Up to 100 new immigration judges would be added under Biden budget request

Biden administration spells out exactly what the American Jobs Plan would mean for NC

As part of its ongoing effort to sell its big new national infrastructure plan — “The American Jobs Plan,” the Biden administration has prepared fact sheets on the kind of assistance the proposal would bring to each state. The White House reports that “additional issue-based fact sheets will be released in the coming days and weeks. Fact sheets on how the American Jobs Plan Advances Racial Equity and the American Jobs Plan Supports Rural America have been released in recent weeks.”

Here is the list for North Carolina:

The Need for Action in North Carolina

For decades, infrastructure in North Carolina has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. The need for action is clear: The American Jobs Plan will make a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure.

  • ROADS AND BRIDGES: In North Carolina there are 1,460 bridges and over 3,116 miles of highway in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 10.7% in North Carolina and on average, each driver pays $500 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. The American Jobs Plan will devote more than $600 billion to transform our nations’ transportation infrastructure and make it more resilient, including $115 billion repairing roads and bridges.
  • PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: North Carolinians who take public transportation spend an extra 59.9% of their time commuting and non-White households are 3.4 times more likely to commute via public transportation. 15% of trains and other transit vehicles in the state are past useful life. The American Jobs Plan will modernize public transit with an $85 billion investment.
  • RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE: From 2010 to 2020, North Carolina has experienced 42 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $50 billion in damages. The President is calling for $50 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and support communities’ recovery from disaster.
  • DRINKING WATER: Over the next 20 years, North Carolina’s drinking water infrastructure will require$16.8 billion in additional funding. The American Jobs Plan includes a $111 billion investment to ensure clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities.
  • HOUSING: In part due to a lack of available and affordable housing, 632,000 renters in North Carolina are rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent. The President proposes investing over $200 billion to increase housing supply and address the affordable housing crisis.
  • BROADBAND: 6.5% of North Carolinians live in areas where, by one definition, there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds. And 56.3% of North Carolinians live in areas where there is only one such internet provider. Even where infrastructure is available, broadband may be too expensive to be within reach. 14% of North Carolina households do not have an internet subscription. The American Jobs Plan will invest $100 billion to bring universal, reliable, high-speed, and affordable coverage to every family in America.
  • CAREGIVING: Across the country, hundreds of thousands of older adults and people with disabilities are in need of home and community-based services. The President’s plan will invest $400 billion to help more people access care and improve the quality of caregiving jobs.
  • CHILD CARE: In North Carolina, there is an estimated $660 million gap in what schools need to do maintenance and make improvements and 44% of residents live in a childcare desert. The American Jobs Plan will modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities and build new ones in neighborhoods across North Carolina and the country.
  • MANUFACTURING: Manufacturers account for more than 18% of total output in North Carolina, employing 473,000 workers, or 10.4% of the state’s workforce. The American Job’s Plan will invest $300 billion to retool and revitalize American manufacturers, including providing incentives for manufacturers to invest in innovative energy projects.
  • HOME ENERGY: In North Carolina, an average low-income family spends 8-1 0% of their income on home energy costs forcing tough choices between paying energy bills and buying food, medicine or other essentials. The American Jobs Plan will upgrade low-income homes to make them more energy efficient through a historic investment in the Weatherization Assistance Program, a new Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to finance building improvements, and expanded tax credits to support home energy upgrades.
  • CLEAN ENERGY JOBS: As of 2019, there were 112,720 North Carolinians working in clean energy, and the American Jobs Plan invests in creating more good paying union jobs advancing clean energy production by extending and expanding tax credits for clean energy generation, carbon capture and sequestration and clean energy manufacturing.
  • VETERANS HEALTH: North Carolina is home to over 700,000 veterans, 11.3% of whom are women and 41.7% of whom are over the age of 65. The President is calling for $18 billion to improve the infrastructure of VA health care facilities to ensure the delivery of world-class, state of the art care to veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. This includes improvements to ensure appropriate care for women and older veterans.

The big companies funding the legislature’s latest attack on transgender rights

Much of modern corporate America is expressing support these days for the causes of human rights and LGBTQ equality, but as journalists Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria point out in a new post at the website Popular Information this morning, some of the politicians they fund — especially here in North Carolina — are not.

This is from “These rainbow flag-waving corporations are backing the sponsors of anti-trans legislation”:

Seven members of the North Carolina Senate have introduced draconian anti-trans legislation targeting children, adults, and medical professionals. An investigation by Popular Information reveals that these legislators have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations that purport to be champions of LGBTQ rights and equality.

After explaining the ways in which Senate Bill 514 would:

  • ban anyone under the age of 21 from receiving gender-affirming treatment, including reversible hormone therapy,
  • impose fines on medical professionals who provide gender-affirming treatment to anyone under the age of 21, and
  • require government employees, including teachers, to report children who demonstrate “gender nonconformity” to their parents, and
  • protect the practice of “conversion” therapy,

Legum and Zekeria explain that the sponsors of the bill have received big campaign contributions from supposedly progressive-minded corporations.

Duke Energy, for instance likes to tout itself as pro-LGBTQ rights, but it’s a big giver to the senators behind SB 514:

A Popular Information investigation, however, reveals that Duke Energy has donated $75,200 to the sponsors of S514 over the last three years. That makes Duke Energy the top corporate donor to the politicians pushing this anti-trans measure.

Duke Energy has donated $16,800 to Senator Ralph Hise (R), who authored S514, including $10,800 last year. Hise also vocally supported North Carolina’s notorious “bathroom bill,” which prohibited trans people from using the bathroom that matched their gender identity, in 2016. Hise voted against the successful repeal of HB2 the following year.

The same in true for Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC:

Blue Cross NC is also a top corporate donor to the sponsors of S514, donating $35,900 to the group since 2018. The company donated $9,400 to North Carolina Senator Joyce Krawiec (R), who has repeatedly shared anti-trans articles on Twitter, including one that claims the “transgender movement has strong totalitarian overtones that Americans don’t fully understand.”

The bill not only conflicts with Blue Cross NC’s corporate messaging but also its stated views on hormone therapy as essential medical care. Blue Cross NC considers hormone therapy “medically necessary” for adults and children under 18 under certain conditions.

And the list goes on. According to Legum and Zekeria, their research identified 36 major corporate donors to the sponsors of the legislation, including Atrium Health, Cigna, and the law firm McGuire Woods.

One fervently hopes that the publicity will cause these powerful entities to help deep six this dreadful legislation ASAP.

Click here to read the entire article and see the list.

Responses to COVID-19 offer the chance to address racism in healthcare, experts said

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief how the health care system fails people with low incomes and people of color, panelists at a Duke University Margolis Center forum said last week.

Longstanding inequities in health care put people of color at greater risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and death. The inequities continue with the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, with white people getting disproportionate share of vaccines.

“Our health care system doesn’t work well for low income, low health literacy, undocumented – that didn’t start with COVID,” said Abner Mason, founder and CEO of ConsejoSano, a company that works with health care providers and insurers on patient engagement that is multicultural and multilingual.

“It shocked people out of their relative acceptance of a horrible system,” he said.

Building trusting relationships with communities and individuals is essential to  improving health, the panelists said.

Students in the Margolis Scholars Program at Duke  organized the event.

Kumbie Madondo is director of Community Partnerships & Policy Solutions at the New York Academy of Medicine, which works with the New York City Department of Health. She said the city’s health department is addressing disparities and racism in healthcare.

“We need to call things as they are,” she said. “If there is racism in health care, call it for what it is. In the communities we serve, health disparities are borne out of racism.”

In North Carolina, Latinx communities get confusing information about vaccines, said doctors and community health workers.

Dr. Edith Nieves Lopez, a pediatrician at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham said CDC information about COVID-19 does not translate well into Spanish.

“Sadly, there are few things that you find online that are culturally sensitive that can relay information in a few sentences,” she said.

Lopez said it was her job to get people in the community to trust her.

Increasing access to care and making sustainable change is important, said Onyi Ohamidike, a third-year medical student.

“Community members need to see people who look like them” and share their experiences, she said. Often blame is put on communities for not being able to trust, she said, taking the focus off institutions that should become trustworthy,

“We might all look at ourselves at great, kind, empathetic people,” Ohamidike said. “We need to recognize that we are attached to an institution that has harmed a lot of people.”

Griselda Alonso, a community health worker, said it is important to get people in the Latinx community clear and accurate information.

It’s hard for the Latinx community to trust medicine when last year, they heard about a doctor sterilizing women held in an ICE detention center, Alonso said.

“Try to be empathetic with my community,” she said. “Leave your privilege to the side.”

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