RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The groups that assembled the “Moral Monday” protests at North Carolina Legislative Building have criticized the Republican agenda in state government since beginning their demonstrations in April 2013 and demanded that legislation be stopped on repealed. Here’s a look at five demands and where efforts to stop the bills now stand:
VOTER ID LAW: The General Assembly passed a bill that was signed into law last year that reduced the number of early-voting days from 17 to 10 and eliminated same-day voter registration during the early-voting period. It also requires photo identification to vote in person starting in 2016. The protesters want much of the law overturned or repealed. STATUS: At least four lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts challenging key portions of the law, but none of the provisions has been blocked or overturned.
TEACHER PAY: The General Assembly approved in its 2013 budget a new provision phasing out supplemental pay increase for public school teachers who earned master’s degrees and offering annual raises for teachers considered among the top 25 percent most effective in their school district in exchange who give up their tenured status. The North Carolina Association of Educators has opposed both changes. STATUS: A Superior Court judge last Friday declared the law cutting job protections unconstitutional, throwing its future into doubt. Gov. Pat McCrory is proposing in his budget a provision to restore the master’s degree pay supplements.
MEDICAID EXPANSION: Legislators passed a bill signed into law by McCrory that prevented the state from expanding Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousand uninsured working people through the federal health care overhaul. Republicans said the state Medicaid system wasn’t prepared to handle the enrollment growth or the extra costs. The protesters want the Republicans to reconsider. STATUS: While legislation has been filed by Democrats seeking the expansion, the odds are long that Republicans would reverse course in 2014.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Republicans passed in early 2013 an overhaul of the state unemployment system that reduced the number of maximum weeks that the jobless can receive business and decreased the maximum weekly benefit. The changes also cut off federally funded benefits to the long-term unemployed in North Carolina several months before they were eliminated nationally. The protesters said the changes didn’t properly balance the burden of reducing debt owed the federal government with employers. STATUS: McCrory and Republican lawmakers credit the changes with helping lower the unemployment rate by encouraging workers to return to work and giving certainty to business that $2.6 billion owed the federal government would be paid. McCrory praised the changes last week for helping reduce the debt to about $1.1 billion so far.
ABORTION: Protest groups are unhappy with a 2013 law that directs state regulators to rework abortion clinic standards to make them similar to those for outpatient surgical centers. Supporters of the law say the rules will improve clinic safety, while critics say they will ultimately limits access for women seeking the procedure. STATUS: The updated standards have yet to be made public. A federal judge earlier this year struck down portions of a 2011 law also opposed by abortion-rights groups requiring abortion providers to describe an ultrasound to women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.