The N.C. Senate is considering the Healthy Youth Act (SB 221), which passed the House in April (HB 88) and provides for abstinence-until-marriage and comprehensive sex-education programs in grades 7 through 9. Buncombe Rep. Susan Fisher was one of the primary sponsors in the House. The bill is scheduled for a second-reading vote, along with SB 526 (HB 548), the School Violence Prevention Act addressing bullying and harassment in the schools, for which Fisher was a primary sponsor with WNC Reps. Phil Haire (Haywood/Jackson/Macon/Swain), Ray Rapp (Haywood/Madison/Yancey) and Jane Whilden (Buncombe) co-sponsoring. (Bills are not considered passed by the House or Senate until they are acted on favorably in a third reading.)
In the House, a small bill headed for its third reading would modify public-school history and geography curricula. HB 1032 amends current state law to require one yearlong course of instruction in elementary school on North Carolina and one on U.S. history with N.C. history integrated “where practicable.” The latter would include “contributions … by the racial and ethnic groups that have contributed to the development and diversity of the State and nation” – wording formerly limited to the state itself. Rapp is a primary sponsor of the bill; Fisher is a co-sponsor.
Bills passed in the Senate and House last week include of particular note to WNC legislators or citizens include the following:
HB 442 – Parental Involvement in School Discipline: Requires reasonable attempt by school officials to notify parent/guardian before administering corporal punishment; prohibits corporal punishment if parent/guardian has so requested in writing; requires local school boards to report corporal punishment occurrences. Adopted 91-24; now in Senate Committee on Education/Higher Education.
Voting Aye: Fisher (primary sponsor), Bruce Goforth (Buncombe), David Guice (Henderson/Polk/Transylvania), Haire, Carolyn Justus (Henderson), Rapp, Whilden
Voting No: Phillip Frye (Avery/Caldwell/Mitchell/Yancey), Roger West (Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Macon)
SB 761 – Street Construction Developer Responsibility: Amends current state law to limit the responsibility of developers for street or highway construction cost to the amount necessary to serve the projected traffic generated by the development (limits apply to acceleration and deceleration lanes, traffic-storage lanes, traffic-control devices and other improvements). Passed third reading, 44-4; sent to House for consideration.
Voting Aye: Sens. Tom Apodaca (Buncombe/Henderson/Polk), Doug Berger (Franklin/Granville/Vance/Warren), Steve Goss (Alexander/Ashe/Watauga/Wilkes), Martin Nesbitt Jr. (Buncombe), Joe Sam Queen (Avery/Haywood/Madison/McDowell/Mitchell/Yancey)
SB 925 – Misrepresentation of Bottled NC Spring Water: Amends current state law to require that persons engaged in selling bottled water as a beverage not misrepresent the water to be “North Carolina natural spring water” if that water is not both (1) derived and free-flowing from an underground land formation, and (2) collected at the natural orifice in the earth’s surface connected to the underground formation and that is on land located in North Carolina. Passed third reading; sent to House for consideration.
Voting Aye: Apodaca, Berger, Goss, Nesbitt
Voting No: Queen
— Nelda Holder, associate editor
Note: The Plott Hound (Canis lupus familiaris), a breed that originated in the WNC mountains around 1750, is the state’s official dog and its only “original”—one of just four breed originating in the U.S. It was named for Jonathon Plott, who developed the breed for wild-boar hunts. Known to be tenacious trackers and extremely loyal with superior treeing instincts, the Plott Hound remains a favorite with big-game hunters.