The North Carolina General Assembly gaveled into session on Wednesday, January 27, and we’re starting to get a better idea of what bills we will be supporting and fighting against. Here’s what we know so far and what we can expect in the weeks to come:
The first bills to be introduced and passed have been those related to COVID, including a bill that passed both chambers (the house and senate) unanimously on February 4 and is expected to become law ASAP. That bill, SB 36 (with companion bill HB 42 in the house), allocates federal COVID relief funds, including $94.7 million for vaccine distribution, $1.6 billion to help schools reopen, and $546.6 million to help renters avoid evictions, in addition to extending the deadlines for spending additional federal COVID funds later this session. We’re encouraged that the General Assembly has taken up COVID relief first in order to address the immediate needs of North Carolinians as we continue to deal with the pandemic.
Onslaught of abortion restrictions
While voters sent champions for reproductive health to the White House (and more to Congress!), we did not see those same gains at the local level. Like many other states across the country, we experienced some tough losses at the General Assembly, losing some of our endorsed candidates who were champions for reproductive freedom. This pattern has led to an increase in proposed anti-abortion legislation in a number of states, like House Bill 31, a bill that would ban abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy in North Carolina. We will be closely monitoring HB 31 and any other anti-abortion legislation that may be introduced. Keep an eye out — we expect there to be several bad bills that we will have to fight.
A long road ahead
We are in the very beginning of a “long” legislative session, with months left to go for lawmakers to introduce new legislation. We will be ready to fight for the things that are important to the communities we serve and against the attacks we may face.
We’ll also be ready to stand in support of any pro-reproductive health and freedom legislation — like House Bill 8 (with companion Senate Bill 15), which would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and appropriate funds to educate the public about the ERA. This bill sends a clear message that North Carolinians value all people and support equality and equity. North Carolina has the historic opportunity to become the 38th — and final — state necessary to ratify the ERA to guarantee equal rights for women and men under the U.S. Constitution.
We’re ready to fight
We hope you’ll join us this legislative session to advocate for access to health care, reproductive freedom, and bodily autonomy. And there are a few ways you can do that!
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