Council Spotlights Education, Opportunity
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The General Assembly has adjourned its 2013 session after a final cascade of disappointing and disturbing bills that now await review by Gov. Pat McCrory. Among the bills approved are ones that will make it less convenient for many citizens to vote and that weaken regulatory oversight of the environment.
There was at least one bright spot, as the House rejected a last-minute push by the Senate to speed up the environmentally risky natural gas extraction process known as fracking. But on the whole, legislators succeeded in putting the crowning touches on a session devoted to a conservative agenda the likes of which modern North Carolina has never before seen.
It could be said that the elephant – symbol of the Republicans who control North Carolina’s General Assembly and governor’s office — has labored and brought forth a mouse. But this is a mouse with sharp teeth.
After weeks of effort, the legislature’s Republican majorities and Gov. Pat McCrory have agreed on a spate of changes to the state’s tax laws centered on cuts in personal and corporate income taxes. The cuts aren’t as deep as some conservatives wanted. Still, they will sap revenues that finance the entire portfolio of state programs and services.
Yesterday morning the Senate Rules Committee unveiled a committee substitute for SB 10 which would effectively kick off all of the members of several influential commissions, including the Environmental Management Commission, the Coastal Resources Commission, the Utilities Commission, and the Lottery Commission, and then enable the General Assembly and the Governor to appoint new members.
After a one-day organizational meeting in early January, the 2013 General Assembly convened in earnest last Wednesday. Bills introduced and advanced during these first two days give a taste of things to come. Note especially the bills affecting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, weakening the benefits of unemployment insurance, and extending the presence of guns.
The General Assembly on Monday overrode Governor Perdue’s vetoes of three bills. By doing so they gutted the Racial Justice Act, revised the budget for 2012-13, and moved ahead with fracking. The outcome was not in doubt in the Senate. In fact, several Senate Democrats had excused absences and didn’t even show up for the votes. The drama was in the House.
The General Assembly leadership is committed to having this short session truly be short, and there’s talk of adjourning by early July. In fact, an adjournment resolution was introduced yesterday with a target date of June 19. This session, which starts in May of even-numbered years, is primarily to tweak the second year of the budget adopted the year before. In addition, certain bills which were introduced last year (mostly ones which passed in one house) can be considered. For a new bill to be introduced this year, it must fit into one of a few specific categories, with most new bills having to do with budgetary matters or coming from a study commission which met during the interim. Finally, pending veto overrides are also thought by the House and Senate leadership to be eligible for consideration.
The General Assembly met for three days last week in its second mini-session following adjournment of the regular long session. This session was supposed to be the “Constitutional Amendments Session,” but when the dust cleared, only one constitutional amendment had been approved – the one which defines marriage so as to exclude people who are gay or lesbian not only from marriage but also from civil unions or other similar committed relationships and which could also prevent local governments and even private companies from granting partner benefits to anyone not in a two-gender marriage
The General Assembly returned to Raleigh in July for what was, in reality, Round Two of its 2011 Long Session. The primary tasks were to take up overrides on bills Governor Perdue had vetoed and to adopt redistricting plans for U.S. Congressional districts and for the state House and Senate.
The 2011 session of the General Assembly adjourned around midday on Saturday, June 18. Legislative leaders and the media are trumpeting the efficiency of the session and the fact that this is the earliest adjournment since 1973. But that is misleading since they aren’t really finished with their work. The adjournment resolution calls them back into a special session on July 13. At that time, they will take up the thorny issue of redistricting as well as controversial bills from the just-ended session which remain in conference committees and any bills vetoed by the Governor.
Budget Edition: Last week the chairs of the House Appropriations Subcommittees started revealing their plans for the 2011-13 budget. Not surprisingly, their plans differ in significant ways from the budget proposed by Governor Perdue. The most important difference is that the House leaders will not approve the continuation of any of the emergency tax increases enacted in 2009.
The drumbeat of bad bills continues. Suffice it to say that it’s a tough year for those of us who have advocated for public policy decisions promoting social justice, protecting vulnerable people, and caring for God’s creation. We can’t respond to every bad idea or bad bill. On many of these issues, we feel like we are butting our heads against a wall. Our tendency may be to throw up our hands in despair.
Governor Bev Perdue on Saturday vetoed H 2, the misnamed “Protect Health Care Freedom” bill. (It should be called the “Freedom to be Uninsured and Unable to Get Health Care” bill.) The bill was an attack on federal health care reform and purported to remove North Carolinians from the mandated purchase of health insurance, which is the basis of federal reform which will move millions of uninsured Americans into the ranks of the insured.
The 2011 General Assembly convened Wednesday for its long session. The politics of this session will be unlike any we have ever known because Republicans are now in the majority in both the House and Senate, and the Governor – with a veto – is a Democrat. We’ve not been here before.Also in this Raleigh Report: Photo ID to Vote, Health Care Reform, State Budget and more.
Yesterday was the deadline for Governor Perdue to sign or veto bills passed by the General Assembly in the last weeks of the session. Interestingly, yesterday she let a bill become law without her signature.Also in this Raleigh Report: Domestic Violence, Environment, Gambling, and more.
Unfortunately, the childhood obesity epidemic is drastically affecting North Carolina. In 2009, North Carolina ranked 14th worst in the nation in childhood overweight and obesity for children ages 10-17, with more than one-third (33.5%) of our children being overweight or obese.
Also in this Raleigh Report: Domestic Violence, Environment, Gambling, Health, Housing, People with Disabilities, Public Education, and more.
Long-time members of the Raleigh Report network will grieve with me the passing this week of Bertha “B.” Holt. From 1975 to 1994, B. represented Alamance County in the state House of Representatives. The Council recognized her service by presenting her with our Faith Active in Public Life Award in 1987, the second year it was given.
The summer’s “short session” of the North Carolina General Assembly convened on May 12, a continuation of the 2009 session. Its primary task will be to adjust the 2010-11 budget adopted last year, though it can also take up bills that made it through one house last year, bills coming from study commissions, and bills amending the state Constitution.
Follow the NC Sanctuary Coalition FB Page. We are actively supporting the NC Sanctuary 4: Rosa, Juana, Jose, and Eliseo who remain in sanctuary. Be sure to follow the page and check for updates! facebook.com/NCSanct…
Our partners at @rafiusa have assisted farmers, churches, and rural communities for #COVID19 response/recovery and farm infrastructure development Follow the link to read more about their great work. mailchi.mp/rafiusa/j…
Take a moment of your day to center your mind and nourish your soul with this poem from Xavier University. We hope this will remind you that you are always surrounded by the loving arms of our Creator. You are so loved. xavier.edu/jesuitres… pic.twitter.com/ZeIQ…
We proudly partner with faith communities across #NC promoting #faith, #health, & #justice. During #COVID19, these congregations mobilized to meet important & urgent needs in their greater community. Visit our spotlights page to read more: ncchurches.org/spotl…
Our most recent Holy Breaths video offers expressions of gratitude and praise for faith leaders. We offer these affirmations with hope, love, and spiritual nourishment during these unprecedented times. #COVID19 #faith #health #NC youtube.com/watch?v=…
RT @UsaParents This could be said for solar in N.C., so much potential! @nccleanenergy is working on it but they need help @NC_Governor @NCDemParty @NCGOP. The #ClimateCrisis is not stopping just because there is a pandemic. #ActOnClimate #NoACP #NoMVP @NCWARN @NCClim8Justice @NCIPL @NCIPLYL twitter.com/bat_yann…
RT @ClimatePower It has been 41 days since @realDonaldTrump held a formal press briefing focused on #COVID19 testing and response. America deserves a president who will stand with experts and act on science.
RT @NGPBlackGreen Anti-science policies are hurting Americans right now. We can tackle climate change, but to do so we must listen to the experts. I’m proud to join the @ClimatePower team in holding science-deniers accountable. #NGPBlackGreen #ClimateCrisis #EnvironmentalJustice #NGP pic.twitter.com/9ZeL…
RT @interfaithpower Join IPL and Register for a one-time viewing of the award-winning film, The Condor and the Eagle, Sunday, June 28, 2pm Pacific followed by a webinar with the film protagonists. interfaithpowerandli… @TheCondorFilm @UUMFE @faithinplace @MNIPL @NCIPL @IPLdmv @CaliforniaIPL pic.twitter.com/pVwA…