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Reps. Pittman, Presnell and Speciale’s votes betray survivors of sexual abuse

On Wednesday the NC House overwhelmingly voted to lengthen the time period during which survivors of child sexual abuse can sue perpetrators for damages. Only 10 House members did not back the measure, which would extend the statute of limitations from 21 to 38 years of age. Those 10 members included Representatives Larry Pittman, Michele Presnell, and Mike Speciale, who have a demonstrated track record of failing to stand with survivors of sexual abuse.

For example, Presnell and Speciale also attempted to block an amendment that clarified legal ambiguities for survivors of what the law defines as “date rape.” Pittman did not vote either way on the amendment, despite being present in the chamber. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Chaz Beasley, “better protect[s] victims that have been drugged without their knowledge.” No Republicans gave a substantive reason for their attempt to block protections for survivors of rape. Fortunately, Beasley’s amendment, which was inspired by a rape survivor who found the legal ambiguity an impediment to justice, passed despite Republican efforts.

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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Rep. Charles Graham (D-Robeson)

Representative Charles Graham (D-Robeson) was elected to the North Carolina House in 2010 and is currently serving his fifth term.

Graham has a history of siding with Republicans instead of his constituents when it comes to protecting clean air and water. Graham’s votes prioritized big corporations like Duke Energy instead of the people he was elected to represent. 

Graham voted for H467 in 2017, which prioritized big agricultural companies over nearby residents suffering from environmental hazards affecting their quality of life. Graham also supported H576, a bill that would have allowed landfill operators to dispose of “garbage juice” by spraying it into the air, sending harmful chemicals flying over neighbors’ homes and businesses. Robeson county is majority people of color and people of color are more likely to live near solid waste facilities. Finally, Graham voted in support of S729, which allowed Duke Energy to charge customers to clean up its coal ash mess, but the bill did not include Robeson county on the list for priority cleanup. Read more here.

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A Senate bill would allow “unlimited handguns per permit,” but Rep. John Faircloth (R-Guilford), a 16-year police chief, says the idea is “one of the greatest concerns” of law enforcement

S90 appeared in its current form on Tuesday night and was discussed in committee the following day. The bill would let people buy unlimited handguns without needing multiple permits from their local sheriff. Currently, people who do not have their concealed carry permit must obtain a permit for each handgun they purchase. A committee vote is planned for Tuesday. 

Bill sponsor Sen. Danny Britt justified the change because many guns used in crimes were obtained illegally, so this bill makes it “easier for folks who buy firearms the legal way.” This harkens back to the time former Rep. Chris Millis argued the state should get rid of the concealed carry permit altogether because people wear jackets

Rep. John Faircloth, who served as High Point Chief of Police for 16 years, has long argued that allowing unlimited handguns is dangerous and deadly. Here he is on the House floor two years ago:

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Republican lawmakers want to give Trump’s immigration agents free reign over North Carolina at the expense of community safety and the authority of local elected officials

Summary
  • H370 forces North Carolina sheriffs to work with the Trump administration's immigration agents, also known as ICE, and allows sheriffs to be removed from office for failing to comply 
  • H370 forces Trump's extreme agenda on our communities, an act of retaliation against sheriffs who stood up for immigrants and public safety
  • Forcing sheriffs to act as an extension of ICE undermines public safety by diverting much needed resources away from other safety initiatives, decreasing voluntary reporting of crime, and spreading fear throughout our immigrant communities. 
  • H370 does not advance community safety. Sheriffs are accountable to their communities, and people can vote out sheriffs who enact policies they disagree with. ICE agents, however; are anonymous and can yield unchecked power.

NC Republicans want to force North Carolina sheriffs to work with the Trump administration’s immigration agents, also known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). House Bill 370 would require sheriffs to “comply with, honor, and fulfill” any requests made by Trump’s agents, including requests to detain people without evidence. The bill, passed by the North Carolina House in early April and being heard in a Senate committee Wednesday, would require sheriffs to allow immigration officers access to local jails or detention facilities. Furthermore, H370 allows a sheriff to be removed from office for failing to comply with a detainer request.

H370 forces Trump's extreme agenda on our communities in an act of retaliation with detrimental impacts on community safety

Over the past few years, the Trump administration has escalated its federal immigration policies to new levels of cruelty. Tensions between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials, who detain people without probable cause, have reached new heights. Caught in the crossfire are the people these harmful policies directly impact who no longer feel safe in their communities. 

H370 would force Trump’s extreme agenda on our communities, an act of retaliation that makes everyone less safe. To comply with the bill, sheriffs would be forced to deport thousands of people and detain thousands more, even without evidence they committed a crime. Forcing sheriffs to act as an extension of ICE undermines public safety by diverting much needed resources away from other safety initiatives, decreasing voluntary reporting of crime, and spreading fear throughout our immigrant communities. 

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If Sen. Don Davis stood up to Republicans, Rep. Sydney Batch wouldn’t have to cut her recovery short

Since Governor Cooper vetoed S359, a bill that would criminalize doctors, shame patients, and disproportionately impact Black women, legislative dramatics have reached new heights. The bill is up for another vote in the House today.

The fight over the veto override began with Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene, Pitt) casting the deciding vote to override Gov. Cooper's veto of S359 in the Senate. He also voted for the original bill. Davis was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against Gov. Cooper and in line with Republicans on this restrictive bill that addresses a “problem” that does not exist and places further restrictions on safe reproductive health care.

For those unfamiliar with legislative procedure, Sen. Davis’s vote in favor of overriding the veto resulted in the bill ending up in the House’s infamous “veto garage.” Republican House Speaker Tim Moore placed the vote to override the veto of S359 on the calendar and withdrew it on nine separate occasions between May 2 and May 29, likely because Republicans didn’t have the votes they needed to override the Governor’s veto. However, Democrats like Rep. Sydney Batch (D-Wake), kept showing up, thus preventing an override. 

Rep. Batch, however, is recovering from cancer. Her seatmate, Rep. Ashton Clemmons (D- Guilford), said Batch is too weak to drive herself to the General Assembly so she has been driving Batch to and from sessions. She had to cut her recovery from a recent mastectomy short to make sure her vote to sustain the Governor’s veto is counted. While Sen. Davis chose to fall in line with Republican leadership that is supposedly “pro-life” yet refuses to expand Medicaid, Rep. Batch returned to the General Assembly soon after surgery to prevent her Republican colleagues from capitalizing on her absence.

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While Sen. Don Davis supported Republican’s lackluster education budgets schools in his district struggle to compete

NC Senate Republicans rolled out their version of this session’s budget Tuesday and the full Senate is likely to vote on it by the end of this week. In the House, a few Democrats sided with the Republican’s plan despite its failings, including a refusal to extend a raise to teachers with fewer than 16 years of experience. In the Senate’s version, teacher pay raises are even smaller. The Republican budget appears to again ignore the struggles of local school districts, like those in Greene and Pitt counties, to keep pace with state and national levels.

Public schools in Senator Don Davis’s district are struggling while he supports Republican education budgets. Greene and Pitt counties can’t keep up with wealthier counties on teacher pay, ranking 108 and 82 out of 115, respectively, for average teacher pay. Average teacher pay in Greene county is $48,965.53, more than $5,000 less than the statewide average. In Pitt county, average teacher pay is more than $3,000 less than the statewide average.

Counties have been forced to make up for low teacher pay at the state level by offering salary supplements to teachers. According to Public School Forum, the average supplemental salary statewide is $4,580. Greene county’s supplement is just $1,000 while Pitt’s is $2,382. Lackluster state budgets have put county governments in a difficult position where they have to choose between offering competitive teacher salaries or providing other vital services to residents. This year’s proposed budget calls for a slight teacher raise, but it only applies to teachers with at least 16 years of experience and does not go into effect immediately. The Senate’s version of this year’s budget also fails to restore advanced degree pay for teachers.

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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Senator Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg)

Dan Bishop (R- Mecklenburg) is serving his second term in the NC Senate. Prior to joining the NC Senate, Bishop was a representative in the NC House for one term.

Bishop repeatedly voted against making health care more affordable and accessible for North Carolinians.He was the only NC Senator to favor big pharmaceutical companies over North Carolinians and vote against H384, a bill that protected small community pharmacists and kept prescriptions affordable. Bishop, along with other Senate Republicans, chose to amend a school safety bill to include provisions intended to destabilize the Affordable Care Act, once again failing to protect North Carolinians’ health care.

Bishop was a primary sponsor of HB2, demonstrating how little he cares about protecting the LGBTQ+ community in NC. Not only did HB2 fail to protect the LGBTQ+ community, but it also cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Bishop was more than willing to prioritize his discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community above the NC economy.

In 2015 Bishop voted to increase taxes on NC families and small business owners, making it more expensive to do business, get a driver’s license, and have a baby. He also voted to cut food stamps for 100,000 North Carolinians. Read more here.

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Real Facts NC seeking records from Senator Bishop on his meetings with lobbyists and connections to NCGOP Corruption Scandal

Real Facts NC seeking records from Senator Bishop on his meetings with lobbyists and connections to NCGOP Corruption Scandal

Bishop concealed meetings with lobbyists and distanced himself from the Robin Hayes indictment and Mark Harris election fraud. What isn’t he telling voters?

Real Facts NC filed requests with the office of NC Senator Bishop for correspondence with key lobbyists and special interests, as well as actors related to corruption within his party.

The group is specifically seeking Senator Bishop’s calendar, to understand who he meets with in his public office, information Senator Bishop previously refused to share. Senator Bishop’s refusal to share who he met with underlines the inexplicable fact he was the only Senator, of either party, to vote against legislation that would make prescription drugs more affordable.  

Real Facts also seeks Senator Bishop’s correspondence with Rev. Mark Harris, who he endorsed, as well as Kelly Tain, Bishop’s long-time campaign manager and a political consultant. Tain also worked for Harris on his now-invalidated campaign for the 9th District seat that was “tainted” by election fraud. 

Records concerning Bishop’s ties to recently indicted NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes are also sought to find out if he is using his public office for political work.  Bishop tried distance himself from Hayes and  outgoing Executive Director of the NCGOP Dallas Woodhouse in recent weeks. 

 

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“Black women die way too often when giving birth”

The S359 floor debate consisted of a series of blatantly false and sensationalist claims about health care, absent one voice in the chamber who chose to speak truth to power. After listening to her Republican colleagues escalate a political debate over a non-existent phenomenon of “infants born alive” after an abortion, Sen Erica Smith chose to combat hollow rhetoric with a personal story with widespread implications for health care in this state.

Smith, a Democrat who represents northeastern North Carolina, chose to speak about her experience receiving care after giving birth to a premature, severely underweight child. In 2007, she gave birth early to a 1lb 1oz baby boy. Having experienced health complications during that pregnancy Smith explained how grappling with the fact that she had other children who needed her ultimately colored her decision when the doctors, after trying everything they could, asked her to choose between saving the baby or herself. Her experience, she said, was her driving motivation to oppose S359 and advocate for better maternal health care instead.

Smith’s story underscored that when it comes to reproductive care, Black people who give birth are not only suffering complications, but dying at a disproportionately high rate. Black women are three to four times more likely to die during or after childbirth than white women.In the face of a sea “pro-life” activists in the gallery, Smith highlighted the hypocrisy of politicians who make it their mission to foreclose access to abortion yet take no political action to address racial disparities in birth care.

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2019 NEA Report shows drop in per student spending in North Carolina

NEA released its 2019 Rankings and Estimates report last Monday. Updates show some positive changes, though the state still falls near the bottom in per student spending and average teacher salary.

Per student spending in NC remains near the bottom as Republican budgets consistently fail to meet classroom needs, spending nearly $3,000 below the national average per student.

  • The state dropped in rank from 39thto 42nd in per student spending between the 2016-17 school year and final 2017-18 numbers.
  • NEA’s 2018 report estimated the state would rank 39th in per student spending for 2017-18. Revised numbers drop NC to 42nd.
  • NC spends $2,957 below the national average per student.

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