Blog Posts: 2013 Legislative Report

2013 Legislative Report: Commonsense Consumption Act Presents Considerable Health Threat to Vulnerable Consumers

Summer research assistant Howard Lintz writes about the Commonsense Consumption Act and its impact on low-income individuals who often face limited access to food and other barriers to nutritious meal choices.

The Commonsense Consumption Act (introduced as House Bill 683) protects businesses at the cost of public health, and it may prove especially harmful to particularly vulnerable North Carolinians. It was signed into law on July 18.

The law bars civil actions based on claims that long-term consumption of food has caused weight gain, obesity, associated health conditions, or other “generally known condition(s)”; distributors, manufacturers, and marketers, among others, would have no liability in such instances.

This portion of the bill is virtually identical to the model proposed by conservative think-tank the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The North Carolina law, however, would also bar city and county ordinances from prohibiting the sale of soft drinks above a particular size.


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No Comments | Posted by Howard M. Lintz (Howie) on Sat. August 31, 2013 1:43 PM
Categories: 2013 Legislative Report, Student Research, Through Our Eyes

2013 Legislative Report: At Whose Expense Will "Restoring Faith" in Our Election System Come? Part 2

In April, members of the North Carolina General Assembly introduced the VIVA bill as an effort to establish a voter ID law in our state, as I wrote about previously. By the time the bill returned to the state House in the final week of July, both its name and content were expanded and the debate surrounding it was more fervent than ever.

The VIVA/Election Reform bill’s impact on early voting in North Carolina has been at the center of the argument. Early, in-person voting is currently permitted in 32 states[1] and has been used in North Carolina since the 2000 General Election. Regardless of political affiliation, North Carolinian voters “like early voting because it works in their schedule,” according to former State Board of Elections director Gary Bartlett.[2] Statistics support Mr. Bartlett’s claim. Nearly 2.4 million early, in-person votes were cast by North Carolinians in the 2008 General Election,[3] accounting for roughly 55% of votes in the state.[4] Early, in-person votes rose to over 2.5 million in the 2012 General Election.[5]


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No Comments | Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Thu. August 29, 2013 1:47 PM
Categories: 2013 Legislative Report, Student Research, Through Our Eyes

2013 Legislative Report: North Carolina's Rejection of Medicaid Expansion

North Carolina officially rejected Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Health Care Act on March 6, 2013, as Governor Pat McCrory signed Senate Bill 4.[1] The provision of the Affordable Care Act was intended to expand Medicaid eligibility to adults with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. [2] Qualifying persons would have ultimately included all adults below 138 percent of the federal poverty line since 5 percent of income is disregarded when determining eligibility. The Affordable Care Act provides federal funding for the expansion for the first three years, and then at least 90 percent for each of the following years.[3]

Medicaid now covers 1,589,807 low income parents, pregnant women, children, seniors and individuals with disabilities.[4] Parents must not only have dependent children under the age of 21, but they must also have very low incomes to be eligible. For example, the income for a family of four may not exceed $594/month for the parents to be eligible.[5] Additionally, very poor adults between the age of 18 and 64 with no children or disability do not qualify for Medicaid despite how low their income is. Under the expansion, adults with incomes less than $14,856 would be eligible for Medicaid, regardless of their familial status.[6] Studies have estimated the expansion would have provided an additional 500,000 uninsured adults with eligibility in North Carolina[7]. If the state had adopted the program expansion, it has been estimated North Carolina would have saved between 1 and 2 billion over a five year period.[8] Still, North Carolina decided to join more than twenty states, including its neighboring states – South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia – in rejecting the expansion of Medicaid program.


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No Comments | Posted by Brittany C. Croom on Wed. August 28, 2013 1:45 PM
Categories: 2013 Legislative Report, Student Research, Through Our Eyes

2013 Legislative Report - At Whose Expense Will "Restoring Faith" in Our Election System Come?

The North Carolina General Assembly has introduced HB 589, the Voter Information Verification Act, which will require voters to provide photo identification at their polling places starting in 2016.

Valid forms of identification would include a driver’s license, passport, identification cards issued by the state’s public universities and community colleges, and Veterans Identifications Cards. Voters unable to present identification would be left to cast a provisional ballot and verify their identity with election officials after the fact.


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No Comments | Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Mon. July 1, 2013 8:19 AM
Categories: 2013 Legislative Report

2013 Legislative Report - Mandatory, Suspicionless drug testing for TANF applicants

On April 22, The NC Senate passed Senate Bill 594 (PDF) by a 35-15 vote and the bill is currently in a House subcommittee. The bill, if passed, would require all applicants for the Work First program, NC’s implementation of the national Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits.


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No Comments | Posted by Teresa L. Cook on Fri. June 28, 2013 10:17 AM
Categories: 2013 Legislative Report

2013 Legislative Report - What to Expect if You're Poor and Expecting in NC

Deshawna Kiker, our Z. Smith Reynolds Nonprofit Internship Program intern, addresses the potential cuts in Medicaid coverage for pregnant women in North Carolina.

Here's a preview:

Imagine that you’re a recent high school graduate who just found out you’re pregnant. You neither understand the physical changes your body is undergoing nor do you realize the importance of obtaining prenatal care. Your hourly wage job does not provide health insurance and you cannot afford to purchase minimum coverage through a private insurer. What do you do?


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No Comments | Posted by Joseph Arthur Polich on Thu. June 20, 2013 10:45 AM
Categories: 2013 Legislative Report

2013 Legislative Report Introduction

"Poverty knows no color. It knows no party." - Daphany Hill, Director of the Eastern Carolina Human Services Agency

The UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity is a non-partisan organization whose primary focus is poor people in North Carolina - their lives, their issues, their well being. To that end we are developing a 2013 Legislative Report which will attempt to answer the question "How do new state policies affect people in North Carolina?"


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No Comments | Posted by Joseph Arthur Polich on Thu. June 20, 2013 10:30 AM
Categories: 2013 Legislative Report

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