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The Campaign Trail
SEANC Names Representatives Dollar And Jackson As Legislators Of The Year PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Donna Martinez   
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 10:41

EMPAC, the political arm of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, presented its Lisa B. Mitchell Legislators of the Year awards recently to Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake) and Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake).

Dollar, has a long history of support for state employees and retirees. In his role as the House budget writer, he worked to make North Carolina the first state in the union with a $15 per hour minimum salary for state employees. The budget also included funding for at least a 2 percent increase for all other employees as well as five days of bonus leave and a retiree bonus.

“He is a true friend,” EMPAC Chairman Tony Smith said of Dollar when presenting the award. “Everyone wants your attention when you write the state budget.  But Rep. Dollar makes time for state employees each and every time we come calling. And he has worked tirelessly to protect state employees from unpleasant surprises in legislation.” 

Jackson, now a two-time winner of the award, has remained a strong advocate for state employee and retiree issues throughout his rise in the legislature. In his current role as House Minority Leader, he consistently uses his voice and impressive debating skills to protect state employees. 

“Rep. Jackson has done a great job of making sure freshman members of his caucus are exposed to the issues important to SEANC,” Smith said. “He is one of the first people our lobbyists go to when they need help on an issue.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 October 2018 10:43
NC Policy Watch: Hurricane Florence Exposes North Carolina's Economic And Geographic Disparities PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Thursday, 27 September 2018 10:06

By Brian Kennedy II

Hurricane Florence tore through the Carolinas, leaving entire cities devastated, claiming dozens of lives, and doing what will likely be billions of dollars in damage. But this hurricane has exposed much more than tree roots and the foundations of homes -- it has exposed the gross and growing inequality embedded in our state.

For years, eastern North Carolina has been home to some of the state’s most impoverished towns and communities. In 2016, 19 of the 20 poorest counties in the entire state were all located in the east. In addition to poverty, eastern North Carolina is also home to some of the state’s hungriest communities. In 2016, more than 300,000 people in the 18 counties declared disaster areas did not have enough food to eat each night.

In Robeson County, for example, one of the counties most impacted by flooding, both recently with Hurricane Florence and two years ago during Hurricane Matthew, nearly 28 percent of residents and 38 percent of children live below the federal poverty line. In New Hanover County, where Hurricane Florence made landfall, more than 19,500 residents live in six neighborhoods that have poverty rates above 40 percent  These neighborhoods and communities that have persistently experienced elevated levels of poverty for decades are the same ones we see inundated with water today.

So how can the part of our state that has historically been the agricultural and manufacturing engine of our economy be suffering from both poverty and hunger? Not by circumstance, but by policy choices, historic and present, that has cut out far too many from prosperity, even in a growing economy.

As a result of generations of redlining, racial housing covenants, and other forms of housing discrimination, many Black and brown communities in the east are often situated in lower-lying geographies and flood plains, making them especially susceptible to damage from powerful storms. In addition to being vulnerable to environmental disasters, these communities have yet to recover from the last economic downturn of a decade ago. While the state is returning to pre-recession economic measures, much of eastern North Carolina still lags behind. 

Since the 2007 Great Recession, every racial and ethnic group in the state has returned to pre-recession levels of poverty except Latinx and Native communities, which make up a disproportionate number of residents in these affected counties. In fact, more than 38 percent of residents in Robeson are Native families while more than 21 percent of families in Duplin, another county hit hard by the storm, are Latinx. Poverty levels among North Carolinians of color across the state remain well above 20 percent, while the poverty rate for white North Carolinians has dropped to 10 percent.

With as much celebration as has occurred in recent months regarding low unemployment and growing GDP, it seems that we are in a prime situation as a state to turn our attention away from austerity, and towards addressing deep and persistent inequality. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 September 2018 10:08
Senator Berger Details Efforts Against Opioid Abuse And GenX Contamination PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Thursday, 27 September 2018 09:30
By Senator Phil Berger

Senate Pro Tempore

As the opioid crisis rages across the United States, North Carolina has not been spared from the devastating effects of this epidemic. From 1999 to 2016, more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdoses, and drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death in North Carolina. That is why the steps taken by the General Assembly since 2013 to combat this ongoing problem have been so important.
“Every day the misuse of opioids takes a deadly toll on families and communities across our state and country,” said Sen. Jim Davis (R-Macon). “There is no single remedy, therefore every effective resource at our disposal must be deployed against this lethal epidemic.” 
Since 2013, the General Assembly has made significant efforts to get Naloxone into the hands of more people across the state to prevent overdose deaths from opioids. The 2013 Good Samaritan law and the clarification to it in 2015 made practitioners and pharmacists immune from civil liability for prescribing Naloxone. Legislation was passed in 2016 that took this protection even further, allowing pharmacists to dispense Naloxone to any person without a prescription and allowing law enforcement to carry it with them. In the last two budgets, the General Assembly has appropriated funds to distribute Naloxone across the state. 
In 2017, the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act implemented new guidelines for prescribing and dispensing highly-addictive prescription drugs to ensure those medications are responsibly administered and not over-prescribed. It also required universal registration and reporting by pharmacies to detect misuse and diversion while strengthening reporting requirements for prescription transactions. That was followed up in 2018 with the Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement (HOPE) Act which strengthened law enforcement efforts to fight the opioid crisis by giving them tools to improve drug investigations, increasing penalties for healthcare workers who abuse their power and providing funding for community-based drug treatment services.
The 2018 budget provided additional funding to help with North Carolina’s addiction crisis, setting aside $6 million for the construction of a new TROSA Facility (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, Inc.) in the Triad area and $1.4 million for a facility-based crisis center in Wilkes County. 
Another public health concern that has been at the forefront of many North Carolinians’ minds has been the threat to clean, safe drinking water by the discovery in 2017 of the compound GenX in public water supplies, including the Cape Fear River and private wells. 
The Republican-led General Assembly passed legislation in 2017 to provide funds to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to quantify the amount of GenX in the Cape Fear River and determine the impact it could have on public health and safety. That bill also providing funding to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and other local public utilities to develop treatment technologies to remove GenX from public water supplies and to monitor whether the treatment works.
The 2018 budget expanded the efforts to combat public water contamination from GenX by setting aside more than $10 million to provide access to clean drinking water for those impacted by GenX contamination and to fund the state’s efforts to address Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAs) and their threat to safe drinking water. Five million dollars of that funding went to the N.C. Policy Collaboratory, a group of scientists from across the University of North Carolina System that focuses on state environmental challenges, and will be used to create the Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substance Testing (PFAST) network which will determine when and where PFAS can be found across North Carolina. Detlef Knappe, a N.C. State University environmental engineer working with the Collaboratory and one of the researchers who found GenX in Wilmington’s drinking water recently said that researchers would not have been able to tackle this problem “without this kind of approach.” 
“Water quality is not a political issue -- it is a public health issue, and a deeply personal issue to me,” said Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover). I am pleased that we were able to leverage the expertise of our university system’s world-renowned scientists to research ways to improve and protect our drinking water against GenX and other PFAs going forward.” 
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 September 2018 09:46
Libertarian Candidates Support Nonpartisan Redistricting PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Monday, 24 September 2018 09:44
Thirty-three Libertarian candidates for the General Assembly pledged today to support a nonpartisan redistricting process if elected. “Like the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians, we believe that voting maps should be drawn in a fair and impartial way that protects the freedom of voters to hold their government accountable and to have a say in who represents them,” the candidates said in a statement.
The platform of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina calls for “a redistricting process conducted by an independent, nonpartisan agency for all local, state, and federal districts. The process should be open and transparent. It should involve significant public input with the opportunity for citizens to weigh in on proposed district maps.”
Here is the full text of the candidates’ joint statement: 
“North Carolina's redistricting process allows whichever party controls the legislature to draw our congressional and legislative voting maps.
“The result: gerrymandered districts that unfairly favor one party or the other, which in turn leads to a lack of competition in our elections and no real voice for voters at the ballot box.
“Both parties have indulged in gerrymandering to benefit their own side and our democracy has suffered for it. It's time for real reform.
“Like the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians, we believe that voting maps should be drawn in a fair and impartial way that protects the freedom of voters to hold their government accountable and to have a say in who represents them.
“We, the undersigned, Libertarian candidates for General Assembly pledge to sponsor or support a nonpartisan independent redistricting process in North Carolina.”
Tim Harris, Senate 2, (919) 201-2602
Jesse Shearin, Senate 4, (252) 578-1627
Anthony Mascolo, Senate 8, (910) 550-0106
Ethan Bickley, Senate 9, (706) 951-9310
Richard Haygood, Senate 14, (910) 787-6466
Brian Lewis, Senate 15, (919) 798-0321
Brian Irving, Senate 16, (919) 538-4548
Bruce Basson, Senate 17, (317) 476-5186
Brad Hessel, Senate 18, (919) 278-7395
Jared Erickson, Senate 20, (919) 907-1454
R. Michael Jordan, Senate 30, (336) 402-9883
Mitchell Bridges, Senate 43, (704) 692-6187
Lyndon Smith, Senate 49, (919) 593-4715
T. Lee Horne, House 3, (318) 542-4445
Travis Groo, House 11, (404) 312-4392
Joseph Sharp, House 18, (678) 693-0788
David Perry, House 19, (910) 617-2873
Nick Taylor, House 25, (252) 567-8055
Walt Rabon, House 28, (919) 210-5704
Matthew Wagoner, House 30, 919-471-5645
Erik Raudsep, House 31, (919) 720-1530
Cap Hayes, House 34, (910) 358-0650
Michael Nelson, House 35, (919) 413-7942
Robyn Pegram, House 36, (919) 924-4933
Guy Meilleur, House 37, (919) 906-0465
Bobby Emory, House 38, (919) 706-3144
Martin Matuszewski, House 39, (984) 500-9807
David Ulmer, House 40, 919-539-9486
Jonathan Horst, House 49, (330) 231-9788
Matthew Clements, House 56, (919) 593-2119
Houston Barrow, House 65, (336) 589-7103
Michael Finn, House 67, (631) 478-7652
Steve Brenneis, House 91, (336) 456-3290

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