reproductive health and safety education program.” If a parent inadvertently omits to submit a permission form, students could not receive this kind of information in school. Existing law allows opting out of these courses.

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Sen. McKissick: Speech at ERA Bill Filing Press Conference on 3/5/19

Senator Floyd McKissick Jr. has been a strong and consistent ally in the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). He has sponsored the Ratify ERA Bill in the Senate 4 times – 2015, 2017, 2019, and an extra one in 2018 after Illinois became the 37th state to ratify ERA on 5/30/18. He has never wavered in his support, which continues to this day. Senator McKissick even dressed in white with us. This is his speech at the ERA Bill Filing Day press conference on 3/5/19.

Senator McKissick at Podium, surrounded by lawmakers and activists. Photo Credit: Senator McKissick

Around Senator McKissick at the podium are Ellie Smeal (Feminist Majority), Pam Carver, Sen. Harper Peterson, Rep. Julie von Haefen, Marena Groll, Sen. Michael Garrett and Rep. Carla Cunningham.

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