Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Crossover day at the general assembly

I'm pretty new to state politics but here's an explanation (from NC Policy Watch) of how important Thursday is in Raleigh:
Each year, thousands of legislative proposals are introduced by lawmakers during the early days of the session. Those measures not requiring an appropriation or a tax law change must compete to win approval from at least one house by a certain specified date known as “crossover deadline” or face the prospect of “not making the cut.” (Taxing and spending proposals are generally exempt from this rule).

This year in Raleigh, the crossover deadline has, after a couple of extensions, been set for this Thursday, the 24th. Get your bill approved by the House or the Senate by Thursday and live to fight on. Fail to do so and it’s “wait ‘til next year.” During the next four days, hundreds of legislative proposals will compete for the attention of lawmakers as they endure scores of committee meetings and several long “floor” sessions in an effort to consider as many proposals as possible.
In this article, Rob Schofield discusses ten important pending issues. I'll list them here briefly with links to the pertinent bills:

Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Parity: House bill 973
would require North Carolina health insurance plans to cover necessary treatment of mental illness and the disease of addiction. Opponents in the health insurance lobby are opposing the bill and seeking to advance a “compromise” that would eliminate proposed coverage for chemical dependency and significantly limit mental health coverage. Right now, they seem to be succeeding.
Death Penalty Reform: Several bills except one that bans executions for murders committed by children "faces an uphill fight."

Comprehensive Sex Education: House bill 879 pairs realistic sex education (that do work) with the same old abstinence programs (that don't work)

Juvenile Justice Reform: House bill 492 to raise the age at which a juvenile can be tried as an adult.

Ethics and Lobbying Reforms: These bills would: "1) open up Ethics Commission proceedings to the public and prohibit lobbyists from soliciting campaign contributions, and 2) limit the role of political parties in campaign fundraising." Schofield considers both unlikely to make it this week.


School Violence Prevention:
House bill 1366 targets student bullying. House bill 853 bans corporal punishment. Shofield writes:
As with the sex education bill, both proposals are opposed by the by the far right (the former because it mentions “sexual orientation” in a list of children commonly targeted for bullying and harassment and the latter because beating children is a “traditional family value.”)
Mortgage Foreclosure Notice for Tenants: House bill 947 deals with notification of tenants so they don't get evicted suddenly when their landlord suffers a foreclosure.

Migrant Housing Conditions: Senate bill 1466 would improve the awful "third-world" living conditions of migrant workers.
Unfortunately, the bill has been held up thus far by anti-immigration forces who are attempting to use the bill for purposes unrelated to its original goals. The fate of the bill is uncertain at this point.
School Suspension Improvements: House bill 1739 is aimed at improving the high school dropout rate (by keeping suspended students in the learning loop and making sure parents of expelled students are notified).

Care for Victims of Sexual Assault:
A bunch of measures including House bill 961 that "would require every hospital and urgent care facility in the state to offer “compassionate” emergency care to victims of sexual assault – including the provision of emergency contraception pills."

Click on the names of your legislators along the left column to let them know how you feel about these bills. Remember, they can't represent you if they don't know how you feel.

Click here to search for more information on any pending legislations or your representatives.

3 comments:

micandacam said...

Wow, I can't believe the sexual assault bill does not leave room for doctors and nurses to refuse to participate based on their faith. This is a big one. I hope it passes.

Drama Queen said...

There's a fine of a thousand dollars (per victim) to the facilities that get caught the second time.

And here's the key wording: "A hospital or urgent care facility may not refuse to provide emergency contraception on the basis of the sexual assault victim's inability to pay for the emergency contraception."

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