Rep. Warren: "One of the most interesting weeks of my life" | Politics
SALISBURY - State House Representative Harry Warren found himself to be the focus of a lot of attention this week, most of it was not wanted by Warren.
Warren and Representative Carl Ford, along with other Republicans from across the state, introduced a resolution called the Rowan County Defense of Religion Resolution.
The proposed resolution says citizens should not lose First Amendment protection "by virtue of their appointment, election, contract, employment, or otherwise engagement," and "The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the state of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the state from making laws respecting an establishment of religion."
NC House Speaker, Thom Tillis, announced on Thursday that the resolution would not be voted on and the resolution was considered dead.
On Friday, Warren released his weekly newsletter, and a good bit of it deals with explanation about what the resolution was intended to be, and what ultimately happened.
Here, unedited and in Warren's own words, is the weekly newsletter:
It would be a gross understatement for me to tell you that this was one of the most interesting weeks that I have experienced in my life.
This week, Representative Carl Ford and I sponsored a House Resolution intended to demonstrate support for the Rowan County Commissioners’ right to freely exercise their religious convictions through prayer.
It is unfortunate that a misconception about the measure, along with ambiguous language has caused many local and national news media to assume that the House Republicans wish to establish a state religion. This could not be further from the truth.
First, a Resolution is not a Bill and thus cannot become law; it is typically used to acknowledge a special event or situation or to state a position of support.
Second, the intent of House Resolution 494 was to state support for Rowan County by affirming the Constitutionality of “separation of church and state” as found in the first amendment that mandates that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” There was nothing in the Resolution that called for the establishment of a state religion or promoted one faith over another.
I continue to support Rowan County and every citizen’s right to participate in prayer, or not, as they so choose, whether or not they happen to be an elected official. However, due to the ambiguity in the language and the unintended implications caused by it, I have withdrawn my support of the resolution.
While it is often said that “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” I would beg to differ. I apologize for the “noise” and any subsequent embarrassment this may have caused my friends, neighbors and constituents, and my sincere thanks to those of you who gave me the benefit of the doubt.
Here are the major public bills passed this week:
HB 589 - VIVA – The Voter Information Verification Act. When last session’s HB 351 “Restore Confidence in Government” was vetoed by Governor Perdue, the House was unable to override the veto as the Senate had done. Unlike HB 351, which concentrated on a photo ID requirement, HB 589 - VIVA addresses the integrity of the overall voting process, including voting in person, provisional ballot voting and voting by absentee ballot. The bill creates a temporary voter assistance program to conduct voter education and registration events and to facilitate the phase in of VIVA provisions by the January 1, 2016, full implementation date. It also directs the State Board of Elections to study the digitalization of the photo ID process and the feasibility of creating a statewide data base incorporating interdepartmental interface and facial recognition software. I began writing this bill in July, 2012, and about six weeks ago was joined by Representative Tom Murry, who helped tremendously in the area of Provisional and Absentee Balloting. Representatives Tim Moore and Ruth Samuelson are also helping present and move the bill through the House as Primary Sponsors.
HB 11 - SPECIAL ELECTIONS. This bill will save the counties thousands of dollars by requiring that all special elections and referendums be held on the date of even year primaries or at the time of municipal or county general elections. There are exceptions for public safety and health issues and for elections for sheriff, under certain conditions. I was successful in getting this bill passed out of the House in 2010 but the Senate didn’t work on election bills during the 2012 “short” session. As a result, the bill “died” and had to be resubmitted this year. It moved out of the House with a vote of 117 and 105 on the second and third readings. I will have to present the bill in a least one Senate committee before it can proceed to the Senate floor, where Senator Andrew Brock has agreed to present the bill for me.
HB 146 - BACK TO BASICS. This bill requires that students be taught to be proficient in cursive writing by the 5th grade and that the multiplication tables be memorized. It was passed unanimously with a vote of 107-0. Representative Pat Hurley presented the bill on the House floor. It was a pleasure to join her and Representative Phil Shepard as a primary sponsor of the bill. The outpouring of support for this was amazing and nationwide and included NC School Superintendent, June Atkinson.
HB 243 - LIENS/ SELF STORAGE FACILITIES. This bill from Representative Sarah Stevens creates changes in how auction of the contents of abandoned or delinquent storage sheds can be disposed of (auctioned). Believe it or not, it took several days on the House floor to get this passed.
HJR 21 - JOINT SESSION/STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION CONFIRMATION. This resolution was required to be passed by the House and the Senate jointly. Due to this requirement, the Senators came into the House Chamber and were seated among the Representatives for the vote. This was a vote to confirm the Governor’s selection of six new members for the State Board of Education. Once again, Rowan County scored a victory with Mr. Greg Alcorn being confirmed as one of the six new members.
HB 41 - ALCOHOL RESTRICTION – ALL DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED. Representative Jackson’s bill would require a 0.00 alcohol concentration restriction on all restorations of licenses revoked for an impaired driving offense.
HB 387 - AMEND CERTAIN CRIMINAL PROVISIONS. As the long tittle of the bill describes it, this is an act to amend various criminal laws regarding concealed handgun permits, expunctions, disposition of firearms, crime victims’ rights, and offenses that may be waived
SB 123 - CLARIFY SEX OFFENDER RESIDENCE LAW. This is a Senate bill sponsored by Senator Meredith that clarifies 2006 residency rules for released sex offenders.
That just about covers the bigger actions in the House this week. In the next few days, we can expect to see a TAX REVISION bill and there is a good possibility that we could see an automobile insurance bill as well as one addressing illegally present immigrants.
We have not yet secured a location for the April 26th Town Hall but will keep you informed.
Until next week, take care and have a great weekend.