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Senate goes rogue, approves sweeping abortion bill

The state Senate voted Tuesday night on a measure that would add restrictions on abortions, forcing clinics to meet expensive license requirements and making it difficult for doctors to perform the procedures.

Under the bill, abortion clinics would have to meet standards for licensure similar to those of ambulatory surgical centers. According to legislative staff, only one clinic in the state currently meets that standard. The bill would also require doctors to be present when women take a drug that induces abortions.

N.C. lawmaker regrets comparing GOP agenda to Boston bombing

Democratic state Sen. Angela Bryant says she regrets making a remark on Twitter linking the Boston tragedy to Republican lawmakers legislative agenda.

"GOP political terrorism on poor along marathon survival route with pressure cooker bombs: pay 4 drug test, IDs, crim check," @angelareb tweeted Tuesday at 9:29 a.m. Bryant later deleted the tweet but Republican operatives captured it and called for an explanation.

Asked about it by Dome on Thursday, Bryant said: "I regret really making a connection between the Boston tragedy and what's happening here. I was frustrated and am frustrated about the incessant attacks on the poor."

Bryant compared the poor's survival efforts to a marathon and the Republican legislation to require drug tests and criminal background checks for public assistance and voter identification to "pressure cooker bombs" along the marathon route.

"It was surely regretful," Bryant said. "It was not a good thing to do, given the tragedy, because there is no comparison to people losing their lives in that kind of incident. Not a good idea at all and I have tremendous regrets about that."

Democrats chose replacement for Rep. Bryant

A replacement for state Rep. Angela Bryant was chosen Tuesday morning, according to the Rocky Mount Telegram. Bobbie Richardson, who is director exceptional children services for Vance County schools, was picked by a committee of Nash and Franklin county Democrats.

Angela Bryant picked to fill the late Sen. Jones' seat

Democrat Angela Bryant will return to Raleigh next week as a state senator, not a representative.

The three-term lawmaker from Rocky Mount was selected to fill the vacant 4th District seat after the death of state Sen. Ed Jones last month. A committee of two representatives from each of the five counties in the district picked Bryant.

DNA bill gets final approval, samples taken on arrest

After a lengthy, contentious debate that included accusations of racism, the state House gave final approval to a bill that requires law enforcement officials to collect DNA samples from suspects when they are arrested.

Currently, DNA is collected from people when they are convicted. The bill requires DNA samples to be collected from suspects arrested for violent felonies and other crimes such as stalking. A magistrate would be required to hold a person in jail if they refuse to submit a sample.

The bill cleared the House 83-21.

Opponents objected to the shift in policy that requires samples taken and entered into a database for people who are still presumed innocent.

"The bill suffers still from a primary problem that is a major invasion of privacy," said Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat.

Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat, said the provisions requiring a person who refuses to give a sample to be held in jail go too far.

"A person who's convicted of a minor crime can get bail while he appeals his case," said Michaux, a lawyer. "Here a person who hasn't been convicted, who refused to incriminate himself or give a DNA sample and he's got to stay in jail until he goves one."

After an hour of debate, as the clock hit 2 a.m., things got testy. Rep. Larry Womble, a Winston-Salem Democrat, asked Rep. Bill Faison, an Orange County Democrat, if the proposal was "a code bill."

Faison had earlier said he believed even more DNA should be collected, possibly at birth, to help stop and solve crime.

"You know better than to suggest for a moment that there is anything racist that I do here," Faison said in a loud and

That led Rep. Angela Bryant, a Rocky Mount Democrat, to rise.

"The racism in this bill is not about the ends we are seeking. It's about the process," Bryant said, adding that black people will be disproportionately affected by the bill because they are disproportionately affected by the justice system. "I don't care how loud you speak. That perspective is displaced on your part."

Hackney banged his gavel and cautioned House members to keep the debate civil.

The bill now goes to Gov. Bev Perdue for her signature.

Legislative pork...beef, fish, etc.

Rep. Angela Bryant said before she will support more money for the legislative cafeteria, she wants a healthier menu.

The cafeteria's management, though, said they have made progress by cutting transfat and expanding their salad bar.

"I will be standing on my head objecting to an increase (in cafeteria funding) unless there is more low fat and low sodium," said Bryant. The current House budget plan proposes raising prices in the subsidized cafeteria by 10 percent.

Bryant said legislators coping with the cost of various health problems partly tied to diet should clean up their own house.

Kathy Wethington, the cafeteria's supervisor, said the staff is doing healthier cooking, using Smart Balance instead of butter and offering "heart healthy" vegetables on fried chicken day. The lunchroom also features a two-section salad bar, complete with low fat dressings, not to mention the sneeze shield.

Seven honored by Conservation Council

The Conservation Council of N.C. recognized seven state politicians for environmental work.

For its annual "Green Tie" awards, the Raleigh-based nonprofit honored Attorney General Roy Cooper, state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird and state Reps. Angela Bryant, Ruth Samuelson, Cullie Tarleton, Jennifer Weiss and Paul Luebke.

Cooper was praised for having a team of lawyers fight the Tennessee Valley Authority over air pollution.

Bryant, Samuelson and Tarleton were recognized for their support for a smoking ban and bills on energy efficiency and water conservation.

Weiss and Kinnaird were singled out as representative and senator of the year.

Luebke received the "Defender of the Environment" award, the highest award given this year. 

"At the Legislature, it was a short time ago very few people talked about the need to protect the environment and public health," said board president Nina Szlosberg.

She said business and environmental groups now work together.

Bill laments graduation project

The House Education Committee approved a watered-down version of a bill that puts on paper legislators' displeasure with the graduation project that public school students must complete to earn diplomas.

House Bill 223 basically rubber-stamps an action the State Board of Education took last month by delaying the requirement for one year, Lynn Bonner reports.

Under the bill and the state board's April vote, the requirement is delayed until 2011, though local school boards can still require a project as a graduation requirement for 2010.

The bill would also require the legislative program evaluation division study the project's cost and effectiveness.

Rep. Jimmy Love Sr., a Sanford Democrat, opposed the requirement first as an unfunded mandate. He later started to worry later the requirement would increase the drop out rate.

More after the jump.

Three bills echo Perdue's budget

Several legislators have signed onto parts of Gov. Beverly Perdue's budget.

Three bills filed today at the legislature echo provisions of the $21 billion proposed budget unveiled by Perdue this morning:

H.B. 619: Earmarks $5 million for N.C. Green Business Fund, Reps. Pricey Harrison, Angela Bryant, Paul Luebke and Joe Tolson

H.B. 640: Increases per-cigarette tax rate to 5.5 cents, directs some revenue to mental health, Reps. Jennifer Weiss, Rick Glazier, Luebke and William Wainwright

S.B. 608: Directs $5 million for the One North Carolina small business fund, Sen. David Weinstein

Naturally, the sponsors hope to tap into momentum created by the governor's proposals, but given the amount of time it takes to write a bill, these weren't simply filed as a "me-too" effort.

The cigarette tax proposal also differs from Perdue's, which simply covers the general fund revenue shortfall.

Recent House bills

Some interesting recent House bills:

H.B. 223: No High School Graduation Project Required, Reps. Jimmy Love and Angela Bryant

H.B. 232: Scholarship Loan for Rural Social Workers, Reps. Larry Bell, Rick Glazier, Marvin Lucas, Marian McLawhorn

H.B. 257: No Seizure of Lawful Firearms in Emergency, Reps. George Cleveland, Mark Hilton, Tim Moore and Laura Wiley

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