- Posted July 28, 2013 by
Raleigh, North Carolina
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Opinion: Really? On The Day NC's Voting Rights Were Suppressed and Women's Rights Were Assaulted
Read more about this story here on CNN.com.
According to a report from CNN affiliate WRAL, lawmakers were not dancing to celebrate any accomplishments:
'House members were waiting for bills to come over from the Senate or be processed out of committee – delays are frequent and long at the end of session – a former aid to Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, Christin Danchi, was invited to serenade the House,' says the report on WRAL.com. 'She played a couple of classical pieces as well as some faster fiddle tunes. Danchi is headed for music school in violin at Carnegie Mellon this fall.'
The iReporter acknowledged that the music and dancing was unrelated to the passage of any bills but said any celebration on the floor was 'totally disrespectful and inappropriate' given the gravity of the issues being discussed by the General Assembly that day.
In an email to CNN iReport, Rep. Stam wrote: 'We received appreciative notes from Democratic representatives as well as Republicans about the young woman’s performance.
'We weren’t discussing any issues. It was a recess. During that day we handled several dozen bills ... I think the claim that it was inappropriate is silly.'
The iReporter attributes the claims and facts in her article to local newspapers, forums and lectures she has attended, and information she has gathered while sitting in on House debates. CNN has not verified all of her claims.
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
It should have been a solemn day last Thursday when the NC General Assembly passed legislation that has been called the most severe voter restrictions and Anti-Choice legislation in the country, but instead there was fiddling, dancing and ice cream.
It was the final death knells to the progress made by years of social justice and civil rights advancements. The same progress that made North Carolina standout among the other southern states for the quality of life, education and tolerance was wiped out in one session.
The legislation has sent a clear message that if you are unemployed, disabled, in school, sick, a teacher, a woman, an arrested person of color, small business owner, a voter, a local government or middle income, you are a target.
On July 1, 70,000 unemployed people stopped getting checks. The legislature cut the time a person can collect benefits to 20 weeks and cut the benefits they could receive. By cutting the benefits, the state became ineligible to get any federal funds to extend payments to the uninsured, a move that will affect over 170,000 unemployed people.
In the budget passed, they have traded teaching fellow scholarships to best and brightest undergraduates wanting to become educators and pay incentives for the teachers who earn advanced degrees for vouchers to private schools. They gutted the schools’ teacher funding by 286 million dollars. They approved increased class size and cut teachers’ aids.
They have refused the Medicaid expansion that would have covered 500,000 citizens, said no to the estimated 25,000 jobs that would have come as a result to the expanded care. They have placed the small community hospital in financial jeopardy as they receive less funding for charity care. It is estimated that 2,800 uninsured people will die each year. The fact they will die because of lack of care is heartbreaking, but what is unconscionable is the suffering they will endure while dying because they cannot afford care and medicine to alleviate the suffering. In separate legislation, on Thursday they passed legislation that will allow hospitals to go after your property if you cannot pay your hospital bill.
The argument made over and over again in the floor debate of the anti-choice legislation, was the concern of women’s health. But this arugement does not set well with those upset about the refusal to expand Medicaid and are concerned about women's health.
The Anti-Choice legislation passed outlaws any insurance plan in the federal healthcare exchange from offering abortion coverage. They are telling private insurers that if you want to sell insurance in NC, you cannot include this coverage in your policies. In addition, the law forbids city and county insurance plans to cover only what is allowed in the State Health plan. The legislation requires the health care clinics that provide abortion service meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, despite the fact that the majority of the procedures are medically induced rather than preformed surgically. There is only one clinic in the whole state that meets this criterion, effectively shutting down 15 clinics that provide valuable women’s health services such as pelvic exams, mammograms and family planning.
This legislation chose not to present this bill as stand alone legislation. It was tacked onto a motorcycle safety law late one night in secrecy with most Democrats becoming aware of it only as they walked into the chamber on the day of the vote.
The legislature repealed the Racial Justice Act. North Carolina was the only state in the country to have a Racial Justice law that allowed for investigation of death penalty cases to see if racial bias was involved in jury selection and to see if racism was involved the determination to pursue or of the sentencing of death. Four cases had been tried and it found that racism had played a part in all 4 cases. In these cases, the law is the conviction is to remain, but the sentence to be changed to life in prison without parole.
The legislature has made it hard to reverse their actions of the last few months. They have passed legislation that will disenfranchise voters. There are over 300,000 voters in NC who do not have ID’s. Only limited state and federal ID’s will be accepted. Students cannot use school ID’s. Parents lose $2,500 in tax deductions for their students if the student votes in the district of the university they attend. They shortened the early voting by one week and prohibited extended voting hours if there are long lines. It does away with Sunday voting, which specifically targets African Americans because it is a well known of tradition of African Americans to go vote after church services. While making it harder to vote, it allows absentee voting which has more opportunity for the fraud they intended to end. The voting law also allows for increases in donation limits and kills public financing for judicial races.
As the Moral Monday protesters have chanted, “Shame!” You have not governed with compassion for the sick, the unemployed, the school children, or the hard working people of this state. You dancing on the same floor where you voted to refuse Medicaid is like you dancing on the graves of the 2,800 uninsured that will die at your hands.