NC GOP Flip Flop Leads Senate to Approve Medicaid Expansion
After nearly 10 years of nearly unanimous rejections, North Carolina GOP Senate leaders took a turn in their views toward Medicaid expansion this week, leading to Senate’s approval of a new bill that would allow around 600,000 North Carolinians to become eligible for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.
House Bill 149 will now need to pass through the NC House, however, where it still faces major opposition. Speaker of the House Tim Moore released a statement on Wednesday that served to shoot down the idea that House Republicans were on the same page as Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, a fellow Republican who led the charge to pass the Medicaid expansion bill through the NC Senate.
“Quite frankly our work has just begun,” Berger said following the Senate on Wednesday. “There are 120 people on the other side of this building that we’ve got to start working on. I’m going to do my part.”
In a Saturday morning email, Democratic NC Sen. Jay Chaudhuri pointed out that Berger had “done a 180” on Medicaid expansion and began making the same points that Democrats had been making for nearly a decade.
“The speeches we heard from Senate Republicans supporting the expansion of Medicaid sounded like . . . Senate Democrats,” Chauduri wrote.
It’s unknown when the House will vote on the Medicaid expansion bill, as Moore has said it will not be a priority during the current short session that’s expected to end around July 1.
‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Passes NC Senate
In a not-as-surprising move by state Republicans during a vote that came the same day as the NC Senate approved its Medicaid expansion bill, that same NC Senate — this time split down party lines — voted to pass a bill that would ban teaching about gender identity and sexuality in K-3 classrooms and require teachers to notify parents if their child requests the use of pronouns that do not apply to the gender identity they were assigned at birth.
According to reporting by EdNC’s Anna Pogarcic, the bill would require schools to make policies to promote parental involvement. This includes requiring principals to communicate to parents about textbooks, allowing parents to review materials used in class, and establishing a process for parents to object to those materials. The bill would also allow parents to access their child’s education and health-care records at the school unless there is a reasonable fear that disclosure would cause abuse or neglect.
In a statement commemorating the beginning of Pride Month this week, North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) Chair Bobbie Richardson, LGBTQ+ Democrats of North Carolina President Tyler Beall, and NCDP Transgender Political Caucus President Angela Bridgman directly addressed the proposed legislation.
“Our state’s highest-ranking Republican, Mark Robinson, spews hateful anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and Republicans at the General Assembly are pushing a North Carolina ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill,” the statement read. “It’s clear that the North Carolina Republican party fails to demonstrate the respect and integrity needed to make our state welcoming and successful.
“As Democrats, we must continue to reject hateful legislation that threatens to erode progress. We choose to stand with and celebrate our LGBTQ+ community because no one should be discriminated against for who they are or who they love.”
County Moves to COVID-19 Community Level Medium
Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH) announced Friday that Mecklenburg County has moved from CDC COVID-19 Community Level Low/Green to COVID-19 Community Level Medium/Yellow.
The COVID-19 Community Level tool helps people decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest COVID-19 data in their community. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. The change from low to medium in Mecklenburg County reflects a significant increase in positive cases, according to a release from MCPH on Friday.
“This change to the medium level means that people with underlying conditions such as asthma, COPD, high blood pressure, and heart disease or anyone with a weakened immune system should be more cautious now,” said MCPH Director Dr. Raynard Washington. “To stay safe, all individuals should consider masking, avoid large gatherings, and make sure that you are up to date on COVID vaccines, including booster doses for those who are eligible. If you do have symptoms, please get tested or take a rapid test, and consult with your health-care provider about available treatment options.”
You can learn about what the latest data release shows at the MCPH website.
City Releases Second UDO Draft
The City of Charlotte Planning, Design & Development Department released the second draft of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) on Friday. The UDO aims to simplify, consolidate and update the regulations that guide Charlotte’s development. It is meant to be a tool in implementing the community’s vision for growth as outlined in the adopted Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
The new redlined draft shows what language has changed in the UDO since the release of the first draft last fall. Changes include the addition of a new campus zoning district, a revised sidewall height restriction, a new Streetside Historic District, revised building heights, removal of short-term rental regulations and more.
The second draft of the UDO incorporates feedback from several months of engagement with residents, stakeholder groups and the Charlotte City Council, according to a release from the city on Friday.
“With this release, continued engagement with the community remains vital to the success of this project aimed at updating and consolidating current ordinances,” said Alyson Craig, Charlotte’s interim planning director. “I encourage the community to review the draft and provide comments as City Council will consider adoption later this summer.”
Residents can review the UDO second draft process and share their input online, where staff will also provide complete list of community engagement events that will be scheduled over the coming weeks.
Seven Murders Reported in Charlotte This Week
CMPD reported seven murders in the city this week, including the drowning death of a young boy that occurred in March but whose death CMPD announced that they had ruled a homicide this week.
Shortly after 5:35 p.m. on Sunday, police responded to 1st Run Court in east Charlotte and found 15-year-old John Morales suffering from a gunshot wound. Morales was transported by Medic to an area hospital to be treated, but later died from his injuries. On Thursday, CMPD arrested two 15-year-old suspects and charged them with Morales’ murder. His family has organized a GoFundMe to pay for his funeral services.
Shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday, police responded to a shooting call on Deep Rock Circle in the Granite Pointe apartment complex in southwest Charlotte, where they found 33-year-old Demarcus Allen suffering from a gunshot wound. First responders attempted life-saving efforts, but Allen was pronounced dead on the scene.
Shortly after 11:40 p.m. on the same night, police were responding to a drag-racing call on the 5000 block of Central Avenue in east Charlotte when shots were fired in the parking lot of a QT gas station across the street. According to a CMPD release, “There was a mass flight of vehicles from the area where the shots were fired. The officers immediately responded … and located an adult male subject suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.” The victim, 21-year-old Donald Taylor, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Video of the shooting showed a group of men surrounding a vehicle that had apparently been involved in a minor wreck with a car in the parking lot before shots rang out and the video stopped. Early Tuesday morning police arrested a 22-year-old man and charged him with Taylor’s murder, as well as a 29-year-old man who was charged with accessory after murder.
Shortly before 6 a.m. on Friday, police responded to a shooting call on Philadelphia Court in The District apartments near Northlake Mall and found 26-year-old Herbert Eaton suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Medic transported Eaton to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, police responded to Atrium Health Main in reference to a patient who had arrived at the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds and died a short time after. Police worked to find a crime scene and reportedly found one in the 900 block of Brookshire Boulevard in northwest Charlotte. They later identified the victim as 20-year-old Jaquan Krider.
Police announced on Saturday afternoon as this article was about to be turned live that detectives were investigating a homicide after one victim was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound on Leake Street near the intersection of West Boulevard in west Charlotte. The victim’s name has not yet been released.
Police filed murder charges against a mother nearly three months after her son died in an apparent drowning at Park Road Park in March. According to a CMPD release, a woman approached an off-duty officer at Park Road Park at around 9 a.m. on March 12 and stated that her child was unresponsive in the pond. The officer located 3-year-old Jonathan Suero and performed CPR until Medic arrived, but the boy was pronounced deceased at Atrium Main Hospital.
After a thorough investigation, Homicide detectives obtained a murder warrant on May 26 for 28-year-old Natalia Suero for the drowning death of her son. On Saturday, May 28, Natalia Suero was arrested in Westchester County, New York, according to a CMPD report released on June 1.