Five things to have on your radar this week

1. Medicaid Reform – State Health and Human Services Secretary Rick Brajer is expected to detail the state’s Medicaid reform plan at Tuesday’s legislative oversight committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice.

Rick Brajer_DHHS

Health and Human Services Sec. Rick Brajer

The reform process will take years to implement. But one of the big questions is whether the Obama Administration will try to tie its federal approval of this reform plan to efforts to expand Medicaid in our state, which would serve an additional 500,000 uninsured North Carolinians.

Legislative leaders have reiterated what they want is “budget predictability” out of the $14 Billion a year program.

2. Margaret Spellings takes over the helm at UNC – Four months after the UNC Board of Governor’s tapped her to replace Tom Ross, Margaret Spellings takes over Tuesday as President of the 17-campus system.

Spellings outlined her first day on the job for Jane Stancill of the News & Observer:

Spellings becomes only the second woman to serve as President of the University of North Carolina System.

3. Coal Ash classification – The N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold a series of hearings in March to receive public comment on the draft proposed coal ash risk-classifications for Duke Energy’s fourteen coal ash sites.

High-priority sites will be the first to receive attention, while several leaking coal ash pits considered “low” priority could simply be capped and left in place.

A map of draft classifications can be viewed below:

coalashriskmapTuesday’s public hearings will be held at:

  • 6 p.m. | Sutton Power Station, Cape Fear Community College, room N-202, 411 N Front St, Wilmington.
  • 6 p.m. | Asheville Power Station, AB Technical Community College Ferguson Auditorium, 340 Victoria Rd, Asheville.
  • 6 p.m. | Dan River Steam Station, Eden Town Hall, 308 East Stadium Dr., Eden.
  • 6 p.m. | Riverbend Steam Station, Gaston College Myers Center Auditorium, 201 Highway U.S. 321 S, Dallas.

4. Abortion access and the High Court — On Wednesday, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina travels to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., for the Rally naralto Protect Abortion Access. March 2nd marks the day that oral arguments will be heard for the most important abortion access case in the past 25 years, Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, which will determine whether abortion providers can stay open across Texas and possibly across the entire United States.

This case is likely to draw even more attention than it normally would because of the recent death of Antonin Scalia and the heated debate over whether a replacement can get a fair hearing before President Obama leaves office.

vote5. Early voting begins – North Carolina is not a part of the Super Tuesday hoopla, but voters in our state should know that one-stop early voting begins Thursday for the March primary.

You will want to contact your local county board of elections for specific voting hours of operation.

Also keep in mind that you will be asked to present an acceptable photo ID at the polls this time in order to cast a regular ballot. Click here to learn what’s considered acceptable.

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