With the opening of the 2009-2010 session of the N.C. General Assembly, several bills of particular interest to Western North Carolina legislators and constituents went into the starting gate on Jan. 29. A synopsis of some of those bills with their WNC sponsors follows:
House Bill 2: Prohibits smoking in public and work places and give local governments the right to enact local laws that are more restrictive on smoking than the state. Reps. Susan Fisher and Bruce Goforth of Buncombe County, co-sponsors.
House Bill 6: Called the Davies Law/Humane Euthanasia in Shelters, prohibits the use of gas for euthanasia in animal shelters and require that euthanasia be performed only by a licensed veterinarian or certified euthanasia technician administering a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital, or the equivalent. Passed first reading and referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House. Fisher and Goforth, co-sponsors.
House Bill 8: Makes distribution of cell phones to persons in the custody of the N.C. Department of Corrections a felony. Rep. Carolyn Justus of Henderson County, co-sponsor.
House Bill 9: No Texting While Driving would prohibit use of technology associated with a mobile phone that provides access to digital media—including, camera, electronic mail, music, the Internet, text messaging, or games—while driving. Fisher, co-sponsor.
House Bill 14: Addresses payment and co-payment for licensed chiropractic services under medical insurance policies in the state. Co-payment could not be higher than that for comparable to treatment by a medical doctor for similar purpose, and any limitation on treatment or levels of coverage between licensed chiropractors and licensed physicians would be equalized. Rep. Goforth, primary sponsor.
House Bill 15: Provide funding to establish two additional military family assistance for deploying, deployed and redeployed members of the N.C. National Guard and armed forces to offer family assistance, counseling, financial assistance, and help with health-care matters. Fisher, co-sponsor.
Senate Bill 2: Change the current Lottery School Capital Fund Formula to provide for all the funds to be distributed based on average daily membership (removing the 35 percent distribution based on effective county tax rate). Referred to the Committee on Appropriations/Base Budget. Sen. John Snow of Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Haywood/Jackson/Macon/Swain/Transylvania counties, primary sponsor; Sens. Martin Nesbitt of Buncombe County and Joe Sam Queen of Avery/Haywood/Madison/McDowell/Mitchell/Yancey counties, co-sponsors.
Senate Bill 3: Allow use of fees collected from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park special state license plate to be used for ordinary administrative and operating expenses. Referred to the Finance Committee. Snow, primary sponsor; Queen, co-sponsor.
Senate Bill 7: Repeals the state law currently prohibiting hunting on Sundays. Referred to Committee on Judiciary II. (No WNC sponsors listed.)
Senate Bill 13: Amends the state law dealing with injury to a pregnant woman, increasing the penalty and making such injury a separate offense after the 20th week of pregnancy. Referred to Committee on Judiciary I. Sens. Tom Apodaca, Buncombe/Henderson/Polk counties, and Snow, co-sponsors.
Senate Bill 14: Create an Employment Safety and Security Commission for the state to enhance worker safety. Referred to Commerce Committee. Nesbitt, co-sponsor.
Senate Bill 20: Provision for voter-owned (public finance) election of the state treasurer. Nesbitt, Queen and Snow, co-sponsors.
—Nelda Holder, associate editor