Uncategorized

Workers, like state lawmakers, need paid time off

A coalition of workers’ rights groups this week called on vacationing state lawmakers to pass legislation when they return to Raleigh that would require businesses to provide paid sick leave and family leave for their employees.

Here is the way Alan Freyer, with the workers’ rights project of the N.C. Justice Center put it.

“It is great that lawmakers were able to take time off in the middle of a busy legislative session. We think it’s great because we think everyone in North Carolina should be able to take time off, particularly when they’re sick,” Freyer said. “Right now, there are more than a million North Carolinians who work full time and don’t have access to paid sick days. That means they have to choose between keeping their job, earning their wages and being sick.”

Read more about why paid sick days is good for workers and businesses here.

NC Budget and Tax Center, Uncategorized

North Carolinians took to Twitter to tell lawmakers their vision for pending final budget deal

As state lawmakers negotiate behind closed doors on a final budget deal, North Carolinians came together on Twitter to have their say on the smart investments that will best move the state forward. North Carolinians know that if we want to build a more inclusive and prosperous state for everyone, the state budget is key to getting there. Securing that goal, however, requires state lawmakers to pursue fiscal policies that enable North Carolina to reinvest and rebuild in the foundations of a strong economy.

Better choices are available than the ones that the Senate and House leadership are pursuing. That’s why every day North Carolinians and representatives from advocacy groups participated in a Twitter Chat, using the #MyNCBudget hashtag. Participants quickly pointed out that further tax cuts—as proposed in both the House and Senate budgets—would hamper the state’s ability to realize their vision for investments that benefit children, families, and communities across the state. They urged lawmakers to reinvest in early childhood education, K-12 and higher education, healthy communities, justice programs, living-wage policies, and a lot more.

There were so many strong voices that the conversation was trending in the Raleigh market. You can check out the conversation on Twitter at #MyNCBudget. Below is a preview of the discussion. Read more

Uncategorized

Rising up against voter suppression

Voting rightsBob Geary  has put together the compelling reasons for folks to head to Winston-Salem Monday for the march and rally for voting rights on the first day of the federal court trial of the voter suppression law passed by the General Assembly in 2013.

Geary reminds us that the law includes more than 50 pages of voting impediments, not just the photo ID provision that has received the most publicity, the provision that lawmakers softened recently in a panic before the trial started.

What remains of HB 589? It reduces the number of early-voting days from 17 to 10. (In the 2012 elections, 70 percent of black voters came early, compared to 52 percent of whites.) It eliminates same-day registration and voting during the early voting period. (Blacks, who are 22 percent of the voting population, were 34 percent of the same-day registrant-voters.) And if you vote in the wrong precinct—say, because you moved—none of your votes count, even for president.

One upshot is that people who come to an early-voting site and aren’t properly registered will be too late to get properly registered in time to vote on Election Day. North Carolina, in the top 12 states for voter turnout since same-day registration began in 2008, may sink back to the bottom.

Learn more about the march and the courts case at www.july13marchforvotingrights.org.

 

 

Uncategorized

Editorial: Senate’s budget proposals will make schools worse

Legislators hoping to enjoy a few days of R&R this week may find a less than warm homecoming from local educators in their districts. The Wilmington Star News writes in a Tuesday editorial:

Education cutsTeachers, it seems as if some North Carolina legislators really want you to move to another state.

The state Senate’s budget plan would eliminate retiree health-care benefits for teachers (and any other state employees) hired after Jan. 1. 2016.

It’s not hard to see why: Health-care benefits for old people can be expensive.

On the other hand, teachers — especially North Carolina teachers — endure years of pay far lower than they could get in the private sector. Part of the trade-off is that they can expect generous — well, comfortable, well, adequate — pensions and benefits to tide them through their golden years.

Not any more, if the Senate has its way. A lot of the incentive for sticking with the public school system would be knocked away.

Officials in the state employees’ association complain that the state has been adding surcharges and other fees to its health plan for years. The increase, more than $1,300 per year for a typical state employee, active or retired — more than wipes out any pay increase that teachers and others have received in many years.

Teachers aren’t eligible for full health benefits as retirees until they’ve served for 20 years.

This comes on top of a Senate proposal to eliminate 8,500 teachers’ assistant positions across the state. The cuts supposedly would pay for around 2,000 new teacher positions to reduce class size.

In fact, eliminating those positions — more than one-third of the teachers’ assistants in the state — would cause problems in the classroom.
Read more

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Rep. Schaffer revives provision to allow handgun purchases without a criminal background check

Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer

Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer

Should anyone in North Carolina be able to buy a handgun without undergoing any criminal background check? Apparently Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer thinks so.

The latest version of her bill to loosen North Carolina’s gun laws includes a provision that would repeal the requirement that handgun purchasers pass a background check. That provision was in the original bill she introduced, but she took it out of a version that passed a committee last week.

The latest version of the bill that will be heard before the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday morning has the absurd provision back in it, allowing virtually anyone who wants to buy handgun to get one with no background check at all.

The public clearly does not like this idea, as 87 percent of likely voters say they support background checks for all handgun sales.

The bill has plenty of other troubling provisions, like reducing the penalty for bringing a hidden and loaded handgun into a bar that explicitly bans them and restricting a medical professional’s ability to talk about firearms with patients—a proposal that the healthcare community is actively opposing as an infringement on the doctor patient relationship.

Schaffer doesn’t want doctors talking about guns and she doesn’t want sheriffs to be able to screen people who want to buy them either.  Anything goes when it come to guns. That seems to the plan. Never mind public safety.