This week in disappointment: rolling back the environment, reproductive rights and more | North Carolina | Indy Week
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This week in disappointment: rolling back the environment, reproductive rights and more 

HB 693: BIRTH CONTROL

The same Republicans who want to ban abortion also want to make it harder for teens to get birth control. A committee amendment last week adds parental consent as a requirement for teens to obtain birth control or screening for sexually transmitted diseases. Because it's easy telling your mom you might have chlamydia. Republicans say it strengthens parents' rights. Critics say it places a barrier for teens in obtaining key medical services. As of Tuesday, the bill was in the House Judiciary Committee.

SB 132: ABORTION

Politics or science? That's the key debate in this GOP-backed bill, which would require schools to teach that abortions can trigger subsequent preterm births. NARAL N.C. points out multiple medical authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, say there is no established link between the two. It passed the Senate Monday.

HB 773: LOW-INCOME HOUSING

Durham leaders, particularly those who support the city's Proactive Rental Inspection Program, are monitoring this GOP-led legislation, which would curb the powers of local governments to inspect rental housing. Republicans such as Mecklenburg County's Bill Brawley—a commercial real estate broker—say the inspections are excessive. Democrats say they're necessary to ensure housing standards in troubled neighborhoods. The measure passed the House Tuesday but still requires Senate passage.

SB 703: SMOKING

GOP lawmakers are also seeking to roll back local controls on smoking, pushing this legislation to overturn outdoor smoking bans in cities, community colleges and beaches. Leaders in Orange and Durham counties passed sweeping public bans last year, two years after a statewide ban on smoking in most restaurants and bars. The bill was referred to the Senate committee on State and Local Government.

SB 515: JORDAN LAKE

Triangle environmentalists are panning Senate Bill 515, a measure sponsored by Republicans Rick Gunn and Trudy Wade that repeals some buffer requirements for Jordan Lake, parts of which the federal government has classified as impaired because of pollution. Buffer requirements regulate the proximity of development to the lake, as well as runoff and other pollutants. Said N.C. Sierra Club State Director Molly Diggins: "There seems to be some magical thinking that legislators will find a technology that will clean up the lake without responsible parties upstream having to control their pollution into the lake."

SB 327: ELECTRIC CARS

Selling cars on the Internet equals unfair competition, or at least electric cars. That's according to car dealers and Sen. Tom Apodaca, who received $6,000 from the North Carolina Automobile Dealer's Association. This bill, which moved forward in a Senate committee last week, would block electric car company Tesla from selling its cars online in North Carolina.

SB 370: SCHOOL PRAYER

Last week, the Senate unanimously approved legislation to grant students the right to pray, distribute religious literature and organize religious groups in public schools—as long as they don't harass anyone. SB 370 also would allow students to express religious viewpoints in homework or artwork. It instructs teachers and school employees to "adopt a respectful posture" as students exercise these rights. Wiccans, Buddhists, Muslims and others of non-Judeo-Christian belief, we're hoping you'll exercise yours.

And finally, something good: SB 473: MEDICAL BILLS

This bill, which unanimously passed a Senate committee, would allow consumers to compare hospital prices for medical procedures. Hospitals would be required to provide price information regularly about the 100 most common medical procedures. The legislation is the result of a News & Observer investigation last year, which showed that complicated medical bills were contributing to high costs for consumers.

This article appeared in print with the headline "This week in disappointment."

  • But there is one good bill, which would allow consumers to compare hospital prices for medical procedures.

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