The short session of the two-year biennial session of the General Assembly wrapped up last Friday, June 29th. It lived up to its name by lasting for only a little over six weeks. During the short session, legislators made changes to the State’s two-year budget, passed six Constitutional Amendments that will go on this fall’s ballot for voters to approve, and overrode seven out of nine vetoes issued by the Governor. Out of thousands of bills filed in the two-year period, only 128 of them became law in 2018.
Day in and day out, the NC Values Coalition was there to represent your values, whether working to get legislation passed, helping to guide its final language, or working to make sure bad ideas don’t become law. Our legislators worked very hard this year and accomplished some tremendous policy changes. Among them are:
- Lower Taxes—Thanks to Republicans and Senator President Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore, the individual tax rate has fallen from 8.25% in 2012 to 5.499%. The 2017 budget will lower the tax rate even lower to 5.25% starting next year in 2019. Corporate tax rate have fallen from 6.9% to 3% over the same period and is expected to hit 2.5% next year.
- Human Trafficking Funding—Thanks to Rep. Bill Brawley from Charlotte, the legislature appropriated $1.5 Million to fund victim services through the NC Human Trafficking Commission. The General Assembly also moved the NC Human Trafficking Commission from the Attorney General’s office, where it has received no funding or support, to the Administrative Office of the Courts. The funding and the change of Departments should enable the Commission to greatly expand the work it does to help the victims of sex trafficking and coordinate the many non-profit ministries that serve victims of sex trafficking around our State.
- Human Trafficking Restorative Justice—Again, thanks to Rep. Bill Brawley, the legislature enacted numerous changes to strengthen human trafficking laws. First, it provides an affirmative defense to prosecution for victims of human trafficking who were coerced or deceived into committing an offense. Second, to the restitution due victims of sex trafficking for lost wages, it adds additional restitution for medical care, psychological treatment, temporary housing, transportation, funeral services, and any other services designed to assist a victim recover from any injuries or loss. Third, it amends the definition of “abused juveniles” to include all human trafficking victims less than 18 years of age, regardless of who trafficked them, allowing them access to special services by DHHS.
- Rape Testing Kits Oversight and Catching Up—Thanks to Representatives Jamie Boles and Ted Davis, a commission was established to oversee the timely testing and tracking of rape kits and to make sure the backlog of over 15,000 untested kits is caught up. This will ensure that victims of sexual assault have evidence they need to obtain justice and that public safety is protected.
- More Funding for Opportunity Scholarships—The legislature increased the funding for Opportunity Scholarships for Children with Disabilities by $3,000,000.
Six constitutional amendments were passed by the legislature and will appear on the ballot for voters to decide this fall during the general election. The issues covered by the constitutional amendments are:
- Requiring a photo ID in order to vote.
- Capping the state’s individual income tax rate at 7% (the tax rate is currently 5.499%).
- Protecting the right to hunt and fish.
- Creating a bi-partisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement
- Filling judicial vacancies by a non-partisan judicial merit commission.
- Providing victim’s rights to protect the victims of crime and their families from the accused.
It is a privilege to represent your values at the General Assembly, and to advocate for life, family values, and religious freedom. Advancing conservative values through the laws passed by the General Assembly would not be possible without having pro-family conservatives in office.
I remember when there were few conservatives with family values to be found in the General Assembly. All we could do back then was try to stop bad ideas from becoming law, and that is occasionally still required. However, we now have many strong pro-family conservatives in both chambers of the General Assembly, and as a result, we have been able to make some amazing advances for your pro-family values.
This year, we have the opportunity to keep pro-family conservatives in office and add even more. We need more in the General Assembly who are convicted and courageous enough to stand up for your religious freedoms, to protect unborn babies from abortion, and to make sure our family values are not trampled by public schools and other government agencies. If you want to see more good, pro-family policies enacted, help us get more good, pro-family leaders elected this fall! Your donation to the NC Values Coalition will go a long ways towards electing more leaders who will stand up for our family values!
Tami L. Fitzgerald
Executive Director, NC Values Coalition