A Senate committee approved a plan on Wednesday that would keep school employees from taking part in political activity during work hours.
Senate Bill 480 would prohibit school employees from campaigning for office while they're on the job or using any work resources, like telephones or computers, for political reasons.
Bill sponsors say state employees already follow similar rules, and that the measure is intended to mirror them. Currently, North Carolina’s 115 school districts abide by different rules for its employees.
“This bill does not prevent a teacher from running for office, holding an office, supporting a candidate or advocating for an issue,” clarified Sen. Andy Wells (R-Catawba).
The bill states that teachers can't use their position to "secure support or oppose candidates, parties, or issues in an election or to encourage student advocacy for or against issues of local, state or federal policy."
The bill has an exemption for superintendents and principals, allowing them to advocate for and against policy issues.
Sen. Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, raised questions about what the measure would mean for teachers who participate in school PTAs, which often discuss policy-related issues. Lawmakers said they’ll likely consider an amendment and consider related issues more closely in a Senate judiciary committee.