HB 1105, the coronavirus relief bill that passed on September 3rd, contains a provision loosening licensing requirements for child care facilities during the pandemic or any other state of emergencyThe provision will allow YMCAs, YWCAs, Boys and Girls clubs, and other “community-based organizations” to provide child care without being licensed as child care facilities, and it will waive employee background check and CPR and first aid certification requirements. Though Sen. Terry VanDuyn, a Democrat from Asheville, introduced an amendment to add back some basic requirements, including mandatory notification of COVID-19 cases among children or staff, all Republicans voted against bringing the amendment up for debate, and the bill passed with the original provision in place.
On Tuesday state and national Democrats filed suit in Wake County Superior Court to challenge North Carolina’s existing ballot-curing procedures -- rules for voters to fix mail-in ballots with errors. These rules, which the plaintiffs are asking be declared unconstitutional, were most recently adjusted in a memo from the State Board of Elections released on August 21. If the courts rule in their favor, election officials would have to make it easier for voters to “cure” an absentee ballot that is missing a witness signature.
On Wednesday Common Cause filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections asking for a criminal investigation into the alleged violation of state campaign finance laws by U.S. Postmaster Louis DeJoy. The complaint, along with a letter the group sent to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, draws on Washington Post reporting from the previous weekend that DeJoy had pressured employees to donate to Republican campaigns and subsequently reimbursed them through bonuses.
On Wednesday Governor Cooper announced $40 million in funding for NC Student Connect, a new partnership across multiple state government bodies and organizations designed to address barriers to remote learning. $30 million of the funding will go toward distributing wireless hotspots across the state to allow students to reach virtual classrooms; the remaining funding will be used for establishing sites for the hotspots and programming for educators, parents, and students to help them adjust to virtual teaching and learning.
Economic and Housing Policy
North Carolina is applying for an additional two weeks of weekly $300 FEMA supplements to unemployment checks for residents of the state, after receiving an initial allocation that covered three weeks and a subsequent approval for a fourth week. FEMA announced the availability of additional funding on Friday, and a spokesperson has said that all states that apply for the additional weeks will receive the funding. Legislation providing an additional $50/week of state-funded supplements to unemployment was signed by Governor Cooper on September 4, but there is no date set yet for when these supplements will begin appearing in unemployment checks due to complexities in implementing the change.