By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
January 26, 2023
On Wednesday, lawmakers returned from their brief two-week break to start the Long Session’s work in earnest, typically lasting from January to the middle of July.
“This will likely be a hectic and challenging session for the Christian Action League,” said Rev. Mark Creech, the League’s executive director. “The issues to be considered on our radar are of monumental significance. Matters of life and death, health and safety, moral and immoral.”
The question of the most significant consequence will be abortion. Currently, North Carolina bans abortion after 20 weeks, with some exceptions.
Republicans are expected to put forward an initiative to tighten restrictions on abortion, although no bill was filed this week.
Senate President Pro-Tempore, Phil Berger, has told the press on more than one occasion that Senate Republicans tend to favor a ban after 12-13 weeks – the first trimester. Speaker Tim Moore, at one point, told the press he was amenable toward a heartbeat bill, which is after six weeks. However, more recently, the Speaker has been saying the support emerging in the House has been more in line with the Senate’s12-13 weeks.
Democrats held a press conference on Thursday and announced they filed legislation in both chambers that would codify abortion access into state law. Their legislation would prevent the state from restricting an abortion before fetal viability, which is characteristically between 24 and 28 weeks.
Sen. Sydney Batch (D-Wake) told reporters that the Democrats’ legislation was an announcement of their “baseline,” and they were unwilling to compromise below the state’s current 20 weeks ban.
However, Speaker Moore had already told the press on Wednesday that the Democrats’ abortion legislation would not likely be heard. He said Democrats had the right to file the measure, which would be assigned to a committee, and if a majority on the committee wanted to hear the bill, it would be considered.
Nevertheless, the likelihood of the Democrats’ bill being heard in committee is slim to none because Republicans hold a majority on each committee.
During his tenure as Governor, Roy Cooper has vetoed more legislation than any other governor in the state’s history – a total of 47 pieces of legislation. Cooper would undoubtedly veto any abortion restrictions under 20 weeks. But the mid-terms elections gave Republicans in the Senate a veto-proof majority. House Republicans gained seats but were left one seat shy of a veto-proof majority. Speaker Moore, however, says it possible that with enough persuasion, a Democrat or more could crossover and vote with Republicans in the House for an override.
Democrat House Minority Leader Robert Rieves (D-Chatham) indicated during the press conference on Thursday that he wasn’t concerned that any House Democrat would defect and vote for an override of the Governor’s veto.
Rev. Creech said the Christian Action League supports a heartbeat measure.
“I think we ought to be voting on a total ban, but I am a realist and aware there’s no chance of that happening. I am a political veteran and subscribe to incrementalism – a glass half full is always better than an empty glass,” said Creech. “Nonetheless, after the fall of Roe v Wade, pro-life North Carolinians have had their hearts set on Republicans doing more than saving only 13 percent of the babies currently being aborted – that’s a 12-13 week ban. A heartbeat bill would save more than 86 percent.”
A second critical question lawmakers will take up in this session is medical marijuana.
A medical marijuana bill passed the Senate last year but was never considered by the House.
This year, SB 3 – NC Compassionate Care Act, was the first bill filed in the Senate. The bill’s primary sponsor is Sen. Bill Rabon (R- Brunswick). Other primary sponsors include Sen. Michael Lee (R- New Hanover) and Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth).
The legislation is the same as the bill considered last year. It proposes legally allowing for the production and sale of marijuana for several ailments such as cancer, glaucoma, PTSD, etc.
The Christian Action League strongly opposes the bill.
As previously explained to its many supporters, the League argues the American Medical Association, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, American Psychiatric Association, and American Academy of Neurology encourage further research on cannabis. Nevertheless, the medical community does not endorse smoked marijuana as medicine.
Using smoked marijuana as employed today for a laundry list of medical and psychological conditions is nowhere accepted in serious scientific literature. It’s just the opposite. Smoked marijuana is not medicine. In no way does it meet the standards of modern medicine. Doctors cannot prescribe it as such. There is no way to measure the dosage. It hasn’t been subjected to evidence-based review and regulatory oversight as other medications. It has to be sold at a dispensary, not a pharmacy, which means it’s an end-run around medicine.
It is not in the state’s citizens’ best interest for lawmakers to decide what medicine is. That’s something the FDA should do. And currently, no sound scientific study supports the use of smoked marijuana as a medical treatment.
What medical marijuana does is outpace the science, giving people false hope. It’s a distraction from pursuing scientifically researched, standardized, approved drugs. It also dresses up an illicit mind-altering product to appear as something good, misleading more of our young people to use it to their detriment.
This kind of legislation is being politically driven across the country by the very lucrative marijuana industry, which is set to become the next Big Tobacco.
House Speaker Tim Moore indicated that a medical marijuana bill would likely be considered in the House this year. He also told the press its “passage could happen.”
Last but not least, lawmakers will consider whether to legalize sports gambling. Last year, a bill to legalize sports gambling in the state passed the Senate but failed in the House by one vote.
A common refrain among lawmakers about sports gaming is that the legalization of sports betting is inevitable. “People are already doing it. The state may as well legalize, regulate, tax, and garner additional revenue from it,” they say.
Not exactly a “Profiles in Courage” response.
Sports Gambling would be the most significant gambling expansion in the state’s history. In addition to allowing non-stop sports gambling advertisements, betting, and events online via computers, tablets, smartphones, and TV, the bill would also allow for professional sports organizations in the state (Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Hurricanes, and Charlotte Motor Speedway) to set up lounges for betting, while also opening the door for colleges to get involved.
Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans staunchly opposed the sports gambling bill last year and defeated it. The pressure is ramped up now as never before to make it more acceptable and accessible.
“The legalization of sports gambling will cause gambling-related problems to grow exponentially in this state,” said Rev. Creech. “A group is already working to bring as many as nine casinos to North Carolina. They believe the legalization of sports gaming would be a bellwether on the probability of the success of their plans.”
Rev. Creech added, “It’s not just the compulsive gambler who gets hurt, but the family. The rates of divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect are considerably higher in families that have a member who has a gambling problem. Moreover, the pain extends to other family members outside the immediate family. It touches friends, employers, and co-workers. It preys on poor people.”
Take Christian Action Now:
Please get in touch with your lawmakers in the Senate and the House and urge them to vote to protect life substantially. Ask them to support a heartbeat bill. Also, please encourage them to oppose medical marijuana and sports gambling initiatives.
If you don’t know who represents you in the N.C. House, CLICK HERE and follow the prompts. You will also find their contact information via the same link.