We’ve passed an important marker in this year’s session of the NC General Assembly – the crossover deadline, which was last Thursday. By that day, any bill that isn’t a revenue measure, a budget measure, or a constitutional amendment must have been approved by at least one chamber of the legislature.
That means a lot of bills are now dead – like the Equal Pay Act (House Bill 603), which would have prohibited businesses from considering gender when determining employees’ pay, and Clarify Indecent Exposure Law (House Bill 34), which would have clarified that it is illegal for women to bare their breasts in public.
Here are some bills that are still alive that are of interest to women in North Carolina:
Health Curriculum/Preterm Births (Senate Bill 132) would require that schools teach students that having an abortion can cause a woman to give birth to future children prematurely (http://womenadvancenc.org/pseudo-science-and-womens-health-in-north-carolina/).
Insurance & Health Care Conscience Protection (House Bill 730) would allow all health-care workers to refuse to participate in abortions and would prohibit cities, counties, and the state’s yet-to-be-created health insurance exchange from providing insurance coverage for abortions.
Autism Health Insurance Coverage (House Bill 498) would require insurance plans to cover treatments for autism spectrum disorders.
Clarify Law/Prohibit Sex-Selective Abortion (House Bill 716) would make it illegal to perform an abortion “when the sex of the unborn child is a significant factor in seeking the abortion.” The bill would impose significant fines on abortion providers and expose them to lawsuits.
NC Pre-K Law Changes (House Bill 935) would lower the income threshold for the state’s pre-kindergarten program from 200% of the federal poverty level ($39,060 for a family of three) to 100% of the poverty level ($19,530 for a family of three).
NC Public Charter School Board (Senate Bill 337) would create an independent board to manage charter schools, taking them out of the purview of the NC Department of Public Instruction. It would also remove state requirements that charter-school instructors hold teaching certificates.
Broaden Successful AP Participation (House Bill 969) would have the state cover students’ fees for Advanced Placement exams and would give bonuses to teachers whose students do well on AP or International Baccalaureate exams.
Back to Basics (House Bill 146/Senate Bill 243) would require North Carolina schools to teach cursive writing and multiplication tables.
MONEY AND JOBS
Require Drug Testing/Work First Benefits (Senate Bill 594) would require some recipients of Work First benefits – which go to children and extremely low-income adults – to undergo drug testing.
Of course, the bills that will have the greatest impact on jobs and families’ finances will those dealing with tax reform and the state budget. Will more teachers and teacher assistants lose their jobs? Will low- and middle-income families have to pay more in taxes?