- Good Government
- Criminal Justice
- People With Disabilities
- Domestice Violence
- Children and Youth
Yesterday was the deadline for Governor Perdue to sign or veto bills passed by the General Assembly in the last weeks of the session. Interestingly, yesterday she let a bill become law without her signature. It’s a bill which will enable UNC campuses to keep any money they save through energy efficiency and conservation. But the bill also prohibits the governor from cutting money to campuses equal to the amount they are saving. Governor Perdue noted that that provision takes away power given to the Governor in the state Constitution, but she did not veto it.
The following bills have been enacted into law:
H 357, School Absence for Religious Holidays, will require public schools, community colleges, and state universities to authorize a minimum of two days of excused absences per academic year for religious observances required by the faith of the student, with the student being able to make up tests and work missed.
H 1307, No Felon as Sheriff. Yes, friends, you will be able to vote this November on a constitutional amendment that you wouldn’t have thought we’d need . . . until several convicted felons were on ballots earlier this year, wanting to be their county’s top law enforcement person.
H 1757, Fitness Testing in Schools, will require the setting up of evidence-based fitness testing for grades K through 8.
H 1812, Domestic Violence Cases, Review Criminal Record, will require courts, in considering pre-trial release in domestic violence criminal cases, to consider the defendant’s prior criminal record.
S 900, Studies Act of 2010. Among the issues which may studied:
- Creating a statewide supportive housing initiative for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or substance abuse issues.
- Disparities in graduation rates for minority students.
- Lowering the age by which children must be in school from seven to six.
- Raising the upper age for compulsory school attendance from 16 to 17 or 18.
- The impact of environmental toxins on human health.
- The needs of young children with mental health problems and their families.
- Whether to implement BMI (body mass index) screening for children at risk of becoming obese who are in Medicaid or Health Choice.
The law also:
- Extends the work of the Task Force on Childhood Obesity.
- Creates a Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Consolidation of Early Childhood Education and Care to take over from a similar task force created last year.
- Creates a Legislative Commission on Diversity in the Public Schools.
S 1015, Homeowner and Homebuyer Protection Act, will prohibit foreclosure rescue scams and other abusive real estate practices.
S 1151, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will require a study of ways to expand the SNAP program in NC and call for proposals to better educate people about nutrition, physical activity, and obesity.
S 1216, Extend Emergency Foreclosure Program, will continue and expand the State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project.
S 1246, Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate, will require the state Board of Education to develop short- and long-term goals for increasing the state’s high-school graduation rates. These goals would be for graduation rates of 74% by 2014, 80% by 2016, 90% by 2018, and 100% by some unspecified future date.
Sometimes the bills that don’t pass are as important as the ones which do. Three issues opposed by the Council failed to gain traction this summer, and the bills died at the end of the session. These efforts include:
- Overturning the decision of the Community College Board to admit undocumented students.
- Repudiating comprehensive health care reform legislation passed by Congress earlier this year.
- Amending the state constitution to define marriage.
Each of these issues is likely to come before the newly elected General Assembly in 2011.
What happens now?
The new General Assembly, whose 170 members will all be elected this November, will convene on Wednesday, January 26, for the 2011 “long session.” Between now and then, several study committees will be at work, including new ones just authorized by S 900 and continuing ones which were created after the 2009 session. They will bring reports to the 2011 session.
Raleigh Report will resume regular publication next January, though we will put out information between now and then if events warrant. Thanks for your faithful participation with us. We have seen again this summer the impact we can have, especially as we work in concert with other advocates for justice.