MVA Monitor – June 7

Most of the activity this week at the General Assembly focused on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and House and Senate negotiations with respect to the state budget. The week ended with both chambers of the General Assembly holding a session in the old legislative chambers in the State Capitol building in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Issue Insights

State and Legislative Issues

Abortion Debate

The will-they-or-won’t-they debate on SB 359, Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, ended on Wednesday. The bill had been passed by the General Assembly in April but was vetoed by the Governor shortly thereafter. The Senate took action to override the Governor’s veto fairly quickly. The motion to override was on the House calendar for most of May, but never came up for a vote. Last week, Speaker Tim Moore announced that the delay was over and the House would vote on the motion on Wednesday, June 5. The motion failed by a vote of 67-53, falling five votes short of the 60 percent threshold required for an override. The vote split largely along party lines – all Republican House members voted to override the veto, while all but two Democratic House members voted against the override motion. Proponents of the bill argued that it was necessary to ensure that medical professionals provide care to an infant born alive during a failed abortion attempt. Opponents of the bill argued that it was unnecessary (that state law already requires this) and that it was actually an attempt to intimidate medical professionals that provide abortions.

NC House fails to block Cooper’s veto on ‘born alive’ abortion bill (Raleigh News & Observer)

Redistricting Documents

There appears to be more damaging information coming from the files of the late Thomas Hofeller. Plaintiffs in a case involving North Carolina’s legislative redistricting argue that documents in the files provide evidence that legislative leaders may have misled the courts in previous filings. In June 2017, the US Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that found North Carolina’s legislative districts unconstitutional as a result of a racial gerrymander. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower court to fashion a remedy. The lower court had originally ordered new districts to be drawn and a special election to be held immediately. When the case was remanded to the lower court, legislative leaders argued that it was not practicable to draw new districts and have them in place in time for a special election. The court ruled that the special election would not be required and that new districts must be drawn in time for the 2018 election instead. Attorneys for Common Cause, the plaintiffs in the case, argue that documents in Hofeller’s files demonstrate that new maps had largely been drawn at the time legislative leaders argued it wasn’t practicable to do so in time for a special election. Hofeller’s files came to light after his death when his estranged daughter turned them over to Common Cause.

Lawyers: Redistricting expert files show judges were misled (Associated Press)

State Budget

The House voted not to concur in the Senate’s version of the state budget on Tuesday and both chambers appointed conferees on Thursday to work out differences between the two plans. This officially begins the next stage of budget negotiations. There were significant differences between the two proposals, particularly with respect to teacher and state employee raises. Once the legislature agrees on a budget proposal, it still must go to the Governor for his approval. The Governor has said he is taking a wait-and-see approach, indicating that while there are parts of the bill with which he disagrees, he will wait to see the final product before making a decision. The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30, but due to legislation passed a few years ago the state can continue operations at the current level without enacting a new budget or continuing resolution.

Negotiations Set to Begin for 2019 State Budget (Spectrum News)

Governor weighs in on state budget, abortion veto, other issues (WRAL)

Local Issues – Raleigh

Electric Scooters

As of August 1, only one company will be operating electric scooters in Raleigh. Earlier this year, the Raleigh City Council imposed a new registration requirement on companies operating electric scooters. The ordinance provides for a competitive process to select scooter operators in the city, limits the total number of scooters a company can operate in the city and the total number of scooters allowed for all operators, and requires an annual fee of $300 per scooter. Lime and Bird did not bid to continue operations in Raleigh. There were five other companies that did submit bids, but only one was chosen – Gotcha, a South Carolina-based company.

Raleigh picks single electric scooter company to replace Bird and Lime (Raleigh News & Observer)

News Roundup