Environment, News, public health

Six things to have on your radar this week ahead of Easter

Making it official – Dr. James C. “Jimmie” Williamson, who began his role as the eighth president of the NC Community College system in July, is officially being installed today on the campus of Richmond Community College.

Dr. Williamson has a background steeped in education, business, economic development, workforce development and community service. Most recently, he served two years as the System President and CEO of the South Carolina Technical College system.

Two notable bill’s on the House Calendar – Members of the House reconvene at 4:00 p.m. with two notable bills to watch. Representatives are expected to give final approval to the Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies bill (HB 467) and the School Calendar Flexibility bill (HB375).

Learn more from Policy Watch’s Lisa Sorg about the troubling rush job on HB467.

Education reporter Billy Ball has a rundown on HB375 and another school calendar bill (HB389) that would impact the school start dates of 20 rural counties.

“Brunch Bill” back before lawmakers –  Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. members of the House Alcoholic Beverage Control committee will consider a bill that would allow liquor sales at restaurants beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays instead of noon.

Members will also consider ABC Omnibus Legislation that would allow North Carolina breweries to self-distribute up to 200,000 barrels per year and would make it easier for small breweries to terminate distribution agreements.

The House Alcoholic Beverage Control meets is Room 1425 of the Legislative Building at 9:00 a.m.

Medicaid expansion – Proponents of Medicaid expansion have repeated this talking point for quite some time: There are currently more than 500,000 uninsured in North Carolina, more than 300,000 of these individuals and families have no affordable options for health insurance.

On Tuesday House Bill 662, entitled “Carolina Cares,” will be introduced creating a healthcare program that addresses the needs of North Carolinians who are ineligible for Medicaid due to income levels but are otherwise unable to afford health insurance.

Primary Bill Sponsor Rep. Donny Lambeth holds an 11:00 a.m. press conference in the legislative press room to discuss the ins and outs of the bill. For now, here’s how the News & Observer’s Lynn Bonner explains the legislation:

Under the bill, adults whose incomes are at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level – less than $16,000 for a single person – would qualify. They would have to pay annual premiums equal to 2 percent of their household income, with some hardship exemptions. In most cases, adults would have to be working or “engaged in activities that promote employment” to be eligible for the coverage.

Legislation caregivers will want to watch – The House Aging Committee will vote on the Caregiver Relief Act – House Bill 543. This bill would provide support in the workplace under state law for caregivers who provide direct care to certain family members in need of care in instances where such leave would not be afforded to the caregivers under federal law.

The bill would require that employers that comply with the federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 with respect to a spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the eligible employee’s sibling, grandparent, grandchild, stepchild, stepparent or parent-in-law.

Why does this matter? Well, bill sponsors note there are 1.7 million family caregivers in North Carolina providing care to an adult with limitations in daily activities at some time during the year.

The Aging Committee meets at 11:00 a.m. in Room 423 LOB.

Funding a solution to NC’s food desert– Finally, Tuesday at noon the House Ag. Committee will discuss the Corner Store Initiative. House Bill 387 would establish a source of funding and assistance for small food retailers in both urban and rural areas to increase the availability and sales of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient dense foods at affordable prices to local residents.

The  goal is to improve the diet and health of residents in food desert zones. The Agriculture committee meets in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building.

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