The North Carolina General Assembly continued their long session on Wednesday — their first legislative session after new members were sworn in on Jan. 11.
A total of 26 bills were filed in the N.C. House of Representatives on Wednesday and Thursday. Between Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 34 bills were filed in the Senate.
“Thousands of bills get introduced per session, and only a small minority of those bills are actually heard in committee, much less introduced on to the house board,” Rep. Allen Buansi (D-Orange)said. “It's hard to say which bills are going to actually be heard and which bills are actually going to be voted on.”
Here are some of the bills to keep an eye on this session so far.
House Bill 9
Also known as the Fair Maps Act, this bill seeks to amend Article II of the N.C. Constitution by adding a section that would set clear requirements for revising electoral districts.
Rep. Renée A. Price (D-Caswell, Orange) and Buansi are co-sponsoring this bill. Price said one of her priorities is to promote and defend communities of color's right to representation.
“We want fair redistricting maps — maps that are drawn by a nonpartisan group,” Price said.
This bill was filed Wednesday and passed its first reading on Thursday.
House/Senate Bill 19
Filed on Wednesday by House and Senate Democrats, this bill seeks to codify essential protections established by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. If passed, this bill would prohibit the state from imposing an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy.
“We introduced the Democratic bill, but we're waiting to see what the Republicans introduce,” Sen. Graig Meyer (D-Caswell, Orange, Person) said. "I'm sure that they will introduce at least one bill and maybe multiple bills that further restrict abortion access in North Carolina.”
Senate Bill 3
This bill seeks to “preserve and enhance the health and welfare of its citizens” by enacting the N.C. Compassionate Care Act, which would set legal stipulations for physicians on prescribing cannabis for several medical conditions. It would also allow patients to obtain registration cards in order to receive such treatment.
Meyer said the current proposal does not include any decriminalization measures for people who have been arrested, charged and incarcerated for marijuana offenses under existing laws.
He also said he would like to see the cannabis business redirect from multinational to North Carolina-based businesses.
“[The bill] doesn't have any clear guidance on what we'll do with the revenue that we would make, and I would like to see those revenues reinvested in communities that have been the most hurt by the failed ‘War on Drugs,'” Meyer said.
This bill was filed on Wednesday and passed its first reading on Thursday.
Meyer said the expansion of Medicaid is another bipartisan topic of discussion that is likely to result in proposals in the near future.
"I do think that there's bipartisan agreement that we should expand Medicaid again,” he said. “The question would be what kind of a deal we can negotiate on the specifics there. But I would expect to see proposals, concrete proposals on Medicaid expansion within the next couple of weeks.”
The House and Senate will convene again on Monday, Jan. 30.
North Carolina citizens can sign up to receive email alerts for calendar events, new legislation and committee meeting notices online.
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