May 4, 2020

Dear Friends,

On Saturday, I was in the House Chamber, one of the many members wearing a mask as we operated under special rules, allowing members to also vote by proxy.
This has been a really busy few weeks. And this past Saturday, the NC General Assembly took an important first step in addressing the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our state. We passed unanimously the bipartisan 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act in two bills, House Bill 1043 and Senate Bill 704 , appropriating $1.6 billion primarily from the $3.6 billion that NC is receiving from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. While this Act addresses many of our most urgent priorities, there is still much remaining to help our unemployed, small businesses, front line workers, the uninsured and underinsured, local governments, non-profits and other organizations, and our public schools, teachers and students.
Like all of you, I am very concerned about the tremendous impact this is having on our state’s economy, workforce, healthcare systems, small businesses, and schools --- and on our collective abilities to remain resilient in our lives. I hope we will move very soon into the phases of removing restrictions so that businesses can re-open, people can return to work, and we all can move about within our communities, rejoining our friends and family members, recreating in our parks, and returning to our places of worship.   

Please stay safe and stay involved. As always, I welcome your input.

Cynthia
First COVID-19 Recovery Act Passes
“I am signing into law two critical relief bills that will provide assistance to families, schools, hospitals and small businesses as our state battles COVID-19. There is more work ahead of us, and I hope the spirit of consensus behind these bills will continue.”
- Governor Cooper

This morning, Governor Cooper signed both bills, which are effective immediately .

What’s included in the bill?

Here are just some of the funding priorities included in the Recovery Act:

  • $50 million for personal protective equipment, health and sanitation supplies
  • $25 million for testing, contact tracing, and trends tracking and analysis
  • $85 million for vaccine development, antibody testing, community testing, and other COVID-19-related research at Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, East Carolina, Campbell, and Wake Forest Universities
  • $75 million for school nutrition
  • $70 million for summer learning programs 
  • $19 million for child care, food banks, domestic violence shelters
  • $125 million for small business loans
  • $300 million for local government assistance
  • $50 million for rural and underserved communities
For additional information on the appropriations contained in each bill, please review the summaries: House Bill 1043 and Senate Bill 704

Other items of concern expressed by House District 49 constituents

I have heard from many of you about tax payments and driver’s licenses and registrations. Senate Bill 704 addresses both of these .

  • The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is extending for a period of five months the validity of any credential that expires on or after March 1, 2020, and before August 1, 2020. Please see SECTION 4.7 of the bill (pages 36 & 37) for the list of items issued by DMV that are covered.
  • The Secretary of Revenue has extended the franchise, corporate income, and individual income tax payment deadline from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. No penalty for failure to file a return or pay a tax due as long as the return is filed and the tax due is filed and the tax due is paid by July 15, 2020. Please see PART 1 of the bill (page 1) for important details.
 
What’s missing?
 
“Citizens expect bipartisan progress and we are off to a good start. Now we need to do more for front-line workers, the unemployed, and people without health insurance.”
- House Minority Leader Darren Jackson
 
Here are a few of the items I will continue to advocate to be included in the next Recovery Act:
  • Changes to NC’s current unemployment insurance benefits
  • Closing the healthcare coverage gap via Medicaid Expansion
  • DOT funding to enable roadway projects to continue
  • Grades K – 3 class size reduction postponement
  • Procedures to facilitate the 2020 election

What’s Next?

The Legislature still has a substantial amount of federal and state funds to allocate. In the next two weeks before we return to our session on May 18, I will be engaging with my colleagues who serve on the House Select Committee on COVID-19 as they develop the framework for the next Recovery Act. As a member of several House Standing Committees -- Appropriations, Education K-12, Health, Elections and Ethics Law, and Commerce -- I anticipate that some of those committees will be convened to consider portions of the forthcoming Recovery Act.
Co-Sponsored Bills
Since we reconvened last week, I have co-sponsored a dozen bills . In addition to my co-sponsorship of the first 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act are:

A top priority. House Bill 1040 - Healthcare for Working North Carolinians which would provide health coverage for underemployed and unemployed workers and their families through Medicaid Expansion at no cost to taxpayers. As I wrote in my press release, “Medicaid Expansion for our state is long overdue; were the program in place today, we would be better prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many North Carolinians who lost their jobs in the pandemic had health insurance tied to those jobs and they are now among those who could benefit. Expanded health care coverage also means lower costs and premiums for all of us because of lower levels of expensive, unreimbursed emergency room care.”
 
House Bill 1057 - WC/COVID-19 Front Line Coverage/Funds – a bipartisan bill that would strengthen protections for those working on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis. HB 1057 has been referred to the Health Committee and I will be working with other sponsors to hopefully move it through that committee and into our second 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act.

House Bill 1046 - COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave would require employers employing more than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave. Employees would need to meet conditions, such as experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a diagnosis or told to self-quarantine by a health care provider. And I hope this can also be included in our next Recovery Act.

Your Representative At Work
 
I’m in the process of filing several bills to perhaps be considered for inclusion in our second Recovery Act or otherwise in our Short Session. The legislation will address important issues challenging us during this time of COVID-19 especially related to our public schools, and I look forward to sharing them with you in the next newsletter.
Governor Cooper Proclaims
Teacher Appreciation Week May 4-8
More than ever, teachers are our unsung heroes. With more "learning at home" occuring during the COVID-19 crisis, more than ever, many parents have told me how much more they appreciate what their children's teachers do!

Today, Governor Cooper proclaimed this week "Teacher Appreciation Week" to recognize the significant impact teachers make on our children and our state’s future. As the proclamation notes, "Our state is only as strong as our students' ability to reach their academic potential, an impossible goal without the diligence, patience, and dedication of every teacher in every classroom of North Carolina."  
Governor Cooper Proclaims
Hurricane Preparedness Week May 3-9
Despite all that is going on in our lives, we must still be prepared for the upcoming hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30. Here are a few excellent resources so you can be ready in the event of a hurricane:

Review the North Carolina Hurricane Guide to learn terminology, trusted sources of information, how to plan for evacuation, and what small businesses can do before and after a weather event.
Learn what should be in your emergency kit , including hand sanitizer, face masks, copies of your health insurance cards and documents and your medications.
Determine the evacuation zone where you live, work, or are visiting based upon street address by accessing the new Know Your Zone lookup tool
Your Reliable Sources of Information
Health

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC Informational Videos

Community

Adjusted Grocery Store Hours And Special Hours For At-Risk Shoppers
GoTriangle COVID-19 Information
American Red Cross Blood Donation Sign Up


Municipalities
City of Raleigh COVID Information
Town of Cary COVID Information
Town of Morrisville COVID Information

Unemployment
Unemployment Insurance Information
Federal CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Programs

COVID-19 Business Relief Resources
Small Business Administration Disaster Loans

Income Taxes
Federal Income Tax Information
State Income Tax Information
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or the
District 49 Legislative Assistant, Patty Williams , with your questions or concerns.
It is my privilege to serve the people of North Carolina!
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