Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, July 3. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
SENATE: The state Senate will meet at 9 a.m. today. The state House will not hold a formal lawmakers session or committee meeting until next week.
ABORTION BILL: Tops on the Senate agenda Wednesday will be a bill placing restrictions on how and where abortions are performed in North Carolina. The measure, which stitches together three different pieces of legislation, was tacked onto a bill dealing with the application of foreign law in North Carolina court late Tuesday.
Until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, a bill on the Senate Judiciary I committee's calendar only showed a bill that dealt with the application of foreign law to family cases. However, almost immediately, the committee took up an amendment to the bill that dealt with abortion.
After clearing a committee vote, the measure was put on the Senate floor calendar for a 7 p.m. session. Senators gave the bill tentative approval Tuesday night. They must vote against today to return the measure to the state House.
PROVISIONS: Among the bill's abortion provisions are a requirement that abortion clinics have transfer agreements with a nearby hospital. And it would require clinics to meet requirement similar to an ambulatory surgery center. It also prescribes how doctors treat patients, requiring that they stay in the room for an entire procedure, whether it be medical or surgical.
Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, said the measures were aimed at ensuring patient safety, particularly in light of a high-profile Philadelphia case where women and their unborn children were mistreated.
Melissa Reed, VP of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, disagreed, saying those provisions are aimed at curbing access to abortion by ratcheting up regulations.
OTHER STATES: The anti-abortion omnibus that emerged without warning late Tuesday, House Bill 695, has much in common with anti-abortion laws and proposals in other states, including the bill in Texas that has mobilized thousands to protest in Austin this week. Because of the Roe v Wade case and subsequent decisions, states can't ban abortion outright. But they can make it more difficult to get, and the current trend is to accomplish that by targeting clinics and doctors through what some call "TRAP" laws - Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers.
SHARIA LAW: Provisions in the bill dealing with family law remained.
The proposal is meant to ban the recognition of Islamic Sharia law in North Carolina courts..
During the committee meeting, Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, cited two cases from other states where state courts had applied Sharia, or Islamic law, in settling family law cases. Those decisions were later overturned, he said. He cited what he was was a Michigan case in which a court upheld a traditional divorce proceeding in which the husband merely said "I divorce you" three times.
"We want to make sure the laws of North Carolina don't allow something like that to stand," Goolsby said.
NO FILIBUSTER: For those drawing parallels with Texas, North Carolina is different in at least one respect. Senate rules limit the amount of time a member can speak to a bill. At most, senators can speak 30 the first time they address a bill and 15 minutes the second time they speak to a measure. Senate leaders could also "call the question" at any time and close debate.
PRO-CHOICE RESPONSE: “North Carolina’s anti-choice lawmakers are taking their cues from underhanded attacks on women’s reproductive rights in Texas and Ohio. In the final minutes of marking up an unrelated piece of legislation, the Senate Judiciary committee swiftly tacked on every anti-choice piece of legislation introduced since January to this bill and sent the bill to the floor with no warning in an rare evening session," stated Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. "The politicians who responsible for this backdoor maneuvering have taken seriously the rising tide of activists gathering weekly outside the General Assembly to oppose anti-choice legislation. Unfortunately, the lesson they’ve taken is that the best way to accomplish their goals is to hide their maneuvers from the public,"
ALSO: Among the other items the Senate will be taking up today are:
TAXES: The Senate will take a third reading vote on its tax bill, which lowers corporate and personal income tax rates. The measure received tentative approval Tuesday.
"I wish we could get more, but I'll take what we can get," Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, said.
In many respects, the bill passed Tuesday represents compromise with the state House. The proposed 5.75 percent personal income tax rate is a midway point between the House proposal and an earlier Senate draft. The Senate bill also backs off a plan to change how Social Security income is taxed and compromises on how the state would deal with sales taxes.
But the Senate bill still raises $1.5 billion less than the House plan would over the next five years, a gap that has been a sticking point in negotiations.
"There's been a good deal of work done on trying to find some common ground," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said.
FRACKING: A bill restricting what the public could know about the chemicals that energy companies use to extract natural gas in North Carolina has received initial Senate approval.
The chamber voted 35-11 on Tuesday in favor of the bill that allows companies to withhold the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing if they're considered confidential or a trade secret.
The state Energy & Mining Commission would develop rules for public access to an online registry to see what family of chemicals would be used. The commission is currently creating those rules before fracking can begin in the state.