Buried deep in the Senate budget proposal that lawmakers passed last week is a provision that would eliminate state-paid health retirement benefits for teachers and state employees who are hired after January 1, 2016.
“This puts the state at a major disadvantage in the recruitment and retention of state employees, teachers, and university faculty compared to other states,” said Chuck Stone, director of operations for the State Employees Association of NC (SEANC), of the Senate’s push to jettison the health retirement benefit.[Continue Reading…]
It promises to be a long hot summer in the Legislative Building in Raleigh as House and Senate leaders try to come up with a final budget agreement for the next two years with hundreds of millions of dollars and dozens of policy issues in dispute between the two chambers’ spending plans.
A report prepared by staff members that lists the differences between the House and Senate budget runs 372 pages long and does not include many of the major policy sticking points like Medicaid reform and changing the way local sales tax revenues are distributed.
Nobody seems eager to start tackling the daunting process. Speaker Tim Moore says the House is prepared to stay in Raleigh and Senate leaders vow not to adjourn until Medicaid reform is finished.[Continue Reading…]
North Carolina might scale back its efforts to fight unlawful discrimination, if a Senate budget provision to repeal the state’s fair housing act is adopted as law.
The provision, which would repeal the State Fair Housing Act and shut down the state office that investigates discrimination complaints, was buried deep in the 500-plus budget (pages 390-391) that was made public and quickly passed the chamber last week.
The elimination of the state anti-discrimination measures got no attention during debates when the budget passed the Republican-controlled Senate last Thursday.[Continue Reading…]
Last week’s abrupt turnabout in the General Assembly on Voter ID surprised lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as attorneys in the lawsuits set for trial this summer.
The changes, which include provisions allowing voters lacking photo ID to cast a provisional ballot once they’ve signed a sworn statement indicating that they had a “reasonable impediment” to getting such an ID, surfaced at the last minute as part of a joint House and Senate compromise to House Bill 836.
The House, while supporting the changes as improvements on an otherwise bad law, decried the lack of process and wondered aloud what happened to bring about such a quick reversal.
“Why now,” asked Rep. Mickey Michaux. “This could have been done two years ago.”[Continue Reading…]
It’s hard to feel very optimistic about much of anything in the aftermath of last week’s horrific tragedy/terrorist act in South Carolina. The idea that a hate-filled sociopath could and would enter a sanctuary of peace and then execute nine innocent, welcoming people with whom he had been purporting to engage in Bible study minutes before is so shocking and disturbing that it almost renders rational responses impossible….
And yet, unspeakably horrific as the murders were, there are growing signs that maybe, just maybe, the cumulative impact of this nation’s ever-lengthening list of mass murders and racist hate crimes is finally starting to move public opinion and policy in a positive direction.[Continue Reading…]