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Crossover day: Abortion restriction and other bills cross the threshold; SBI investigations

On this week's episode, we check in on the hurry-up offense leading up to 'Crossover Day,' where non-budgetary bills live or die. Plus, a closer look at an SBI investigation — and how SBI investigations come to be.

First up, 'Crossover Week,' the deadline for non-budget bills to make it from one chamber to the other (i.e. from the House to the Senate, or vice versa) before they're rendered dead in the water.

One of the most contentious and hotly — and anxiously — anticipated bills was the long-awaited Republican abortion bill. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with its Dobbs ruling, conservative-leaning states like North Carolina have expected stricter abortion legislation.

Despite having the votes to pass the bill and — following former Democrat Tricia Cotham's defection to the GOP — the numbers to override a veto, Republicans pushed the bill through in less than 72 hours,gutting an existing bill on child abuse and replacing it with anti-abortion regulation.

The final compromise between state Senate and House representatives, a ban after the first trimester, closely mirrors what State Senator Michael Leetold constituents he would pursue during the 2022 election campaign — legislation stricter than the existing 20-week ban, but not as extreme as the 'heartbeat bill' initially supported by House Speaker Tim Moore, which would have banned abortions at around six weeks.

This renders Governor Roy Cooper's call for Lee to help block a GOP override of his inevitable veto somewhat performative (although the bill does include some additional measures clearly designed to make it more difficult to access abortion to which Lee, a more moderate Republican, could conceivably object).

Calling out Representative Ted Davis made more sense. Davis, who wasthe sole Republican absent from the vote to move the bill out of the House, had previously said he supported the current 20-week abortion regulation and wouldn't be bullied out of that stance.

During a town hall held by WHQR, WECT, and Port City Daily, Davis was direct about his position.

“I support what the law is right now in North Carolina. And that is that a woman can have access to an abortion up to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Then after that, in order to have an abortion, I believe in reasonable restrictions: incest, rape, viability of the fetus, or the health of the mother. I've had issues with a speaker before where he is wanting me to vote a certain way. And I said, ‘I'm sorry, I'm not going to do it. I don't think that's what's best for the people I represent. And if you want to take issue with it, that's fine, but I'm not going to vote the way you want me to,’ and I haven't,” Davis said.

Davis didn't respond to a request for comment — but that General Assembly had quite the week, so we're leaving that door open.

We also talk about a few other bills making it through the gauntlet, including some potential privacy concerns. Plus, we take a look at Praats' latest reporting on alleged corruption in Cabarrus County, and a shout-out to WHQR reporter Rachel Keith's latest work on CFCC.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.