In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King
This week our thoughts and hearts have been full of the devastating news about the mass shooting at Pulse night club on Sunday morning. For each of us it has probably struck a different chord; a close friend who is LGBTQ or Latino, happy memories of a trip to Orlando, strong feelings about guns, conflicted views on immigration, race and religion. All of these are being fanned locally and nationally by the political races which will be ever present until November.
To lose 49 lives, many of them young and full of hope for the future is devastating. It can be hard to find the right response. We challenge you to do something positive in your community. Whether it is volunteering at a local school, taking food to a homeless shelter or working a voter registration drive, find a way to connect with your neighbors. We need to remind ourselves that we have more in common than how we identify politically.
This week saw the Congressional Democrats in the Senate stage a filibuster to force a vote on a number of laws limiting access to guns. It was an heroic effort by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Please contact Senator Burr or Senator Tillis to tell them you support these measures which will be voted on early next week. You can be sure the pro-gun groups will be doing the same. Since guns are the topic du jour, there are many groups working to bring about sensible gun controls. Consider joining one of the groups with a local chapter like Moms Rising or Moms Demand Action or others like Gabby Gifford’s group, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
As always with a short session, it’s a busy time down at the NCGA. There are lots of bills coming up and many last minute amendments. Here are a few ‘highlights’ from this week in Raleigh.
Education: The debate continues over sharing public school funding with charter schools. There is strong momentum to split dollars planned for public schools with charter schools which do not have the same requirements and oversight.
On Wednesday 14 teachers were arrested after trying to meet with Governor McCrory. They had marched from Durham to Raleigh to demonstrate their frustration over the lack of investment in public schools and the children of NC.
Taxes: TABOR or Tax Payers Bill of Rights is making it’s way through committee. In essence this will lead to the November ballot including a constitutional amendment limiting the maximum state tax to 5.5% going forward. Currently that limit is 10%. Democrats are concerned that this leaves no leeway for a bad recession and the need to increase taxes to cover fixed costs like school, pensions and more. Republicans believe this can be covered with a hike in sales tax which we know disproportionately impacts the lower paid. The State Treasurer believes this change may negatively impact the state’s bond rating.
Environment: It seems our Republican representatives don’t like wind energy. What started as a bill to limit wind farms in the areas used for low flying by military aircraft has now been added to. Building in a wind farm will now require permissions from a number of state departments. Meanwhile efforts to reduce ground pollution by requiring computers and other complex electrical equipment to be recycled are being rolled back under the sponsorship of Trudy Wade.
Health: There is a proposed bill requiring STEP therapy. This is a requirement to start treatments for chronic conditions with older and often cheaper drugs before more expensive drugs are prescribed. Especially for those with MS or Rheumatoid Arthritis such a delay can be hugely detrimental.
Finally WRAL reporter Laura Leslie is under attack for a posting on her personal Facebook page about the homophobic intent of the Orlando killer. She called out NC’s GOP for their homophobic language and campaign rhetoric.
Thanks to Politica Mary Moore for this op-ed piece in the News and Observer this week where she reflects on the vigil she attended at Pullen Baptist Church on Monday.
Saturday, July 30, 9am – 4pm, Bennett College, Greensboro
Bennett Issues and Actions Conference hosted by NC Women Matter. NCWM will be rolling out their Why Vote Issues Guide for women and setting the stage for our 2016 women-to-woman letter writing campaign.
In addition, you can count on some great speakers, important learning experiences, networking with fellow accomplished leaders and activists and fun. Registration information will be out shortly.