State Lawmakers Have Filed More Than 1,600 Bills This Year

State Lawmakers have filed more than 1,600 bills this session
Credit Jorge Valencia

From gay marriage to puppy mills, North Carolina state legislators have filed more than 1,600 bills this legislative session and they are not even halfway done.

Many bills will not make it through the General Assembly, but some are still causing a stir.

Here a few items state lawmakers are considering:

Debate clouds statue of North Carolina's "favorite son"

The State House of Representatives voted Thursday to send a statue of  evangelist Billy Graham to the U.S. Capitol. Graham is seen by many as a state "treasure," but Democrats objected saying Republicans barred other notable figure from consideration.

Leaders in the Republican majority declined to review a proposal to consider civil rights attorney Julius Chambers for the statue. Debate ensued for close to an hour over the proposal with Republicans asserting that Democrats simply didn't like the choice of Graham.

"I decided that I thought Billy Graham was the best choice, based on people that I spoke with,"  Rep. Chuck Jeter (R-Mecklenburg) said.

"Was it some scientifically significant polling data? No. It was not."

Graham's statue would replace an existing statue of former Gov. Charles B. Aycock in the Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.

Driver's License Considered for Undocumented Immigrants

A plan emerged in the House of Representatives this week allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a restricted driver's license. Applicants must meet several conditions including:

  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Consent to be finger printed

The license would only be valid for a year and is an effort to improve relations between the police and people living in the country illegally. But anti-immigration advocated say the bill is not an improvement in immigration policy, but a "poisonous" invitation for undocumented immigrants to continue breaking the law.

The special license would have specific markings indicating it is valid identification for an undocumented immigrant and would only allow driver's to be on the highway.

Addressing Assaults Against Teachers

A Senate committee looked at a bill Wednesday that would make it a felony offense for students 16 and older to assault a school employee.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) said student assaults against teachers have become a big problem and that "you will get more than a slap on the wrist if it occurs."

The Department of Public Instruction recorded more than 1,333 assaults against school personnel in the 2013-14 school year. This bill aims to protect personnel from assault, but lawyers in the General Assembly believe there is concern in the silver-lining. A felony would inhibit an older student from applying for financial aid at a university and finding future employment.

Tillman said he will work on the bill's definition of "assault" as the bill continues to move forward in the Senate.