Now that the legislative session has wrapped up, we can reflect on our wins and losses and prepare for the year ahead. We have assembled a list of key updates from this session.

ACLU of NC, partner organizations, and lesiglators attend a press conference on HB 755, the Parents Bill of Rights.

HB 608 “Dignity for Women Who Are Incarcerated” Became Law 

The ACLU of NC and our coalition partners fought hard for this victory for reproductive justice and prison reform. HB 608 limits the cruel practice of shackling people who are pregnant, bans the use of restraints during labor and delivery, and regulates the use of restrictive housing during pregnancy and the postpartum period. You can read our article about the bill here and watch Kristie Puckett-Williams' speech at the bill signing ceremony. 

HB 755 “Parents’ Bill of Rights” Did Not Pass 

While couched as promoting parents’ rights, this bill would have required “age-appropriate instruction” on certain topics in kindergarten through 3rd grade, which specifically targeted topics related to gender identity and sexual orientation. In partnership with Equality NC and other partners, the ACLU of NC successfully pushed back against this bill and its anti-LGBTQ agenda. 

SB 101 “Require Cooperation with ICE 2.0” Was Vetoed 

Lawmakers recently passed SB 101 – an anti-immigrant "show me your papers" bill that circumvents sheriffs’ local authority by requiring them to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and perpetuates the federal government’s deportation pipeline. The ACLU of NC worked with coalition partners, including the Immigrants' Rights Alliance of North Carolina, to push back on this bill and encourage Governor Cooper to veto.  

HB 453 “Human Life Nondiscrimination Act/No Eugenics” Was Vetoed 

Vetoed by Governor Cooper, this bill was an example of legislation that chipped away at abortion access. HB 453 would have prohibited abortion providers from performing an abortion unless a medical practitioner had confirmed the abortion is not being sought because of the actual or presumed race or sex of the unborn child or the presence or presumed presence of Down syndrome. 

HB 358 “Save Women’s Sports Act” Did Not Pass 

This bill would have banned girls and young women who are transgender from participating in public school athletics consistent with their gender identity, in violation of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. In collaboration with coalition partners Equality NC, the Campaign for Southern Equality, we received 400 signatures from medical professionals from across North Carolina on a statement expressing strong opposition to HB358. You can read our statement on the bill here.  

SB 207 “Various Raise the Age Changes” Became Law 

This bill increases the age at which children can be sent to juvenile court from 6 years old to 10 years old, unless they are an 8 or 9 year old who is charged with a serious crime. This means hundreds of children each year will no longer be put through a traumatic and stigmatizing court process, and will instead receive services. Similarly to other legislative efforts, this did not go as far as we might have liked – the unfortunate result of resistance from the conference of district attorneys. 

HB 805 “Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder” Was Vetoed 

This bill, vetoed by Governor Cooper, targeted protests and protesters in what we argued was a severe chilling of the first amendment rights of free speech and assembly. HB 805 would have radically increased the criminal charges for protesting, authorized suing for injury to person or property in a value of up to 3 times the actual damage done and would have created requirements for bail and pretrial release that would have all but guaranteed that those charged would be held in jail for longer periods of time.  

HB 324 “Ensuring Dignity and Nondiscrimination/Schools” Was Vetoed 

Joining a wave of contemporary, so-called Anti-Critical Race Theory legislation, HB 324 would have restricted or severely limited educators from tackling topics related to racism, sexism, white supremacy, diversity, and equity with their students.  

SB 300 “Criminal Justice Reform” Became Law 

Along with our coalition partners, the ACLU of North Carolina has been continuously working for criminal legal reform to stop and reverse the impacts of harsh policies that have maintained mass incarceration. SB 300 outlines policies that move toward those goals, including but not limited to a duty to intervene to stop excessive force by another law enforcement officers, training for law enforcement officers on mental health and diversity, and investigations into uses of force. Notably, SB 300 also includes a provision that requires mandatory judicial review to release body camera footage when there is a deadly use of force, which may impede the prompt release of footage in many cases. While this legislation does not accomplish what is needed to hold law enforcement accountable and create safer communities, much of our work on this bill has involved harm mitigation and neutralizing its potential negative impacts.  

Section 9K.1.(a) of 2022 Appropriations Act Became Law 

This provision would expand Sheriff’s and other local authorities’ ability to challenge and undermine the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services inspection results for safety standards and conditions in jail. Jails are required to undergo two inspections a year and this provision would allow jail authorities to appeal their inspection results. This provision was added to the budget which ultimately passed.