News

Governor Pat McCrory was all smiles in January when he announced his administration had reached a $52 million dollar deal to sell the Dorothea Dix campus to the City of Raleigh.

Now Senate Bill 705 (Ensure Fair Sale of Dorothea Dix Property) threatens to upend the governor’s real estate deal.

The bill filed by Republican Senators Louis Pate, Ralph Hise and Tommy Tucker terminates the earlier contract with Raleigh and calls for the minimum acceptable bid to be set at $52 million.

Click below to watch Gov. McCrory announce the Dix park sale earlier this year. To read Senate Bill 705, click here.
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womens-healthOn the final day for state Senators to file bills for the session, Senators Shirley Randleman, Joyce Krawiec, and Warren Daniel teamed up to introduce the Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015.

Senate Bill 604  would impose new requirements on doctors performing abortions and stipulate that abortion clinics have in place written agreements with area-hospitals to accept the transfer of patients who are in need of emergency care.

The bill also would appropriate $500,000 from the General Fund to establish a perinatal resource care program at UNC Hospitals to serve families with complications.

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina said SB 604 was nothing more than anti-choice politics. Here’s more from the statement the organization released Thursday afternoon:

‘Today, we ask that our legislators focus their energy on women’s health, not politics.

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina’s top priority is to protect comprehensive reproductive healthcare access. While 7 in 10 Americans believe in protecting a woman’s fundamental rights, the majority of North Carolina counties do not have access to an abortion provider. SB 604 will only further restrict access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare.

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina agrees that women should receive reproductive healthcare in the safest possible environment, and that doctors should be free to provide the best medical care for every patient’s individual needs. SB 604 will make it more difficult for patients to receive the quality care they deserve. On the surface these regulations may seem mundane, but in reality, their purpose is to block women’s access to abortion. We agree with previous statements made by legislative leaders that the General Assembly should not be practicing medicine.’

To read Senate Bill 604 in its entirety, click here.

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MR_EducationA flurry of bills are being filed in the state Senate this week in advance of today’s deadline* for introducing public bills and resolutions. Here are five bills you may have missed that merit watching:

Senate Bill 384Increase Pay/Experienced Teachers – Senator Joyce Waddell may be a freshman in the NC Senate, but she knows veteran teachers deserve better pay. Her bill would appropriated more than $20 million from the General Fund to the Department of Public Instruction  to establish a new salary schedule that supports experienced educators:

salary schedule

Senate Bill 515Driver Education Funding – Senator Erica Smith-Ingram bill would restore funding from the Highway Fund for the Driver Education program administered by the Department of Public Instruction. Local boards of education would be permitted to charge up to $65 to offset the costs of providing the training. Read Lindsay Wagner’s piece on the challenge school districts face without this dedicated funding.

Senate Bill 463Increase Access to Education – Sen. Fletcher Hartsell’s bill spells out that an individual who has attended school in North Carolina for at least three consecutive years immediately prior to graduation and has received a high school diploma from a school within North Carolina (or their GED) would be accorded resident tuition status when applying for higher education.

Senate Bill 510NCVPS/Equal Access to Education – This bill would provide access for both public and non-public school students to the the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) program. Home-schooled children would not pay any more for access than students attending traditional public schools. Virtual education is a growing area of interest for state lawmakers.

Senate Bill 512Delay Law Implementation/VIVA/Paper Ballots.- Very simply this bill would delay full implementation of the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) and the use of paper ballots until the court has issued a ruling in Currie v. North Carolina. You can read more about that case in this post by our courts and law reporter Sharon McCloskey.

*The deadline for filing public bills in the state House is April 8th for bills that don’t involve Appropriations or Finance.

News

Looking for a quick round-up of the day’s news on Jones Street?

Folks packed today’s first committee hearing on medical marijuana, there’s a major Supreme Court ruling on redistricting that could impact North Carolina, and the governor has a few choice words for the Senate’s tax plan.

Some of the most retweeted stories are listed below:

News

Over 30,000 people have now signed an online petition pressing Governor Pat McCrory to issue a pardon for two half-brothers who were exonerated last September after serving 30 years for a wrongful conviction.McCollum Brown

Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown were convicted for the 1983 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Three decades later new DNA evidence proved another man committed the crime.

The petition at change.org goes on to explain:

When they were finally released from prison 6 months ago, the state gave them $45 dollars each for their trouble and sent them on their way to survive in a world completely different from the one they left in 1983. Both Henry and Leon have limited education and due to their lack of ability to get jobs have relied on the kindness of strangers. This is not freedom or justice. They both lost 30 years of their lives, and even after being proven innocent, have been forced to live in limbo because the state won’t pardon them. These men deserve a real chance to live life and be a part of the American dream. Everyday Gov. McCrory delays, is one more day Henry and Leon spend in a virtual prison.

Governor McCrory’s office has reiterated that it is reviewing the case.

But those signing on to the petition, which has gained national attention,  believe the pardon should be expedited. Here are just a few comments from those who’ve signed on:

These men should be pardoned and compensated for 30 years of loss of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
– Raymond White PEMBROKE PINES, FL

Too many innocent people are being convicted, and we seem to find it far too acceptable. We need to examine the testimony & evidence and find if there was wrong doing and convict people for false testimony and fraudulent evidence in order to keep it from happening.
– Daniel Richards BEATRICE, NE

These men have suffered enough. Do the right thing.
– Robert Schenkelberg LAKE HAVASU CITY, AZ

Saturday, April 4th, will mark seven-months since  McCollum and Brown were freed from prison. Click here to view the petition.