Legislative Wrap Up: Short Session 2018
State Legislative Update
- The budget has a few provisions that relate to NCCASA:
- Rape Crisis Center Funding Steady at $2.895 million for Rape Crisis Centers.
- We had provisions in the budget that gave $1.5 million directly to NCCASA for human trafficking grants, and it included administrative fees. However, it was removed in budget technical corrections, as outlined below.
- The budget also included $500,000 to the Sheriff’s Association to implement a statewide sex offender database (through a private software company) to allow for local data entry and access.
Status of Budget
- The General Assembly’s 2018 “amendment” to the biennium budget was passed last week out of both chambers, and was debated on the House floor for around 9 hours between Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday (6/6) the Governor held a press conference to announce that he was vetoing the budget because it did not do enough for public education, clean water, and health care. The Senate swiftly voted to override the Governor’s veto by 34-14 on a strict party line(the original vote on the Senate had one Democrat, Don Davis, voting for the budget). The House has calendared the veto override for Tuesday morning, and it is expected to be an easy override. The budget year began July 1st. The full budget can be found here and the committee report can be found here.
- The parallel bills that would create a tracking system for sexual assault evidence collection kit tracking were heard in multiple committees and on the floors this week. These bills came from the audit of the untested sexual assault kits that NCCASA advocated for in the 2017-2018 budget. Once the report was given to the General Assembly from the audit, the recommendations were rolled into this bill. It would also establish an advisory committee to prioritize sexual assault kits from the 2017 audit. This working group includes NCCASA, NCVAN, RTI International, DOJ, as well as both prosecutors and defense attorneys. There was no funding attached to either version of the bill, although SBI publicly stated in committee that they would ensure that the tracking system was established.
- This bill is law.
Human Trafficking Grant Money
- The budget states that the $1.5 million appropriated in the budget is to be used only at rape crisis centers for human trafficking work, and NCCASA was informed after meeting with Representative Brawley that the money would go to his original spot- the Human Trafficking Commission, to be dispersed to grantees, which would include rape crisis centers.
- The technical corrections bill is law.
Human Trafficking Signs Distributed
- The human trafficking posters that were mandated in the 2017-2018 budget were distributed recently, and the reaction of businesses, hotels, and other ABC permittees has been harsh. Many outside groups have contacted both the Human Trafficking Commission and NCCASA about a compromise.
- The compromise of this was included in budget technical corrections, and eases the posting requirements of the human trafficking signs. It is now law.
Marsy’s Law (H551)
- The Victims’ Bill of Rights Constitutional Amendment that passed the House in 2017 has resurfaced as part of a deal package the House and Senate are working on. It would create a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would include the language “[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST Constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for victims of crime, to establish certain, absolute basic rights for victims, and to ensure the enforcement of these rights.” As a reminder, the bill changes the notification system for victims to an opt in system instead of the “as prescribed by law” language that was previously in the Constitution.
- This will be on the November ballot as version 37 of the bill, with AOC saying they will cough up the money for implementation if it is approved by voters.
HB986- Various Changes to Education Laws
- This bill started as a bill centered around having schools report to the legislature on their cursive writing and reading standards. Then Representatives Hanes and Malone added a section that would automatically place students who scored a 5 or higher on mathematics and reading into advanced classes. Once the bill began moving through committees, other education-related matters were added to the bill and the bill sailed through the chambers within 24 hours. This included mental health standards and training that include both sex and human trafficking topics. The content must be evidence based or evidence informed. The bill also includes a suicide risk referral protocol for that provides guidelines to identify students at risk of suicide, or suspected victims of child abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, or sex trafficking.
- This bill is law.
S162– Human Trafficking Restorative Justice
- This bill is an overhaul of the human trafficking statutes within the criminal code, as requested by the Human Trafficking Commission. The changes include:
- a common definition for “victim;”
- Providing an affirmative defense for human trafficking victims;
- Requiring confidentiality for victims and alleged victims;
- Expansion of restitution for victims of human trafficking;
- Expansion of “abused juvenile” to include child human trafficking victims
- Include sexual servitude under Rule 412 of the Evidence Code;
- And inclusion of non voting members of the Human Trafficking Commission- the Director of AOC, and the Presidents of the Conference of Superior Court Judges and District Court judges.
- This bill is law.
Withdrawal of Consent
- It is with much frustration that I report that revocation of consent was stalled yet again in the Senate, by Senator Randleman. Both House Leadership and Senate Leadership signed off on the bill, and we had multiple legislators in both chambers pushing the bill and had stripped a few bills and added the language.
- Revocation is dead for this session, but we will continue making this a priority for the long session next year. Preferably, we will have rape crisis centers reach out to their legislators and explain why it’s important, and we will be searching for bill sponsors, and I would like that to include members of both parties and in both chambers for safety.