By Randy Berle
Christian Action League
RALEIGH – This week state lawmakers rolled out bills on abortion, marriage, marijuana, ABC reform, gambling, and gun control. “Here we go,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “I’ve been advising churches that proposals like this were headed down the pike this year. It’s going to be a challenging time, and God’s people need to pay attention.”
The following pieces of legislation might be described as the first step by lawmakers on various proposals. These measures, except for the ABC Reform bill, have only been filed with no action taken.
Last week, the Christian Action League reported on two pro-life bills filed, HB 28 – Prohibit Abortions After 13 Weeks, and HB 22 – Woman’s Right to Know Addition/Ashley’s Law. This week two more pro-life bills were filed.
The first, HB 53-A Second Chance for LIFE, is a measure similar to HB 22. The bill would direct physicians who perform drug-induced abortions to furnish patients with information from the Department of Health and Human Services of the possibility of reversing the effects of a drug-induced abortion. The Department would also have to publish on the home page of the state web site this same information, as well as make the information available at no cost upon request to “any physician, person, health facility, hospital, or qualified professional.” Primary sponsors of HB 52 are Reps. McElraft; White; R. Turner, and Presnell. As many as 35 other lawmakers in the House have signed on as cosponsors.
The second, HB 54 – Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment, is a bill that would ban dismemberment abortions. A dismemberment abortion removes an unborn child from the womb in pieces through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, and similar instruments that slice, crush, and clutch the unborn child to rip him/her apart during the extraction. The bill would prohibit this procedure, “unless it is necessary to prevent serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” Primary sponsors of this legislation include Representatives Conrad, Johnson, Hurley, and Barnes. As many as 42 other lawmakers in the House have signed on as cosponsors.
HB 65-Marriage Affirmation Act is a bold proposal that would reaffirm the vote of North Carolinians to define marriage as one man and one woman in the state’s constitution. The bill states why the Marriage Protection Amendment that passed on May 8, 2012, should be upheld. It would declare null and void for the state of North Carolina the Obergfell v. Hodges decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, and call on the High Court to overturn the erroneous decision. Primary sponsors include Pittman, Kidwell, and Speciale. At this point, only two other members of the NC House have signed on as cosponsors.
SB 58 – Revise Marijuana Laws is the first marijuana legalization measure to be introduced this year. The legislation would act to increase the amount of marijuana that can be legally possessed for personal use. It would also expunge the records related to certain convictions for possession of pot. Primary sponsors include Senators Lowe, Foushee, and Fitch. At this point, five other Senators have signed on to the measure as cosponsors. Rev. Creech said, “Make no mistake about it, there are a lot of myths about countless people behind bars for simple marijuana possession. Furthermore, legality only leads to availability.”
SB 11 – ABC Regulation and Reform is a bill that seeks to strengthen the permitting enforcement authority of the ABC Commission, as well as clarify matters regarding certain violations of ABC law that have not been clear. Senator Andy Wells (R-Alexander, Catawba) is the bill’s champion. The measure has already passed through 2 committees and is scheduled to be taken up on the Senate floor, Monday evening, February 18. Rev. Creech said it’s the best alcohol-related proposal he has seen in 20 years. Creech endorsed the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Christian Action League will provide a more comprehensive report on SB 11 next week.
SB 66 – Allow Game Nights is a bill which appears to be very much like the Casino Nights legislation that passed in 2017, but was vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper. Cooper’s veto of the Casino night’s legislation was one of the few bills that Republicans, who held supermajorities in both chambers at the time, did not seek to override. The legislation would authorize nonprofit organizations to operate “Game Nights” as a fundraiser. Moreover, it would allow the selling of alcoholic beverages during these “Game Nights.” The Christian Action League has not been able to study the bill to see if there are any significant differences from the 2017 Casino Nights bill that would provide its primary sponsors with confidence it wouldn’t be vetoed again by Gov. Cooper. Rev. Creech, however, said that he still doesn’t see anything in the legislation that would dissuade him from the belief that it represents a significant expansion of gambling in the Tar Heel state. Primary sponsors include Senators Gunn, McInnis, and J. Alexander. SB 66 has no cosponsors at this time.
HB 86 – Gun Violence Prevention Act is a gun control measure that would require a permit for the purchase of an assault weapon or a long gun. It would require a 72 hour waiting period before a purchased firearm may be possessed. It would prohibit the sale of an assault weapon or long gun to minors in certain cases. It would ban the sale of Bump Stocks or Trigger Cranks. It requires the safe storage of a firearm and revises the reciprocity law for a concealed handgun permit. The legislation requires the reporting of a lost or stolen firearm. It requires anyone who owns a firearm to possess liability insurance to go with it. It limits the size of ammunition magazines, repeals the local preemption of local regulation of firearms, and allows the destruction of a seized firearm. Primary sponsors of the bill include, Representatives Clark, Morey, Harrison, and Willingham. HB 86 has 11 additional cosponsors. Rev. Creech said that he only knows of one gun control policy that meets constitutional muster – the people, not the government, have the right to be in control of their guns. Gun control is not about controlling the crooks in our society, it’s about the ultimate control of America.