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House Bills 405, 716, 773 and 298: concealed carry for judges; sex-selective abortions; earning the real estate money; keeping power dirty

This week in disappointment: guns, housing and energy 

Loaded lawmakers: An email came over the transom from the office of Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, announcing he and and Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, are hosting a Concealed Carry course for interested legislators and staff later this month.

The hoedown was supposed to be held in the Legislative Building, but that didn't, uh, work out, so note the location change: Pharoah's, a cafe across the street at the N.C. Museum of History.

While lawmakers clean their barrels, House Bill 405 would allow district attorneys, assistant DAs, investigators from the DA's office, justices and judges to carry a concealed handgun in state and federal buildings and other spaces off-limits to the rest of us defenders of the Second Amendment. The caveat: They must have a handgun permit and cannot be drunk, high or have the offending substances in their body. Oops, no more gin and tonics at lunch.

A bill in search of a problem: HB 716 would make it illegal for doctors to perform sex-selective abortions. Since there is no evidence that sex-selective abortion in North Carolina is common, we can assume this measure is intended to chip away at women's reproductive rights. Moreover, the bill extends the right to sue the abortion provider to the pregnant woman's spouse, parents, siblings, guardian and doctor—in other words, to people who have no business in the decision.

Kansas, North Dakota, Florida and Missouri have introduced similar legislation.

Last year, the bill's primary sponsors, including Republican Ruth Samuelson, tried to pass legislation to force women considering abortion to view an ultrasound of the fetus beforehand.

Speaking of meddling, HB 773 would dismantle Durham's Proactive Rental Inspection Program (PRIP). And you guessed it, the bill isn't sponsored by anyone from Durham: Republicans Tim Moffitt (see nipples, handguns and the takeover of the Asheville water system), Bill Brawley of Mecklenburg (he's also a commercial real estate broker), Jon Hardister of Guilford and Bill Brisson of Bladen.

Although the bill would take effect statewide, it would most drastically affect cities.

Under PRIP, which launched last year, Durham's Neighborhood Improvement Services department is inspecting rental properties in seven target areas covering about 12 square miles. All property owners with at least three housing code violations must register their rentals with NIS.

Previously, NIS could inspect rentals only if it received a complaint. PRIP helps keeps tabs on slumlords, protects renters and allows responsible landlords to maintain their property values.

These, ahem, onerous regulations have riled up the Apartment Association of North Carolina, the Real Estate & Building Industry Coalition and the N.C. Association of Realtors, which support the measure.

The bill would eliminate some of the registration requirements and force Durham to return to a complaint-only inspection program. It would decrease the inspection area to 1 square mile.

If the bill passes, those lawmakers will have earned their money: The real estate and apartment interests contributed at least $5,500 to Moffitt, $3,000 to Brisson and $6,500 to Brawley last year.

Like Chucky the doll, the renewable energy bill is not dead, just scheming. The original HB 298 would have unraveled the state's renewable energy standards, which over the past five years have created jobs and increased North Carolina's use of clean power.

The measure died in committee last week after the utilities, farmers and environmental activists opposed it, but it and a companion bill, SB 365, return for a sequel tomorrow: The new version reduces from 12.5 percent to 6 percent the amount of clean power utilities would have to provide by 2018; it eliminates the solar energy requirement but, in a nod to pig and chicken farmers, retains, albeit in smaller amounts, power to be generated from waste.

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