Pardon Our Dust
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The General Assembly did not convene for official business in Raleigh this week, however, all reports still indicate that the legislature is scheduled to return during the week of September 11 to vote on a final version of the state budget. North Carolina is now two months into a new fiscal year without a new budget.
In political news, incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Cooper endorsed Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, to succeed him as governor. Due to term limits, Cooper is barred from seeking a third consecutive term as governor. In a video released on social media, Governor Cooper said, “with a record of results and a clear-eyed vision for our future, Josh is ready to do this job.” It is the second high profile endorsement of the 2024 gubernatorial election cycle. Earlier this year, former president Donald Trump endorsed Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, a Republican, for the state’s top job.
During a call with reporters Monday, NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Kody Kinsley announced that it is very unlikely that Medicaid expansion will be implemented in North Carolina in 2023, due to the General Assembly’s prolonged delay in adopting a state budget. The expansion, which was anticipated to extend health insurance coverage to nearly 300,000 low-income individuals, was initially slated for launch on October 1.
The connection between Medicaid expansion and the state budget was established when lawmakers approved the bill making expansion law earlier this year. This linkage assumed that the budget approval process would proceed smoothly. However, as adoption of a state budget has fallen two months behind schedule, it became evident to Secretary Kinsley that the expansion’s implementation timeline was at risk.
Secretary Kinsley lamented the impact of this delay during a press conference, highlighting the significant loss of health insurance coverage for those who were eagerly awaiting the expansion. The Secretary emphasized that a substantial portion of the beneficiaries would have been individuals from working families, including those employed in critical sectors like child care.
The budget approval process, initially expected to conclude earlier this summer, faced a roadblock during negotiations between the state Senate and House of Representatives. As a result, the necessary budget authorization or decoupling of Medicaid expansion from the budget did not materialize, preventing DHHS from moving forward with the launch as scheduled.
Once implemented, Medicaid expansion is poised to raise the annual income limit for eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, encompassing a projected 600,000 individuals. The delay, besides depriving people of much-needed healthcare coverage, also carries financial consequences for the state. North Carolina was promised a substantial federal funding incentive upon successful expansion, but this funding remains contingent on the program’s actual rollout.
Terror struck the campus of the University of North Carolina Monday as alerts of an active shooter went out to students and the entire Chapel Hill community. After several hours of a lockdown, police apprehended the alleged shooter. One person was killed, a faculty member, Dr. Zijie Yan. On Wednesday evening, hundreds of students, faculty, and family held a candlelight vigil at the Dean Smith Center to honor the life of Dr. Yan.
Earlier in the day Wednesday, hundreds of students gathered on the campus for a rally to address gun violence. Students and activists from different groups, including March For Our Lives, Students Demand Action, and the Democratic Party, took turns speaking about their shared experiences, and called for federal and state policies that they felt would lead to fewer mass shootings. David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, spoke and said if legislators “won’t change the gun laws here in North Carolina, guess what, it’s time to change the government.”
Democrats in the General Assembly echoed similar sentiments in online statements, specifically targeting SB 41: Guarantee 2nd Amend Freedom and Protections, which passed earlier this year and repealed the state’s pistol purchase permit.
No information has been shared publicly about the shooter’s motivation, or type of gun that was used.
Other leaders in state government shared their sadness about Monday’s tragedy, including public statements by Governor Roy Cooper and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), and stressed their commitment to assisting the UNC community with resources and support following the shooting.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings
Tuesday, September 5
15 Minutes After Rules: House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee