The General Assembly has just adjourned what could be one of the most evocative sessions in recent history. With tensions running high inside and outside the chamber doors, several laws were passed with broad implications for the future of Raleigh. A broad variety of legislation makes up this final update for the 2013 session.
Commissioners Won’t Get Control of School property
The Wake County Board of Commissioners will not be taking on the responsibility of acquiring, building, and maintaining local schools — at least for now. A measure looking to transfer that particular power from the Wake County School Board to the Commissioners failed in a House subcommittee. Before going into committee, the bill had passed strictly along partisan lines 33 to 16 in the Senate. In the House, it failed 54 to 62, with nineteen Republicans breaking ranks to vote “nay” with the Democrats.
Legislature Ratifies Motorcycle Safety, Abortion Bill
One of the most hotly contested bills of this session, the Health and Safety Law Changes bill, has been ratified. The bill received publicity not for its provisions to keep motorcyclists safe — through establishing fines for drivers who disrupt a rider’s course of direction — but for its reforms on abortion procedures. Specifically, it prohibits exchange insurance plans from covering abortions unless there are extreme circumstances such as rape or incest. It also allows physicians the right to deny participating in an abortion without fear of reprimand from their professional boards. It places a ban on sex-selective abortions as well. Should a woman violate the proposed laws, the Safety Bill also allows courts the right to disclose that woman’s identity in trial, even if she chose to remain anonymous. The bill had passed 32 to 13 in the Senate and 74 to 41 in the House before being ratified on the last day of session.
VIVA Lives, Presented to Governor
The Voter Information Verification Act, or VIVA, is now law. The governor signed it into law Monday. Voters in North Carolina will now have to present a valid photo ID in order to cast their vote in elections. A proven religious objection to being photographed is one of the only exceptions granted to the requirement. Same-day voter registration and the ability to vote “straight party” on a ballot have also been eliminated. The bill also raises the amount of money a political entity can receive or donate during an election from $4,000 to $5,000. After seven readings and 13 proposed amendments, the bill passed the House 73 to 41 and the Senate 33 to 14, with neither party budging from their side of the aisle.
Jordan Lake Cleanup Delayed
The General Assembly has delayed action on the Jordan Lake cleanup for three years by ratifying a bill Friday. Specifically, they have decided not to implement the Jordan Lake Rules, which are designed to address harmful algae blooms and other environmental problems in the almost 14,000-acre lake. The blooms can be a somewhat common problem in man-made lakes such as Jordan, which was built in 1967. It currently supplies both water and recreational opportunities for Triangle residents. Some local Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the bill, including State Reps. Nelson Dollar, Chris Malone, Tom Murry. It passed nonetheless 61 to 43 in the House. A noticeably more partisan vote came from the Senate, where the bill passed 28 to 13.