By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
December 23, 2013
RALEIGH – As 2013 draws to a close, the Christian Action League is not only looking forward to the New Year, but is also giving thanks for the successes of this past legislative session during which many excellent bills were passed and some less than stellar proposals were held at bay.
“We worked hard to push pro-life measures, tax reform, protections against evils such as human trafficking and Sharia law and much, much more,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “So much has been accomplished that we don’t want the year to end without some reflection and thanksgiving.”
He said S 353, Health and Safety Law Changes, which raises the standards for abortion clinics and prohibits abortion for the purpose of gender selection, was one of the most significant bills passed this year. Other wins in the area of sanctity of life include S 117, Lily’s Law, which makes it murder when a child injured in the womb later dies from that injury, and the S- 402, Appropriations Act, which allocated $250,000 to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship and $375,000 for maternity homes across the state.
The CAL also fought for a number of bills aimed at reducing drug and alcohol abuse. H-813, Ban Synthetic Cannabinoids, took some fake drugs off the street; while H-532 made it illegal to drive a police or emergency vehicle with alcohol in your body. Thankfully, the CAL was able to help prevent the passage of H 702, Tourism ABC Permits, an end-run around local option laws, and H-781, which would allow more breweries to bypass the role of the distributor in the state’s three-tier system of alcohol sales. H-842, Study of Spirituous Liquor Sales-Distilleries, also, fortunately, did not pass. The League opposes any proposal, even in the form of a study that could possibly advocate for a circumvention of the ABC system’s mandate that spirits be sold only in ABC stores.
Alcohol or drug related bills that the CAL pushed for, but haven’t yet passed, include the HB 782 – Fortified Malt Beverages Act, H – 536, Ignition Interlock Required/All DWIs and S – 657, Stop Methamphetamine Production.
Although gambling was expanded at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, two other bad gambling bills were stopped in their tracks: H 547, Tax & Regulate Sweepstakes and H 809, Game Nights/Nonprofit Fundraisers. These would have created much more of a gambling mecca in North Carolina, Dr. Creech said.
In other news this past year, lawmakers put an end to the problematic Racial Justice Act by passing S-306 Capital Punishment/Amendments, legislation that essentially paves the way for capital punishment to begin again and passed a pair of human trafficking laws to help take the state off the nation’s top-10 list for this crime. Those bills were S-683 Safe Harbor/Victims of Human Trafficking and S-122 Sex Trafficking/Sex Offender Registration.
The CAL has worked for several years alongside a number of victim services organizations from across the state on the human trafficking issue and will continue to do so.
In the area of sexuality and education, the CAL helped push through S-132 Health Curriculum/Preterm Birth and opposed two bills that would have added special protections for homosexual, bisexual and transgender employees to state law.
The CAL supported H 944, Opportunity Scholarships and was glad to see the definition of home schools amended to more accurately reflect how this education option is working for families across the state.
Religious freedom was also on the radar at the CAL, which pushed for bills that would clarify student rights to pray and to operate their own organizations without interference from so-called non-discrimination policies. These bills passed the Senate, but have not won approval from the House.
“This is just a small sampling of bills that we tracked and actively supported or opposed during 2013 at the CAL,” said Dr. Creech. “For a more comprehensive list, folks can log onto our Web page at www.christianactionleague.org and click on 2013 Legislative Wrap-up in the left hand margin.”
Even as the results of last year’s session are taking effect or being battled in court, with a most recent lawsuit filed against the Opportunity Scholarships, the Christian Action League is already busy studying issues expected to come to the table this spring when lawmakers gather for the Short Session set to begin May 14.
For a more comprehensive list of bills the League addressed in 2013, visit our web site’s home page and click on Legislative Wrap-Up 2013.