Of the people, by the people, for the people

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Here are some of the bills filed by Democratic lawmakers this session:

Nickel also sponsored a bill, SB 792, that would drastically increase North Carolina’s unemployment benefits. The coronavirus shutdown and subsequent job losses have highlighted the fact that North Carolina has among the country’s lowest-paying unemployment benefits.

North Carolina cuts off benefits at anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the state’s unemployment rate. Most states in the U.S. allow up to 26 weeks, and Nickel’s bill would have North Carolina match that. His bill would also raise the maximum possible payout from $350 to $450 per week.

And before you say it, I know, the chances of any of these bills to even reach the floor, much less get enough R votes to pass, are slim to none. But it's important to see what could be, and also be able to answer those questions from the politically disconnected who whine, "Why don't they do something about this?" This is the root of that, "Both parties suck" mentality; until something gets fixed, they just assume nobody is trying to fix it. Here are more much-needed improvements:

▪ HB 1178 would restore extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees. It has been one of the issues pushed at the statewide teachers’ marches held in 2018 and 2019 in downtown Raleigh.

▪ SB 765 is a comprehensive education bill that includes raising noncertified school employee pay and budget flexibility for local school districts for the rest of this school year and the next.

▪ SB 771 would restore the state’s annual sales tax holiday for school supplies.

▪ SB 786 raises the wages of tipped employees and includes several workplace harassment protections.

▪ HB 1085 and SB 740, which are matching bills, would provide hazard pay for mandatory state employees working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hazard pay rate would be time and a half of the employees’ regular pay.

▪ HB 1140 would establish a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.

▪ SB 747 calls for a $15 minimum wage for non-certified school employees.

▪ SB 763, Pay Equity for Essential Employees, would give income tax deductions for essential employees.

▪ HB 1122 would provide North Carolinians with affordable access to broadband, according to the bill. It includes a measure that would provide internet access to students and teachers who don’t have internet service or can’t afford it.

While a few of these have R co-sponsors, I don't see BergerMoore lifting a finger to get them passed and over to Roy for a signature. The same goes for these bills:

▪ HB 1108, HB 1109 and HB 1110 would clamp down on the production and disposal of PFAS chemicals, and fund wide-ranging studies into their health and environmental effects.

▪ SB 735 would fund a more limited study of GenX and public health, specifically in southeastern North Carolina.

▪ SB 744 would require companies responsible for pollution to pay for clean water for people who live nearby. It also would ban electric utilities from charging their customers for costs related to coal pollution. That appears aimed at Duke Energy, which wants to raise its rates in part to pay for its coal ash cleanup costs. A similar bill in the House went nowhere last year.

Having the ability to sustain Governor Cooper's Veto has been a godsend, helping us protect the citizens of our state. But a wall can only do so much, especially when you have Republican leadership that would rather burn down the state than compromise with a Democratic Governor. True progress can only be achieved by taking back the majority in the House and Senate.

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