Today is Women’s Advocacy Day at the North Carolina General Assembly. Our legislators have been mighty busy this session, and they’ve passed or are considering numerous measures that would affect the lives of women throughout North Carolina.
If you can’t make it to Raleigh to learn more about the issues and make your voice heard, here’s a quick look at eight of them:
#1 – Changes to unemployment insurance. The lackluster recovery after the Great Recession has been much harder on women than men. Those who were laid off have had a tougher time finding new jobs, and today women make up more than half of the people in North Carolina facing long-term unemployment. Legislators passed a law that, effective July 1, will reduce unemployment benefits. They also rejected more than $700 million in federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, so thousands of women still trying to find work will stop getting unemployment checks.
In addition, legislators eliminated the family hardship provision. So now, a woman who leaves her job because she got switched from first shift to third and has no one to watch her children may be disqualified from unemployment insurance benefits.
#2 – End the Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a credit that helps low-wage workers make ends meet. Legislators voted to cut the credit immediately and kill it at the end of the year. Women make up more than half of the state’s minimum-wage workers, and more than four in ten North Carolina women are their families’ primary bread winners. This credit has been particularly helpful to the state’s hundreds of thousands of working moms earning low wages.
#3 – Rejection of Medicaid expansion. Federal health reform called for the state to expand Medicaid to cover about 500,000 low-income adults. Right now, more than one in five women ages 18 to 64 in North Carolina have no health insurance, and many of them would have received coverage with the expansion. But the General Assembly rejected it.
#4 – Restrictions on nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists. Legislators are considering bills, pushed by North Carolina doctors, that would increase restrictions on both of these health care providers.
#5 – Adding Restrictions to health care for teens. Another bill would block minors from receiving medical treatment for pregnancy, venereal disease, substance abuse or mental illness without their parents’ or guardians’ written consent.
#6 – Tuition increases. Governor Pat McCrory’s budget proposal includes a tuition increase for community college students. If the increase is implemented, community college tuition will have increased 46 percent for residents since the start of the Great Recession. The governor also would cut the budget for the UNC system by almost $189 million.
#7 – Voter ID bills. Two bills have been proposed that if passed, will impact voting in future elections. The first is a voter ID bill, which will impact a large portion of elderly voters, many of whom don’t have photo ID and can’t get their birth certificates. The second bill seeks to prohibit students from voting in the place where they go to school. If they do, their parents would no longer be able to count them as deductions on their taxes.
#8 – Funding cuts to public schools. The governor’s budget proposes funding public education at $85 million less than what’s needed to continue providing the current level of services. It gives North Carolina teachers, currently among the poorest paid in the nation, a 1-percent raise.
Stand in solidarity with NC Women United and all of the women making their voice heard today – stay on top of issues that matter to you and your family. To learn more, check out the NC Women United website.