News

Coming up on Thursday, child advocates, doctors, and health care activists will gather at the state capital to urge Governor Pat McCrory to present his proposal for expanding  health insurance coverage in North Carolina.

Readers of the Progressive Pulse may recall that the governor said he would wait until after the Supreme Court ruled on subsidies in the Affordable Care Act before making any decisions.

Organizers say this week’s “Where’s the Plan?” Day of Action is intended to send a clear message to the governor that the 500,000 hard-working North Carolinians who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap can’t afford to wait any longer.

Also that day, the Georgetown Center for Children and Families will release a report highlighting the urgency of this issue to parents and children in North Carolina.

Click below to hear Policy Watch’s recent radio interview with Adam Linker, co-director of the Health Access Coalition, discussing the need for Gov. McCrory to catch-up with other states that have already created state-specific plans for Medicaid expansion.

For more on the importance of Medicaid, read today’s Fitzsimon File: The forgotten starting point for Medicaid “reform”.

Thursday’s press event in Raleigh will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the State Capital (South Side), 1 E. Edenton Street. Similar events will take place Thursday in Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro, Greenville, and Fayetteville.

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Commentary, News

Social media captured the flavor outside the federal courtroom in Winston-Salem Monday, as hundreds of protesters demonstrated against North Carolina’s Monster Voting Bill. Here are just a few of the signs shared on Twitter:

News

The much-anticipated federal trial over North Carolina’s ‘monster’ voting rights law gets underway today in Winston-Salem. As Policy Watch’s courts and law reporter Sharon McCloskey explains, opponents are seeking relief from what they say is the most restrictive law of its kind in the nation:

Voter IDThe gist of the case against the state is that the challenged provisions made voting harder for North Carolinians — “burdened” their fundamental right to vote — in violation of the 14th Amendment, and that those burdens fell disproportionately upon minority voters, giving them “less opportunity” to participate in the political process, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The challengers ask the court to view the voting changes through a wide lens, taking into consideration the cumulative impact HB 589 has on all voters and the historical and social implications it has in particular for black voting opportunity in North Carolina.

With testimony from some of the nearly 100 voters, lawmakers and experts the challengers have identified as possible witnesses along with other evidence to be introduced at trial, they’ll argue that North Carolina voters in large numbers came to rely on measures like same-day registration and two weeks of early voting – which were intended to and did increase voter participation.

For example, over 90,000 voters relied on same-day registration in each of the presidential elections it was available, the challengers contend in their trial brief, and some 700,000 ballots were cast on the specific early voting days eliminated by the new law in each of those elections.

African-American voters in particular relied on those changes to expand their voting options — using same-day registration twice as much as white voters in three of the last six elections in which it was available, casting out-of-precinct provisional ballots twice as often as white voters, and using early voting at increasingly higher rates than white voters in recent general elections.

Scaling back voting options which increased black participation was not unintended, the challengers say, pointing to demographic voting date lawmakers requested when considering HB 589.

As the Justice Department argues in its trial brief:

The General Assembly adopted HB 589 in part for the racially discriminatory purpose of rolling back the gains black citizens had achieved under the State’s prior election laws. This intent forms a second basis for holding that HB 589 violates Section 2.

Read McCloskey’s complete preview of the case here. You can also learn more about the trial in this weekend piece in The New York Times.

Commentary, News

1. The disturbing “little-noticed provisions” snuck into the Senate budget

One of the most often used phrases these days by the media outlets that cover the General Assembly is “a little-noticed provision in the Senate 500-page budget bill…”

Tuesday the News & Observer reported that a little-noticed provision in the budget document threatens special downtown tax districts that fund development agencies.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that another little-noticed provision would repeal a law aimed at limiting the dominance of a local hospital in the regional health care market. [Continue Reading…]

2. A breathtaking (literally) attack on the environment

The astonishing scope of the Senate’s latest polluter protection bill Quick: What’s the most terrifying environmental threat that confronts long-term human wellbeing? Global warming? Loss of topsoil and desertification? Air, soil and water pollution? Overpopulation? Deforestation? Uncontrolled sprawl? The rapid growth in toxic and nuclear waste? The growing number of species extinctions and the loss of biodiversity? Sea-level rise?

These are obviously just a few of the myriad monumental problems that confront a fast-growing species of more than seven billion as it races into the 21st Century. It wouldn’t be hard to come up with a dozen more.[Continue Reading…]

3. Voting rights trial opens on Monday

Trial is set to get underway on Monday in the cases challenging North Carolina’s election laws, nearly two years since state legislators passed and the governor signed what many have called the most restrictive voting provisions in the nation.

It’s not going to be a quick one, with more than 100 possible witnesses lined up and hundreds more exhibits to review. Attorneys in the case expect the trial to last at least two weeks and predict an early August completion.

Here’s a quick look at what’s at stake and what to expect. [Continue Reading…]

4. Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque headed to prison

Stephen LaRoque will spend the next two years in a federal prison, punishment for stealing from the federally-funded non-profit he ran. LaRoque, 51, a former Republican state representative from Kinston was given the 24-month sentence Wednesday morning. He plead guilty earlier this year to a criminal charge related to the embezzlement of $300,000 from the East Carolina Development Company, an economic development non-profit he founded.

Federal prosecutors believe LaRoque, who founded the East Carolina Development Company in 1997, used the non-profit and a sister charity, the Piedmont Development Company, to draw down millions in U.S. Department of Agriculture rural lending money. He then used that money, in part, to pay himself large salaries and buy cars, jewelry, and property. [Continue Reading…]

5. In wake of Corinthian Colleges collapse, some NC vets burdened with debt and worthless training

Corey Davis, a veteran living in Greensboro back in 2013, wanted to open his own small company and figured a degree in business was the ticket to success. Davis searched on the Internet for flexible online education options so he could hold down a job while he studied. “I was looking up college [Continue Reading…]

News

Following an emotional two hour special hearing Wednesday night, Greensboro’s City Council voted (8-to-1) to sue the state over a new law that dramatically changes the council’s district boundaries.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan blasted the process used by Senator Trudy Wade and other Republican legislators to muscle through House Bill 263. Vaughan noted significant constitutional issues with the bill and that the city’s right to a referendum was taken away.

For more on last night’s vote, read Joe Killian’s piece in the Greensboro News & Record.

Click below to hear Mayor Vaughan take Senate and House members to task for the “arm-twisting” used to pass the council redistricting bill.

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