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Adcock: State Budget Passes with Bipartisan Input and Support

Cary, NC — The latest legislative update from the blog of  NC Representative Gale Adcock.

After a series of strong bipartisan votes in the Senate and House, Governor Cooper signed a new $25.9 billion budget into law on November 18.

The process used to reach this compromise budget was historic. House and Senate Democrats and Republicans–and Governor Cooper–worked on the conference report together over many weeks. As is true of compromise, everyone involved in its creation and passage agreed that no one got everything they wanted.

There are areas of the budget that I disagree with, but the harm created by not having a comprehensive budget for a second biennium was simply unpalatable to me. While it’s not feasible to detail the contents of a 627 page bill, these are some top-line reasons I supported the budget:
  • Teacher and state employee salaries increased by 5% over two years
  • Pay for non-certified school personnel increased to $15/hour
  • Child income tax deduction increased to $500 per child
  • Personal income tax lowered to 3.99% over six years
  • State income tax on military pensions eliminated, beginning 2021 tax year
  • Over $6 B invested in infrastructure, including $800 M in school construction
  • Investment of over $1B in broadband expansion
  • Medicaid coverage for new mothers extended for 12 months after delivery

Even with these and other positives, this was not an easy vote. There are short and long-term problems with the budget. It excludes Wake (and 4 other counties) from a new $100 M fund for teacher pay supplements, funds millions in pork projects, and does not expand health insurance coverage for 600,000 working adults–30,000 of whom are veterans.

It limits the Governor’s emergency authority and prohibits the Attorney General from settling lawsuits. The constitutionality of these two provisions will no doubt be challenged in the courts.

The most troubling part of the budget is a gradual phase-out of the corporate income tax beginning in 2025 that could short-change future investments in public education and other priorities by the end of the decade.

It’s important to note that these corporate tax cuts won’t begin to go into effect for another four years, giving future legislatures an opportunity to ‘course correct’ if our economy weakens.

Around the District

This fall I’ve enjoyed getting to know new Apex Town Manager Catherine Crosby and new Apex Police Chief Jason Armstrong over coffee at Common Grounds on Salem Street. They each have a wealth of relevant experience and exude passion for their work.

I’ve also had the chance to work alongside local elected officials and Habitat for Humanity volunteers to frame a new home in Cary; participate in the annual Kiran Walk to support Asian Indian women who suffer from domestic violence; attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a new building at the SV Temple; and travel to Memphis to receive a 2021 Elected Women of Excellence Award from the National Foundation for Women Legislators.

Looking ahead to December, I’ll be riding with Rep. Julie von Haefen in the Apex Christmas parade.

I wish you and your family good health and time for reflection on the many blessings we all share. Thank you for your support of our community and for your communications with me.

Yours in service,

Gale


From the blog of NC District 41 Representative Gale Adcock. 

All the Cary news for the informed Cary citizen. Subscribe by email.

Gale Adcock Announces Run for North Carolina Senate

Cary, NC — In a public notice today, Representative Gale Adcock (D-NC41) of the NC House announced she will be running for the newly drawn NC Senate seat that represents western Wake County.

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Gale Adcock: Spring Melts Into Summer at the General Assembly

Cary, NC —  The latest legislative update from the blog of  NC Representative Gale Adcock.


Spring Melts Into Summer at the General Assembly

May 14 was the “crossover deadline” for House and Senate bills to pass in their chamber, keeping them eligible for action during the remainder of the session. While there are a few exceptions (bills on elections, redistricting, constitutional amendments and appointments), legislators are always acutely aware of this ticking clock, making the final days before “crossover” frenetic and long.

After this milestone, budget negotiations began in earnest. The first step was an agreement between House and Senate leadership on a spending limit: $25.7 B in the first year and $26.6 B in year two (this negotiation took several weeks longer than usual). On June 21 the Senate released its budget, and the second of 2 recorded votes was taken on June 25. The budget bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Total spending cannot change in the House version of the budget, but funding levels for specific programs surely will. The House is expected to take its 2 budget votes by mid-July. I hope to see a House budget that invests wisely in public education, health care, small business, infrastructure (including high-speed internet; water & sewer projects; K-12, community college and university capital projects) and that includes tax policy to help low and middle-income families.

Here’s what else happened in the 6 weeks since crossover.

Around the District

These 4th graders greeted me on my May 21 visit to Hortons Creek Elementary School. While there I learned a lot about resilience, creativity, and the numerous pivots made by this school community since March 2020.

In addition to a walkabout with principal Sandy Chambers and observation of traditional and hybrid classroom teaching, I participated in a group discussion with teachers, PTA representatives, the principal and the assistant principal. I heard about the difference between “learning loss” and the more descriptive “unfinished learning” experienced by these students as observed by their teachers and parents.

Like all of us, everyone at Hortons Creek looks forward to the return of “normal,” but they are also committed to using what they’ve learned about new efficiencies and the utility of technology. Thanks to 4th-grade teacher Laura Abraham for the invitation to return to Hortons Creek, my third visit since the school opened in August 2017. Go Hawks!

Along with advocates from Cary and Apex, on June 5 I participated in a walk to spotlight deaths from gun violence. I was joined by Representatives James Roberson, Julie von Haefen, Marcia Morey and Senator Natalie Murdock.

Thanks to Moms Demand Action for organizing the event and to Trophy Brewing & Pizza for providing food and cold beverages.

Each year the Cary Chamber invites me to speak about state government and public service at the final meeting of Leadership Cary.

One of my favorite Chamber events, this is a great opportunity to hear what’s “top of mind” for emerging community leaders. It was also an invigorating way to start my day on June 15.

Visionary is the word that stuck with me throughout the June 26 groundbreaking for Phase 2 of Downtown Cary Park. After 2 tenacious decades of Council leadership, from land acquisition to funding innovative design, this destination park will open in summer 2023.

Meanwhile, Down on Jones Street

Several of my bills made “crossover” and await action in the Senate.

HB 93, ensures patients are offered education about the availability and use of opioid antagonist drugs when they are given a prescription for opioids.

HB 96, increases access to health care by allowing pharmacists to administer a greater variety of injectable drugs. There are 20 NC counties without a single primary care provider, but each of our counties has at least one pharmacy.

HB 178, requires patient access to accurate prescription drug benefit cost information.

HB 322, a local bill that allows Cary to stop collecting local ABC license fees. The idea for this bill to assist local businesses came from the town.

HB 524, guarantees access to oral chemotherapy treatment during a pandemic (when oral therapy is an appropriate treatment option).

Two of My Bills Soon to be Law

HB 272, lowers the state’s acceptable blood lead level, protecting more children from impaired brain development and other adverse health impacts of childhood lead exposure. It went to Governor Cooper on June 23.

HB 629, clarifies a portion of the STOP Act, a 2017 law to decrease opioid addiction and overdose deaths. It went to Governor Cooper on June 23.

Organ Donation Made Easier

As co-sponsor of the House companion to SB 135, Improve Anatomical Gift Donation Process, I was present as Governor Cooper signed the bill into law on June 14. I’ve been a registered organ/tissue donor since 21 and a bone marrow donor since my 30’s. My cousin’s life was forever changed by a kidney transplant from a living donor 5 years ago. As a legislator and as a nurse practitioner, it is my hope this law will increase the number of individuals receiving life-saving and life-changing transplants.

Delayed Census Impacts Municipal Elections

Although the 2020 census count is complete, county and city level results won’t be available until fall due to pandemic delays. In about 10% of North Carolina’s 500 municipalities, local odd-year elections include district representatives elected by voters who live in the same district. Whether elected by district or at large, districts must be drawn containing an equal number of individuals (plus/minus 5% is the constitutionally allowable variation).

Legislators worked with the NC League of Municipalities and other stakeholders to devise a solution that works for most affected municipalities. The final bipartisan product, SB 722, went to Governor Cooper on June 16.

Cary’s Twist

Four of 7 Cary Town Council members are District representatives elected only by District voters. Recognizing early on that census numbers would be delayed and wishing to avoid negative impacts of a delayed election, last fall the Town hired a private demographer to get an accurate population number. With this data, town staff drew new districts using redistricting criteria used in the past.

Based on months of work, Cary is prepared to hold its October election as scheduled rather than delay it to Spring 2022 (the gist of SB 722). Representative Allison Dahle (a vice-chair of the Election Law & Campaign Finance Reform committee) and I are working with legislative leadership and Town staff on a legislative fix that allows Cary to hold its election on schedule.

Shout-Out to Morrisville

First awarded in 1949 by the National Civic League, the All-American City Award recognizes communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, innovation and inclusiveness to address local issues. Congratulations to the citizens, Council and staff of Morrisville for recently being named a 2021 All-American City!

Thanks for Staying in Touch

I welcome your input and feedback. Reach me at gale.adcock@ncleg.gov or 919-733-5602.

My Legislative Assistant Suzanne Smith can assist you and can also connect you to other state government agencies as needed. Wake County has many COVID-19 vaccine resources available, so if you need information about how to get a shot, please give us a call. Stay safe out there.

Yours in service,

Gale


From the blog of NC District 41 Representative Gale Adcock. 

All the Cary news for the informed Cary citizen. Subscribe by email.

Gale Adcock: Long Session Should Live Up to its Name

Cary, NC — The latest legislative update from the blog of  NC Representative Gale Adcock.

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Gale Adcock: Update from the NC House

Cary, NC — The latest legislative update from the blog of  NC Representative Gale Adcock.

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Gale Adcock: A Federal & Medical Update

Cary, NC — Gale Adcock, a Representative in the NC House and nurse practitioner of 33 years, shared her insights on the state’s COVID-19 response in yesterday’s virtual Business of Women speaker series hosted by the Cary Chamber.

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Adcock: Caring for Others, and for Ourselves

Cary, NC – Latest from the blog of NC Representative Gale Adcock, who is also a nurse.


Caring for Others, and for Ourselves

Dear friends,

I hope that you are well, practicing the recommended social distance of 6 feet, getting outside for fresh air and sunshine, and staying in touch with family and friends by phone and virtually. I hope that you have not been personally affected by COVID-19. You haven’t heard from me until now because for the last 3 1/2 weeks, I have been on the front lines of the clinical response to this pandemic.

Most of you know that I’m a nurse practitioner in family practice at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. Our practice, like all other primary care providers, must be available for our patients who have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, but also to treat other acute illnesses like flu and strep throat, monitor chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, give immunizations to children and adults, and manage other aspects of our patients’ health.

Because COVID-19 has been fast-moving, guidance to health care providers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) and Wake County Health & Human Services has slightly changed almost daily. Like other providers, our practice closely monitors health authorities’ recommendations for patient screening, testing and self-quarantine as well as best practices for protecting health care workers who care for and test them. My full time professional job has been more than full time since early March. I’ve thought of you many times, especially over the last month.

Since January

The legislature has been out of session since January 14 with plans to return on April 28 for the short session. Whether and how we will convene is still to be determined. In February I virtually attended 2 DHHS legislative oversight committee meetings and visited Janet Pride’s 4th-grade class at Alston Ridge Elementary School to talk about how laws are made at the state level. It is very refreshing to answer thoughtful questions from 10-year-olds.

When COVID-19 entered the US, everyone’s time and attention shifted, including mine. Since early March I’ve participated in several calls a week conducted specifically to update legislators and answer our questions. These calls are led by Dr. Mandy Cohen, DHHS Secretary along with the leaders of NC Public Safety and Emergency Operations. Governor Cooper is also often on these calls. Also I have been appointed by Speaker Moore to the House Select Committee on COVID-19. Citizen input is welcomed; send comments and concerns here. Comments are shared with committee members weekly. Our first virtual meeting was held last week and we meet again on April 2 at 10:00.  Listen to our meetings by clicking 1228 LB.

Information You Can Depend On

Like you, I want information about COVID-19 from experts and individuals on the front lines. Hard decisions have been made to protect our citizens and lessen the chances that our hospitals will be overwhelmed by a surge of acutely ill COVID-19 patients. Statistics change daily. Links included in this issue are for reliable sources you can access when you want and need information.

  • On March 27 Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 121, a statewide Stay at Home Order beginning Monday, March 30 at 5 p.m. until April 29, 2020. The Executive Order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. Find the list of ‘essential businesses’ and other details in this press release and related FAQs.
  • Governor Cooper’s website has a list of actions he’s taken to address COVID-19 and its economic impacts (these are listed in reverse chronological order). It includes Executive Orders that closed schools (initially until March 30, then extended to May 15), banned sit-down service at restaurants and bars, extended the tax deadline to July 15 and waived rules for unemployment benefits.
  • The COVID-19 Case Count lists cases in the state and by county, as well as the number of hospitalizations and deaths; it is updated by 11 a.m. daily. COVID-19 Response in North Carolina has links to resources and information for businesses & employers; child care; colleges, universities and schools; long term care facilities; health care providers; and workers who have lost their jobs, among others.
  • For information about COVID-19 across the US and general information about symptoms, when to contact your health care provider and what you can do to safeguard your health and the health of your loved ones, I recommend the CDC.

Coping With our Current ‘New Normal’

While we’re staying at home except for permitted activities (receiving health care, picking up prescriptions, providing care to family members, shopping for food, outdoor exercise), it’s important to feel connected to others and to maintain good mental health. In addition to reading good books and streaming your favorite TV shows and movies, here are some online options for keeping anxiety and boredom at bay (list courtesy of Mike Stunson; some editorializing by me).

1. Exercise

Planet Fitness offers live workout videos daily on Facebook. Gold’s Gym has more than 600 free audio and video workouts until the end of May. Your own fitness center may also offer virtual workouts, yoga or meditation sessions.

2. Enjoy nature

You can use Google Earth to visit any national park online. Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are just some of the options.

3. Check out some animals

If you can’t see wildlife from your deck or window, the San Diego Zoo and Monterrey Bay Aquarium are showing live feeds of many of their exhibits.

4. Watch classic sports games

The NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB have opened their libraries so fans can watch games from years past.

5. Tour museums

Soak in some culture. Google’s Arts and Culture website offers tours of museums around the world, including the Tokyo National Museum and the Guggenheim. Virtual tours are also available of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

6. Listen to music

More culture. The Metropolitan Opera streams a different encore presentation each night.

7. Learn to Cook

Better Homes & Gardens and the BBC have online videos featuring cooking tips.

8. Take a college course

Many course from Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia are now available free. In January I took the popular Yale course, “The Science of Well-Being” taught by Professor Laurie Santos. Little did I know how helpful it would be in less than 2 months! If interested, enroll here. 

A Final Word

Many of our fellow citizens have lost jobs and businesses because of closures required to slow the spread of COVID-19. This is a good time to help them by contributing to your favorite local non-profit. Two particularly on my radar right now are the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.

I would not be a good nurse or legislator if I didn’t end this newsletter with advice you’ve likely memorized by now:  wash your hands frequently with soap and water; cough and sneeze into your elbow; stay away from others if you feel sick; keep your distance from those who seem ill and from those seem healthy (6 foot rule) and call your health care provider if you have classic COVID-19 symptoms of fever with cough or shortness of breath.

To preserve COVID-19 testing supplies for the very ill and for at-risk front line health care workers, individuals with mild symptoms do not need to be tested. According to the CDC they can assume they have COVID-19 (since we know there is community spread) and are instructed to self-isolate for 7 days + 3 days following their last day of fever.

By taking care of yourselves and ‘staying at home’, you are also taking care of others. Be well.

Yours in service,

Gale


From the blog of NC District 41 Representative Gale Adcock.