The General Assembly has a great deal to accomplish before we adjourn this summer, and I expect that the next few weeks will be very busy for us in the legislature. Before I give you a recap of the past two weeks, I want to briefly address the racial protests and calls to action we have seen in our state and nation recently.

I share much of our community's frustration that leaders have yet to enact policies to curb police violence against Black people in our communities. The lives of too many Black men and women have been cut short by police officers who have historically had far too little accountability to the communities they are supposed to serve. Racism is systemic in our nation. Overall, Black people have worse health, economic and educational outcomes because our society has limited their access to opportunity through thinly veiled racist policies. 

We still have a lot of work to do if we are going to dismantle the systemic racism that lies at the root of why Black people in our communities lack access to the tools they need to be successful. This is why I have worked diligently on policies such as expanding Medicaid, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, raising the minimum wage, funding our public education system robustly and enacting "ban the box" policies which prevent employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history.

One of the policies which can help was passed last week by the General Assembly. 

After 13 months of legislative inaction, the Second Chance Act ( SB 562 ) has finally passed the NC House with a unanimous vote. The bill unanimously passed the NC Senate last year before leadership stalled the bill in the House.

The Second Chance Act is an important step in improving expunctions in North Carolina. Expunctions help people who committed crimes a long time ago by providing pathways to clear their records, thereby improving opportunity for jobs and other life achievements.

Here are some important improvements the bill makes:

  • Provides automatic record clearing for charges dismissed or disposed of as "not guilty."
  • Allows expunctions for people whose convictions are treated as juvenile offenses under the Raise the Age law.
  • Expands eligibility for expunctions for people who have been convicted of multiple nonviolent misdemeanors.

It's truly rare for legislation to pass unanimously out of both bodies in our legislature, and I was proud to vote for this bill. Still, this is only the first step of many that our state should take to improve life outcomes and to reduce recidivism among community members who've gone through our criminal justice system. It's shameful that this bill sat in committee for over a year after it was passed unanimously by the Senate.

I expect that our body will pass a great deal of legislation before the end of the month. So, please stay tuned to news from the legislature and feel free to reach out to my office with any questions about legislation that comes up for a vote within the next few weeks.
Reminder: my office in the General Assembly will be utilizing teleworking technologies indefinitely. My office is not closed. We are still here to help address any questions or concerns you might have. We will just not be physically in the Legislative Building for a short time. You can still contact my office by emailing or by calling 919-715-0795.

Please contact me at any time. I am here to serve you.

Representative Julie von Haefen
Press Conference on Leandro Bills
Rep. Julie von Haefen
Rep. Raymond Smith
Rep. Rosa Gill
Tomorrow morning, I will join Representatives Raymond Smith (HD-21), Rosa Gill (HD-33) for a press conference about  HB 1129: Ensure a Sound Basic Education   and  HB 1130: Invest in a Sound Basic Education.

Today, the biggest problem facing our community’s schools is lack of resources and support. Funding public education is necessary to ensure each child gets the instruction and attention they need to be fully prepared for success in life. 

It is imperative that our state act now to restructure our funding system for public education and invest in an education system that can provide our children with their constitutional right to a sound basic education.
I also invite you to attend the public launch of  Communities for the Education of Every Child NC.

Coalition members with EveryChildNC will discuss their response to the Leandro case and the need for North Carolina to boldly invest in the education of every child. This event will include a virtual press conference and Q&A session, including the opportunity for community members to learn how to get involved with EveryChildNC's work. Spanish interpretation provided.  REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED .
Recently Passed Bills
HB 536 and HB 594: Reopen Bars and Gyms
You may have heard that legislation has recently passed to reopen bars and gyms. Last month, legislative leaders used emergency rules to push HB 536 through the legislature in one day. HB 536 was a bill that would re-open bars across the state immediately by overriding Governor Cooper’s Executive Orders and other local rules. I voted against this bill, and Governor Cooper vetoed it soon after it was passed.

The veto of the bar bill prompted Republican leaders to try a different approach. They cobbled together a proposal to re-open bars and gyms into another bill, HB 594 (a bill that previously dealt with homeowners’ association bylaws). The drafters included language in the bill that would take power away from the Department of Health and Human Services to respond to viral outbreaks and give that power to the Council of State. The Council of State are elected statewide politicians like the Commissioner of Agriculture and the State Auditor. They are all elected to do important jobs, but none of their job descriptions include addressing issues related to public health.

Stripping away the power of our state's public health department would limit DHHS's ability to respond to changing COVID-19 conditions. The new bill never received a House committee hearing and no amendments or changes were allowed. Instead, it was rushed to the floor for a full vote.

The bill passed 69 to 50 (I voted against it) and now heads to Governor Cooper for his signature or veto.
HB 1169: Election Changes for November 2020
Several weeks ago, the House voted on a compromise elections bill. Although the bill wasn't perfect, it was necessary to safeguard the vote for November, so I voted yes. HB 1169 was recently voted on by the Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.

The bill included these important changes: 

  • Allows you to request an absentee ballot with your cell phone through a new online portal;
  • Lowers the witness requirement to cast an absentee ballot from two to one;
  • Invests funds for more and larger early voting sites, more weekend hours, and PPE for voting sites;
  • Makes it easier for counties to recruit poll workers;
  • Improves procedures for election officials and voters to track an absentee ballot;
  • Allows the use of a public assistance photo ID if/when ID is required (voter ID is not currently not required for the November election because of ongoing legal challenges and a court injunction).
Town Hall: Education & COVID-19
On Thursday, June 4th, Representative Sydney Batch and I hosted a virtual town hall, "Education During COVID-19."

We were joined by Wake County Public School Board Members, Monika Johnson-Hostler and Lindsay Mahaffey, as well as Freebird McKinney, the Director of Legislative Affairs for the NC State Board of Education, and Susan Gale Perry, the Chief Deputy Secretary for NC DHHS. 

Please note: this event occurred prior to DHHS & DPI releasing guidance on reopening schools. If you missed the event, you can view the slides and access resources discussed during the town hall using the link below. For updated information on guidance or reopening
DHHS Guidance on Reopening Schools
State education and health leaders announced the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) health guidance for resuming in-person instruction in NC public schools. The toolkit provides a baseline for health practices to be followed to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 as North Carolina resumes classroom instruction.

Re-opening plans will be determined by the status of COVID-19. Schools may reopen according to three scenarios:
  • Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing
  • Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing
  • Plan C: Remote Learning Only

Governor Cooper and health officials warned that people must continue to take COVID-19 precautions to ensure schools can resume in-person instruction.

The Strong Schools NC Public Heath Toolkit (K-12) was developed using the most current CDC guidance for schools and includes requirements and recommendations for eight areas:
  • Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure
  • Cloth Face Coverings
  • Protecting Vulnerable Populations
  • Cleaning and Hygiene
  • Monitoring for Symptoms
  • Handling Suspected, Presumptive or Confirmed Positive Cases of COVID-19
  • Communication and Combating Misinformation
  • Water and Ventilation Systems
  • Transportation
  • Coping and Resilience

For example, the toolkit requires students and others to be screened for illness before entering school and requires floor markings to maintain social distance. It also includes sample screening symptom checklists in English and Spanish, a flow chart protocol for handling suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, and a checklist of infection control supplies schools may need. The Toolkit will be updated as new health guidance is released by the CDC and additional resources are added.

Questions regarding the Toolkit in English or Spanish can be directed to
COVID-19 Update: Answer the Call!
COVID-19 Contact Tracing Community Teams
The COVID-19 Community Team is made up of trained Local Health Department staff and Community team members who are serving as contact tracers across the state. 
Team members reach out to people who have tested positive for COVID-19, or anyone who has been near someone with COVID-19, and get them the information and support they need. This support can include helping someone understand what it means to have been exposed to COVID-19, how to monitor their symptoms, when to get tested, if needed, and how to protect their loved ones. 

When the COVID-19 Community Team reaches out, it is important that people answer the call. Individuals being contacted would get an initial text from the number 45394 or email from v with follow-up phone calls from NC OUTREACH (844-628-7223) or the Local Health Department. The Community Team represents North Carolinians across the state and will be available to provide support and information in multiple languages.
New Testing Tools for Everyone to Use  
There are several new digital tools available to help expand testing capacity, streamline contact tracing efforts, and provide members of your community with guidance on how to protect themselves and their families. These tools include: 
  • Check My Symptoms (,apublic website that allows people to enter their symptoms and determine if they should get tested for COVID-19. If they are recommended to be tested, they will receive a link to a list of nearby testing sites via email or text.  Note: The symptom checker is an informational tool to help people determine if they may need to be tested; however it is not a physician order. Testing sites may require their own screening.  

  • Find My Testing Place (, a public website that allows people to input their county or ZIP code and access a list of nearby testing site locations online. 
Virtual Office Hours
June 10th Office Hours with Garner Councilman, Demian Dellinger
I truly miss my regular office hours at Aversboro Coffee shop in Garner. Luckily, I was able to host office hours virtually last week with town of Garner Councilman, Demian Dellinger!

We had a great time talking about Garner's response to COVID-19 and how the town is working with Amazon to open their new processing center. Follow the link below if you missed us.
Office Updates
The Breakdown with Rep. Zack Hawkins!
Last week, I was proud to join Rep. Zack Hawkins and Michelle Laws (Director of the Office of Consumer and Community Engagement,  NC Department of Health and Human Services  Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services) on The Breakdown with Zack.

We discussed the coronavirus pandemic and its disparate impact on communities of color and the steps being taken to combat the issue. If you missed our conversation, click the link below!
Have you completed your census yet? If not, there's still time. Take a minute today to make yourself count!
The census affects funding for schools, roads and hospitals, firefighters, and resources for people who need it most. It helps elect community leaders on school boards and city councils.   You have the power to make a difference, right now   -- from your house -- by going online, calling the Census Bureau, or by filling out your paper from once it comes in the mail. Get counted today. 

You can call the census bureau to complete your questionnaire using this number:
Wake Stone Public Hearing
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources (DEMLR) is seeking community feedback on Wake Stone Corporation’s application for modification to Permit 92-10 near Umstead Park. The public hearing on this application will be held digitally on June 23, 2020. The public is invited to participate online or listen by phone. Speakers will be asked to register in advance.
WHEN: Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 6:00 PM
Participants can join the meeting starting at 5:45 PM
Meeting Number (Access Code): 617 499 551
Meeting Password: DEQ123
Cisco WebEx by Phone: +1 415 655 0003 US TOLL 
Meeting number (access code): 617 449 551
*If you wish to speak at the digital public hearing, you must register, provide the required information, and follow instructions on ways to join the public hearing. Registration must be completed by 12:00 PM on June 23, 2020. To register, please click the following link .