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Neighbors on Call's Weekly Policy Update for 12/7/20

Election Update

  • A statewide machine recount of all ballots cast in the election for Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court was completed last week and showed Republican Justice Paul Newby with a lead of just 401 votes (out of nearly 5.4 million votes cast) over Democratic Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. Following the completion of this statewide recount, Chief Justice Beasley formally requested a 3% statewide hand-to-eye recount, which will begin this week. Once this partial hand-to-eye recount is completed, the State Board of Elections will review the results to determine whether a full statewide hand-to-eye recount is in order.

Voting Rights

Health Care Policy

  • On Wednesday advocacy groups that had sued the UNC Health Care System and Nash Hospitals, Inc., for systematic discrimination against blind patients announced that a settlement had been reached with one of the two defendants. Plaintiffs had sued two years ago, alleging that blind patients did not receive written communications in a format that would be accessible to them. Nash Hospitals, Inc., agreed to pay $150,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees; the suit will continue against UNC Health Care System.

  • On Friday Governor Cooper convened a new bipartisan council to address North Carolina’s high rate of uninsured people. The North Carolina Council for Health Care Coverage, which includes NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen along with legislators from both parties, businesspeople, and doctors, will study other states’ health care coverage expansion policies and produce a guide to increase coverage in North Carolina.

Women’s Rights and LGBTQ Rights

Criminal Justice

  • On Tuesday key provisions of the Second Chance Act went into effect, allowing many North Carolinians with criminal records to have those records expunged. Nonviolent misdemeanor convictions from seven or more years ago are eligible for expunction, as well as dismissed charges or “not guilty” findings for those charged with a crime. Dismissed charges or “not guilty” findings not petitioned for expunction by those charged will be automatically expunged a year after the law took effect (December 1, 2021).

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