By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
April 29, 2016
RALEIGH – Lawmakers made their way back to the halls of power this week to reconvene for the Short Session of the 2015-2016 Legislative Biennium.
The two chambers of the Legislative Building and its conference rooms were abuzz with activity as bills were being crafted and introduced for their first readings on the House and Senate floors.
Two bills, one on the House side and the other on the Senate side were introduced for the repeal of HB 2 – the controversial measure that overturned an egregious Charlotte city ordinance and restored basic expectations of privacy people have when using the restroom. The bill, which is now law, also provided that private businesses can make their own decisions regarding accommodations and services and not be forced by a city ordinance to do certain things that could be detrimental to their business.
HB 946 – Repeal HB2/Fund Human Relations Committee, sponsored by Representatives Darrin Jackson (D-Wake), Graig Meyer (D-Durham), Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover), Grier Martin (D-Wake), would repeal the law and appropriate $545,407 to the Human Relations Commission to be used “for operating expenses.” HB 946 was referred to the Judiciary IV Committee, which is the same committee that approved HB 2 during the special session in March.
SB 784 – Repeal HB2/Fund Human Relations Committee, Senators Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe), Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg), Mike Woodard (D-Durham), has the same language as HB 946 in the House.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said he didn’t see any appetite on the part of the majority party in either the House or the Senate to repeal HB 2. “But because of the pressure from organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, Equality NC, and other leftist groups, its important supporters of HB 2 continue contacting their lawmakers to tell them that they appreciate them for passing the bill, that they are standing with them, and urge them to stay the course,” he said.
Medical Marijuana Bill
This week, long-time advocate for medical marijuana, Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg), filed HB 983 – Legalize and Tax Marijuana. The measure would allow persons with either terminal or chronic illness to use marijuana. It would also allow for an excise tax to be levied on the controlled substances possessed.
Other sponsors of the bill include, Representatives John Ager (D-Buncombe), Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg), Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Beverly M. Earle (D-Mecklenburg), Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), Yvonne Lewis Holley (D-Wake), Howard J. Hunter (D-Bertie), Paul Luebke (D-Durham), and Gregory F. Murphy (R-Pitt).
This will be the ninth consecutive session Alexander has introduced marijuana legislation. In the past, marijuana bills have never made it out of committee.
Last year, Alexander’s medical marijuana proposal received an “unfavorable report” from a House Judiciary Committee. The vote by a committee for an “unfavorable report,” not only killed the bill for 2015, but is supposed to keep any legislation with a medical marijuana component from being taken-up in the 2016 session. However, since HB 983 involves a tax, it creates an exception, allowing the measure to be eligible for consideration.
Also, this week, legislation was introduced on the Senate side that would double lottery advertising. The bill, SB 728 – Lottery JLOC Recommendations, is the result of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee’s recommendations. Lottery advertising is currently capped at one percent of the lottery’s total annual revenues. The bill would increase it to two percent.
The recommendation comes on the heels of a new report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York, Albany, that confirms the growth in state revenues from gambling activities slows or even reverses and declines.
According to the report: “The economics literature supports the argument that gambling activities, particularly lottery activities, are regressive in nature and attract a poorer population. Therefore, gambling often leads to a reduction of disposable income for low-income households, particularly at a time when their income is not growing and is even declining in real terms.”
Dr. Creech said, “The proposal to increase lottery advertising is proof that the lottery isn’t working. It is a futile effort to prop-up what is nothing less than a failed government policy. It hasn’t really delivered on its promises. It hasn’t made our schools better. It hasn’t done anything substantive to make North Carolina’s economy better. It is blatantly dishonest. It has failed because fundamentally it’s designed to make losers of our state’s citizens. Any expansion will only lead to more social costs.”
The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.