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Thursday at the North Carolina General Assembly

Thursday at the North Carolina General AssemblyBy The Associated Pressó NC House OKs bill to allow parents choice in sex ed offered to their kids in middle school
ó Bill to ban texting, e-mails by NC drivers passes House, now heads to Senate
ó NC Senate agrees to ban cigarette lighters shaped like toys, linked to child injuries
ó House bill attempts to give NC more say over possible Navy landing field
THE BRIEF:SEX ED CHANGES: The House narrowly agreed to allow parents of middle-school students to choose what kind of sex education their children learn in public schools. The chamber voted 62-52 to direct local school systems to offer two types of sex education in seventh, eighth and ninth grades. One would focus on abstinence until marriage, and another would include more information about contraception. Parents also could choose that their child receive no sex education. The measure now goes to the Senate.
THUMBS OFF: A bill barring North Carolina motorists from writing text messages and e-mails passed the House and moves on to the Senate. The House gave its final approval to legislation that would ban drivers from text messaging or sending e-mails with their cell phones. The vote of 104-5 was similar to Wednesday’s initial passage. Bill supporters say the ban will discourage a source of driver distraction and highway accidents. Violators could face a $100 fine plus court costs. There are exceptions for police and rescue workers and in other cases.
PLAYFUL FIRE: The state Senate wants cigarette lighters shaped like cell phones, cartoon characters and toy rifles to be snuffed out in North Carolina. Senators voted overwhelmingly to ban the retail sale and distribution of novelty lighters. The bill’s chief sponsor, A state task force looking to reduce child deaths wants the change. Task force chairman Tom Vitaglione says four states have banned such lighter sales and 16 other states are considering bans.
NO O.L.F.: The House voted 113-0 to give the state move leverage over what goes on at a Navy practice landing field in eastern North Carolina. The bill denies the federal government permission to acquire land in areas not near existing military installations. The Navy wants the field in North Carolina or Virginia so jets can practice carrier takeoffs and landings. Gates or Camden counties are among the five proposed sites. The bill now goes to the Senate.
THURSDAY’S SCORECARD:Introduced in the House:
óS1510, would extend a tax credit for two more years, to 2012, allowing small businesses that provide health benefits. Sponsor: Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.
ó H1511, to give retailers a 1 percent discount on the retail sales or use tax they pay. Sponsor: Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.
ó H1515, would extend the life of the Job Development investment Grant program, which is due to expire in January, to 2016. Sponsors: Reps. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, Margaret Dickson, D-Cumberland, and Pryor Gibson, D-Anson.
ó H1516, to modify the JDIG program, which is intended to reward businesses that create jobs, in several ways including cutting in half to $15 million the maximum value of the grants in a year. Sponsors: Reps. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, Margaret Dickson, D-Cumberland, and Pryor Gibson, D-Anson.
ó H1517, would honor the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill men’s basketball team for winning the NCAA Division I national championship. Several sponsors.
ó H1523, to increase consumer protections in mortgage loans and give the state banking commissioner broad administrative authority to administer, interpret, and enforce rules. Sponsor: Rep. Dan Blue, D-Wake.
In committees:
ó The Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee approved S785, which would create an independent agency within the Department of Administration dedicated to promoting and expanding the state’s equine industry. The bill’s sponsors estimate there are more than 300,000 horses in the state, and that their care and breeding are responsible for more than 19,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in spending. The measure passed easily on a voice vote, but not without a notable number of senators saying “Naaaay.”
In the House:
ó H309, to make permanent a method to allow for online ticket sales that are exempted from the state’s no-scalping law that prohibits resales of tickets more than $3 above their face value. Final House approval 96-21. Next: To the Senate.
ó H218, to make clear that the parent or guardian of a student recommended for expulsion or suspension for more than 10 days receive written notice and be told of how to request a hearing to appeal the decision. Final House approval 82-31. Next: To the Senate.
In the Senate:
ó Voted 48-0 to pass and send to the House S668, which clarifies that state-chartered banks are allowed to pay dividends on preferred shares issued to the U.S. Treasury as required under terms of last year’s federal bank bailout.
ON THE AGENDA:The House and Senate will vote Tuesday to select members of the state community colleges board. Each chamber will elect two members to six-year terms beginning July 1.
QUOTABLE:
“I’ve got a 42-year-old son. I love him. But the reason I’ve got a 42-year-old son is that abstinence only doesn’t work.” Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange. He supported a bill that would include lessons about contraceptives in one of two middle-school sex education curricula.
óóó
By Gary D. Robertson and Emery P. Dalesio.

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