Bills that bear watching
April 20 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Bills that bear watching | Friday, April 20, 2001
  • Lottery - No less than four bills have been introduced to call for a state-sponsored lottery (H 1, H 511, H 1218, S 986). All versions call for profits to be used for education, but in differing ways. Many Baptists oppose a lottery, believing that the state has no business in sponsoring gambling and encouraging its citizens, through widespread advertising, to gamble. Statistics reveal that lotteries prey on the poor, largely for the benefit of the non-poor.
  • Death penalty - Senate bill 109 would set minimum standards for defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges in death penalty cases. Bill S 172 calls for a moratorium on all executions pending further review, while S 173 and H 141 call for an end to the death penalty for persons who are mentally retarded.
  • Infant homicide prevention - Bills S 252 and H 275 would decriminalize the act of abandoning a baby if the mother leaves the child with a responsible caretaker or public agency. Authors of the bill hope this would save the lives of babies who are otherwise abandoned without anyone to care for them.
  • Safe storage of firearms - Bill H 320 would expand requirements for safe storage of firearms to include all gun owners, not just those who have children living in the home. Children are injured or killed every year because guns are available to them.
  • Children's Internet safety net - Bills S 599 and H 478 would require all public schools and public libraries that offer Internet access to provide a filtering service to shield minors from obscene or violent material. Adults could bypass the filtering service by demonstrating that their research has "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific purposes."
  • Religious freedom - This bill (H 646) brings to the state level a national law that requires the state to show a compelling interest before interfering with the free exercise of religion.
  • Reform payday lending - Current law allows for short-term loans against the pledge of future paychecks. This service is most commonly used by persons with low income, who can be charged fees and interest that can exceed an effective interest rate of 400 percent. The current law expires in July. Bill H 670 would remove the sunset provision, require lenders to give customers an informational brochure, limit the extension of credit to $300, and set a five percent limit on fees for third and subsequent rollovers of the same loan.
  • Posting of Ten Commandments in schools - Bill H 681 would allow copies of the Ten Commandments to be posted in schools, along with "other documents of historical significance that have informed and influenced the United States legal or governmental system."
  • School health curriculum modifications - A legislated sex-education program now exists to promote abstinence until marriage as the best means of preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases "and other health and emotional problems." Modifications proposed in S 515 and H 855 would delete "and other health and emotional problems" and would change the description of a safe-sex lifestyle to include extra-marital and non-heterosexual encounters. The act currently states that "a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding diseases transmitted by sexual contact." The new bill would reduce the statement to "a monogamous relationship is the best lifelong means of avoiding diseases transmitted by sexual contact." Opponents fear the change would encourage homosexuality or "serial monogamy" outside of marriage. The bill also allows for an off-campus component of the health education program. Some fear that this could give students access to free contraceptives, which cannot be distributed on school campuses.

    Most bills are currently assigned to legislative committees that can make changes and decide whether to forward the bills for further consideration.

    The N.C. General Assembly has a functional and comprehensive Web site to facilitate contacting lawmakers and keeping up with the current status of legislation ( Persons without Internet access can still contact their senators or representatives with a letter or phone call.

    Let each one do as his or her heart and mind direct.

  • Friday, April 20, 2001

    Bills that bear watching

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor The North Carolina legislature is in the midst of an active year. A number of new bills could raise social, ethical or moral concerns for Baptists and other Christians. The following is not a comprehensive list of bills that should raise concerns (either pro or con). Nor will all Baptists share the same opinions about the bills listed. Nevertheless, here are some legislative issues that will bear watching in the coming year.
    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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