BY TARA ROMANO, President NCWU Tazra Mitchell (2nd VP of NCWU and Budget and Tax Center Fellow at the NC Justice Center) and I joined Irene Godinez, Planned Parenthood Health Systems of NC on an NC Women Matter conference call last Friday to discuss what we can expect during the NCGA Short Session this summer, both in terms of legislation and advocacy. Listen to a recording of the call here, and also check out the resources linked on the page for more information.
The “short session” is the second session of the two year budget cycle on which our state government operates, and which began with the “long session” that lasted from January – July 2013. (Long sessions are in odd years; short sessions are in even years). While there is no set time on how long either session can last, the short session is typically six weeks, and is mainly about final tweaks to the budget passed last year. Even years are election years for our state representatives, and as they are not allowed to campaign while in session, there is generally a desire to get back to the home districts to start campaigning in earnest (considering how much it can cost just to mount even a state race, it’s not surprising that our elected officials have to spend so much time on campaigning rather than working on policies for our state). Because this is an election year, conventional wisdom says the NCGA won’t want to take up anything “controversial”, but that remains to be seen. Raising teacher pay will be on the legislative agenda, but it’s unclear where money to raise salaries would come from, as well as if those raises would come at the expense of other state programs. We do know that in their first order of business last week, the NCGA voted, without public input, to change the rules on protest at the NCGA. Because…priorities.
You may have heard about the groups that greeted the NCGA on their first day back at work last week – the Forward Together movement (at a press conference including some NCWU members and board member Kara Davies); the NCAE rally, press conference and teach-in; and the NC AFL-CIO took to the streets outside the NCGA with pots and pans). And you are (hopefully) aware of the first Moral Monday of 2014 taking place this evening. There are also plans for an HKonJ Lobby Day (May 27), an Equality Lobby Day (June 03), a Medicaid Expansion Lobby Day (June 04), a Youth for Equality Lobby Day (June 10) and also an NC Child and Family Day at the NCGA (June 10). So mark your calendars while also keeping them open, because there is sure to be a lot more going on in just a few short weeks.
There will still be time for the pool, too, we promise;). But if you are interested in raising your voice at the NCGA this summer, you will have plenty of opportunities.