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I am grateful and lucky to have had the chance to visit the Galapagos Islands on a small ship with my family in July, an amazing bucket-list experience. Many thanks to Michelle, Kate, and Eunice for covering for me here while I was gone!
I've spent a lot of time in wilderness, and I expect a transition when I return to "real" life. (What's really "real" life is another conversation). Coming back to our country after two weeks in the wild abroad has been even more jarring than my "usual" reentry discomfort. I read "When Women Were Birds" by Terry Tempest Williams (one of my she-roes) while I was gone, turns out she visited Galapagos on the same ship a few years ago. She quotes Carl Jung: "Fear seeks noisy company and pandemonium to scare away the demons." Exactly what I see coming back to the US - people reacting to the deliberate fear-mongering and race-baiting of many of our supposed leaders in order to avoid attending to our deep-seated national demons of slavery, racism, sexism, and class warfare. This isn't a news flash, I know, AND it reminds me that I need to be vigilant in consciously acknowledging and dancing with my own fears, doing my personal shadow work, AND re-committing to creating healthy CHANGE, honesty, and responsibility on every level from the personal to the global. Easy, right?
The NCGA is still in session and deadlocked with Gov. Cooper over the budget, but they're continuing to deal with some pieces of legislation. The Senate is on break this week, and it's pretty quiet in the House. Here's a quick update on some of what's passed and is still being considered.
- HB 464, Small Business Health Care Act, may be voted on soon by the House Rules Committee. This bill would weaken health care protections for North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions, older adults, and women and allow insurance companies to offer bare bones benefits and charge higher premiums to small businesses with women and older employees and those in rural areas. Use this form from the NC Justice Center to let the House Rules Committee know you want to see Medicaid expansion in NC, not these bandaids that will result in increased costs for everyone.
- HB 961, Ensuring Authorization of Federal Funds, is a budget stopgap bill that went to the governor's desk on July 26. This bill keeps federal funds moving to various state agencies and maintains funding for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It differs from the House bill that would have provided funding for enrollment growth in public schools and partial funding for “Raise the Age.”
- SB 413, Raise the Age Modifications, is on the governor's desk. It implements changes recommended by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee to support the transition of 16- and 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice system and excludes previous minor traffic offenses as automatic triggers for transfer to adult court.
- SB 562, Second Chance Act, creates a process for 16- and 17-year-olds to petition the court to have certain convictions expunged. The bill would also create an automatic expunction for acquittals and dismissals starting July 1, 2020. The bill passed the House Rules Committee this week, but was pulled from a floor vote and referred back to the Rules Committee. Contact your NC House representative to tell them you want to see this bill move forward.
- HB 645, Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws, expands the rights of the billboard owners and would (among other things) shift control away from local communities and allow some billboards to be relocated in or near residential areas. It passed the Senate and is close to a final vote in the House. Environmental, conservation and wildlife advocates oppose this bill. Contact your NC House representative to tell them you oppose this!
- SB 5, School Safety Omnibus, passed the House on July 23 and was sent back to the Senate for concurrence; it should be voted on soon. Years in the making, this bill, which avoids anything gun-related (because what do guns have to do with school safety?!?), does address student emotional health and school security and requires crisis management training for school resource officers.
And here's your REWARD for making it this far, from the Galapagos to you, snorkeling with orcas!
Tags: (NCGA, NCPol, healthcare, school safety, criminal justice reform, environment)
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