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Rep. Stephen LaRoque, a Kinston Republican, was the subject of this Huffington Post story earlier this afternoon, where it reported he paid one of the 46,000 jobless workers without unemployment benefits $8-an-hour to do yard work at his house.

The Huffington Post story gave mention to a testy email exchange Treadway and LaRoque had on Thursday. Scroll down this post to read the content of that email.

Kathryn “Cinnamon” Treadway spoke to N.C. Policy Watch as well today, and said she only did an hour’s worth of work because LaRoque wanted her to haul away large tree limbs and other heavy manual labor that she didn’t think she could physically do on such a hot day.

“He did give me $8 for the hour I was there, and that covered the gas to get there and back,” she said. “It was embarrassing; I was embarrassed to go to this man’s house who was obviously wealthy. I was the valedictorian of my high school and here I am, sitting here picking weeds out of his yard for $8 an hour.”

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It looks like legislators will wait until after the Memorial Day holiday to take further action on legislation that would extend federal jobless benefits to some 45,000 North Carolinians who lost their benefits in mid-April.

The House Rules Committee voted Wednesday along party lines for a measure that would restore benefits for the long-term jobless workers, but the extension remains tied to the passage of the state budget.

Rep. Paul Luebke, who voted against that measure in committee, says it is simply “illogical” to try to force the Governor to support the state budget by withholding federal benefits for thousands of unemployed workers. Read More

The  42,000 to 45,000 North Carolinians cut off from  their extended unemployment benefits since April 16 will have to wait longer, if GOP Senate Leader Phil Berger’s move to fix the stalemate is hinged to the state budget process.

Berger, in a press conference this morning, said the restoring the benefits (which are funded solely through federal sources) would have to wait and become part of the new state budget, which is supposed to take effect on July 1 if it manages to pass it time.

“Whenever it is approved, it will be retroactive,” he said.

But that comes as thousands of the jobless are juggling the sudden lack of money coming in, and are facing evictions, foreclosures or going without food, medicine and electricity. (Go here to see an update on a Charlotte woman who is facing eviction, or go to www.ncpolicywatch.com/jobless for all of our coverage on the standoff.)

The state legislature initially had to approve a formula change in April in order to keep the benefits continuing to flow to workers, a routine measure that would normally take up a day’s time and many states passed without any problems.  But instead of doing that, GOP leaders in the legislator linked the approval to the state budget and would have forced Gov. Bev Perdue to agree to a budget with deep cuts to education and other state agencies. Perdue vetoed the measure, saying that it irresponsibly put the lives of the jobless in the middle of a political fight over the state budget.

Today, Berger again tried to shift blame to Perdue, a Democrat, when he responded to questions from reporters about why GOP legislators had worked out a recent compromise on the State Health Plan, and not done the same with  restoring the unemployment benefits.

“It’s different because we were able to engage in some level of dialogue in terms of a compromise and we just don’t see where that’s materialized on this issue,” Berger said.

Perdue has repeatedly said she’ll sign a clean bill if she’s given one. Her office is expected to respond to Berger’s comments later today.

Democrats in both the House and Senate have tried to move forward clean bills, but haven’t been able to convince enough Republicans to join them.

 

Christy Zemcik spoke to us a few weeks ago about her struggle to stay afloat after the extended unemployment benefits she depended on her were held up by GOP members of the state legislature on April 16.

When we first talked with her, Zemcik, a 41-year-old former teacher and assistant in a doctor’s office, had gotten served with an eviction notice and was waiting for her power to be shut off.

Now, 37 days into the impasse, nearly all of Zemcik’s furniture is being auctioned off and she’s waiting for a sheriff’s deputy to come to  lock her out of her Charlotte apartment anyday.

“There are times when I feel like I can barely pick myself off the floor,” she said.

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