Attacks on Struggling North Carolinians Advance
- Medicaid Coverage
- Unemployment Insurance
- Earned Income Tax Credit
- Fracking Moratorium
- Gun Violence
- Raise the Age
SB 4, which would deny Medicaid coverage to more than a half million North Carolinians under the Affordable Care Act and also would put the state under a federal Health Benefits Exchange, has passed both House and Senate. Because of slight differences between the two versions that were passed, SB 4 is in a conference committee. Attention has now shifted to Gov. Pat McCrory and whether he will sign the bill. Last week, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida because the seventh Republican governor who had formerly opposed Medicaid expansion to change his mind. Saying that “I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians access to health care,” he announced his decision to accept federal money for Medicaid expansion.
Here are two things you can do to encourage Gov. McCrory not to deny North Carolinians access to health care:
1) Use this link to send a message to the Governor:
2) Attend a Vigil for the Uninsured, TONIGHT, Monday, February 25 at 6:00 in front of Duke Chapel in Durham. The event is being organized by Duke students and the state NAACP. Speakers will include the Reverend William Barber II of the NAACP, and Rhonda Robinson, a person with epilepsy who lost her job and couldn’t get health insurance. For more info, check out their Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/
On the day after his State of the State address, Gov. Pat McCrory signed HB 4, reducing the amount of money received by people who have lost their jobs and also cutting the number of weeks in which unemployment insurance can be collected. For more information, see this article from the [Raleigh] News & Observer.
For an excellent summary from the N&O’s Rob Christensen of how the unemployment insurance system got it such a mess (hint: it has to do with the state cutting unemployment taxes paid by businesses in order to create a more “business-friendly climate” in NC), click here.
The House has quickly approved HB 82, which would reduce the state Earned Income Tax Credit from 5% of the federal EITC to 4.5% for this year. It is now before the Senate Finance Committee. Worse yet, legislators have indicated their plans to let the state EITC expire entirely when it sunsets at the end of the year.
A new report from the Budget and Tax Center shows that the state EITC continues to be a critical support for low-paid workers during the ongoing sluggish economic recovery by providing workers earning low wages with a credit to offset their total state and local tax contributions.
The report found that nearly 907,000 North Carolinians claimed the credit in 2011, with recipients in each of the state’s 100 counties. These North Carolinians work, pay taxes, and would be directly affected by the reduction or elimination of this modest but crucial income support.
The state EITC is a small investment that helps hard-working North Carolinians meet their basic needs and avoid raising their children in poverty, according to the report. The credit can be claimed only by those who earn income through work, and it delivers a powerful anti-poverty effect, especially for the state’s children. The EITC truly makes a positive difference in the lives of working families with children. Now is precisely the wrong time to take away this support from low-income workers.
For more information:
And On Other Issues
Last year, the General Assembly legalized fracking in North Carolina. However, the law prohibited the state from issuing permits “in order to allow the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) sufficient time for development of a modern regulatory program for the management of oil and gas exploration and development…” That bill prohibited the state from issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing “until the General Assembly takes legislative action to allow the issuance of such permits.” This provision assured that the General Assembly would have the benefit of the work of the Mining and Energy Commission and the input from the public BEFORE making a final determination on issuing permits.
SB 76 would take that legislative action now and would allow permits to be issued starting March 1, 2015, regardless of the MEC’s findings. The MEC has been working to study all the issues and create a regulatory system that protects landowners, as well as their land, water, and air. The MEC has been hearing concerns and questions from landowners who want to know how their rights will be protected once drilling starts. Senate Bill 76 sets a date for issuing permits before landowners’ questions have been addressed and protections have been put in place.
To tell legislators that you want the MEC to finish its process before we determine when permits will be issued, click here.
Last week the National Rifle Association took out full-page ads in NC newspapers urging citizens to contact Senator Kay Hagan to oppose gun violence efforts being put forward by President Obama and others in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings. The ads included a phone number for people to call. That number can also be used to ask Sen. Hagan to support efforts to limit gun violence. Please call Sen. Hagan’s office at 202-224-6342 and leave a message that you support efforts to stop gun violence. Her office is keeping a tally of responses, so let your voice be heard.
North Carolina remains one of only two states that automatically prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults – even for an infraction as minor as stealing a bag of Doritos. For the sake of our children and the well-being of our communities, you can join in reflecting on important changes to our legal system during the national Juvenile Justice Week of Faith beginning on March 4.
A common sense proposal which has been reviewed by a General Assembly study committee would raise the age of youth jurisdiction, so that 16- and 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanors are handled in the juvenile system. There, they would learn their lesson, pay their dues and eventually be able to get on with leading productive lives that contribute to society. Youth convicted of more serious crimes would remain in the adult system.
During Juvenile Justice Week of Faith, clergy and congregations around the country will reflect and pray on many matters regarding the rehabilitation and healing of our young people. As people of conscience, we must not leave entire generations behind.