Dan Soucek’s End of Session Update News Letter

Senator Dan Soucek  North Carolina District 45

Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell & Watauga 

Update from the Final Week of Session 

Banning the Sale of Babies’ Body Parts  In the wake of a national scandal exposing how some providers of abortions sell aborted babies’ remains for profit, an overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate moved on Thursday to prevent that from happening in our state.

While federal law prohibits the sale or purchase of aborted fetal tissue, it has become apparent that policy can be circumvented.

The passed legislation will:

  • Make it a Class I felony to engage in the sale of unborn babies’ body parts, no matter the cause of death, while allowing mothers who lose their babies due to a natural miscarriage an option to donate remains to scientific research.
  • Direct the state’s teen pregnancy prevention program to stop contracting with organizations that perform abortions.

In addition, this year’s state budget, which was signed into law last week, makes clear that no state funds for family planning services shall be provided to organizations that offer abortions.

The very least we can do is provide some level of dignity to babies who lose their lives in an abortion. This legislation will prevent abortion providers in North Carolina from profiting from the death of unborn children. 

Prohibiting ‘Sanctuary Cities’ in N.C. 

The Senate also tentatively passed a bill this week to ban N.C. localities from acting as ‘sanctuary cities’ that ignore federal laws against illegal immigration.

Earlier this year, national news outlets reported that the suspected murderer of a California woman was in the U.S. illegally and could have been deported, but instead was given safe harbor by a so-called ‘sanctuary city’ refusing to enforce immigration laws. And in North Carolina, a number of local governments have adopted resolutions similar to those of other ‘sanctuary cities’ across the country.

In response, the Senate legislation would prevent counties and cities statewide from enacting local ordinances that violate or fail to enforce federal immigration laws. It would also prohibit local policies forbidding law enforcement from asking about the immigration status of those they arrest or detain or sharing that information with federal authorities.

The bill would also:

  • Require that state and local governments follow the same rules as the private sector and only hire government contractors who comply with state and federal E-Verify laws, as proposed by the N.C. House;
  • Make clear that matricula consular documents issued by foreign embassies may not be used to determine a person’s identity or residency, as proposed by the House; and
  • Ensure North Carolina conforms to federal work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults who receive food stamps.

It’s just plain common sense that cities and counties ought to be enforcing federal immigration laws and not harboring illegal aliens at the potential expense of their own citizens’ safety. While it’s sad we had to pass this bill, it will help make sure localities follow the law.

2015 Legislative Accomplishments

  • Senate Republicans fulfilled our number one goal this session: we maintained the spending discipline and commitment to tax cuts and reform that led to a more than $400 million budget surplus this year.
  • Just as we promised, we provided North Carolina families and small businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in tax relief. At the same time, we reformed the state’s chronically troubled Medicaid program and strengthened public education, transportation and public safety.
  • While the session was long, we are proud that we were able to defend taxpayers against special interests that wanted to spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars to grow government beyond its means.
  • And we look forward to continuing to make positive changes through oversight committee work and in the upcoming short session.
  • We also achieved these key priorities: 
  • Adopted a balanced, fiscally responsible state budget that invests in core services, strengthens public education, shores up savings reserves and grows North Carolina’s economy. The Senate cut hundreds of millions of dollars from earlier spending proposals. 
  • Implemented additional tax cuts and reforms that reduced the tax burden on North Carolina families and small businesses by close to $400 million over the next two years. 
  • Improved the state’s climate for job growth by lowering corporate income tax rates, moving to calculate corporate income tax on the basis of a single sales factor and expanding tools to recruit new businesses, including large companies like automobile and aerospace manufacturers. 
  • Increased funding for public education by more than $530 million in the next year alone and continued major education reforms to reduce class sizes and ensure students receive the tools they need to succeed. 
  • Kept their promise to raise early-career teacher pay from $33,000 to $35,000 per year and provided experienced-based step increases to teachers, assistant principals, principals, State Highway Patrol troopers, clerks and magistrates. 
  • Provided North Carolina teachers a much-needed tax deduction for purchasing classroom supplies. 
  • Reformed the state’s chronically troubled Medicaid program to save tax dollars, achieve greater budget sustainability and incentivize delivering high-quality care to keep North Carolinians healthy. 
  • Invested an additional $705 million for transportation, made possible in part by ending a $216 million transfer from the Highway Fund to the General Fund – ensuring that money is finally spent on building and maintaining safe roads and bridges. The additional investment will allow the state to build at least 70 new highway projects, replace hundreds of structurally deficient bridges and resurface thousands of miles of roads. 
  • Cut and froze the gas tax to provide much-needed funding stability to ensure the state can continue to build and maintain safe roads, bridges and economic corridors. 
  • Put a $2 billion bond package to support critical infrastructure needs on the ballot so voters can decide whether to invest more in the state’s public universities, community colleges, National Guard installations and local water and sewer systems. 
  • Supported education and economic development in counties with insufficient local sales tax revenue by providing new local tax dollars for public schools, community colleges and recruiting new jobs and businesses. 
  • Passed sweeping changes to the state’s burdensome regulatory environment that cut red tape that chokes off economic growth. 
  • Protected the first amendment rights and jobs of magistrates and registers of deeds’ employeeswhose participation in same-sex marriage ceremonies violates their core religious beliefs, while ensuring everyone who is legally eligible to get married will have that opportunity.
  • Took steps to reduce electricity rates and spur job growth and economic development across North Carolina. 
  • Prohibited ‘sanctuary cities’ in North Carolina to ensure localities enforce federal laws against illegal immigration. 
  • Protected the dignity of unborn children who lose their lives in an abortion by banning the sale of babies’ body parts. 
  • Enacted significant reforms to the state’s unemployment system expected to save businesses and workers more than $240 million next year and ensure those who collect benefits actively seek employment. 
  • Passed and sent the House legislation to prevent the unfair and illegal misclassification of some employees as independent contractors. 
  • Ensured able-bodied, childless adults who receive food stamps meet federal work requirements. 
  • Expanded insurance coverage and access to treatment for autistic children with a bill supported by North Carolina medical providers, parents, advocates and insurers. 
  • Empowered disabled children and their families to save money to meet the costs of their disabilities by passing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. 
  • Took action to prevent skin cancer among some of the state’s youngest citizens by prohibiting children under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning beds.

US Must Stand with Israel, Meadows says after visit

Mark Meadows with Netanyaho

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, center, and his wife, Debbie, are shown with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a recent visit to Israel. (Photo: Courtesy office of U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows)
Eleventh District U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows says he continues to be “deeply committed to supporting the nation of Israel” after a recent visit to the country with four other congressmen.
Meadows, a Jackson County Republican, spent several days in Israel during last week’s congressional recess along with three other House Republicans and one House Democrats.
The group met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, members of the Israeli parliament, other leaders and American expatriates living in Israel.
In his weekly email newsletter to constituents, Meadows called Israel “one of our closest allies and an important strategic partner in the Middle East.
“There are some who call for the destruction of Israel. Their violent actions and harmful rhetoric must be rejected by the entire civilized world. The U.S. must stand united in support of Israel,” he wrote.
Israeli media quoted Meadows as praising the restraint of Israeli military forces and questioning previous moves to give Palestinians more control of land around Israel.
“It’s not clear to me that the giving away of property, whether in the Sinai or Gaza, has brought peace. In many ways, it has made (the situation) more difficult,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Meadows as saying during the trip.
Meadows and the other congressmen visited during a period when Palestinian violence against Israelis appears to be escalating, raising concerns that another Palestinian uprising may be ahead.
The trip was sponsored by Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a Nashville, Tennessee, nonprofit pushing what it says is American Christians’ “Biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren.”
The conservative group supports policies more favorable to Israel and has received publicity for efforts to remove school textbooks that do not conform to its view of history. One of its videos outlines what it says are similarities between America today and Nazi Germany. The group has also been involved in efforts to prevent construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Meadows serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa.
Other congressmen on the trip were Reps. Scott Garrett, R-New Jersey; Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Raoul Labrador, R-Idaho; and Alan Lowenthal, D-California.