Defending Democracy

NC’s leading immigrant-led groups denounce Trump’s threat to end birthright citizenship

A coalition of Latinx and AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community organizations is speaking out against President Trump’s pledge to issue an executive order ending birthright citizenship.

El Pueblo, N.C. Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) and the Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC) note that the administration’s plan “fans animosity” toward  immigrant communities, while placing at risk the safety and security of families, friends and neighbors.

Here’s more from the group’s joint press release:

Collectively we and other immigrant-led groups in North Carolina will not be discouraged by the current administration’s disregard for immigrants and reaffirm our commitment to the visibility, representation and safety of our communities.

Through grassroots mobilization, we ensure that we protect our communities, that they are heard at the ballot box, and that our communities’ votes count. Birthright citizenship is among the long-held values of the United States, meant to empower disenfranchised groups by coming out of the shadows and gaining a seat at the table in government representation.

“There is no constitutional basis for what the president is threatening to do,” said Angeline Echeverría, Executive Director at El Pueblo. “The fact that he is declaring this at the same time that he is ordering troops to the US-Mexico border to block asylum-seekers is another sign that he is continuing to push his racist agenda which must be condemned by anyone who supports equity and opportunity.”

The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment has a particular resonance for the Asian American community, as determined through an 1898 U.S. Supreme Court case, U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark.

In that case, the high court held that that the son of a Chinese national — who was forbidden under the Chinese Exclusion Act from ever becoming a U.S. citizen — should not be deprived citizenship because of his parents’ immigration status. The Court ruled that every child is born with the same rights as every other U.S. citizen, and this has been the law of the land for more than a century.

“Naturalization and citizenship is only one step toward full representation and acknowledgement of our communities,” said Chavi Khanna Koneru, Executive Director of NCAAT. “The administration’s unconstitutional threat at stripping citizenship from infants shows how important it is for our communities to be heard through the electoral process.”

With only one week left before Election Day, our community organizations are focusing attention on getting our communities out to the polls through phonebanks and door-to-door canvasses. Despite the administration’s distracting and unlawful proposal, the coalition will continue to advocate for and empower our communities toward a more equitable future where every individual has access to the safety and opportunity that they deserve, regardless of background, ethnicity or immigration status.

Read the full statement and the growing list of community partners here.

Trump doubled-down on the issue Wednesday saying via Twitter that birthright citizenship would be “ended one way or the other.”

For more on Trump’s scheme to end birthright citizenship, read this morning’s op-ed by Ian Milhiser on the main Policy Watch site.

Environment, Legislature

Cooper signs order to combat climate change, commits to clean energy economy for NC

With historic storms lashing the state, Governor Roy Cooper says North Carolina must do more combat climate change and take steps that will lessen the impact of future natural disasters.

Cooper took the first step Monday in signing an executive order that calls on the State of North Carolina to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2005 levels by 2025. The administration  will also take steps to support clean energy businesses moving forward.

Additionally the governor’s order also directs the following actions:

  • The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will develop a North Carolina Clean Energy Plan to encourage the use of clean energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, and energy storage.
  • The North Carolina Department of Transportation will develop a plan to accelerate the use of zero-emission vehicles across state government. Cabinet agencies will prioritize the use of ZEVs for trips that can reasonably be made with a ZEV.
  • DEQ will help cabinet agencies improve their energy efficiency and publicly report utility consumption.
  • The North Carolina Department of Commerce will support the expansion of clean energy businesses and service providers, clean technology investment, and companies with a commitment to procuring renewable energy.

All cabinet agencies will integrate climate mitigation and resiliency planning into their policies, programs and operations.

Monday’s announcement received quick praise from the environmental community:

“While the Trump administration denies and withdraws, North Carolina has joined many other states and the rest of the world in taking on the crisis of climate change,” said Derb Carter, director of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s North Carolina offices. “We commend Governor Cooper for his leadership in confronting the biggest environmental challenge we face. Moving swiftly to clean sources of energy, smarter transportation and development, and enhanced natural defenses will build a stronger and more resilient North Carolina while growing our economy.”

“Governor Cooper’s executive order further advances North Carolina’s reputation as a clean energy leader. We look forward to working with him – and with our local leaders, businesses and farmers – to accelerate progress toward these goals.”  – Hawley Truax, EDF Southeast Regional Director

The solar farm at Cary’s SAS Institute served as the backdrop for today’s announcement.

Learn more by reading the full executive order below:

EO80- NC’s Commitment to Address Climate Change & Transition to a Clean Energy Economy

News, public health

Six things to have on your radar this week

#1 – Anti-Semitism in the South, and where we go after the Pittsburgh synagogue attack

This evening at the Friday Center, the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies will present an important community lecture on anti-Semitism and the Jewish experience in the South. The program will feature author Jonathan Weisman and Ryan Thornburg, UNC School of Media and Journalism, focusing on Weisman’s book, (((Semitism))). The book is a rumination on the rise of anti-Semitism, racism and hate in this current political climate, and what should be done to confront it.

Tonight’s event is free and open to the public. It runs from 7:00pm-9:00pm at The Friday Center, 100 Friday Center Drive, Chapel Hill.

#2 – A new BTC Report on creating equitable health outcomes

On Tuesday the Budget & Tax Center releases a new report giving a breakdown of how state investments in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have changed since 2008.
The report identifies the need to focus on equitable health outcomes to create a culture of health where every North Carolinian can reach their full potential.

We’ll feature more from that report this week on the Progressive Pulse blog.

#3 – Don’t Punish Pain™ Rallies

Don’t Punish Pain™ Rallies are being held in Raleigh and Charlotte on Tuesday.

In 2016, CDC guidelines that were made to address the illicit fentanyl/heroin crisis caused a drastic over-correction in the health care setting. An unintended consequence was that many physicians, hospitals, and even pharmacies stopped treating pain altogether.

This affects people with chronic pain, acute pain as well as post-operative pain.

Tomorrow in Raleigh there will be a rally starting at 11:00am at Halifax Mall. Learn more here: http://dontpunishpainrally.com/wp-content/Flyer-Files/Flyers/49%20NC%20Raleigh.PDF

In the Queen City , a similar event runs from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 5701 Executive Center Dr, Charlotte.

#4 – Politics, polling and prognostications ahead of the November mid-terms

Also on Tuesday, NC Policy Watch will hold its latest Crucial Conversation: Trick or treat? A mid-term election preview Featuring Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling. Tom was good enough to join Rob Schofield over their weekend on News & Views and offer a preview of how the polls are trending:

Join us tomorrow as we learn the details of where things stand and what the political world is likely to look like on November 7th after all the votes are tallied.

Tomorrow’s event begins at noon at the Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough Street.

Please be sure to register so we have a proper headcount.

#5 –  State Board of Education gets an update on Hurricane Florence recovery and the next charter-school takeover target

On Thursday, this month’s meeting of the State Board of Education will open with an update of Hurricane Florence recovery efforts. The board will also decide whether Carver Heights Elementary School in Wayne Country will be operated under the Innovative School District starting in the 2019/2020 school year.

An agenda for Thursday’s meeting at the Education Building can be found here: https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/SB_Meetings/SB_MeetingListing.aspx?S=10399

#6 – Want to avoid the lines on Election Day? Early voting ends this Saturday!

Finally, one-stop early voting draws to a close on Saturday. You can look up early voting poll places, dates and times here: https://www.ncsbe.gov/Voting-Options/One-Stop-Early-Voting

News

North Carolina leaders condemn “horrific” Pittsburgh synagogue attack

North Carolina elected officials set aside politics Saturday and condemned in the strongest language possible the mass-shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 people dead and six wounded.

Senator Thom Tillis said it is “beyond disturbing that anti-Semitism continues to exist and fuel such evil.”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein tweeted that “there is so much that is wrong and so much pain in our nation. We must embrace each other and love each other as human beings. Calling people “evil” or “animals” or “enemies” cannot be accepted. Instead of dehumanizing others, we must make a better way.”

Congressman Mark Walker described the suspect as a “deranged bigot” while Congresswoman Alma Adams condemned the shooting inside a sacred place of love and community.

Rep. Adams worried that “we are raising a generation that will have a real fear of mass shootings and domestic terror. It is time to address our growing divide and to heal our nation.”

Read more responses from North Carolina’s politicos below:

News, public health

Medicaid overhaul clears a major hurdle

If this week’s $1.6 billion lottery jackpot had you daydreaming about big numbers, how does $6 billion sound?

That $6 billion figure is the annual amount North Carolina is expected to contract out to various managed-care groups as it overhauls the state’s Medicaid system.

Earlier this week the state crossed a major hurdle in receiving federal approval of its waiver to reform the system that covers more than two million people in our state.

NC Health News has a great summary of what this means:

Approval by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in what’s known as a Section 1115 Demonstration Waiver means the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is on track with its Medicaid reform plan. The department will begin transitioning three-quarters of the state’s 2.1 million Medicaid patients next November to managed care and away from the current fee-for-service system.

The approval came after the state already collected applications from eight managed-care companies and provider-led groups who want to be involved. A decision on who wins those bids is expected to come in February. The first patients will migrate to the new system next November.

The approval (a copy can be read here) also gave a green light for pilot programs to look at alternative ways to improve health, making North Carolina the first state to receive permission to use Medicaid dollars for enhanced case management tools to target what are referred to as social determinants of health such as homelessness, family violence, toxic stress, transportation issues and food insecurity.

And for those still wondering if Medicaid expansion could be in the cards with this overhaul, reporter Sarah Ovaska-Few explains we may all be waiting a little longer:

Also getting a thumbs down from CMS was a proposed program, Carolina Cares, that would have been an alternate way of expanding the Medicaid program to cover the hundreds of thousands of North Carolina adults who are without health care and earn too little to qualify for a subsidy.

Carolina Cares was conceived as a backdoor of sorts to Medicaid expansion – it proposed to have low-income adults in the workforce pay into a health care plan without contributions from state coffers. But it couldn’t get enough support from the Republican-led state legislature, which has joined other Republican legislatures around the country in opposing the Medicaid expansion that became an optional piece of the Affordable Care Act after a Supreme Court ruling.

That’s why CMS didn’t give it the green light, advising that the state need the support of its own legislature before coming to CMS for permission.

Holding out hope for Carolina Cares is state Rep. Donny Lambeth, a Winston-Salem Republican and co-sponsor of the Carolina Cares bill.

Though it didn’t get backing last year, he’s planning on re-introducing it and hopes to persuade more of his colleagues this go-around.

“We’re not giving up on it,” he said about the proposal.

Neither is Cohen, who served in the Obama administration as CMS’ chief operating officer.

“I’ve been very clear that it’s a necessary part of building a healthier North Carolina,” Cohen said. “I want to bring those $4 billion waiting in DC to North Carolina.”

Currently one-in-five North Carolinian rely on Medicaid coverage.

Learn more about Medicaid reform and read today’s full story at NC Health News.