This is a recent newsletter from N.C. Sen. Dan Soucek:
Honoring our Armed Forces
It was an honor and a privilege this week to welcome members of our armed forces – including men and women from North Carolina’s National Guard – to the General Assembly as a part of our Military Appreciation Day. The day was a great success, and a reminder that we will never be able to adequately express our appreciation for the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. I am proud that North Carolina remains the most military friendly state in America, hosting several major military installations and boasting a National Guard of over 12,000 members spread across the entire state. During times of emergency, the support these individuals provide to federal, state and local authorities is invaluable.
For decades, tens of thousands of brave North Carolinians have deployed overseas to protect America’s interests, while many others have served bravely at home –putting themselves in harm’s way to assist us when disaster strikes. We owe them a debt of gratitude that cannot be measured. I thank all of those who took the time to visit the General Assembly, and all of our military men and women for their willingness to serve.
The Women and Children’s Protection Act
Last week the Senate advanced commonsense legislation sent to us by the House that is focused on providing higher quality care, increased safety and additional protection for women and children.
The Women and Children’s Protection Act extends an existing waiting period for an abortion procedure to 72 hours after a patient consults with her physician – ensuring women have sufficient time to make the most informed choice. It also directs the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to make sure abortion clinics comply with state safety and sanitation standards by conducting annual inspections. Past inspections have uncovered alarming violations at clinics across the state, showing the clear need for more regular scrutiny.
In addition to these protections, the bill increases penalties for domestic violence perpetrators who commit those acts in the presence of children. It also extends domestic violence protections to victims who are harmed while they are in a dating relationship. Lastly, it creates an opportunity for victims to apply for protective orders online – expediting the approval process to help them quickly remove themselves and their children from dangerous environments.
These provisions are important steps towards improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians.
Defending First Amendment Religious Freedoms
Last Thursday, Gov. Pat McCrory announced he intends to veto Senate Bill 2, which protects the First Amendment rights – and jobs – of magistrates and registers of deeds’ employees whose participation in marriage ceremonies would violate their core religious beliefs.
We respect but disagree with the governor’s decision, since the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees “the free exercise of religion” and Article 1, Section 13 of the North Carolina Constitution protects the “inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences” and states, “no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”
Unfortunately, Senate Bill 2 is necessary because an overzealous bureaucrat failed to make reasonable accommodations and instead forced some magistrates to make an impossible choice between their core religious beliefs and their jobs.
A majority of the people’s elected representatives in both chambers agreed that this bill strikes an appropriate balance between the expansion of rights for some and our constitutionally protected freedom of religion.