April 13, 2017, Update on Recent Legislative Action
You may remember that I had filed HB 69 to make the concealed carry permit optional. Rep. Chris Millis also filed HB 201, which was very similar, with a few differences. For instance, I did not put a repeal of the pistol purchase permit into my bill; because I felt it would kill the bill. Rep. Millis did include a repeal of the pistol purchase permit. My bill changed the prohibition against veterans with an “other than honorable discharge” carrying handguns to those with a “dishonorable discharge.” Rep. Millis’ bill did not make that change.
We were asked to work together to create one new bill out of our two. We have done that, and the new bill we have introduced is HB 746, NC Constitutional Carry Act. Rep. Justin Burr and Rep. Michael Speciale joined us as co-primary sponsors on this bill. We are hoping to get the bill heard in Rep. Burr’s judiciary committee in time to have a chance to make crossover, which is on April 27. Bills have to be approved in one chamber by that date in order to be heard in the other chamber.
Regarding crossover, it will be harder to get a lot of bills passed by that time because leadership has decided for us to be on break April 12-18. I do not agree with this break, and feel that crossover ought to be moved out a week to give us a better chance of getting bills heard because of it. Of course, I don’t get to make those decisions.
At the request of a lady who works with children who are in the foster care system, I sought to prepare a bill to impose greater accountability on parents whose drug abuse causes various damages to their children during gestation. I shared the proposed draft with several members for their advice, including a doctor, two nurses, and a former hospital administrator. The consensus was that the intent was good, but that the bill needed more work before being ready to move forward. Therefore, instead of a bill to take specific action at this time, I have filed a study bill to look into the issue. It is HB 753, LRC Study/Parental Drug Abuse Effect on Child. I appreciate Rep. Greg Murphy, a physician, for joining me as primary cosponsor on this bill.
Many of our votes are not easy to decide. Last week, Rep. Jimmy Dixon’s bill, HB 467, which sought to limit compensatory damages in nuisance lawsuits against farming or forestry operations, was rushed through in the House. I voted for the bill because I wanted to protect farmers against frivolous lawsuits from animal rights activists trying to get rid of all livestock farming and production.
However, the Speaker had called for the vote on the bill without making it clear to everyone which bill it was, as he had jumped over several bills on the calendar to take up this one out of order, and without any debate. Several members who had voted yes started standing up and asking to change their votes to no. Some who had voted no asked me to move to reconsider, which I did. The motion to reconsider failed, but someone objected to third reading, which caused the final vote to be put off to this week.
When the vote came up, Rep. Blust offered an amendment to remove the bill’s retroactive application to existing lawsuits, so that we would not be meddling in existing litigation. Having studied the bill a bit more closely, I stood and supported this amendment and said I could not vote for the bill without it. The amendment passed, and I voted for the bill as amended.
I still have some mixed feelings about this bill. Activists from PETA, the Humane Society, and other groups have pushed these lawsuits seeking to damage the hog industry. So I want to protect farmers against that. The main focus is on the Smithfield corporation right now. While I am not thrilled that it is a Chinese conglomerate that owns Smithfield, I don’t want North Carolina workers to lose their jobs. Furthermore, once they are through going after the big operation, could small hog farms be next? On the other hand, I don’t want to ignore legitimate property rights issues if anyone is actually damaged by the actions of a business. So this was a tough decision for me.
Some who don’t like some of the things I do say, “You are supposed to represent all of the people.” While that is basically true, what some of them are trying to say is a bit disingenuous. I do represent all of the people, the way I said I would. It is not possible to please each one of some 80,000 people all at once. I simply ask for prayer that the Lord may guide me to do what is right and best overall in His sight.
Rep. Larry G. Pittman