Senate recap: safe harbor, professional midwives, student-run or - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Senate recap: safe harbor, professional midwives, student-run organizations

A bill to provide safe harbor for victims of human trafficking is one issue tackled Thursday by the state Senate A bill to provide safe harbor for victims of human trafficking is one issue tackled Thursday by the state Senate

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT/AP) – A Senate Judiciary committee on Thursday approved a bill to create a safe harbor for victims of human trafficking and for prostituted minors.

Senate Bill 683, called the "Safe Harbor/Victims of Human Trafficking" bill, is sponsored by Sen. Thom Goolsby (R-New Hanover), Sen. Tamara Barringer (R-Wake) and Sen. Eleanor Kinniard (D-Orange).

The bill is designed to create a "safe harbor" for victims of human trafficking and minors sold into lives of prostitution. It toughens penalties for those charged with the offense (Class "E" Felony), and provides opportunities for sex trafficking victims to petition to have their convictions overturned and their records expunged, provided they meet several criteria.

The bill will be debated by the full Senate on Monday, May 13.

A Senate panel no longer wants it to be a crime for certain midwives who aren't registered nurses to practice.

The Senate Judiciary committee voted Thursday in favor of permitting certified professional midwives who have met the standards of a North American registry to provide prenatal, child bearing, postpartum and newborn care.

Right now it's a misdemeanor to practice midwifery unless someone is a certified nurse midwife that practices under a doctor's supervision.

Bill sponsor Sen. Thom Goolsby says certified professional midwives can practice in Virginia and South Carolina. He says women who deliver at home are better served using a certified professional midwife instead of an untrained family member.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

Legislation allowing student groups to block members from leadership roles if they don't adhere to the organization's religious or political beliefs passed the full Senate.

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a bill its sponsors say protects First Amendment rights at University of North Carolina campuses.

Republican Sen. Dan Soucek of Boone said his talks with Christian student organizations convinced him the state needs a law allowing groups to bar members from leadership positions without risking the loss of university funding.

Some Democratic lawmakers have questioned whether the bill violates anti-discrimination policies. Legislative staffers said a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a California school's decision to deny recognition to a Christian group accused of discrimination doesn't apply in this case.

The measure now heads to the House.


Copyright 2013 WECT. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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