Local Politics

Anti-gang legislation, school nutrition discussed at General Assembly

Posted May 20, 2008

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— A Senate committee approved anti-gang legislation Tuesday afternoon, a day before mayors planned to gather in Raleigh to push for the legislation.

The Senate Rules Committee approved two bills. One would toughen penalties for people who participate in gang activity, including recruiting new members. The second bill asks county juvenile crime prevention councils to work on gang-prevention initiatives.

The bills are expected to go before the full Senate tomorrow.

“Gangs have taken a foothold in our community. They're in our schools, in our neighborhoods. So, this sends a clear and distinct message to those in street gangs,” said Sen. Malcolm Graham, D-Mecklenburg.

As the bills cleared the panel, several mayors were expected to lobby Wednesday for passage of anti-gang legislation. Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, showed up at the Legislative Building on Tuesday and said he was glad to see movement on the bills.

McCrory has made the issue central to his run for governor. He applauds the legislative momentum, but senses election year politics.

“They (legislators) didn't want to hear it again. They heard it last year, swept it under the rug. Now, everyone, all of a sudden, is for it. The critics are hidden,” McCrory said.

Graham disagreed, saying he has been working on the act for more than three years.

“The governor’s election is in November, not today,” Graham said.

McCrory's Democratic opponent in the fall is Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, who issued a statement Tuesday praising the anti-gang legislation.

If the legislation passes, House and Senate leaders will have to work out differences over the age of offenders and the cost for prisons and prevention.

Forced annexations

Some lawmakers on Tuesday called for a temporary ban on forced annexations by towns and cities.

North Carolina is one of four states that allow involuntary annexation without consultation with property owners in the affected area.

Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the proposed legislation.

“We see time and time again individual citizens having their property forced into a city, their taxes increased substantially and all without an opportunity to be heard,” Berger said. He said it is time to review the law, which dates to 1959.

The House Select Committee on Municipal Annexation voted Monday to move forward with a bill that would impose a statewide temporary moratorium on involuntary annexation through June 30, 2009. Now, the full House will consider the bill.

Smoking Bans

Smoking bans also garnered attention Tuesday.

Bills were filed in the House and Senate to ban smoking in all state and local government-owned cars. The ban would only apply to passenger vehicles assigned to employees, however.

Land Conservation

Also at the General Assembly, a statewide partnership of citizens and businesses urged the General Assembly to provide $200 million a year, over five years, to protect the state’s land and water resources before they are irreversibly lost.

Land for Tomorrow officials held a lobby day at the legislature Tuesday.

“I think we all can see in our daily lives the way land is being consumed in the state, and if we don’t protect those pieces of land that are most important to us, we may lose what attracted so many people to the state,” said land developer D.R. Bryan, an ambassador for the program.

The group’s plan would allocate $1 billion over the five-year period to trust funds that support the preservation of natural and cultural heritage, farmland, parks and recreation and clean water.


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  • doodad May 21, 2008

    Just Ice, I wholeheartedly agree. Gangs are nothing more than domestic terrorists. Good point.

    There was an article last Friday in the N&O about prisons. It was presented to the legislatures that the prison system had to either lessen sentences or build more prisons.

    Well, considering the rate that our state population increased to the point that we can't build enough schools to keep up with the pace, common sense would tell us that we have to build more prisons as well. DO NOT LESSEN SENTENCES. We have enough repeat offenders already.

  • dsdaughtry May 21, 2008

    I am for tougher gang related laws. However to throw taxpayer money at non-profits that already receive money from grants such as Safe Neighborhoods Programs are just throwing money away. The same money that "The second bill asks county juvenile crime prevention councils to work on gang-prevention initiatives" is already funded and is being currently used for other programs instead of anti-gang programs. More money would just be used for other programs because there are no audit programs to prove that the money was spent for anti-gang awareness/education. Law makers need to put teeth into the bill by punishing those non-profits that divert money from one program to another.

  • Just Ice May 21, 2008

    WRAL: "The Senate Rules Committee approved two bills. One would toughen penalties for people who participate in gang activity, including recruiting new members. The second bill asks county juvenile crime prevention councils to work on gang-prevention initiatives."

    Any anti-gang legislation is better than none but this doesn't go far enough. We need a more aggressive approach in combating violent gangs in order to establish a strong and effective deterrent. How about labeling violent gangs as terrorist organizations and classifying gang members as enemy combatants? Let’s deal with gangs the same way we deal with terrorists. Aren’t they really domestic terrorists?

  • ifcdirector May 20, 2008

    You have to love a bill that focuses on gangs without addressing the fact that many gangs now consist of illegal aliens whom the state will do nothing whatsoever to inconvenience.

  • 2headstrong May 20, 2008

    The only place I see school nutrition mentioned at all is in the headline....

  • PearlMonteverde May 20, 2008

    I certainly hope we plan to call it "Eve's Law" as the Durham Judge recommended. That would be a beginning to justice for her family and friends.