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View from the Hill

Carolina Capitol Roundup: April 7-10

This is View from the Hill's roundup of the most interesting news from Capitol Hill pertaining to North Carolina and Higher Education.

Hagan speaks out in support for equal pay

With the Senate taking up an equal pay bill, Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., inserted herself in the debate, saying it would be good for North Carolina.

On Monday, Hagan spoke on the Senate floor in support of the paycheck fairness act, which would make employers who violate discrimination laws liable for civil action, among other factors. Hagan is a co-sponsor of the amendment.

"Addressing these disparities are critical to promoting the well-being of local economies across North Carolina and nationwide," Hagan said. "When women thrive at work, their families and communities will prosper as well."

Hagan said ensuring equal pay in the state would benefit North Carolina families. In North Carolina, the pay gap between men and women is 82 percent.

She said women in North Carolina with some college education or an associate's degree earn less on average than men with just a high school diploma.

"In 2014, that is simply unacceptable," she said.

But the bill was blocked in the Senate on Tuesday, with no Republicans voting for the law. After the vote, Hagan criticized Senate Republicans.

"I'm disappointed that partisan politics prevented the Senate from moving forward on commonsense legislation to help ensure women receive equal pay for equal work," she said in a statement.

Butterfield introduces bipartisan food labeling bill

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., reached across the aisle this week to help create more uniform standards for labeling food with genetically modified ingredients.

Butterfield teamed up with Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kans., to introduce the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014.

The law would create federal standards for labeling foods with genetically modified ingredients and give the Food and Drug Administration sole authority to require mandatory labeling if they are found to be unsafe or different from products without genetically modified ingredients.

Butterfield said the law is better than having 50 different state laws.

“It prevents a mishmash of labeling standards and allows farmers to continue to produce higher yields of healthy crops in smaller spaces with less water and fewer pesticides," Butterfield said in a statement.

Butterfield also said the law had support from the N.C. Farm Bureau.

Pittenger passes first piece of legislation

Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., had his first success in passing legislation this week with a law that would review penalties for child abusers.

The Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act is named after a child in the Charlotte area who was beaten by her caregiver and left her mental and physically disabled. Her abuser was sentenced to four to six years.

The law would require the U.S. Attorney General to submit a report to the House Judiciary Committee within six months reviewing penalties for child abuse and whether the state has enhanced penalties for abusers who inflict serious harm.

"I admire her family for working tirelessly to bring much good out of great evil, using Kilah’s horrific abuse as a rallying cry to strengthen child abuse penalties across America," Pittenger said in a statement.

The law does not specify what an enhanced penalty would be.

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