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Children’s Laws Omnibus halted as GOP caucus addresses hurdles

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(The Center Square) – Passage of the Children’s Laws Omnibus in North Carolina is on indefinite hold, the House speaker said Thursday.

State Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, spoke with media members in Raleigh. He said the Republican caucus needs more internal discussion to become unified before voting. The session for 2023 is winding down, with veto override challenges expected and a state budget that was due July 1 still yet to be hammered out.

The House of Representatives returned from the July 4 holiday break on Monday of last week, but has not taken floor votes due in part to member absences.

The Children’s Laws Omnibus is in Senate Bill 90. It was amended last week to provide a route to take action if parents feel a superintendent is violating their rights to raise and educate their children.

The changes, which have riled supporters of traditional public education, could impact a superintendent’s employment or pay. Other impacts involve access to libraries, extracurricular activities, mental health services, books and instructional materials.

The news Thursday was celebrated by public school advocates including Carolina Forward, a nonprofit that advocates for “first-class schools, affordable housing, universal healthcare, racial justice, environmental protection and a thriving economy.”

In a tweet, @ForwardCarolina wrote, “We did it! Way to go, folks! This is a huge win for North Carolina’s kids, families, and our public schools, and a big ol’ egg on @johntorbett’s face.”

The reference is to Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, a co-chairman of the Education Committee in the House. He had said the amendments brought in the 11th hour were to stop a “bad actor” with a repetitive pattern. Rep. Robert Reives, the chamber Democratic leader from Chatham County, said the bill is an “assault on public education.”

There are possible impacts for teachers, such as publishing a syllabus, and revealing gender pronoun conversations between teachers and students.

The latter is in another bill already vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. An override challenge to the veto is expected soon.

In his discussion with reporters Thursday, Moore mentioned books and libraries as hurdles to clear, according to published reports.

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