Senate passes bills on abortion education, car sales, trial by jury
Posted May 13, 2013
Updated May 14, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Criminal defendants would be able to ask for a bench trial, during which a judge rather than a jury decides guilt and innocence, under a measure that passed the state Senate Monday night.
The measure was one of more than two dozen measures senators dealt with Monday.
The bench trial bill is a proposed amendment to the state constitution. If the House also approves the measure, voters would have the ultimate say.
"This is something that's already being done in the federal court system," said Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, saying the measure could save money for the court system. Defendants facing execution would not be able to opt out of a jury trial.
Brunstetter said that North Carolina and South Carolina are the only two states in the nation that don't allow bench trials for criminal cases. The bill passed the state Senate 49-0.
In other news, the Senate:
- Passed a measure making changes to state laws with regard to auto dealers. Opponents of the measure say it could keep high-end electric car maker Tesla from selling their cars in the state. The measure passed 48-0 with no debate. It now goes to the House.
- Gave final Senate approval to a measure requiring that students be taught having an abortion increases the risk of complications in future pregnancies.
"When we put language into teach our children something, it should be factual," said Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange. She said the science behind this bill was still in dispute.
But the bill's sponsor, Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, pointed to a copy of what he said was an abortion clinic waiver that patients have to sign. It contained language warning about complications to future pregnancies.
"I would say that, if the abortion clinics of North Carolina are making their clients sign this type of waiver, it's appropriate to teach it to our children in public school," Daniel said
The bill passed 38-10 and now goes to the House.
- Passed a measure moving responsibility for enforcing the state's animal welfare statutes form the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The measure next goes to the House.