North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

July 7, 2023

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Members of the North Carolina General Assembly took a break from official business this week, spending some time back home in their districts for the Independence Day holiday. During a skeletal session on Monday, six bills, all of which are noncontroversial and passed the General Assembly nearly unanimously, were sent to the Governor for further action. The bills include agency requests from the State Treasurer’s office and UNC System office, new confidentiality requirements for children’s advocacy centers and mental health facilities, and an authorization for the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to award Medal of Valor awards to first responders. The legislature will reconvene on Monday next week.

Bills Vetoed

This week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed three bills that he believes unfairly target LGBTQ+ youth. The proposed bills include a ban on puberty blockers and gender assignment surgeries for minors, restrictions on gender-affirming care for transgender minors, and limitations on discussions of gender identity in K-4 curricula. In his veto messages, the governor argued that these bills infringe upon the rights of parents and medical professionals, harm vulnerable children, and damage the state’s reputation and economy. 

HB 574: Fairness in Women’s Sports Act would prevent individuals assigned male at birth from competing on female sports teams in middle school, high school, or college. In his veto message, Governor Cooper wrote that the bill makes “uninformed decisions” about a small number of “vulnerable children.”

HB 808: Gender Transition/Minors aims to ban puberty blockers and gender assignment surgeries for minors, as well as the use of state funds for such purposes. The bill would restrict certain types of gender-affirming care for transgender minors, which Governor Cooper criticized in his veto message for interfering in medical decisions best left to parents and healthcare professionals, saying the “government should not make itself both the parent and the doctor.”

SB 49: Parents’ Bill of Rights would require teachers and counselors to inform parents if their child expresses a desire to change their name or pronoun. Additionally, the bill would prohibit instruction on gender identity, sexuality, and sexual activity in K-4 curricula. In the veto message, Governor Cooper argued that the bill “will scare teachers into silence by injecting fear” into classrooms.

Despite Governor Cooper’s vetoes, the bills are expected to become law through veto overrides by the Republican supermajority. Already this year, the legislature had overridden eight vetoes. HB 808 and HB 574 are likely to be overridden with straightforward votes, as all Republicans and even a few Democrats voted for the bills. However, the fate of SB 49 faces some uncertainty, due to one Republican, Representative Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), voting with all Democrats against the bill on its final vote in the House last week. Republicans hold a slim, one-vote supermajority in both chambers.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, July 10

3:00 PM House: Session
3:00 PM Senate: Session

Tuesday, July 11

1:00 PM House: Education – K-12