Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage Bills Expected To Heat Up Debate In General Assembly Wednesday

May 27, 2015

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Two controversial bills are scheduled for debate in legislative committees Wednesday afternoon. One of the proposals has undergone significant changes prior to debate. Some are calling those alterations completely unrelated.

House Bill 465 is a measure aimed at changing laws related to abortion. A Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) was filed late Tuesday for House Bill 465. When this legislation was filed on April 1 it was titled “An Act to Clarify and Modify Certain Laws Pertaining to Abortion”.

That title has now been changed to “Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015." The new proposal has significant changes, including some provisions that do not appear to be related to abortions. About a dozen additional provisions were tacked onto the bill, including:

  • Defining statutory rape as engaging in a sexual act with a person who is 15 years old or younger
  • Make administrative changes to improve collection and payment of child support to families
  • Make it an aggravating sentencing factor to knowingly commit an offense that is seen or heard by a minor who is not an accomplice to the offense
  • Clarify that an assault is committed “in the presence of a minor” when the minor can see or hear the assault
  • Permit the court to impose conditions of pretrial release in domestic violence cases to protect persons the defendant is dating or has dated.

State senator Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) unleashed a series of tweets Wednesday morning.

  

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 2 is a religious freedoms measure that would give magistrates an exemption from performing weddings if they have a religious objection.  The religious freedoms measure would give local magistrates a provision to opt out of performing weddings.

Opponents say it opens the door for discrimination against same-sex couples. Proponents contend the proposal protects religious liberties. The Senate passed the measure early in its session by a 32-16 vote. The measure is now making its way through the House.

Senate Bill 2 heads to a House Judiciary Committee at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. House Bill 465 is slotted for a 4 p.m. Senate Judiciary Hearing.