Just one week after overriding Governor Roy Cooper’s veto and enacting an historic piece of pro-life legislation into law, the North Carolina General Assembly has shifted its focus from protecting life to promoting vice. On Tuesday, the House Commerce Committee considered a bill that would legalize the operation of tens of thousands of video gambling machines across the state under the auspices of the State Lottery. Then on Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee gave approval to a bill that would legalize state-sanctioned sports betting and parimutuel wagering on horse racing. If that were not enough, the House Health Committee is scheduled to hear the bill next Tuesday that would legalize “medical” marijuana in North Carolina.
“It is amazing and unconscionable that our state lawmakers would go to such great lengths to protect life and promote families one week, and then turn around the next and take action on bills that would cause such great harm to individuals, families, and our state,” said NC Family President John L. Rustin. “This just makes no sense! If you value life and the dignity of each and every person, you would stand against these harmful and corrupting influences, not legalize them and invite them in.”
Tuesday, the House Commerce Committee discussed but took no action on House Bill 512, ambiguously entitled, “Forgivable Loans/HBCU Supplemental Funding.” In essence, this bill would legalize the location and operation of tens of thousands of “video gaming terminals” across North Carolina under the authority of the state lottery. The net proceeds of this state-sanctioned video gambling enterprise—estimated at over $1 billion just four years after implementation—would provide funding to historically black colleges and universities and create a forgivable loan program for community college attendance.
NC Family President John Rustin testified before the committee, “North Carolina has been fighting for decades to eradicate our state of predatory and highly addictive video gambling. Not only would House Bill 512 do absolutely nothing to eliminate current video poker and video sweepstakes in North Carolina, but it would place into operation tens of thousands of additional video gambling machines under the auspices of the State Lottery.”
“Of course, NC Family supports North Carolina’s HBCUs and Community Colleges,’ Rustin said, “but inviting harm on our citizens, families, and communities through predatory video gambling is no way to fund them.”
HB 512 could be heard again in the House Commerce Committee as early as next week.
HB 347-Sports Wagering/Horse Race Wagering passed the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. This bill, which was approved by the State House at the end of March, would authorize state-sanctioned gambling on amateur, collegiate, electronic, and professional sports, as well as parimutuel wagering on horse racing.
“If passed, HB 347 would impose a massive expansion of legalized gambling on North Carolina, as it would sanction sports gambling on every computer, tablet, and mobile phone in the state.” Rustin told the committee. “It would also flood our state—and especially our children and young adults—with ceaseless advertisements and promotions for gambling on sporting events.”
“House Bill 347 would also degrade our state’s rich heritage in collegiate, amateur, and professional sports, and would authorize our universities and colleges to enter into ‘commercial agreements’ with state-sanctioned gambling bookies to get a cut of the gambling profits.” Rustin said. “With the passage of this bill, gambling will become the centerpiece of sports competition in North Carolina, instead of the games themselves.”
HB 347 has been forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
Senate Bill 3, entitled “NC Compassionate Care Act” would establish an extensive framework of licensing for the growth, manufacture, distribution, sale, possession, and use of marijuana for a variety of “medical” purposes in North Carolina. This bill passed the State Senate on March 1, and has been sitting in the House ever since.
Despite opposition to the use of cannabis as “medicine” by leading medical groups such as the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Neurology, as well as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, some state lawmakers in North Carolina continue to push this misguided bill.
SB 3 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health Committee at 10:00 a.m. next Tuesday.