The proposed marriage amendment to the N.C. Constitution took on yet another persona today when the Senate passed SB 514, formerly known as the Nutrient Management Plan. The original legislation announced for discussion in the Senate Judiciary I Committee was HB 61, a term limits bill for the legislative leadership, with the marriage amendment language inserted there. But the bill morphed again before the 75-42 vote in the House this afternoon, and is now on the Senate calendar for tomorrow, Sept. 13, as SB 514. The legislative session is expected to end on Wednesday.
“It is an unsubtle effort on the part the GOP to get out the vote in the next election, but the sad truth is that it unleashes another cultural war in the state that is bad for business and disruptive to our communities,” said Democratic Rep. Ray Rapp of Mars Hill in response to an Xpress inquiry about the changing amendment identify. (Republican Rep. Tim Moffitt did not respond to the inquiry.) “This is a sad state of affairs when we have flood victims in Eastern North Carolina, high unemployment and our education system sinking under the weight of budget slashes . . . and the issue that we are called to Raleigh to debate is the ban on gay marriage,” Rapp said.
Western North Carolina delegation members of the House split along party lines on the amendment vote, with Republicans Phillip Frye, David Guice, Tim Moffitt and Roger West in favor of today’s version of SB 514, and Democratics Susan Fisher, Phillip Haire, Patsy Keever, Ray Rapp voting against the bill. Republican Chuck McGrady did not vote on the bill.
In other activity, tomorrow’s House calendar includes a second reading of HB 823, formerly a bill addressing the governance of the Department of Public Instruction — now containing substitute language to create a constitutional amendment to limit the terms of the House and Senate leadership. Reconsideration of gubernatorial vetoes of HB 351 (Restore Confidence in Government — the voter photo ID bill), HB 482 (Water Supply Lines/Water Violation Waivers), SB 709 (Energy Jobs Act), and SB 727 (No Dues Checkoff for School Employees) are also listed on the calendar.
by Nelda Holder, contributing editor