This newsletter is arriving a day later than usual because I wanted to make sure you received an update on the final version of the relief bills passed by the General Assembly to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. On Thursday April 30th, the House passed its first major COVID-19 response bill. HB 1043, the Pandemic Response Act, passed the House and was sent to the Senate for its consideration. Prior to the House's voting session, the Senate passed a relief bill with much lower levels of support for public schools, public health, and assistance to local areas.

Today, we convened for session again to vote on House and Senate compromises for both of the bills previously passed on Thursday. HB 1043 appropriates funds for disaster relief and SB 704 includes policy changes related to disaster relief. The compromise bills we ultimately passed include:

  • $125 million in small business assistance loans through Golden LEAF

  • $25 million for expanded testing and tracing needed to get NC back to work

  • $75 million to help local schools with school nutrition

  • $70 million for summer K-12 learning programs

  • $10 million for K-12 mental health services

  • $300 million for transportation projects and jobs to make up for declining gas tax revenue that normally funds transportation

  • $300 million for local governments struggling with COVID-19 costs

The final bills appropriate about $1.5 billion to respond to and to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. This is a good first step in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, but it is not enough. The Senate rejected our proposal in the House that would have funded a $40 million partial expansion of Medicaid to cover COVID-19 treatment costs for people under a certain income threshold. The compromise eliminated $25 million dollars for K-12 mental health services and cut proposals to increase funding and support for virtual learning in our public schools. The compromise also cut funding flexibility for school districts and eliminated the one year “pause” on the class size mandate, both of which are important as school districts plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

I'm certain these will not be the last bills the legislature will pass in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have a great deal of work to do in order to ensure that the North Carolinians who have been most impacted by this crisis have adequate access to education, to state support and to affordable healthcare.

That's why I cosponsored HB 1040 to expand Medicaid. Medicaid expansion would primarily benefit working people with whom we interact with every day, like construction workers, retail employees, restaurant workers, and farmers, and many underemployed people who have suffered job loss and wage loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our essential workers are more important than ever and we need to keep them healthy and safe by making sure they have access to healthcare.

Making it through COVID-19 is going to be one of the most difficult challenges this state has ever faced. Providing additional healthcare coverage for North Carolinians who have been directly affected by this pandemic will ease the burden on working families during this crisis.
Session this week was unlike any session ever held before in the North Carolina General Assembly. We have much more work to be done, but I was proud to stand on the House floor with my colleagues as we voted for a first-step recovery package.

I have been inspired by the ingenuity and cooperation between my colleagues over the past few weeks. I look forward to the work we will do this summer to bring aid to North Carolinians all across our state.
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 [email protected] or by calling 919-715-0795.

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

Representative Julie von Haefen
Legislative Updates
Virtual Office Hours
May 6th Office Hours with Holly Springs Councilwoman Christine Kelly
I'm moving my regular office hours online! Join me and Holly Springs Councilwoman, Christine Kelly, next Wednesday, May 6th, at 7pm for our hours. Office hours with Councilwoman Kelly were postponed this week after technical difficulties.

 We'll be discussing the state and local response to the COVID crisis and taking your questions on Facebook Live.
April 28th Instagram Live with Raleigh Councilwoman Nicole Stewart
If you missed this week's virtual conversation with Raleigh Councilwoman, Nicole Stewart, you can still access the video of that event by following the link below.
April 23rd Office Hours with Apex Mayor Pro Tempore, Nicole Dozier
If you missed last week's office hours with Apex Mayor Pro Tempore, Nicole Dozier, you can still access the video of that event by following the link below.
COVID-19 Updates
Stay At Home Order Extended + Information on Phased Reopening
On April 23rd, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 135 to extend the statewide stay at home order until 5PM on May 8th.

Governor Cooper also shared details about North Carolina’s plan to lift restrictions in three phases once the data show that key metrics are headed in the right direction. 

In order to begin lifting restrictions, North Carolina needs to see progress in these key metrics:

  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing over the last 14 days. 
  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases over the last 14 days cases is still increasing, although at a slower rate.
  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive over the last 14 days is increasing at a slow rate. 
  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations over the last 14 days is largely level with a slight trend upward. 

Governor Cooper also shared information about how North Carolina can gradually re-open over three phases to prevent hot spots of viral spread while also beginning to bring our economy back. These phases are based on the best information available now, but could be altered as new information emerges. 

In Phase 1:

  • Modify the Stay At Home order allow travel not currently defined as essential allowing people to leave home for commercial activity at any business that is allowed to be open, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops, houseware stores and other retailers. 
  • Ensure that any open stores implement appropriate employee and consumer social distancing, enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols, symptom screening of employees, accommodations for vulnerable workers, and provide education to employees and workers to combat misinformation 
  • Continue to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people
  • Reopen parks that have been closed subject to the same gathering limitation. Outdoor exercise will continue to be encouraged. 
  • Continue to recommend face coverings in public spaces when 6 feet of distancing isn’t possible
  • Encourage employers to continue teleworking policies
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 
  • Local emergency orders with more restrictive measures may remain in place. 

Phase 2 - at least 2-3 weeks after Phase 1

  • Lift Stay At Home order with strong encouragement for vulnerable populations to continue staying at home to stay safe
  • Allow limited opening of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, personal care services, and other businesses that can follow safety protocols including the potential need to reduce capacity
  • Allow gathering at places such as houses of worship and entertainment venues at reduced capacity
  • Increase in number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Open public playgrounds
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 

Phase 3 - at least 4-6 weeks after Phase 2

  • Lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing physical distancing and minimizing exposure to settings where distancing isn’t possible
  • Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worships, and entertainment venues
  • Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 
  • Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen both underscored the need for the testing, tracing and trends to move in the right direction for each of these phases to move forward. If there is a spike in infections, tightening of restrictions may be needed temporarily.

I remain extraordinarily grateful that North Carolina has leaders like Governor Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, who use sound data and metrics to guide their decisions about the health and safety of North Carolinians. I am confident in their ability to continue to guide our state through this crisis.
Education & COVID-19
Although school buildings will close for the rest of this year, remote learning will continue. The system is not perfect and has highlighted the inequities in our broadband access for our students across the state, and even here in Wake County. Teachers are working hard to reach every student, and we know that their efforts and the efforts of the school districts will continue into the summer and fall. We must now be proactive, instead of reactive, to meet the digital needs of our students.

The NC Department of Public Instruction has issued guidelines for grading for the 2019-2020 school year. You can find information here:
Today, the NC House passed legislation to allow the 180 day requirement to be fulfilled by remote learning for this school year, to allow schools to start one week early, on August 17, for the 2020-2021 school year. For year-round and modified calendar schools, decisions must be made at a later time based on where the state's stay-at-home orders stand. We do not know right now what will happen, so stay tuned.

NC DHHS is working on developing best practices for social distancing for our schools in the fall. Options may include half-days with lower student populations, dividing students into smaller groups in more classroom spaces, a combination of in-person and remote learning, or expanding the year-round calendar options. I do not think school will look the same in the fall.

NC DPI is also developing a two week "jump start" remediation program for 1st-5th grade students which would take place in August. State funding would cover the costs, including transportation and food. More information to come.

We are in uncharted territory. Please be assured that I and the rest of the NC House are working diligently to pass legislation which will benefit all students and keep our children and educational professionals safe and healthy. Let me know if you have questions, and I'll continue to keep you updated.
Unemployment & The Federal Cares Act
Our office has received many questions about unemployment for independent contractors and self employed workers.

On April 24th, DES began processing PUA claims for independent contractors and self employed workers. Independent contractors and self employed workers may file for unemployment insurance assistance at any time.  If you have questions about the process to apply for PUA, the link below is to a Tip Sheet about how to best complete the application process. Individuals who must file a 1099 are highly encouraged to review this link.
Some claimants might experience technical issue that require further attention. If you are having issues with a claim that has a delayed payment or that is "Pending Resolution," please contact [email protected] or 919-715-0795

Or office cannot guarantee that any issue with your claim will be immediately resolved, but we will do our best to connect you with the best resources available to resolve your claim.
Office Updates
Volunteering to Activate Hotspots
I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon a few weeks ago volunteering with Wake County Public School System and Activate Good. We worked to set up over 10,000 mobile hotspots for students across our county. I unboxed devices, installed the batteries and placed bar codes for the district inventory system.

It felt good to make a small contribution toward connecting students with the equipment they need to learn. Thanks to all the volunteers and school staff who were there and for all the social distancing measures they had to keep us safe!
NCAE Listening Session
Rep. Cynthia Ball and I organized a listening session last night with Wake NCAE teachers and other members of our Wake House delegation so we could hear directly from educators about their experiences, concerns and requests for legislative action as our short session starts today.

It’s clear that our educators are working harder than ever to meet the needs of every student in our district. We talked about the need for increased nurses and counselors when students return, the concern about students falling behind during remote learning, waivers for curriculum and testing requirements and much more.

Thank you to everyone who participated, and thank you to all of our superhero teachers who are doing extraordinary things during extraordinary times.
Pine Acres Community Center
On April 27th, I volunteered at the Pine Acres Community Center food distribution site for the Wake County Public School System. We distributed hundreds of meals to families in Fuquay-Varina, handing out hot lunches and breakfast for tomorrow. I worked alongside bus drivers, teaching assistants and other school employees who have been working at this site for seven weeks to feed our kids.

The best part was hearing them talk about how much they miss their students. Thank you to these public school employees for all the work they're doing to support our communities!