Patrick Gannon: Plenty of odd bills proposed, not all of them pass

By Patrick Gannon

Syndicated columnist

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RALEIGH — Every two-year legislative session, General Assembly lawmakers propose laws that raise eyebrows, generate chuckles around the Legislative Building or are simply a little weird. It’s fun to imagine what the staffers who draft the bills are thinking as they write them. Here are descriptions of 15 such House bills from the past two years. Try to guess which ones passed the House and Senate and became law. Answers appear at the end.

1) House Bill 34: Clarifies that the public showing of a female’s nipples constitutes indecent exposure. The bill stems from topless protests in Asheville.

2) House Bill 146: Requires the State Board of Education to ensure students are taught cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables.

3) House Bill 532: Makes it illegal to drive an ambulance, EMS vehicle, fire truck or law enforcement vehicle while consuming alcohol or while alcohol remains in the driver’s body.

4) House Bill 655: Adds political robo calls – those obnoxious, unsolicited phone calls you get around elections – to the Do Not Call Registry.

5) House Bill 683: Also called the “Commonsense Consumption Act,” limits the liability of food and beverage companies for weight gain, obesity or other health conditions caused by the products. Also prevents cities and counties from passing laws prohibiting the sale of soft drinks above a certain size.

6) House Bill 792: Clarifies that owners of goats, cows and other lactating animals may consume raw milk from their animals. It is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in North Carolina.

7) House Bill 812: Requires any drivers convicted of driving while impaired to have special license plates of a different color on their cars.

8) House Bill 830: Adopts the fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark as the official fossil, the pine barrens tree frog as the official frog, the marbled salamander as the official salamander, the Virginia opossum as the official marsupial, whirligigs created by Vollis Simpson as the official folk art and clay as the official art medium of North Carolina.

9) House Bill 905: Prohibits farm operators from confining calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens or swine during pregnancy for all or a most of any day in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, extending its limbs or turning around freely.

10) House Bill 931: Prohibits the state from naming any state highway or part of highway after anyone except for police officers, firefighters, EMS workers or military members killed in the line of duty.

11) House Bill 956: Requires owners of aggressive dog breeds – including pit bulls, rottweilers, mastiffs, chows and wolf hybrids – to submit to criminal background checks and take a course on their pet’s temperaments and responsible ownership of the breeds.

12) House Bill 1131: Exempts Clay County from state wildlife laws related to opossums between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 to allow for the capture of an animal to use in the annual “Possum Drop” festivities in Brasstown on New Year’s Eve.

13) House Bill 1161: Puts a constitutional amendment on the ballot to legalize medical marijuana.

14) House Bill 1176: Increases salaries for rank-and-file state legislators from $13,951 a year to $36,000 a year beginning in 2015.

15) House Bill 1238: Puts on the statewide ballot a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the age of eligibility to hold public office from 21 to 18, in order to encourage young people to run for local and state government.

Which bills are now state law in North Carolina? 2, 3, 5, 8 and 12.

Capital Press Association