North Carolina lawmakers shame state

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In the first 50 days of this session alone, the General Assembly and McCrory cut the earned income tax credit for more than 900,000 poor and working people. They rejected federal funding to expand Medicaid to cover 500,000 North Carolinians without health insurance. They slashed state unemployment benefits and rejected federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation to 170,000 laid-off workers. This vicious war on the poor will devastate hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who are already suffering. And with no checks on the Republican hold on the legislature and governorship, these laws are only the beginning.

Piling further indignities on the poor, they also want to require people applying for temporary assistance or benefits to submit to criminal background checks, and force applicants to a job training program for low-income workers to take a drug test, for which they have to pay.

Now the legislature wants to increase and expand taxes on groceries, haircuts and prescription drugs. They’re even taking aim at poor children with a bill to lower the income requirement for North Carolina’s prekindergarten program, making it off limits to nearly 30,000 children who would have previously qualified.

Perhaps most terrifying is that the politicians who have seized control are trying to rig the state’s election rules, seeking to remain in power far after this legislative session. In their kitchen sink approach to voter suppression, they have pushed bills to require strict forms of photo ID for voting, repeal same-day registration, cut early voting from 17 days to six and ban early voting on Sundays.

They even want to impose a tax penalty on the parents of students who register to vote at their North Carolina college addresses, and pass the most restrictive felony disenfranchisement law in the country. These measures have been carefully crafted to make voting harder for people of color, students, seniors and the working poor.

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