Christian Action League of North Carolina
The North Carolina General Assembly convened at noon on Wednesday, January 28 to begin the 2009-2010 legislative biennium. The swearing in of newly elected members of both chambers was the first item of business. Immediately thereafter, legislators chose Rep. Joe Hackney (D-Orange) for a second term as Speaker of the House and Sen. Marc Basnight (D-Dare) for an unprecedented ninth term as President Pro-Tempore of the Senate. Presiding over the Senate will be former Senator and currently Lt. Governor, Walter Dalton.
Both Speaker Hackney’s and Sen. Basnight’s speeches had similar themes. They spoke of the bleak outlook for the state’s economy and the need for state government to be more efficient. This year the state is facing a $2 billion deficit and budget issues will likely dominate the legislative agenda.
Nevertheless, on the first week of legislative business three bills unrelated to fiscal issues were introduced in the Senate. The Christian Action League will monitor and address each of them.
- SB 7 – Allow Hunting on Sunday, sponsored by Senator Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover) would repeal North Carolina’s current ban on Sunday hunting. The Christian Action League has expressed on numerous occasions its opposition to this proposal. The current ban protects rural churches from disruptions that would be caused by Sunday hunting. Many rural churches have services that begin early in the morning and continue well into the afternoon. Moreover, Sunday hunting would compromise the safe enjoyment of many outdoor recreational activities for North Carolina’s families.
- SB 13 – Injury to Pregnant Woman/Penalty, sponsored by Sen. Doug Berger (D-Franklin) is legislation that seeks to respond to North Carolina’s need for a fetal homicide law. Currently, if a pregnant woman is injured or murdered in the Tar Heel state, her fetus is not recognized. Although this legislation seeks to address that need, critics say that it is not a two victim bill. It only raises the penalty for injuring a pregnant mother, but does nothing to recognize the unborn child.
- HB 2 – Prohibit Smoking in Public & Work Places, sponsored by Rep. Hugh Holiman (D-Davidson) would establish a state-wide ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. The Christian Action League supported this measure last year, which unfortunately failed by 3 votes. Rev. Creech wrote an op-ed piece on the legislation that was published by the Raleigh News and Observer in June of 2007. (Read Op-Ed)
One very disconcerting matter of business occurred on the Senate floor during the first day of the legislature. Senate Minority Leader, Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) made a motion that Senate rules for a discharge petition be amended from a necessary three fourths majority to a simple majority. Unfortunately, the motion failed on a partisan vote.
A discharge petition is a legislative procedure allowing Senate members to bring a measure out of Committee and to the Senate floor for consideration. “Sometimes,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, “legislation is sent by the Senate leadership to certain Committees to die.” “Those pieces of legislation will never be taken up by the committee. That’s what has happened every year a constitutional amendment bill has been introduced defining marriage as ‘one man and one woman.’ Berger’s proposal would have allowed a simple majority to bring such a measure trapped in Committee out and to the floor for consideration. The proposal’s failure, which was opposed by the Senate leadership during debate, shows how they intend to continue keeping this matter locked up.”