The legislative session is well underway and I want to reach out to residents of my district to let you know what I have been working on these past months. I’m so thankful for the support and trust you all have placed in me and I have been working hard to champion your interests in the General Assembly. It has been a busy three months in Raleigh. Much has been said and written about the pace and substance of legislation that has been passed in the 2013 session to date.
Early in the session, bills were passed that reduced unemployment benefits and eliminated the Earned Income Tax Credit. Another bill that passed in the House requires that criminal records check be conducted on all public assistance recipients receiving Food Stamps and Work First Cash Assistance.
Governor McCrory signed legislation rejecting major components of the federal health care law, denying about 500,000 low-income people health care coverage under an expanded Medicaid program. As a result, North Carolina is not permitted to establish a state-sponsored marketplace for health insurance, giving the control to the federal government, which will begin selling policies on the exchange in October. It is estimated that as many as 23,000 jobs were lost with this decision.
One of the first actions of the General Assembly was a bipartisan measure that passed unanimously in both chambers to fix a glitch in last year’s law to ensure that thousands of North Carolinians with mental health illnesses will have access to funding for personal care services and assistance with activities of daily living in group homes and special care units.
Bipartisan efforts in the House have also resulted in legislation to require persons convicted of human trafficking in North Carolina to register with local sheriffs as sex offenders. Additionally, penalties for violations for driving while impaired laws have been toughened for habitual offenders.
Despite strong public opinion that North Carolina does not have serious issues with voter fraud, the House passed the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA). This bill requires every eligible voter to present a photo ID before voting in every election held after January 2016. House Democrats were able to incorporate some amendments into the bill in an effort to make voting as accessible as possible.
Bills have been introduced to eliminate teacher tenure, repeal the Racial Justice Act ending the moratorium on executions, require couples to wait two years instead of one to divorce, and establish a state religion.
Representative Insko and I sponsored legislation that would reform how Carrboro fills a vacancy on the Board of Alderman. Currently, a special election is automatically triggered, even if there is only one candidate who applies for the vacancy. This process wastes money. Our local bill would allow greater flexibility and the ability for Carrboro to fill a vacancy by an appointment process.
Another bill we sponsored would expand Chapel Hill’s ability to participate in economic development projects outside of the downtown area. I have sponsored a bill to provide greater flexibility in scheduling the school calendar for both school districts in Orange County. I’ve also signed on as a co-sponsor to bipartisan legislation that would increase internet access for public schools and modernize our funding system to incorporate more technology into our classrooms.
I had the pleasure of participating in two Listening Sessions this month: The Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association on the April 20th with Representative Insko and Commissioners Price and McKee, and at the Hillsborough Exchange Club on April 28th with Senator Kinnaird, Representative Insko, and Commissioners Price and McKee. Both sessions were well attended and provided a wonderful exchange of questions, concerns and discussions. I am in the process of planning more throughout District 50.
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Raleigh. Please feel free to contact my office to share your concerns on issues or if my office can be of any assistance to you.
REPRESENTATIVE VALERIE P. FOUSHEE
North Carolina House of Representatives
District 50: Orange & Durham Counties
919. 715-3019 (o) 919.754-3201 (f) 919.942-2661 (h)