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BOG gets even murkier with House (re)appointments

Today, the NCGA will move forward with a vote on six nominees to the University of North Carolina System’s Board of Governors. Five of the six names are re-appointments. Hilton Hutchens, the new white Republican nominee, would replace the lone Black Democrat on the Board. The process includes and up-or-down vote on a resolution that would name members to the board. This process differs from an election from a larger number of candidates. The up-or-down vote gives Republican leadership closer control of the nominees.

 The list below includes two Republican lobbyists, a former disgraced sheriff-turned-charter school activist, a lawyer that defends big banks in foreclosure suits, a major Republican donor and former employer of a House leader, and a controversial developer who had his project saved by the speaker of the house despite objections from the city of Durham.

 

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Republicans in NCGA show contempt for rape survivors, again.

Last week, Republican Representative Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba) along with co-sponsors Representatives Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) introduced H305, a bill designed to bolster protections for UNC students accused of sexual misconduct. Specifically, the bill would “standardize protections” for students enrolled across all 16 campuses of the UNC system and add due process guarantees.

In a moment of public reckoning and conversation about survivors of sexual violence catalyzed by #metoo and the Kavanaugh hearings, conservative leaders have centered the rights of the accused. North Carolina Republicans’ legislative impulses align nationally with controversial U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’. Devos changed Title IX application into an almost unrecognizable form and rescinded the 2011 “Dear Colleague” guidance from the Obama Administration regarding sexual misconduct. The Devos guidelines narrow the definition of sexual harassment, allow colleges to use stricter standards of proof, limit the cases a college is required to investigate, and allow accusers to be cross-examined. In sum, the new rules favor the accused, as well as colleges and universities, a major departure from Obama-era guidelines that took strides to center survivors in a process mired in bureaucratic ambiguity.

However, despite conservative outcry, the concern over false allegations of sexual misconduct, like fears of in-person voter fraud, are more specter than substance. As study after study affirms that false rape allegations (like voter fraud) are incredibly rare, legislators still spend their time and valuable taxpayer dollars fighting both.

To add insult to injury, all three representatives co-sponsoring H305 voted against additional protections for survivors in North Carolina.
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Republicans continue their trend of playing politics with school safety, reject amendments to keep all students safe at school

The NC House voted today on a school safety omnibus bill, but the bill failed to make it to its 3rdand final reading today because Republicans rejected two amendments to the bill that would have improved safety at school for all children.

Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield proposed an amendment that would have added “cultural diversity” to the short list of things which school resource officers (SROs) must be specially trained on. Jeff Elmore was the only Republican to vote in favor of the amendment though a few were absent and three chose not to vote. The amendment failed, but earned support from every Democrat present.

A 2018 study found that putting more police in schools doesn’t make them safer and found that the state needs to evaluate and change the “philosophy on policing in schools.” Adding cultural diversity to the list of required trainings for SROs seems like an important step in addressing one piece of the study’s findings-that Black and Latinx students feel discriminated against by officers and less safe in their presence.

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Republican Senators announce health care plans that could exclude full coverage protections for workers.

Senate Bill 86 creates opportunities for small businesses to provide health care for employees using Association Health Plans (AHPs) authorized under federal guidelines. The Trump administration rolled out AHPs in June 2018, claiming they would result in lower prices and more choices for employers and employees. S86 would require coverage for people with preexisting conditions and allow parents to keep children on up to age 26.

AHPs don’t have as many consumer protections as other health plans. Due to this, economists and experts say AHPs are risky and likened them to “running with scissors.”AHPs do not have to cover the ten “essential health benefits” required under the ACA and could exclude coverage for prescription drugs, for example, and smaller employers could skip maternity coverage requirements. Protections written into AHPs for people with preexisting conditions would be weakened by plans that make chronic care patients jump through more hoops or pay high deductibles.AHPs cannot discriminate against sick individuals, but do not offer complete protections for people with preexisting conditions who could face “roadblocks in finding affordable, comprehensive coverage.”

Read more analysis of S86 here.

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MEDICAID REPORT PART 1: The Current Costs of Health Care in N.C.

NC already has some of the most expensive health care in the country. Refusing to expand Medicaid will keep health care expensive.  

  • NC is the second most expensive state for health care overall and NC residents who buy their own health care pay the third highest monthly premiums in the nation.
    • Forgoing Medicaid expansion will cost NC about $40 billion, some of which is federal taxpayer dollars from North Carolinians funding Medicaid in other states.
    • The federal government will cover 90 percent of the costs of Medicaid in expansion states forever. Currently it only covers half of the cost in NC.
  • Premiums for people who buy their own health insurance are7 percent lower in states that have expanded Medicaid.
    • Uncompensated care costs at hospitals are lower in Medicaid expansion states where more people are insured and thus able to pay hospital bills for emergency care.
    • Medicaid work rules will increase uncompensated care costs for hospitals.
  • Federal taxes paid by NC residents are going to other states.
  • Instead of saving money, Medicaid work requirements can add to health care costs and waste taxpayer dollars.
    • Work requirements could cost anywhere from $70 million to $170 million to implement and could more than double monthly premiums.
  • Not closing the gap will make health care even more expensive in NC.

Read the full report here.

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Don’t get the wrong idea from NC09 hearings: Let’s not make it (even) harder to vote in NC

The NC09 hearings have shone the national spotlight onto what appears to be coordinated and well-funded election fraud in eastern North Carolina.

As the NC State Board of Elections investigators wade through piles of evidence and often lengthy testimony, one dangerous narrative has emerged: the notion that our entire voting system should be overhauled.

Yes, a few individuals appear to have taken advantage of the procedures for requesting and returning absentee ballots. But these revelations do not necessitate targeting past and future voters. The actions detailed during testimony, especially on the first day of the hearing, are already illegal. Making it more difficult to register to vote, to vote in person, or to vote by mail won’t prevent future abuses of NC election law by so-called “political operatives.”

Requiring a photo ID to vote, ending same-day registration, and shortening the early vote period would not have prevented the type of electoral fraud the NCSBE is investigating. Republican efforts to target in-person “voter fraud,” which is largely nonexistent, would not have prevented a single action described in the testimony so far.  Moreover, they have not made an effort to target the kind of election fraud and other questionable actions that occurred in NC09.

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The definitive timeline of Mark Harris and the NCGOP’s changing relationship with Red Dome, McCrae Dowless and Absentee Ballot Fraud in NC09

With some new and conflicting information already coming to light during the hearings Monday morning it is time to set the record straight on the changing way in which the NCGOP and Mark Harris have defined their relationships with Red Dome, McCrae Dowless and NC09 absentee ballot fraud.

TL;DR

  • Mark Harris definitely lied.
  • Absentee ballot fraud in NC09 was bad enough to make Dallas Woodhouse physically ill, but not bad enough to warrant an investigation and hearing.
  • Red Dome still silent despite paying Dowless more than $131k. 
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Abortion Method Ban Filed by NC Republicans, Includes Provisions Targeting Doctors

H54, “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment,” is an abortion method ban that would make dilation & evacuation prodcedures, referred to in the bill as “dismemberment abortion” illegal except in the case of “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” The bill intentionally uses the term of “dismemberment abortion” instead of dilation and evacuation, reflecting anti-abortion rhetoric. The bill makes exceptions for “serious heath risk to the unborn child’s mother” but does not include “psychological or emotional conditions.” Throughout, the bill refers to the patient as “the unborn child’s mother.”

H54 intentionally targets physicians who provide abortion. The bill text specifically offers civil immunity to patients, nurses, technicians, secretaries, receptionists, pharmacists, or “other employee or agent who is not a physician.” Moreover, the bill would make any physician who provides the procedure guilty of a civil offense and liable for sanction from the NC Medical Board.

Rep. Debra Conrad of Forsyth is a primary sponsor of the bill, which emerged amidst a flurry of anti-abortion legislation in early February 2019.

Read more on H54 here

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