Raleigh, N.C. — Health was front and center at the General Assembly on Thursday, with bills filed on vaccinations and medical marijuana.
Sens. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, and Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, are backing legislation that would eliminate religious exemptions to receiving vaccinations for communicable diseases. The bill also would add influenza B and polio to the list of required vaccinations for school enrollment.
Tarte said the religious exemption is being used so widely that it's putting overall public health at risk. Further, he said, the exemption is often misused, as few major religions actually forbid vaccinations.
Meanwhile, scores of people converged on the Legislative Building to lobby for legal medical marijuana in North Carolina. Such bills usually fail, but supporters said they see momentum building nationwide, with 23 states and Washington, D.C., having legalized it already.
In non-health news, a House committee passed a bill that would end the use of protest petitions to block controversial developments or secure concessions from developers. Supporters of the legislation say requiring a super-majority of a city council to approve a zoning change because nearby residents object to it infringes on a property owner's rights. Opponents say protest petitions are the only way their voices can be heard when facing off against a developer.