On Thursday the NC House approved a bill that would remove North Carolina’s two virtual charter schools from pilot program status and grant them new five-year charters. SB 671 would also provide guidelines for “remote academies” (online or virtual school). Though the bill passed the NC House 73-22, some representatives expressed reservations about passing it quickly given the below-average performance of the state’s virtual schools.
On Wednesday Republicans in the NC House passed a bill that would shift appointment power over seats on one county’s community college board from the governor to leaders of the NCGA. SB 256 would allow the speaker of the NC House and president pro tempore of the NC Senate to fill four seats on the Rockingham County Board of Trustees – seats that the governor currently has the power to fill. Rockingham County is in Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger’s district. The bill now goes back to the NC Senate, where it is expected to pass. Because it is a local bill, it cannot be vetoed by the governor.
Health Care Policy
On Monday the NC Senate passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana. SB 711 would allow trained physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with specific medical conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD. The bill also decriminalizes the medical use of marijuana and the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, though criminal penalties for nonmedical use of marijuana remain. Though the bill now goes to the NC House, it is unclear whether the House will take up the bill before the end of this legislative session.
“Millions of North Carolinians would be eligible for discounted or free hospital care, even after their insurance was billed, under proposed legislation debated this week.” – Lynn Bonner, NC Policy Watch (see also WRAL)
On Tuesday the NC Senate rules committee moved forward a bill that would let state health officials develop a state health plan for children in the foster care system. “Children in foster care currently receive health care through Medicaid at the local level, which makes it difficult for them to retain their doctors and therapists when they move to any number of places.” – Bryan Anderson, WRAL
Women’s Rights and LGBTQ Rights
“House and Senate Democrats have filed House Bill 1119 and Senate Bill 888, identical proposals to codify the abortion rights granted in the Roe case in state statute. It would allow abortion until viability, usually around 23-24 weeks, as well as after that if the doctor deems it necessary. It would also remove restrictions on abortion passed by Republican majorities over the past decade, including the 72-hour waiting period, the counseling mandate, and the ultrasound requirement.” – Laura Leslie, WRAL
On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would strengthen domestic violence protections. HB 615 would allow a judge to extend a protective order to fill a gap between the date it expires and an upcoming court date to consider its renewal.
“North Carolina lawmakers have advanced a proposal that would temporarily suspend the state’s automatic erasing of certain criminal records…The proposed process would be like a recycle or trash bin on a typical computer. Currently, in most districts, a file is permanently removed from electronic records by default and becomes inaccessible. House Bill 607 seeks to have files placed into a system that is inaccessible to the public but would be accessible upon request to people with dismissed charges.” – Bryan Anderson, WRAL
On Monday the NC Senate approved a bill that would define organized retail theft as a crime and increase penalties for people who run organized retail theft rings. SB 766 passed 43-0 and now goes to the House.