Last Week in Raleigh
Items reviewed in our weekly Advocacy meetings with the NC Chamber of Commerce:
Plans to return students to in-person learning drew the most conversation. After a great deal of debate, Senate Bill 220 was signed by Governor Cooper late last week. SB 220 requires all public school districts open elementary schools under Plan A guidelines for full-time, in-person instruction within 21 days after the bill takes effect. The bill gives districts the option for middle and high schools to operate under either Plan A or Plan B, which allows for in-person learning in combination with remote learning but with greater restrictions on social distancing and maximum capacity. Any district choosing to move to Plan A for middle or high schools will have to notify the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) of its plans. DHHS will not have the authority to veto these plans, though Governor Cooper will be able to order school closures on a district-by-district basis.
Last Thursday Governor Cooper signed into law House Bill 196 that will provide $1.7 billion COVID-19 relief. Included in the measure is an additional $6 million for broadband development (bringing the total to $45 million to the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) fund for Fiscal Year 2020-2021.
Through this fund, broadband service providers can apply for grants to facilitate the expansion of broadband infrastructure in unserved parts of North Carolina. With the pandemic contributing to a heightened dependence on remote technology and spotlighting the barriers to high-speed internet access for many North Carolinians,
The passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package in D.C. impacts North Carolina to the tune of $8.7 billion. $5.2 billion is accessible by the state, while the remaining $3.5 billion will go to city and county governments. Also included were the personal stimulus checks that are currently being given to US citizens, extensions on federal unemployment benefits, and funding for key business relief programs. For more information on the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, click HERE.