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First abortion bill of session filed

The first abortion bill of the session has been filed. Senate Bill 132 would require that students be taught that abortion can cause premature births in subsequent pregnancies.

Whether that’s true or not is a matter of some dispute among medical professionals, and a committee of the state Child Fatality Task Force heard from doctors on both sides in November. But it was one of the recommendations the full task force ultimately included in its list for legislators to consider the session.

The bill’s sponsors are Sen. Warren Daniel of Morganton, Sen. Jerry Tillman of Archdale, and Sen. Shirley Randleman of Wilkesboro, all Republicans.

The bill would require school health education include information about how pre-term births can be prevented, and include a statement that abortion is one cause.

Landlords might have to install 10-year smoke alarms

State lawmakers are considering tougher smoke-alarm standards in rental homes. Under a bill approved Wednesday in a House judiciary subcommittee, landlords would be required to install 10-year lithium batteries when installing new alarms or replacing old ones.

Child advocate Tom Vitaglione retires

Longtime child advocate Tom Vitaglione is leaving his position with the nonprofit N.C. Action for Children next week.
Vitaglione went to work at the nonprofit 11 years ago as senior fellow after 30 years in the state Division of Public Health.
"We talked about my coming for a year or two, and it turned out to be 11," said
Vitaglione, 69. '"I felt like this last decade has been a blessing and one that I didn't expect."
Next month, Vitaglione and his wife, Eve, will head to Malawi for a six weeks, where they'll work with an orphan-care program that's located in 37 villages.  The Vitagliones met in Malawi as Peace Corps volunteers in the mid-1960s. They have returned the southeast African country over the years to work with the orphan-care program they helped set up in the mid-1990s.
Malawi, a country of about 13 million people, has more than 750,000 orphans, many of whom lost their parents to AIDS.
The typical practice of having extended family members take in orphans was breaking down because of the numbers, Vitaglione said. The orphan-care program helps look for more families to take children and provides them with support.
Vitaglione said he will be back in North Carolina to work on children's issues, probably on his own.
A former chairman of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force, Vitaglione said it was "heartwarming" to see the declines in the infant mortality and youth death rates. The task force also worked hard to extend health insurance for children.
An opponent of corporal punishment in schools, Vitaglione said he'll keep working to end it in the 38 districts that still allow it.

Legislators consider vertical licenses

Drivers under 21 could soon get vertical licenses.

Under a bill being considered by state legislators, drivers who aren't old enough to buy alcohol would have licenses that are turned on their side to make it easier for store clerks to spot them.

Twenty-one other states have used the approach, and the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force is pushing the idea.

State driver's clienses are now color-coded in a red-yellow-green system that signals clerks when buyers are old enough to buy tobacco (over 18) and alcohol (over 21). Store clerks also have calendars, notices and cash register gadgets to help them.

But state Alcohol Law Enforcement survyes have shown that more than half the clerks who check IDs from underage buyers still sell them alcohol.

The statistics indicate "a problem with those vendors accurately reading the IDs," said Selena Childs, the task force's executive director. (N&O)

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