We’re hearing from state legislators this week who are home for a week-long recess. WCQS reached out to members of both parties and is airing the interviews in the order they were conducted. Today the focus is on Terry Van Duyn, a Democratic State Senator of Buncombe County. We spoke on a range of issues, from the economy and jobs to bills dealing with social issues, which Van Duyn has been an outspoken critic of.
The session is early, but Van Duyn has already had one of her bills stall. She co-sponsored a bill with two Republicans dealing with child vaccinations. It would have gotten rid of the religious exemption excuse for parents to not get their kids vaccinated. She says she just wanted to lower the opt-out rate in Buncombe County, which is highest in the state.
“We have an opt-out rate of about 5 percent, which threatens what they call “herd immunity,” and makes people who can’t be vaccinated vulnerable. But that average rate, it hides the fact that we have pockets where the opt-out rate is as high as 30 percent, and that creates a serious health exposure.”
Van Duyn says she was surprised by the negative reaction to the bill, saying in her generation, vaccines were considered a miracle. She says she hopes to have a constructive dialogue on the issue going forward. She expands on the vaccinations bill in the segment below.
Meanwhile, Van Duyn has not been shy speaking out against bills she opposes. She was outspoken in her criticism of "religious freedom" legislation that she calls discriminatory towards LGBT people, as one among a handful of legislators to speak against early measures in a news conference. You can find her comments from that news conference here. Meanwhile, other social issues are coming forward. The issue of abortion could again come before the state legislature. Legislation’s been filed that would mandate a 72 hour waiting period for women to get an abortion from the current 24. It would also bar UNC and ECU doctors from performing the procedure. Van Duyn says the bill is clearly an effort to make it harder for women to get an abortion.
“I think it puts a really undue burden on them to make them see a doctor and then come back 3 days later again. These are not decisions women make lightly and to put artificial impediments in their way, I think is just cruel.”
Van Duyn believes these types of bills are a distraction from the issues she says she's most concerned with: jobs and the economy and funding for education. In the segment below, she discusses one of the few bills to actually have passed through the legislature so far: changes to the state gas tax, which she says she wishes the legislature would have spent more time on.
This is part of a series of conversations we're having with lawmakers while they're home for a week-long break. You can find other conversations here: with Rep. Joe Sam Queen, Rep. Brian Turner, Rep. Susan Fisher and Rep. John Ager.
*WCQS reached out to members of both parties in the same manner, with a phone call to both office and home numbers listed on the lawmakers' websites and with a message to their legislative email accounts. We have so far received interview confirmations from all 5 Democrats: Representatives Brian Turner, John Ager, Susan Fisher and Joe Sam Queen and Senator Terry Van Duyn. We've received no confirmations from among the 4 Republicans we reached out to: Representatives Chuck McGrady, Josh Dobson, Michelle Presnell and Senator Tom Apodaca. So far, we have heard from Sen. Apodaca's office letting us know he is unavailable, and Rep. Dobson's office telling us he is in Raleigh working on the budget.