UPCOMING EVENTS: Join us for a Day of Action May 1, 2019. 700 S. Salisbury St. Raleigh. 9am - 5pm.

One-stop early voting in the special primary election for NC-03-- that's the late Senator Walter Jones' district-- is from April 10-26. The election is April 30. Check early voting sites here!

Meanwhile, in NC-09, Democratic candidate Dan McCready, has already raised a staggering $1.6 million so far, and he's not even done. He's on track to have raised more than some presidential Democrats by the time he's done. Considering the Republican field is as cluttered and as late-blooming as it is, this is hopeful news. If you're around Charlotte, Women For McCready are having a kickoff event this Thursday April 11th! Find more details and sign up here.

Keep next Thursday-- April 18th-- free as well, because you'll definitely want to attend the Crucial Conversation lunch featuring the newest (blue) wave of women lawmakers in the NCGA. Details and registration here. Women are the future of the blue tide! I'll see you there!

A bipartisan fix has been proposed for the thorny issue of whether college ID s would be sufficient for the voter ID requirement. Under HB 646, the universities would be allowed to have student-submitted photos approved for voting, and a requirement that school officials sign off on ID requirements would be struck.

“The measure also includes a provision that would give local boards of election more flexibility in setting up early voting sites for municipal elections. Gerry Cohen, a longtime legislative attorney now on the Wake County Board of Elections, tweeted that the flexibility would also apply to the upcoming special elections in the 3rd and 9th congressional districts.”

Rural North Carolinians remain the most vulnerable population because many of them don't have access to healthcare and are not insured. That's why advocates from the North Carolina Rural Center gathered in Raleigh last month to speak out:

“The N.C. Rural Center estimates that more than 400,000 North Carolinians fall into our state’s health insurance coverage gap, meaning they are not eligible for Medicaid and earn too little to pay their insurance premiums in the marketplace...Closing the health insurance coverage gap would mean healthier families, and healthier families mean a healthier economy. It means a more reliable workforce for our businesses and industries. It means more jobs in our rural communities. It means more financially secure rural hospitals in our most chronically unhealthy and economically distressed communities.”

“We have lost the notion of patient access to preventive health services and are paying for a very expensive sick-care system for adults,” adds pediatrician and vice chair of the American Medical Association’s Council on Legislation David Tayloe.

And in case you weren't convinced there's a problem, a woman from Roper had to resort to “being with men for money” in order to cover expenses for medication and copays.

So what are legislators doing about it? Check out last Thursday's post for a refresher on the state of healthcare in the NC legislature. TL;DR: there are a LOT of bills moving through, both Democrat- and Republican-backed, and by now you can probably guess which ones we like and which ones we don't. Just yesterday, Republicans filed HB 655, the North Carolina Health Care for Working Families Act, which would do quite a few things Medicaid expansion would, including help fund rural hospitals and focus on preventive and wellness care. But unlike Medicaid expansion, it would require qualified applicants to work and pay a premium of at least 2% of their income and copays. Instead of Medicaid expansion, this program would effectively be a private insurance plan paid for by Medicaid and managed by providers. Not optimal.

Steve Kelly, CEO and co-founder of ELAP Services, a company that provides reference-based pricing models to businesses that self-fund their healthcare plans, believes that what his company does is the solution. What is reference-based pricing? According to ELAP's website, this plan considers “both Medicare reimbursement and the actual cost to deliver the service; and adds a fair profit margin.” While he's right in that it's time to act NOW on healthcare or people will suffer, and that the timeline proposed in HB 184 is wastefully long, he is proposing a plan that could, in the long run, put many people and providers at risk. Medicaid expansion really is the cleanest and best way to make sure North Carolina citizens are covered.

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HB370, which would require every sheriff in the state to comply with ICE, has passed the NC House. It's on to the Senate now. Call your Senators and demand they vote against it!

Because this is apparently our lives now, the NCGA is considering cutting taxes for businesses AGAIN, this time with the goal of abandoning the franchise tax altogether. This little-known tax is a fee that businesses pay each year for basically existing in North Carolina. The tax is calibrated to net worth rather than profit. Right now, the fee is $1.50 per $1,000 of a company's net worth. Under SB622, it would drop to $1. Then to nothing. Because nothing says “Republican leadership” like tax cuts that will put yet more money in shareholders' and CEOs' pockets.

Last week we learned that Sen. Harry Brown filed a bill that would essentially hamstring the development of clean wind energy in North Carolina because he felt it would endanger military bases. Give a read to Coastal Review's rebuttal and call your legislators and tell them wind energy would give a much-needed economic boost to our struggling rural communities.

North Carolina's hog farmers aren't doing their part to clean up their messes after Hurricane Florence. I guess they took a lesson from Duke Energy.

Durham and Orange County Schools are now closing for the teacher rally on May 1st. Good. May more districts follow suit!

Cherie Berry, who has been the NC Commissioner of Labor and “Elevator Queen” since 2001,is not seeking reelection in 2020. Before you mourn her picture's passing on your elevator ride, just remember that her record as Labor Commissioner hasn't been the most stellar. She was co-chair of North Carolina's chapter of Women For Trump and spoke at one of his rallies in 2016.

For those of you with a modicum of intelligence who remained indoors late Monday afternoon, you might have missed one hell of a storm: a yellow one. I hope everyone bought Zyrtec in bulk this season.

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(Tags: ICYMI, NC-09, voter ID, medicaid expansion, NCGA)

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