Euthanasia and sodomy laws, defense contractors and heat-packin' district attorneys: For fun—and yes, it is a warped sense of fun—we often peruse the General Assembly's list of introduced bills to find notable legislation, including proposed measures flying under the radar.
You can find the text of these bills in PDFs below and at ncleg.net.
Humane euthanasia of pets
The N.C. Board of Agriculture has been hemming and hawing on humane methods of animal euthanasia for close to two years; now the issue moves to the legislature, which will weigh in on House Bill 27 (PDF, 26 KB). The euthanasia bill, as it's called, would require animal shelters to use only lethal injection, except in special circumstances. A shelter director may approve the use of gas to kill wild animals only if he or she determines the method is necessary to avoid endangering people or other animals. However, under the proposed law, wild animals kept as pets would not be euthanized using gas.
As the Indy has reported (see "Gassing animals may be outlawed" and "Use of gassing challenged"), the use of carbon monoxide is highly controversial in North Carolina, as many other states have outlawed its use because it is widely considered inhumane; the gas can also be dangerous to shelter workers.
The bill would require the Agriculture Board to make rules that in the rare cases gas is used, only commercially manufactured chambers can be used, and animals must be separated inside the chamber. Those charged with euthanizing animals must be trained on the methods.
As controversial as the method, is a proponent of euthanasia by gas, Ralph Houser, a Pittsboro veterinarian who has sold gas chambers to county animal shelters. He also trains shelter workers on euthanasia methods; several people who have taken his classes told the Indy the sessions were "an infomercial for gas." In addition, a chamber malfunctioned during one of the classes, and the animals inside the chamber appeared to suffer. Hauser said he didn't remember the 1999 incident, but added that mishaps have happened with lethal injection.
The bill's primary sponsor is state Rep. Cullie Tarleton, a Democrat representing Ashe and Watauga counties. There are six co-sponsors, including Rep. Bill Faison, who represents Orange and Caswell counties.
HB 27—and the recent bust at a Wayne County puppy mill, the largest in the state's history—will likely be the focus of North Carolina Humane Lobby Day, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, at the legislature, 14 W. Jones St. Contact Amanda Arrington, state director of the Humane Society of the United States (and a 2008 Indy Citizen Award winner for her advocacy on anti-tethering laws in the Triangle), at firstname.lastname@example.org.
House Bill 100 (PDF, 15 KB), sponsored by Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Cumberland County, would conform North Carolina law to the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas.
In that 2003 case, the court ruled 6-3 to strike down Texas' sodomy law. The case was based on an incident in which Houston police, responding to a reported weapons disturbance (later discovered to be false), burst into a man's home and found him having sex with another man. The men were jailed overnight and fined $200 each for violating the state's Homosexual Conduct law.
Currently, North Carolina law (G.S. 14-177, for those playing along at home) reads: "If any person shall commit the crime against nature with mankind or beast, he shall be punished as a Class I felon."
The rewritten law would add: "this section does not apply if the conduct engaged is not with a beast ... and is between mutually consenting adults in a private home, private residence or other private abode."
House Bill 55 (PDF, 54 KB) would allocate $1 million to the N.C. Commerce Department to be allocated to the Partnership for Defense Innovation (www.dstanc.org), a Fayetteville-based nonprofit with an Orwellian name. The money ostensibly would be used for a Defense and Technology Accelerator, a business incubator for industries related to homeland defense and national security.
The Partnership, which also has an office at N.C. State's Centennial Campus, states as its mission: "to lessen the burden of government agencies by educating small businesses to support economic development in the military defense & technology sector."
Yet, it's important to note that the Partnership is not lessening the expenditures of the government; it receives most of its funding from Uncle Sam or his underlings, according to the group's latest publicly available financial return, which covers fiscal year 2006. Nearly all of its $2.1 million in revenue came in the form of government grants.
In 2007, the group received a $918,000 contract from the U.S. Army for engineering research and development; according to fedspending.org, there was only one bid for the project—the Partnership's.
Another $2.7 million in federal funds were earmarked for the organization last fall, at the behest of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes, both Republicans. That money would have been used for a "Wi-Fi test laboratory."
Guns, slander and txtng yl drvng
Senate Bill 11 (PDF, 16 KB) would allow district attorneys and assistant district attorneys to carry concealed handguns into a courthouse if they have a valid permit and are there on official business.
They could be there to prosecute you for violating the Internet libel and slander law. Such actions would be a misdemeanor under Senate Bill 46 (PDF, 22 KB). This was likely prompted by the recently defunct juicycampus.com, which was notorious for the viciousness of its often-false gossip. But regulating speech on the Internet, as ugly as it may be, is tough; the bill also puts the onus on those hosting or administrating the content to remove it; they also can be found negligent in allowing it in the first place. Libel laws are essential, but these are murky First Amendment waters, folks.
Two concurrent bills, SB22 and HB9 (PDF, 15 KB), have received attention coz dey wd outlw txtng yl drvng. Dat mns no txtng on yr iphn, bbry or odr mbl dvice f ur on pblc strt or hghwy. It cud b intrprted 2 meen a pkng lot. HB iz spnsrd x Larry Hall, Pricey Harrrison and Garland Pierce. SB iz spnsrd x James Forrester.