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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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Pat McCrory’s “Second Chance” Sweeps Previous Attempt at Teaching Under the Rug

According to his admissions on conservative talk radio, Pat McCrory may be getting the opportunity to avenge a rejection he’s carried since high school.

In early February, former Governor Pat McCrory began a fellowship with the UNC Institute of Politics, where he will be hosting a not-for-credit leadership seminar-lecture series. For the record, this series is neither for credit nor a formal academic class hosted in any part of the university’s curriculum, but rather a not-for-credit series hosted by a student group. On his podcast, he announced his not-for-credit series, titled “Hard Lessons of Leadership: An Insider’s Look That You Won’t Read In A Textbook,” and divulged the topics and titles for each module. He then mentioned multiple times that he was very thankful for this position because as a high school graduate, he was rejected from UNC-Chapel Hill and is now very excited to have his “second chance” to attend and teach his not-for-credit seminar.

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Trans Health Care is Health Care

As expanding access to health care becomes one of the leading priorities of the 2019 legislative session, gender identity, a less discussed determinant of access, deserves attention. Trans people are fighting to receive quality health care in North Carolina.

Trans people have been targeted by legislation in North Carolina in the past. One powerful instance was HB2, known as the “bathroom bill,” which restricted public bathroom use for people who were not cis men or women. Another part of this bill that was vastly overlooked made it clear that employees are able to discriminate against a person based on gender identity.

At the close of 2016, newly elected Republican treasurer Dale Folwell announced a goal to “reduce the state health plan’s 32 billion dollar debt, provide a more affordable family premium especially for our lowest paid employees and provide transparency to the taxpayers.” In 2017 Folwell announced the state health plan would no longer cover gender-affirming care for trans state employees as part of his cost-saving effort. This cut continues to undermine the well-being of trans people in North Carolina and advances a path to sanction the denial of rights of key constituents. At 2018’s open, hormone therapy- a method of gender affirmation and one utilized treatment for gender dysphoria- was cut from the state health plan. In 2019, this health plan will come under scrutiny by the legislature as they create NC’s overall budget- and it is in need of some serious changes.

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Republicans block transparency moves to start the 2019 session

TL;DR: Despite analysis things would be different, late night shenanigans and surprise conference reports are in the cards for 2019.

Pull out your parliamentary procedure handbooks, NC House members voted Wednesday on their official rules for the 2019-20 Session. Despite some analysis claiming they’d be more collaborative, Republicans blocked a number of changes to the rules that would have increased transparency in the legislative building.

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Pat McCrory has a problem with successful women

Remember Pat McCrory? The one-term Republican governor who refused to concede the election, citing false accusations of voter fraud? The same guy who spent thousands of taxpayer dollars to defend his anti-LGBTQ HB2 known as the bathroom bill? Yes, that Pat McCrory. Not to worry, howeve…

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