April 7, 2015
Seven members of the Mecklenburg delegation to the N.C. General Assembly answered questions posed by Forum participants.
Below are five videos that cover the full Q&A that followed their brief introductions of themselves.
Q: Our state has turned away Medicaid money. Are any government programs sacred? Safe?
Q: Which way are we going on reforming the K-12 education calendar?
Q: Where do you stand on revising how sales tax revenue is sent back to local communities?
Q: Do you support payday lending and why?
Q: There’s a bill to further erode the income tax. Will it be pursued, or sent to the graveyard?
Q: Bills would reshape Wake and Guilford local government. What can we do to avoid that happening in Mecklenburg?
Q: Sen. Tarte, you supported the Wake bill. How does it not dilute minority voting power?
Q: The New Jersey legislature has mandated the teaching of African-American history and culture. Will you do the same?
Q: You said you talked to all UNC campuses, but highlighted only the HBCUs. I’m from N.C. State. Why was that?
Q: These decisions should be made by local referendum. Legislative overcontrol of N.C. cities is ridiculous. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to move here.
Q: The A-F rating system doesn’t really help parents understand real conditions in schools. Can you help?
Q: Charter school kids at my afterschool program are doing better academically. What’s your view of how charters are doing?
Q: Tell us one thing you’ve accomplished for our community.
Q: A recent letter told me my senator might be from District 38, or maybe from District 41. How did that happen?
Q: There are so many bills. Which important ones would you have us really fucus on?
Q: Would voluntary giving circles be an alternative to payday lending products?
Q: What are we doing to bring jobs? And what about workforce development programs?
Q: Would you compromise your ethical beliefs and values to curry favor with the other party and future political considerations?
During the Q&A, members of the delegation offered examples of bills they were sponsoring. After the Forum, Carla Cunningham sent in this list of bills of which she is the primary sponsor:
HB 578 Families Economic Security Act (FESA) Equal Pay for Women.
HB 451 LRC/Suicide Prevention (NC Suicide Rate above the National Average, especially amongst Veterans).
HB 167 Aggravated Factor/Violent Act Before a Minor (Aggravating factor to commit a violent felony in front of a child less than 16 years).
HB 166 Equal Rights Amendment (Act to ratify Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the US relating to Equal Rights for Men and Women.
HB 230 Minimum Wage Constitutional Amendment (Qualified Voters of the State at a statewide general election to be held Nov. 8, 2016 would have the opportunity to vote for or against the initiative)
HB 269 Caregivers Relief Act (Amends labor laws to provide relief for caregivers in NC).
HB 547 School Psychologist Salary/Sixth Tier (Includes Speech Pathologist, and Audiologist salary schedule).
HB 281 Records to Medical Examiner (When individuals die in the custody of the NC Adult Correctional Institution, copies of all medical records of the deceased inmate will be provided to the Chief Medical Examiner).
At another point in the Forum, there was an extensive discussion among legislators of the issues surround payday lending. After the Forum, City Council candidate Sean Gautam sent in two comments.
In the first, Gautam suggested an alternative to payday lending: “Instead of being forced to resort to third-party providers, perhaps rules could be written so that NC employers are granted the flexibility to advance payments to employees with some haircut provisions that take into account prepayment risk, as well as cost of money factors. In other words, employees could have the option to receive reduced paychecks from their employers (adjusted at rates much more favorable and controlled under legislation) rather than be forced to resort to much higher market rates with third-party lenders. I understand there may be practical hurdles, however, I wanted to at least share my preliminary thoughts.”
In the second comment, Gautam wrote, “As follow up to my prior email, upon further reflection, a much simpler second alternative to payday loans could be the issuance of weekly paychecks by employers. The higher administrative costs of issuing weekly paychecks could be borne by employees choosing the weekly option, instead of the normal bi-monthly or monthly option offered by their employer. Again, the cost to the employee would be much less than with payday loan arrangements.”