On Wednesday the NC Senate passed a bill limiting the governor’s emergency powers. HB 264 requires the governor to receive Council of State approval for any executive order issued in a state of emergency within a week of when the executive order is issued, and it limits the duration of orders approved by the Council of State to 45 days. The bill now goes back to the NC House for a final vote, after which it is expected to be vetoed by Governor Cooper, who has vetoed other Republican-driven bills designed to limit his emergency powers.
On Friday Governor Cooper vetoed HB 324, a controversial bill restricting schools’ and teachers’ ability to teach about U.S. racial history. The bill, which would have prohibited in-class “promotion” of 13 concepts related to race and racism and required teachers to post curricula online in advance, was drafted and supported by Republicans claiming to “[combat] Critical Race Theory” in schools. Cooper’s veto was expected; the bill had previously passed on a party-line vote.
The judge overseeing the long-running Leandro case set a deadline of October 15 for lawmakers to meet their constitutional obligation to provide a “sound basic education” to North Carolina students. During a court hearing Wednesday, Superior Court Judge David Lee said he was giving legislators “one more last chance,” and that if they do not fully fund a $5.6 billion K-12 school improvement plan by the deadline, he will find a way for the court to address the deficiency. A hearing has been set for October 18 to determine what steps the court might take to do so.
Health Care Policy
On Friday Governor Cooper signed into law HB 769, “Foster Parents’ Bill of Rights.” The law articulates a series of rights accorded to foster parents. It is not meant to supersede any existing rules or laws, but rather to clearly lay out the rights of North Carolina foster parents in one place. Foster parents and advocates celebrated the passage of the law.
Gun Violence Prevention
On Thursday four Democrats in the NC House announced their intention to file “discharge petitions” for two gun safety bills next week. A discharge petition is a procedure that members of the minority party can use to attempt to bring a bill that is stuck in committee directly to the House floor for debate. HB 525, filed by Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham), would set rules restricting someone’s access to firearms through Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which could be issued by a court in response to a petition from a family member, current or former partner, law enforcement officer, or health care provider. HB 623, filed by Rep. Julie von Haefen (D-Wake), would set a permit requirement for the purchase of long guns and rifles.
Women’s Rights and Criminal Justice
On Friday Governor Cooper signed a bill into law that limits shackling of incarcerated pregnant women and new mothers. HB 608, which passed the NC General Assembly unanimously, prohibits law enforcement officers from shackling women in their second and third trimesters, during labor and delivery, and during the six weeks following delivery, with limited exceptions. The law also mandates nutrition standards for incarcerated pregnant women, instruction in parenting skills for new mothers, and the provision of free menstrual products for all incarcerated women.
Gov. Cooper vetoed HB 805, the “anti-rioting” bill. In issuing the veto, the governor said, “People who commit crimes during riots and at other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest.”